Acorns From Oakes

Seeing With Our Father's Eyes

“After” Lessons

   Do you remember sitting in math class in elementary school? Your teacher was trying to get you to learn how to divide. You weren’t in the mood. You wondered why you needed to learn all that junk anyway. Then…after school, you and your buds went pop bottle hunting. You found a variety of bottles along the road. Some were worth two cents and some were worth five cents (yeah, I know I am dating myself here- but it’s okay, I am old). You carried them up town to Black’s Carry Out (didn’t every little town have a Black’s store?). Well, the clerk would give you a sum of money equal to the value of all the bottles. Problem! There are three of you and one pile of money containing pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters. What to do? Did you have an “Aha!” moment? So that’s why my teacher was trying to get across a lesson about division.   

   Well, things like that have happened to me a bunch of times. They are “after” lessons…the things we only learn well afterwards. So it’s best to pay attention in the classroom where the concepts are shared because you never know when or where you will need to apply them. Isn’t it sometimes like that with our spiritual lessons also? Do you remember, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, when two of His disciples were walking on the Emmaus road and Jesus fell in alongside them as they went? They did not recognize Him. Why? Maybe it was the Lord Who prevented them from knowing Him at first. I’m sure part of it was that the kind of death He died as well as the reasons involved and the glorious resurrection He experienced left Him changed in ways, don’t you think? But maybe the bigger reason they didn’t recognize Him was because they knew He was dead. There was no getting around it. Everyone knew Jesus had been executed. So whoever this was walking and talking with them, it couldn’t be Him. Their sadness was showing…so the Stranger inquires about  their conversation. They tell Jesus about Jesus without knowing it. They tell of His death…of their dashed hopes…of the surprising announcement by the women who went to the tomb that very morning and found Jesus’ body missing. They were distraught over it all. Then the Stranger began to teach them the Scriptures about Jesus and what He would go through. Later, after the travelers had reached their destination, the Stranger was persuaded to accept their hospitality. At the mealtime when Jesus accepted the bread and blessed and broke it, His two disciples finally recognized Him. He then vanished from their view. As the two amazed men spoke with each other, they realized that when Jesus had been opening the Scriptures to them along their journey their hearts were burning inside them. Only later they realized this. It was an “after” lesson.  

   Do you remember when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet? He said to them, “You don’t really know what I am doing, but later you will understand.” And some of us were privileged as children to hear Jesus’ words that it is more blessed to give than to receive. But we couldn’t grasp that truth until we grew up a little bit. These are “after” lessons.

   There may be a sense in which everything God teaches us in His Word has this “after” lesson aspect to it. We can agree with it when we read it. We can, on some level, appreciate its value and truthfulness. But when we apply it…or when we go through trials…or when we witness it in others…maybe it’s only then that the lesson really begins to be learned. I am grateful to God for the “after” lessons He teaches us. Do you have an “after” lesson that dawned on you…made your heart burn…caused you to realize His blessed Presence? If you can take the time, I promise to read it. Imagine…Jesus walking alongside us and us not knowing it!

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5 thoughts on ““After” Lessons

  1. I’ve been thinking all morning about “after lessons” … trying to figure out if I have really learned anything from just the presentation. I’m usually more of a hands-on learner … and kind-of slow on the language processing aspect. I learn best when I can see something.

    I’ve learned about God’s grace from experience. I know I heard about grace when I was growing up but it was – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. It wasn’t the grace that would give me my breath back after almost suffocating in sin. It wasn’t the refuge I ran to when I had nowhere else to go. It sure wasn’t that white as snow feeling I had after years of being the black sheep. Until I messed up in huge ways and started hearing more and more about the grace I so desperately needed, I don’t think I had a grasp on its magnitude. So did I have to mess up in huge ways to learn grace? Did it have to be an “after lesson”? I know it shouldn’t have been that way, but …

    This is a good post Doug … it has had me thinking all day. Why do I seem to have to learn most things as an “after lesson”?

