Life is indeed a school and the minute you were born, your class was in session. I thought about this the other day while visiting a friend. She was having a pretty rough time, one burden or crises after another, it seemed. “I suppose all of us are entitled to our own problems,” she said, “or we wouldn’t learn or grow spiritually.”
Her I point is well taken, but sometimes I wonder what possible lesson or growth could come out of certain situations. After my second heart by-pass surgery, I thought, “Lord, how much spiritual growth do I need? I mean, isn’t there a cut-off somewhere?” Many times, we learn lessons the hard way. Will the LSU football players benefit from the recent incident at a Baton Rouge night club? Who knows? It’s unfortunate that lessons sometimes arrive at the expense of others. So many lessons come from mistakes, poor choices and, dare I say it, sin. I know a man who has been divorced five times. He’s a slow learner.
After hearing the following story, I couldn’t resist passing it along:
There was a family of wayward church members—a father and three sons who once were active in their church. The preacher visited them often, but to no avail. One day, a rattlesnake bit the youngest son, John. The doctor came and pronounced his condition grave. The father quickly sent for the preacher to come and pray for John’s recovery. This was his prayer:
“Oh wise Heavenly Father, we thank thee that thou hast, in thy
Wisdom sent a rattlesnake to bite John, to bring him to his senses. He
Promised to become active in his church again and now Father, wilt thou
Send another rattlesnake to bite Same and one to bite Jim and one to bite the
Old man. It seems that what I couldn’t do, Thou hast done by sending a
Rattlesnake, so Lord, please send bigger and better ones soon. I thank
Seriously folks, people do seem to grow a lot when faced with their own mortality, snake bite or whatever. When a big life-threatening crisis comes along, most of us would welcome a few prayers. Some believe that God sends trouble to sinners as “divine punishment”. In the Old Testament, a man named Job lost everything he had. His so-called friends pointed out that his sins had brought on these catastrophes. But Job won the battle and said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Nothing could destroy Job’s faith.
Greek philosopher Plato, in his “Dialogues”, wrote about healing the body by healing the spirit, or soul. We must deal with our past, with our sins, or we go on punishing ourselves. According to Plato, it is through art and love that God breaks through to us. Or consider the lessons that came from Jesus of Nazareth. Medicine not only owes a great deal to people like Plato and Hippocrates, but also to Jesus. It was the humble Galilean who, more than any other historical figure, bequeathed to the healing arts their basic meaning and spirit. The lessons Jesus gave were based on unselfish love, and physicians would do well to remind themselves that without compassionate love, medicine degenerates into depersonalized methodology.
Now, let me introduce you to a dear friend and special lady, Gene H. Dixon, of Oakdale. She is the epitome of what this particular column is all about, because she just graduated from Louisiana Tech University at age 82. She enrolled the first time in 1946 and the second time in 2010. Gene is an inspiration to all who value learning and growing as long as you live. She said she may go back and sign up for something else. The commencement for Tech’s summer graduating class made this remark, “All you learned is that archway that you have passed through on the way to a newer world.”