Learn From the Past

A classroom setting viewed from the back of the room. An instructor is standing at the front of the room with about a dozen older adults seated in chair facing her. Light is coming in from open windows on the left side of the room, illuminating the red furniture upholstery and stone walls of the interior.

I see news reports of things happening in the world and those reports continue to seem eerily familiar. Have you noticed that, too? Wars, riots, starvation, and such, all provide a sense of deja vu.  They have been a part of human history ever since we were created. Why is that? One reason is that we fail to learn from the past.

A Familiar Tale

The idea that we fail to learn from the past has been around a long time. People like Winston Churchill and George Santayana have put it into paraphrase, as have many others. I see the same mistakes made over and over again, and shake my head. I’m pretty sure you do the same thing, too. What’s distressing is that it also happens in my personal life! I make the same mistakes over and over again, and apparently I sometimes fail to learn from the past. I’m pretty sure you do the same thing, too.

Why do we do that? Part of it is that we fail to learn from the past, but there’s a more practical reason. We repeat mistakes because we don’t seek God.

Learn From the Past

When you train your children you have to be patient because they make mistakes. Constantly. The temptation to get frustrated is always lurking because you see them making the same bad decisions. You’ve been careful to teach them the best way to do things, but invariably they decide to ‘go it alone’ and trouble results. Then they come running to you for consolation. Sound familiar?

The root of the frustration you feel is that you’ve led them to do the right thing, and yet they still don’t listen. They don’t seek your help or wisdom, even though you are always there to provide it. The consequence is – you guessed it – they fail to learn from the past. What they fail to learn from the past is that they fail to learn to listen to you.

A Little Child

Matthew 18:2-4

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  (NKJV)

Why did Jesus use a little child? It’s because children are easy to lead (when they pay attention). Children trust you, and take your word as truth. Children aren’t self-sufficient. Most importantly, Children learn from the past. It’s not that they learn the results of actions as much as it is that they learn to listen to you!

Children embody everything we ought to be in our relationship with the Father. As I learn how to come to God ‘as a little child’ I learn how to hear His voice. The more I listen to Him the more I want to listen to Him.

That, in my opinion, is what it means to learn from the past.

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