We won’t graduate until our last breath, says Jeff Lucas. And even then we’ll be translated into an eternity of delightful discovery
I have never been that practical, which is odd because I was raised in a family of maintenance engineers. My father, brother, uncle and cousin all worked for the same company, repairing and maintaining escalators and lifts. Happily, I didn’t follow in their footsteps, a wise choice for me and the world. If I’d signed up, thousands would still be stranded between the fourth and fifth floors of various office buildings and blocks of flats.
Our children learned early that Daddy was not the one to call when something needed to be repaired, assembled or installed. I wish I could report that our children would giggle with delight as their father skilfully tackled some routine DIY jobs. In reality, fear would grip our household and a time of intercessory screaming would begin as I put up shelves (temporarily, as they never stayed up), dealt with that blocked toilet (you don’t want to know) or, horror of horrors, attempted to put some furniture together, armed and dangerous with a screwdriver and a set of instructions unhelpfully printed in Swedish. After many hours of huffing and puffing, the wardrobe would finally be built, with only a minor piece missing…like a door.
And so, somewhere during my journey, I decided that DIY was just beyond me. I was not destined to do it myself, so I spent decades paying others to do stuff for me. Occasionally I would feel a flush of envy when a friend told me he’d dismantled and reassembled a car transmission in eleven minutes, but generally I concluded: that’s not my gift. I’d stay in my lane and not bother to try to learn new skills. Until recently.
Admittedly, I’ve been helped by the technological advances that now provide us with YouTube videos detailing step-by-step instructions on how to change a plug, fix a leak or build a nuclear reactor. So, faced with a bevy of odd jobs that needed to be done, I decided to dust off my toolbox, watch a few online tutorials and do my best. After decades of insisting that I couldn’t fix a thing, a few minor accomplishments are now under my belt.
My DIY development was not without its challenges, however. When a toilet cistern refused to stop filling itself, I encouraged Kay with the news that I could sort it in a jiffy. She learned that, in my book at least, a jiffy is actually an undetermined measurement of time. Six hours later, two visits to the local hardware store, a lot of thoroughly unchristian muttering and a minor flood in the room that sits below the offending cistern, all was remedied. With a little effort mingled with some determination, I’ve discovered that while old dogs don’t generally respond well to those who try to teach them new tricks, old guys can keep learning.
As apprentices of Jesus, we’re all called to be lifelong learners who never graduate until their last breath, and even then are translated into what will surely be an eternity of delightful discovery. But decades of pastoral ministry have shown me that the greatest growth in Christians is usually in their very earliest years of faith. Thrilled by the good news and hungry to mature in faith, new converts often experience an amazing growth spurt.
Faith can often descend into dull habit as the years or decades pass. Having spent a lot of time around fellow Christian leaders, I’ve observed that some of us stopped actively seeking and learning a while ago, and are now living on the fumes of earlier discoveries.
So let’s consider if we’ve settled down, and ask the amazing Jesus to enrol us again in his kingdom academy.
And if you’re cursed with a flooding toilet cistern, then fear not, because I’m your man. I’ll be there in a jiffy.