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Staying Sharp


by Carol Elaine Loperena



Woman teacher sitting at a desk teaching in front of laptop

When we forget everything we thought we knew.


Remember when you would come back to school from Christmas break and your mind would feel like it hurt by the end of the first day? Your teacher would stand at the front of the classroom and look over a sea of blank faces. If you are a minister or Sunday School teacher, you probably experience that just about every week. You read the same lessons year in and year out as those of us in the pew try to reorient ourselves to the task of listening and understanding after being absent for a week. Some of us will have read the scriptures or a devotional on our own during the week. Some of us may think we already know the lessons all too well. After all, we’ve heard the stories often over the years since childhood.


I was reminded of how easy it is to forget those lessons as I returned to the slopes for another season of skiing last year. We went to a ski area that we hadn’t been to in several years. On a busy weekend in a new environment, I felt like I had forgotten everything I knew about skiing. Unsure of my surroundings, I hesitated and made newbie mistakes, even though I have been skiing for some 30 years off and on.

The same kind of thing can happen to us when we find ourselves in new and unexpected circumstances. Presented with surroundings that don’t elicit the most holy behavior, it seems like everything we learned in church has vaporized into thin air. The only thing that echoes through the air is an unkind word, an expletive, or an inappropriate comment. Even as a minister you have certainly had the times where you wish you could reset the moment and phrase something in a different, more scripture-based light. Or perhaps we choose to go to a movie that we know to be violent or unhealthy for our lives. Being in a setting that is outside of our church environment requires a continual review of all the lessons we think we know so well.

Survival in the midst of a pandemic makes it easy for us to think that we can put connecting with and financially supporting our church on the back burner until things get back to normal; that we don't have to learn a new way of experiencing spiritual growth and connection. But in reality, the new mountains we have to face require us to do whatever it takes to safely connect with our church teachers and leaders. If that means attending church regularly via video streaming, or learning how to do an on online Bible study as a church leader, then do it we must.

Next time you are in church, virtual or otherwise, as you listen to the lesson or even read the lesson to your listeners, think closely about the guidance God is trying to give us for our daily lives in the real world. It’s one thing to do math problems or grammar exercises in the classroom, and quite another to remember how to use what we have learned outside of the classroom. By the same token, it’s one thing to hear God’s word in church, and quite another to remember how to apply it to our daily and often challenging circumstances. As you strive to live what you have learned, remember this: the goal isn’t to be a perfect person or a perfect minister. The goal is to walk with God and allow Him to teach us every day.

a man sitting on a comfortable chair looking at his mobile tablet

This devotional (excluding photos) is was first published on October 19, 2020 and is free to be reprinted for use in church newsletters or sermons as well as social networking venues. Please list JoySoul Corporation as the copyright holder. For other reprints, permission and/or licensing may be purchased by contacting JoySoul Corporation at 701-308-0594 or joysoul@joysoul.com.The author is a songwriter, devotional writer and business owner based in North Dakota.