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September 7, 2022
March 21, 2024

Life is a Classroom

All of the commandments throughout Scripture can be encapsulated by a two-part call—love God and love others (Matthew 22:36–40). But how can you love what you do not know? And how can you continue loving without continuing to know?

I remember sitting in an equipping class at The Austin Stone several years ago and being asked the question, “When God saves you, what is He saving you from?” I had not been a Christian for very long, and while I had always known God sent Jesus as my Savior, I was a little foggy on what I needed to be saved from. All sorts of answers popped into my head that I thought might be right: Satan? Sin? Hell? Didn’t God save me from all those things?

The teacher said, “God is saving you from Himself. He is saving you from the wrath that is due for sinning against Him.” My mind reeled with the realities of what she was saying. My understanding of and gratitude for God reached new heights. We had been enemies because of my sin. There was no greater threat against me than God Himself. Yet in His mercy, God made a way for His justice to be satisfied and His children redeemed. This is the gospel. Although I had heard it in many ways and at different times before this moment in class, something fresh and essential revealed itself through my teacher’s question.

God has designed our lives to be filled with opportunities to see Him more clearly and to love Him more fully. Each day we rise from our beds and interact with our families, coworkers, friends, neighbors, and even ourselves. Each of these experiences has meaning and purpose. They can sharpen our faith and grow our affection for God.

But there is an order to how we experience the world around us, isn’t there? Our lens for looking out can be one of two things. If our first and primary focus is on the world around us, all the pleasant and challenging circumstances of life, then it will shape how we see God. On the other hand, if our first and primary focus is on God and how He reveals Himself in the Bible, then He will be the lens that shapes how we see the world and all our relationships.

In short, our continual pursuit of knowing and seeing God will empower us to live the lives He has called us to live. As the mother of two toddlers, I can tell you some seasons are easier to keep learning about God a priority than others. But I will also tell you it is a lie to believe a particular season of life can keep you from intimacy with God. Being a mom of toddlers is the environment God has given me to push me closer to Him, not further away. In whatever season or emotional state you find yourself—thankful, connected, distracted, weary, exhausted, numb, or disappointed—God is pursuing you. He wants your heart, right now in this season.

God has given wonderful leaders to The Austin Stone to help you learn about God. Three ways we hope to help you grow are through Sunday worship gatherings, small groups with Christian friends, and equipping environments. All of these have been thoughtfully created to help you engage more with God, no matter what stage of life you are in.

How we live our lives matters. God made us to be life-long learners—because He loves us. By learning about Him, we can worship Him in the here and now. And continuing to learn of Him and love Him will ultimately lead us to our forever home with Him.

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Val Hamilton
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Austin Stone Institute
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