Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

August 15, 2013

Back to School thoughts

By Bill Tinsley
Corsicana Daily Sun

— Just when summer starts to sizzle, it is almost over.  The aisles at Walmart and Target are already filled with crayons, construction paper and glue. Nothing is more inspiring than the unspoiled thrill of children gathering their supplies to go back to school.

When my wife was a child she spent days organizing her supplies in her backpack anticipating the first day back at her desk. When she became a kindergarten teacher, she faced the greater challenge of organizing children armed with crayons and markers in a room with freshly painted walls.

It will soon be time to put away the lazy days of sleeping late, TV, video games, camp and vacations to wake before sunrise and wait for the bus. Going back to school forms the rhythm of our lives, as surely as the first crisp scent of fall and the turning of green leaves to gold. We will soon wake up to the echo of school bands, coaches’ whistles and the smack of shoulder pads practicing for the big game.  

Going back to school is an international event. In Latvia children of all ages, whether starting first grade or a Masters degree, celebrate the start of school with flowers on Sept. 1. In Ghana, Liberia and Guinea grinning children, eager with anticipation, line up to learn. Teaching and learning is essential to the human experience, filling the mind with hope and dreams for the future.

Jesus said “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” Who we follow as our teacher matters.

Perhaps many find Christianity boring and meaningless because they have never discovered the joy of following the Master Teacher and learning from Him daily. Jesus’ invitation to follow Him is an invitation to each of us to go “back to school” with all the child-like enthusiasm and wonder of children skipping expectantly onto the school yard. That is the meaning of the word, disciple.

I was visiting with my best friend’s seven-year-old granddaughter, a very bright girl entering second grade. I said, “You are very smart. But it is important as you grow up to be wise.” I asked, “Do you know the difference between being smart and being wise?”  “Sure,” she said, “smart is knowing that 3 + 3 equals 6. Wise is doing the right thing.” I think she nailed it.

No person ever lived that was as wise as Jesus. Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount by telling the story of two men who built houses, one on the sand and one on rock.  When the storm came, the house on the sand crumbled and the house built on rock survived.  

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them,” Jesus said, “may be compared to the wise man who built his house upon the rock.”

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Bill Tinsley is former Associate Executive for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. He lives with his wife, Jackie, in Rockwall. He may be reached by email bill@tinsleycenter.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com