This week's devotion is by Tom Nelson. It continues our series on the values and goals described in the RLC strategic plan.

Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long. Be mindful of your mercy, O’Lord and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord. 

Psalm 25: 5-7

Learning and education were the most important things in my family growing up. I think that’s pretty well reflected considering two out of three of my parents’ children have PhDs. It was more important to be knowledgeable than it was to be strong. 

Unfortunately, I am the only one of siblings without a PhD. I only have a simple bachelor’s degree. I am, on the other hand, the only one of my siblings to have enlisted in the Marine Corps, or have enlisted in general. Despite the delightfully hilarious stereotype about Marines lacking intelligence, I found a large amount of smart individuals among the enlisted class of the Marine Corps. From the lowliest recruit to the crustiest staff sergeant you could find people who knew what they were doing, and did it well. Horace Mann called education “the great equalizer” and I have found his sentiment to be true. 

My life has also taught me not all of those with advanced degrees have become learned and not all of those who are learned have been through higher education. I learned quite a bit as a young man from folks I went to church with at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Clinton, IA. Vern Larson would give me lessons in woodworking and patience. Doug and Audrey Owen taught me how to sing. Most importantly, Pastor Fred Lubs taught me the joys of being a Lutheran. 

Pastor Lubs was a saint. He answered every weird question my brothers and I had about God, Jesus and the Bible. Even the inevitable, “why do bad things happen to good people?” and the classic “how did millions of years of evolution happen over six days?”. He didn’t just have an answer, he had a thoughtful and considered response. Pastor Lubs and many of the adults I knew in church growing up were rarely dismissive of questions, especially the hard ones. 

As I have grown older I can appreciate those adults who I knew growing up and the time they spent listening and answering questions. I have seen adults face those questions in our church from my own children, and I have also been given difficult questions from my children. I hope that I’m not dismissive and I try to get at their level to speak in a way they understand, so they feel as heard as I did. 

The Psalms are the poetry of the Bible; they offer a way for us to learn through verse. Oftentimes lessons through song or verse are the best way for things to be learned. Considering some of the oldest pieces of literature are epic poems passed down through word of mouth from elders to children and now through books. The church, our church, offers a place for children to pick up those ancient words of faith from everyone, through their actions and their words. 

In our strategic plan, we identified learning as one of four priorities. The act of bringing knowledge to one another is one of the most beautiful acts possible. Seeing the light in someone's eyes when they learn something new is miraculous. Even more so, when that individual is a youth. It is through the church and the gifts the church offers that we’re able to pass on what we know. Our faith, our knowledge and our community are all shared with one another through our ministry. 

To continue our church and ministry we are dependent on one another spiritually, emotionally and financially. The church isn’t possible without the generosity of its members. We can’t pass on our lessons without a community, and we can’t have a community without generosity. They are linked. 

When we learn together, we provide for our future. Sometimes that is through our children, and sometimes that is through the knowledge we all build together. Choose generosity and be part of the joyful learning we can experience when we join in the Forward in Faith Together Campaign at RLC.