Labor Day just passed. School just started. The routine for fall, winter, and spring just began. Just now life returns to "normal" (whatever that is).

Our children begin or return to school to "learn." Our teens begin or return to junior or senior high to "learn." Our young adult children begin or return to colleges to "learn," or to skill training to "learn." Many adults reenter the "track" created by job or career that requires us to "learn" for the business' sake. After Labor Day passes and fall routines resume, the emphasis shifts as much to learning as to doing.

What will be learned that will last a lifetime? What will be learned that will make a difference to our futures? What will be learned that will matter? How much will be learned only to be forgotten? How much will be learned never to be forgotten? How will our learning bless our lives? How will our learning curse our lives?

Someone suggests, "Learning is a wonderful thing. Learning produces better futures. Learning blesses by producing joy and fulfillment." I do not think Eve would agree. I do not think Lot's wife would agree. I do not think many of the Old Testament prophets would agree. I do not think that Ananias and Sapphira would agree.

Eve would testify that learning about evil is not a blessing. Lot's wife would testify that "learning the hard way" is not a blessing. The Old Testament prophets would testify that learning the way God deals with His rebellious children is not a blessing. Ananias and Sapphira would testify that learning how God feels about Christians who try to deceive Him is not a blessing.

The experience of learning does not necessarily bless. (That certainly is not the affirmation that ignorance produces blessings!) The lessons and messages produced by learning may or may not bless. Evil's purposes through learning never intend to bless. Righteousness' purposes through learning bless if the heart of the learner cherishes God. Learning is a fascinating process: the same learning produces powerful blessings in one person and just as powerful curses in another person.

A significant question: are we learning for the moment, for the future, or for eternity? Few people want to die physically. Many consider physical death as the beginning of nonexistence. Even many who express confidence in life after death have quiet, serious doubts about an existence after death. While we say that we do not want to die, rarely do we realize that we cannot cease to exist even if we prefer nonexistence.

Perhaps learning's most significant question is this: how will our existence after death be affected by what we learn? What we learn in this life determines our experiences after death. Fascinating! Sobering! So, what will you learn this fall?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 10 September 2000

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