I have to admit, the title may be a bit deceiving. I don’t really mean to ask you what God has been teaching you lately. There is quite a big problem with that question in the first place.
I go to a Christian college, and I have been asked that question a countless number of times when someone is just trying to make routine conversation. That’s the thing though: routine. The question has become a part of Christian culture and etiquette. During car rides, if that question doesn’t come up at least once, you’re not being a real Christian. If you go out to coffee with a fellow Christian and one of you fails to bring up the question, it is somehow less Christian. You have failed in your job to make disciples as Jesus commanded us to. It’s a way to keep our brothers and sisters accountable in their walks with God.
You see, we are taught to have an answer to that question. In our “quiet time”, its out job to learn what God is teaching us. This season of our life, God has something very specific to teach us. A verse that sticks out in our minds through scripture reading. God’s response to a prayer we’ve been praying lately. And we must receive that and apply it to our lives. Throughout our day, this one thing God has put on our minds becomes the focal point of all our thoughts and actions.
“I feel like God is teaching me how to put my identity in Christ and not in what I do.”
“God has really been convicting me lately. I think He is just refining me through the fire right now.”
“I’ve really just been learning how to be patient with my future. I can’t see the future, so I’m just trusting that things will work out.”
“God is showing me how to let go of all my past wounds.”
With nothing against the content of these answers in themselves, how cliché are they? They sound almost like automated and rehearsed thoughts.
I have a problem with that.
What do I do when I haven’t rehearsed the answer to that question? What do I do when I don’t know what God has been teaching me? Or if He is even involved in my life now at all? What happens when I’m struggling to hear from God? What if I’m doubting the existence of God in the first place?
In all of those situations, “What has God been teaching you lately?” is the last question you wants to hear.
I have been in that very situation many times before. Every once in a while, I will actually have an answer to that question. I’ll be able to point them to a bible verse that has been speaking to me in a profound way to me lately. But most times when I’m asked that question…
I have a confession…
I usually lie.
It’s true. I completely make something up to satisfy the person who asks me. I feel an obligation to fit the Christian mold. To be a good Christian. Someone who is always aware of how God is working in my life.
But I’ve got to be honest. I go through times of doubt and seasons where all I can hold onto is the mustard seed sized faith that is left in me. I could not even begin to tell you where God is. When the only thing (and I mean ONLY thing) that keeps me from leaving the faith is not knowing where else to go to. It’s moments like those when I always seem to get asked what God has been teaching me in my life.
I have no idea. I don’t know what He is teaching me. I don’t know where He is. I don’t even know if He is real.
Maybe it’s just a temporary place that I’m in right now, but I rarely ever seem to have an answer to that question.
Actually, let me rephrase.
I always do have an answer to that question. I just gave it. The answer that I don’t have is the answer that’s expected from me. But I can’t give my real answer because the questioner is not ready for that conversation. Underlying that question is just the want for someone to find out what book of the Bible I’ve been reading lately or whether I’m putting my identity in Christ or failing in that regard.
In my experience, that question is more harmful than it is helpful. We normally ask that question without taking in to account what the other person may be going through.
But Christ changes things.
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit.” – Jesus.
There is no reason for us to be afraid of our own brokenness, as it is the avenue through which God empowers us by his Spirit. This process can be taking place invisibly without us consciously learning something specific from God during the transformation. What really becomes important in moments like these is the faith that there really is a transformation going on regardless of whether it is visible at the moment or not.
So, what has God been teaching you lately?
I’m not sure right now, but I believe he is transforming me into who I was created to be.