A supply list for success

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4, 5

Steven J. Pagels

This is the time of year when millions of American families participate in the annual ritual known as back-to-school shopping. I don’t have to tell you how expensive that can be. Last year the average cost of school supplies for an elementary school student surpassed $100. Add on sports fees, instrument rentals, and field trips, and the cost jumps to more than $500.

Most parents bite the bullet and buy everything on the teacher’s list because they want to give their children the tools they will need to succeed. There is no guarantee, however, that having a desk full of supplies will lead to academic success. If you want to excel in the classroom, you don’t have to spend all kinds of money. According to David, what every student really needs is a good attitude and a good teacher.

An eager student

When I picture David, I see a shepherd boy with a staff in his hand or a king wearing a golden crown. I have never imagined David as a student sitting behind a desk, and yet that is how the psalmist describes himself in Psalm 25. He is eager to learn. He is asking for guidance. More than anything else, he wants the Lord to lead him down the right path.

It wasn’t always that way for David, though. There were times when he charted his own course, when he chose to go his own way, when he put his trust in his own instincts and intelligence. David pleaded with God not to remember the sins of his youth and his rebellious ways (Psalm 25:7) as he struggled to move on from his less-than-perfect past.

Can you relate? Do you wince when you recall some of your past sins? Do you ever wish that you could go back in time and undo what you did? Do you get frustrated because nothing you do is able to remove those permanent marks from your record? There is a way to get rid of your guilt, but you don’t need to be better or try harder to do it. Instead, David invites you to take a seat next to him at the feet of the master teacher.

More than a teacher

Jesus’ disciples called him “Teacher” because he was a teacher. Jesus was the world’s greatest teacher. He spoke with perfect clarity because he was perfect. He always spoke the truth because he is the Truth. But the lessons Jesus taught went far beyond the classroom, and the words of David remind us of that.

Some teachers do nothing more than stand in the front of the class and tell their students what they need to do to pass. Better teachers roll up their sleeves and do everything they can to help their students succeed. But only one teacher in the history of the world took it upon himself to do something his pupils could never do. Jesus took our place to rescue us from eternal death. He passed every test. He has erased every mistake. He has defeated every enemy.

As a result we have hope. Like David, you and I have hope “all day long” because our Teacher is also our Savior.

Contributing editor Steven Pagels is pastor at St. Matthew’s, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.



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Author: Steven J. Pagels
Volume 103, Number 8
Issue: August 2016

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