26 February 2009

Lenten Devotion: Learning the Way

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
Psalm 25.8-10

I remember reading an interview with some famous musician, and the interviewer asking him/her: "When did you learn to play the _____________?" And the musician answered, "I'm still learning."

There is value in realizing that we are never "done" learning anything. My mother has been cooking for more years than I care to remember. She grew up in a Nebraska farming family where meal prep was Mom's work (and, by extension, any child who wasn't old enough to work outside as well). She was a Home Economics teacher until the year I was born. She cooked most of the meals for our family When I was about 10, she took a job as a cook at a local hospital, and by the time I graduated from high school she'd been promoted to Dietary Supervisor. She's worked in kitchens for most of her life. But she's still learning. She's still trying out new recipes, and sharing them with us when they work well.

There was never a moment where we were allowed to say, "I can't cook." From what I can remember, in Mom's opinion we just hadn't learned properly yet, and faithful practice would yield increased learning and better cooking. Is it any wonder I have a weight problem? :-)

Notice the first verse in the psalm text above. "[God] instructs sinners in the way." Not "the righteous." Not "the perfect." Not "those who've got their shit together." Sinners. The flawed. The broken. Those who've come to the end of their belief they can do it themselves. This is what it means to be humble: to accept instruction and believe that One who knows is seeking to impart wisdom worth learning.

For this psalmist, God is like my Mom: one who loves righteousness and seeks to teach the children the way of righteousness. Just as many of my first cooking attempts were disasters, so also we often stray from the way; but God's steadfast love (hesed, the word pictured here in Hebrew) won't leave us in our ignorance.

I'm still learning to cook. I'm still learning to preach, to read, to play music, to sing, to live. And God, full of steadfast love, is still instructing this sinner in The Way. Thanks be to God.


  1. Wow, Scott...both yesterday's and today's devotions were phenomenal. Are you gonna do this every day during Lent?

    (FWIW, I hope you are!!!)

  2. Yep - my discipline for this year. Thanks for the compliments!