We are enjoying summer in Germany. A couple of times we pretended to be tourists and encountered a variety of weather patterns. Some days were "perfect" with sunshine and a few puffy clouds, creating a great backdrop for memorable photos. Some days were just a bit too warm which made us want to stop to rest and have ice cream. Sometimes it poured.
During one especially heavy downpour, we were walking to a grocery store to get sandwich makings for our day's outing. We had umbrellas so one would expect that only our feet would get wet. Yes, one would expect that. However, when we got to the grocery store and I stepped into the coolness, I realized that, even though I had used an umbrella, I was soaked to the point that I could wring water out of my shirt. David was dry except for a bit around his feet. In spite of being wet, I dripped my way around the store getting what we needed. We then we headed back to where we were staying to make our sandwiches.
As we walked back in a lighter rain, I finally figured out why I had gotten so wet. I wasn't holding the umbrella properly. I agree that I'm a grown adult and should know how to use an umbrella. Instead of holding the umbrella horizontally above me, I held it at an angle like a grand lady shielding myself from the sun. In so doing, I was creating a very efficient slide so that the water could run down my back. I was not using that rain tool correctly.
Do we use the tools of our faith correctly? There are many tools such as the Bible, prayer, the church and the people in it. This is a set of tools that work best when used together. Our textbook, the Bible, needs to be read and studied regularly. If a student opens a textbook only during class; or the Bible rarely, not much is learned.
Any church that accurately teaches from the Bible provides a great classroom for learning. The people of the church should also be part of our spiritual growth as everyone studies and learns together.
Prayer guides our understanding of the Bible and enriches our relationship with God. Just as speaking with our spouse or friend only when we have an emergency is hard on the relationship, prayer should not be reserved only for emergencies or when we want something. Talking with God and listening to God are essential. We don't often think of spending time listening during prayer, do we? But isn't speaking and listening a part of any conversation between friends? "You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my father I have made known to you" John 15:14-15.
Just as it's good to use an umbrella properly to avoid getting soaked, we benefit greatly when we properly use the tools God has given. "The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward" Psalm 19:7-11. "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" 2 Timothy 2:15.