Christian CLEP or “grade skippers”
Waiting… waiting… waiting. “HURRY UP, GOD! I’ve got places to go, people to meet, ministry to do…” “Can’t I just take a test and skip this grade?” “I’ve memorized this story and learned this lesson, so could we just skip this part and let me move on to the ‘deep’ stuff?”
Maybe I’m exaggerating feelings a bit here, but I wonder how many of us have twinges of thoughts like the words expressed above. We placate one another with platitudes like: “God’s timing is not our timing…” and other similar pithy consolations while we try to convince ourselves we’re comfortably confident in our waiting modes.
I don’t mean to sound flippant; especially as a person who is in the midst of experiencing a “wait upon God” segment of their Christian journey, but I feel we underestimate the value of our waiting time or we revert to tolerating the wait time effectively “waiting out the wait” and missing the experience and capturing the wisdom gleaned by living through it.
My nature, for most of my life, has been “hurry up and wait.” I was always thinking about the next step or the next thing as a kid growing up. I couldn’t wait to get to middle school, I couldn’t wait to get to high school, I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license, and on and on. This attitude probably wasn’t so much different than a lot of people at my age. I can look back in retrospect and see how I missed so many valuable experiences by trying to rush through life to get to the next thing or reach the next milestone. I missed much of my high school experience by trying to rush through it. I missed opportunities in my military experience because I pushed and pressed my way through it. I missed some precious moments in the early years of my children for reasons of accelerating the pace of life and live with regret today for it.
Like I said, I don’t think I am the only one who suffers from this arrive-before-you’re-ready weakness. I’m probably not the only one who has had the character trait affect their Christian experience either. One thing I have learned, and continue to learn, is that wisdom is not something that can be purchased nor can it be gained through proxy. Wisdom is most often learned firsthand and earned through personal experience. This is the gift of waiting upon the Lord and I think this one of the primary discipleship tools (waiting) of the Holy Spirit. As I’ve pondered this character flaw of mine, I’ve thought about positive and negative examples of its impact in other areas of life.
One example of “rush training” was illustrated in the movie Platoon which depicted some dramatizations of the Vietnam War. At the height of the escalation of that war many young troops and officers were being rushed through training and moved directly to the front of the war. The result was many casualties because some of the young men were bereft of experience. They may have been furnished the theoretical knowledge, but the lack of firsthand experience in the realities of combat (especially jungle warfare and guerrilla tactics) proved insurmountable to many of the young men.
A second example I thought of was kids who skip grades or students who CLEP their way through classes and some students who have been homeschooled. All of these categories include gifted and talented people/students who are able to manage and accelerate their learning tracks through middle school, high school, college, and beyond. The question remains though, is it necessary or beneficial to do this. Studies have proven that valuable skills are learned through social interaction that might be missed by skipping grades. There are also considerations that involve emotional maturity related to age, season of life, and social interaction as well. Some classes and/or experiences require prerequisites before advancing… This, I believe, can be said for the Christian experience too.
I think of Joseph who in his immaturity boasted of the dreams and visions that were clearly God-inspired to his brothers. I wonder what might have happened or what the circumstances may have been if he had ascended to leadership without the tempering of his Potiphar’s wife experience or his Egyptian prison experience. Would Joseph have been the same humbled and brilliant leader under different circumstances or was waiting through the experiences necessary? What about King David’s life? I wonder if David had been crowned King immediately following his defeat over Goliath if he would have become the King that would unite the nation of Israel. Was his experience in the desert wilderness necessary to temper him for leadership?
I think we can underestimate the time of waiting on the Lord and by underestimating the wait; we might miss valuable lessons and relationship building with our God. He longs to teach us things beyond our comprehension and lessons that will prepare us for things we know not of. I’m beginning to get an understanding of this now at this later stage of my life. I’ve foregone skipping grades and trying to CLEP out of seasons of life and opted for soaking as much wisdom from the Holy Spirit as I can. My only regret is that I would not have rushed through so much at earlier stages of my journey with Jesus. I’m thankful for God’s grace and patience with me through those years… and even now. Amen.
I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken. Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. God has spoken plainly, and I have heard it many times: Power, O God, belongs to you… Trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2, 5, 11, 8, 6)