    PAIGE,
    I COULD HEAR THE WHEELS TURNING, AND I REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS. YOU ASKED, “DID I HAVE TO MESS UP IN HUGE WAYS TO LEARN GRACE?” I HAVE WONDERED THE SAME THING. BUT I AM THINKING NOW THAT, IN A WAY, IT’S REALLY NOT UP TO US, IS IT? WE ARE GOING TO MESS UP. ALL OF US. IT’S A FACT…BUT IT’S A FACT WE ARE NOT PERMITTED TO ABUSE AS SOME SORT OF EXCUSE. EVERY BIBLE MAN OR WOMAN OF FAITH MESSED UP (THE ONLY ONES WE THINK DIDN’T MESS UP ARE THE ONES ABOUT WHOM NOT MUCH INFO IS GIVEN). THEY ALL MESSED UP (EXCEPT ONE) BUT, BY GRACE, FOUND THEIR WAY THROUGH. WHEN JESUS TOLD SIMON THE PHARISEE, “HE WHO IS FORGIVEN LITTLE LOVES LITTLE,” HE WASN’T TELLING SIMON TO GET OUT THERE AND EXPERIENCE SOME REAL SINNING. HE WAS TELLING HIM TO STOP JUDGING THE WOMAN OF ILL-REPUTE WHO, IN THE LORD’S PRESENCE COULD NOT KEEP HER PENITENT TEARS FROM FALLING UPON HIM AND THEN, PERHAPS VERY EMBARRASSED, REALIZED SHE HAD NOTHING TO DRY HIS FEET WITH BUT HER HAIR AND DID SO. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SIMON AND THIS WOMAN WAS NOT IN THE DEGREE OF THEIR RESPECTIVE SINS (THEY BOTH HAD PLENTY)…THE DIFFERENCE WAS THAT THE WOMAN KNEW SHE WAS IN TROUBLE, BUT SIMON REFUSED TO SEE HIS OWN NEED. SO…I DON’T THINK WE ARE TO COMPARE OUR WAR STORIES. WE JUST NEED TO SHARE OUR TRUTH AND LISTEN WITH LOVE TO OTHERS AS THEY DO THE SAME. WE ARE TO BEHOLD THE WONDER AND BEAUTY OF OUR CHRIST. IN THE GLORY OF THAT VISION TWO THINGS HAPPEN, WE SEE HOW UNDONE WE REALLY ARE BY OUR SINS, AND, PRAISE GOD, WE DON’T LOSE HOPE, WE GAIN HOPE. NONE OF US HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN LITTLE. WE SEE THAT WITH EVER INCREASING CLARITY. SO OUR LOVE FOR HIM GROWS MORE AND MORE.
    AND I DON’T KNOW WHY SO MANY OF OUR LESSONS ARE “AFTER” LESSONS. I’M JUST GLAD FOR THE DAWNING WHENEVER…HOWEVER IT COMES. BUT MAYBE PART OF IT IS THAT WE ARE HELPED TO SEE TRUTH IN OUR OWN LIFE’S SETTINGS TO REALLY PERSONALIZE IT. AND THAT GIVES ME GREATER URGENCY (AND MAYBE RELEVANCE) AS I SHARE WITH OTHERS.
    PAIGE, I LIKE THE WAY YOU TRACE THINGS ALL THE WAY BACK TO GOD. YOU HELP ME NOT TO STOP SHORT OF HIM. THAT’S GOOD NEWS!

  2. This life I am living here and now … is a HUGE “after lesson”; but at this moment – I can’t get another “after lesson” off of my mind.

    Jesus said it, “… when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself …”

    There is so much more to those words than I have ever (or will ever) be able to understand, but when I was a “boy” preacher, I was fascinated by the thought that if we could get people to “see Jesus” they would want to come to Him (not arguing about church issues or things like that). So … I tried it.

    In Olton, I sat down with Mike (16 years old) – abused by his mother and behind in school. We opened our Bibles and talked about Jesus (Good News, Jesus Can). He decided to follow Jesus, and before he graduated from high school he helped 20 other (unchurched) teenagers fall in love with Jesus. They, like Mike, confessed their faith and were baptized into Jesus. I saw Jesus draw Mike to Himself. Aha!

    In Dayton, I sat down with Barbara and Jane (16 years old) – church kids who had the habit of church but wanted hearts for Jesus. We opened our Bibles and talked about Jesus (Good News, Jesus Can). They decided to follow Jesus, both of them being baptized in Jesus name in a lake. Before they graduated they transformed a “bunch” of teenagers. When Barb graduated, she went to Africa to help people fall in love with Jesus, and she still works with her husband to train young men and women to make it their aim to preach “good news”. I saw Jesus draw Barbara and Jane to Himself. Aha!

    In Lubbock, Tx; Bombay, India; Las Vegas, NV; Mexico City, Mexico; Perry, OH; Kentville, Nova Scotia; Cordel, OK; etc. I have seen Jesus draw men and women to Himself. And every time He does it – everytime – I am amazed. It is an “Aha! moment. I do not know what the theology is behind the truth – but I do know that when Jesus is lifted up – when people see Him, He will draw them to Himself. Aha!

