It’s time to start paying closer attention to the big yellow buses and blinking school zone signs. There’s excitement in the air, and depending on who you ask, maybe a little dread too. School can be the greatest blessing and the greatest challenge all at the same time, for students, teachers, and parents.
I consider a good education very important and extremely valuable. I can say that with earnestness now that I’m way beyond my high school years. I speak from experience because I took it for granted when I was actually going to classes back then.
Now, mind you, I was not the type to play hooky. I always did my homework, even as a sophomore when I was homebound for several weeks with mononucleosis. I remember reading and studying George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” for an English class report while I was infirmed. My sister took it back to the teacher when it was completed. I never made it back to that class but still made an A.
I moved away from my hometown and state years ago, so geography put distance between me and my high school friends. Some of us have reconnected thanks to social media. The columns I’ve written for this newspaper have been posted online and on social media which has given those friends and opportunity to read them.
One of those friends recently posted a comment online and tagged my high school American Literature teacher, Mr. Bruce Starnes. So, he saw it too. It was a little humbling.
It was humbling because even though I finished every single homework assignment and made nothing less than a B, I never really got it. I learned what to do to make the grades but somehow missed the point of letting those lessons shape and give direction to the rest of my life. Yes, the good grades helped me get accepted into college, but the reality of it is, I was good at the tasks but clueless about the purpose. Therefore, I had no idea what I was doing at college once I got there. I got through much of college the same way.
I am solely responsible for not taking it seriously and for missing out on what was being given to me. If I had taken even just a little bit of time to consider the bigger picture of my life along with its potential length and potency, maybe it wouldn’t have taken me decades to figure it out. Mr. Starnes replied to that online comment with the notion that necessity finally ended up being the teacher that I listened to. He’s still passing on wisdom.
I was blessed with excellent English teachers throughout my education. I wrote lots of papers and made good grades, but I never accepted that as the hope and promise for my life. I can come up with lots of reasons and excuses about why I dismissed it then, but I see it now. It took me nearly forty years to be able to say, “Yes, I’m a writer.”
When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush He said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3:7-8)
Fast forward a couple of years and you’ll find Moses and the Israelites standing within eyesight of the land that God had already said was good and flowing with milk and honey. It was what God had promised them. It was a place where they would prosper. It was where they were meant to be. It was their future.
They had survived plagues, hunger, and river crossings to get there. They had been led and protected by God throughout the entire journey. Now, there it was right in front of them. It was theirs for the taking, with only a few obstacles to overcome. They said no, thank you. They let go of the very thing for which they were spared. They missed the whole point of the journey and the assignment. They didn’t accept the “good” that God promised them.
They ended up wandering around looking for it for forty years. I completely understand that one. The thing is, they didn’t have to, I didn’t have to, and neither do you. So, sharpen your pencils and listen up. There’s some good news. God has promised His kingdom to those who will say yes. Saying yes could spare you the detour and you just might hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Originally posted August 14, 2016 on www.walterborolive.com