The Master and the Student
By Debbie Brown
I am 41 years old. I have been married for 19 years and have a 9 year-old son and a 6 year-old daughter. I’ve had several different jobs, lived in many different places, and have had a variety of experiences, both wonderful and difficult. One would think I should know how to navigate my life by now. Yet I still get caught off guard by difficulties, and things don’t go as smoothly as I would like.
I wish I could manage my life better. I wish I could get to a point where I’ve achieved some sort of mastery over it. Things would be so much more automatic and easy. When a child gets upset about something, I would quickly come up with the solution. When my marriage hits a bump, I would intuitively know how to handle it. Even though it may get complicated at times, I could still overcome challenges with work, schedules, and responsibilities. It would be so wonderful to know that whatever happens, It’s okay, I’ve got this.
But who of us can truthfully say that? Life is wildly unpredictable, and we end up feeling like failures. We read parenting books, organize closets, start a new workout, change our diets, go to seminars, listen to podcasts… striving for the day when we finally have a handle on our life.
The truth is, we will never get to that point. In God’s great mercy, He allows curve-balls we weren’t expecting, which help us to see we aren’t in control. We still desperately need Him. We will never be able to fit everything neatly into its labeled box and keep the lid on, because this world, our life, and the people we live it with, are far more complex than our finite selves can tame.
Instead of hoping to achieve mastery, let’s look at each day as an opportunity to learn from, and walk with, the One True Master. “For from him and through him and for him are all things.” (Romans 11:36 NIV) He knows what is required in every situation. He is the Master of our spouse, our kids, our work, even our own selves. It’s ridiculous to think we need to figure it all out when we have The Master of It All standing beside us. Instead, our first response needs to be that of a surrendered servant: “Change me. Grow me. Make me the person you want me to be in this situation.”
The other day I was reorganizing some things in a storage closet and came across old high school photos. It was shocking to see myself and remember who I used to be. I was so different back then. My shyness and insecurities held me like a straight jacket. I can’t say I’ve totally overcome all of that now, but I’ve had victory after victory and have grown so much since then. I feel like a different person.
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29 NIV) God’s goal for us in this life isn’t for us to become masters of it. He already has that position filled. His goal is to make us more like Jesus. He will always be the Master, and we will always be the students. And as we let go of our desire to master our lives better, we can do what Jesus has invited us to do from the beginning: “Follow Me.”