    I HAVE NEVER HAD THE WORDS TO TELL YOU (THOUGH I HAVE TRIED) THE PRIVILEGE I HAVE KNOWN TO BE NEARBY AT TIMES AS JESUS BEGAN TO BE SEEN BY THOSE WHO HAD NOT SEEN HIM BEFORE THROUGH YOUR PREACHING, TEACHING AND EXAMPLE. WHEN IT COMES TO THIS KIND OF GOSPEL WORK, YOU ARE A WORKMAN WHO DOESN’T NEED TO BE ASHAMED. YOUR DILIGENCE IS UNEXCELLED BY ANY I KNOW OF. HIS EFFECTIVENESS IN YOU HAS BLESSED AND IS BLESSING THE SOULS OF PEOPLE…FROM THOSE NEAR AND DEAR TO YOU TO THOSE YOU MEET ALONG THE WAY. AND I KNOW ALL OF THIS IS OF GOD. YOU HAVE SPENT TIME WITH JESUS AND IT SHOWS. THE LIFTING UP OF THE LIFTED UP JESUS WHICH YOU DO IS GOSPEL AND IS SUCH BREAD AS HUNGRY PEOPLE NEED. I PRAY FOR COUNTLESS NUMBERS OF THOSE “AHA” MOMENTS TO BE YET AHEAD FOR YOU. AND I WANT TO HEAR ABOUT THEM ALL. PRECIOUS SOULS…HEAVEN’S CITIZENS!

  3. Ladies Prayer Group meets in our home once monthly. It is a beautiful time
    of snacks, confidential heart sharing, prayer and Bible Exploration. Ladies have taken to inviting their co-workers and family members that haven’t always taken the time to attend a worship service. As one and all pour out
    our hearts to our Father it is wonderful to see the life changes that are taking place in all of us, but especially me. We practice acceptance of all who come and study out what God says to us. This group is also a group not content to sit on the sidelines. When a sister from another congregation experienced her husband leaving, the group encouraged with
    dollars and notes. When a group member was driving to Cinn. almost daily to take care of her mother, gas money appeared in her mailbox. When a plant manager lost his job and was without work for 1 1/2 years, even this family was showered with funding to bless and refresh their spirits. This last week it was on the heart of a sister that two adult sibling children raised in the church are working 60 hour weeks to provide for their families of four, but do to the costs of having such little ones Christmas was going to be slim pickings. Grief is still wrapping its arms around these families as they adjust to the second year without their father who died in Christ with a prayer on his lips and a request for the Christians at church to continue reaching out to his family. With three days prep time ladies in the group shared the money they had for these two families. We prayed that the families would be receptive to this gift of love, as they don’t wish to ask for help or make it a lifestyle. Don and I were asked to take these gifts of love to their mother’s home when the family gathered to help her with her Christmas Tree Decorating. Many phone calls and explanations had done their jobs in preparing hearts. Last night is not one I will soon forget. Hugs and tears were plentiful. We explained that the New Testament church shared all they had and we want to follow that example. We explained how many Ladies that themselves were helped in previous years were a part of this gift of love. We shared Jesus’ love and hugged tightly in a circle while Don thanked God for this familie’s departed father and reminded them of their heavenly Father. I could write a book on “After Lessons” gleaned from the simple truth of sharing God’s Love God’s Way. Its my prayer I’ll never quit remembering the lessons He gives us….. Its not about us, its about others!
    NANCY,
    WHAT WONDERFUL HEART-LIFTING WORDS. HOW WE THRILL TO HEAR OF JESUS BLESSING OTHERS SO THROUGH HIS WILLING SERVANTS. LOVE ALWAYS FINDS A WAY OR IT WILL DIE TRYING. BUT EVEN DEATH CAN’T STOP IT. WE KNOW THIS BECAUSE OF OUR LORD. OUR WORLD IS STARVING FOR THE KIND OF LOVE SHARED IN AND BY YOUR LADIES’ GROUP. IT’S CLEAR THE LOVE YOU LADIES SHARE DOESN’T WAIT TO BE ASKED FOR HELP. LOVE TAKES THE INITIATIVE. LOVE HAS ITS EAR TO THE HEARTS AND NOT JUST THE WORDS OF OTHERS. LOVE GOES AFTER THE EXTRAS. IT NOT ONLY WANTS TO GIVE, BUT TO GIVE BEAUTIFULLY AS OUR GOD DOES…TO GIVE SENSITIVELY WITHOUT TREATING ITS RECIPIENTS LIKE BEGGARS. IT DOESN’T JUST WANT TO DO ENOUGH, IT WANTS TO DO MORE THAN ENOUGH AND THEN BLISSFULLY SMILES TO SEE GOD GET SUCH GLORY! I WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN THERE TO SHARE THE TEARS AND HUGS. BUT THE LOVE FIRE YOU ALL STARTED IS WARMING US NOW TOO AND ALL WHO MAY STOP HERE TO READ OF IT. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING. GOD BLESS ALL THE LADIES OF YOUR MONTHLY GROUP MEETING. MAY MANY COME AND BE BLESSED BY THE LORD YOU HONOR AND THE LOVE HE SHARES THROUGH YOU.

