From the moment of infancy, children are taught to learn about things – eating to survive, crying to get attention, smiling to get more love and attention. Then as toddlers children learn to crawl, then walk, and this is all a process that has gone on from the beginning of all time. God was there always, giving the child the means to find a way to survive and iive and thrive. When children go to school, there is the learning to make the mind facile and inquisitive. To watch their teachers and learn what they are taught, to take on the attitudes of their friends and elders. They sit at home at the kitchen table or dinner table and listen to their parents and grandparents talk of politics, and manners and people who have been significant in their lives. If the children are lucky, there are books to read and devour and learn from to think more, to have the ideas with which to reach for intangible things – life, love, happiness and that one thing that they will always strive for – Heaven.
Yet something gets in the way, doesn’t it? Have you seen it happen too many times? Our young children start to follow the wrong things and people. They ape their heroes and heroines – they smoke, take drugs, dress like harpies, get into bed too soon with the wrong ones, and then they bring all these hurts and take them to new relationships and jobs and cities and all of that follows. Their parents, we – or their elders – the aunts and uncles – we sit helpless. We remember how these children are and were, when they were just from the womb, wrapped in blankets and bonnets. All slightly wrinkled and toothless. Smiling up at someone, not us, but at some other One who looked down at them and gave them that spark of life.
So what happens with the learning? Where did the learning go wrong? Who made this learning fall into a pit of snakes? I do think that smoking is the first thing that happens to a child – it happened to me. I went to work at a hospital in my first job while in collge. In that hospital, I was with a group of ICU nurses and staff. They all would gather in one of the empty rooms and have a smoke. I was there and felt out of place. So I smoked too. My Dad found out – my room reeked of smoke and the ashtray was under my bed. He was a calm and authoritative man, and told me to stop smoking. There was something in his voice that told me that he meant business. And so I did stop smoking.
But what of the others who pass through without an authority figure in their lives, smoking cigarettes then on to weed, then cocaine and then on to oblivion?
These are the ones that you might call “lucky” because their lives are short but miserable. They don’t wreak havoc on their loved ones, they miss out on the people who would have helped them back on track, they don’t get into more trouble, cause fires, cause heartbreak, or God knows what else. They learn the wrong things. They reach for the people who tell them this is the Good Life. They like the fast cars, the big mansions, the easy money, the fashionable houses – the modeling, the grimy cities that promise success.
The Learning I am talking about is the Learning that tells a child that this is the true way and the path to getting OLD. Yes, OLD. Why do the young live a short life and then die into oblivion? Because they made a choice to learn and reach for things that led them to death. You can do that math – that connection of dots. Think on your own lives and the lives of those who never made it past 18 or 25 or 30.
Why did I want to talk about Learning today? Because we all keep learning Something. What that Something is, is really a cooperation between you and God. Yes, God. Here’s that God word again, you say. Well, it’s true. Here’s another word – Satan. A child is a big deal to both God and Satan. Satan wants the children. He is salivating even now to snatch a child into his clutches and make this child become him and be as evil as sin and as death. There are so many of these seemingly untouched children out there. They made the wrong choices and reached for the bad things in the world. And then they use the knowledge that only Satan can give them and make others sad, suffer, or die. Every day.
The Learning is an important concept. God taught us that first Learning. In Eden. Each of us goes through The Learning in our own Eden. Who is the serpent in your life? What will you and your children do when the serpent lifts its rattle and tells you to eat that luscious ‘apple’? Where will you find recourse? Who will you call to get you out of the pit of vipers? What will you say or pray? Will there be grace to give you to pray and call God’s name? If you do call God’s name, then the Learning will have been successful because God hears you when you utter His name. And He will take you back into His loving arms to heal and forgive.