  4. I have been thinking how I would condense my comment down to a reasonable size!! There are so many things that God has shown me and I have been too self-absorbed to notice them. Almost evey area of my life now has a touch of “after” lesson to it! Looking back at things that happened that led up to my life-storm, God gave me ample opportunity to turn to Him, to hear Him, to cry to Him. I was hard-headed and stiff-necked and didn’t want to see or hear.

    When the biggest storm hit I was afraid to cry to Him because I thought I was too dirty…too covered in sin. He had told me He would run to meet me, He had told me His grace was sufficient, He had told me His blood would remove my sins. I didn’t learn that though…until I was lying on my face in desperation and crying bowls of tears. Now I see how ridiculous I had been to doubt His love. Now I have a better idea of what He means by mercy and grace. Now I understand that He forgives and forgets (even when I can’t forget). Now I see that He is with me…and will be…when storms hit and I can trust Him to save me, protect me, shelter me.

    Thanks Doug~~yet again. You touch my heart.

    SHERRY,
    YOU SAID, “Now I understand that He forgives and forgets (even when I can’t forget).” THAT IS THE TRUTH…THE AMAZING…SOUL-RESTORING TRUTH. OUR MINDS WOULD TORTURE US INTO INSANITY IF IT WERE NOT FOR THIS TRUTH. AND WHEN WE ARE SO WEARY OF THINKING ABOUT OUR SHAME, REGRETTING IT, HATING IT, WANTING ABOVE ALL THINGS TO BE ABLE TO TAKE IT BACK…TO UNDO IT…WE CAN CLIMB UP ON HIS LAP, REST IN HIS ARMS, TAKE GREAT DELIGHT AND FIND PEACE IN KNOWING THAT HE DOESN’T HOLD ON TO OUR JUNK. AS FAR AS HE IS CONCERNED, BECAUSE OF THE WORK OF HIS WONDERFUL SON, JESUS, IT IS GONE, CLEAN GONE, NEVER-TO-BE-BROUGHT- BACK-UP-BY-HIM-FOREVER GONE. NOW, WE CAN TURN TOWARD BETTER THINGS…WE CAN BEGIN LOVING OTHERS LIKE HE LOVES US…SERVING OTHER LIKE HE SERVES US…LIVING OUR LIVES IN THE LIBERATING KNOWLEDGE FORGIVENESS BRINGS US.
    SHERRY, FOR ALL YOU DO FOR YOUR FAMILY, YOUR FRIENDS IN JESUS AND ALL THE OTHERS YOU MEET ALONG THE WAY (EVEN FOLKS LIKE ME IN THE BLOGWORLD), MAY FATHER GOD ALLOW YOU AN EXTENDED TIME OF FEELING HIS PLEASURE IN YOU.

  5. I’ve had “ah-ha” moments, “uh-oh” moments, “here we go again” moments, “oh no” moments, so on and so forth. I’ve had times where it seemed like God had forsaken me…and I’ve had times that His presence was so obvious and His blessings so clear that it was impossible to miss it. It is most frustrating to me, when I find myself in the valley, that I know better than to get down…I know better than to doubt…I know better than to get upset with the Father…yet, I still do!

    But I have to agree with Rex…watching a person’s eyes light up as they get to know Jesus…as they fall in love with Jesus…as they realize that there is hope…and life…there is nothing better than that in the world! No matter what is going on in my life…no matter how bad things have been or are…nothing picks me up more and reminds me more of what God has promised as when I see someone receive those blessings and benefits that God has promised to those who obey Him.

    BROTHER DENNIS,
    I AGREE WITH BOTH YOU AND REX…TO WATCH THE COMING OF THE LIGHT UPON THE COUNTENANCE OF SOME SOUL, PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT, IS A PRIVILEGE INDEED. YOU AND THERESA ARE KEEPING THE LOWER LAMPS BURNING IN YOUR PART OF MEXICO. PEOPLE ARE BEING GIVEN OPPORTUNITIES TO GAZE UPON HIS LOVELINESS AND BE CHANGED BY THE VISION. YOUR WILLINGNESS TO BE A PART OF THAT IS TRULY ENCOURAGING TO ME AND, I AM SURE, TO ALL OF US WHO KNOW AND LOVE YOU. MAY FATHER GOD CONTINUE GIVING YOU STRENGTH EQUAL TO YOUR DAYS AND YOUR OPPORTUNITIES THERE…MAY HE CONTINUE BEING GLORIFIED IN YOU…AND MAY THE COMING OF THE BRIGHT DAWN TO MANY OF THE MEXICAN PEOPLE MAKE YOUR HEARTS SOAR SO VERY OFTEN. YOU ARE IN MY PRAYERS.

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