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Walking Our Faith: Always learning

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

On Monday, I went to the medical offices at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center for a long overdue bone-density test. As I lay on the scanning table, Julie, the radiology nurse, and I got to talking about what training was required for her job.

As it turned out, Julie explained that she had been in radiology for more than 20 years, and over the course of those years, she had accumulated a number of certifications for different skills. Most recently, she studied for and received her EMT certificate because she wanted to add to her skill set. After I remarked on her achievements, she said, “Well, I am always learning.”

In the Bible, a young King Solomon was asked by God what he would want if he could ask for anything in the world? Solomon replied that he wanted wisdom and a heart that could discern right from wrong.

Mom and I have discussed Solomon’s choice many times, and we both agree it is the best choice. Of course, it’s easy to say that when all is well, when there’s enough money to pay for our housing and car, when we have a job and good health. Wisdom seems like a noble choice when all is going well.

But youth will fade, and what we think of as wealth today might not seem like much 20 years from now. So how do we determine what is of value? Would we still ask for wisdom in more difficult circumstances?

I’d like to suggest that the answer is still “yes.” Perhaps more so. For instance, if we lose our employment, we might face the choice whether to move or stay and hope for another job. Rather than tossing a coin, asking for God’s wisdom is the better choice. God knows the long game, not what looks easiest in the moment. 

How do we gain wisdom? I believe it requires two steps, and both require taking action.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” — James 1:5

First, we meet God in prayer and humbly ask that we be given wisdom to discern God’s best plan for our lives in this circumstance. And then each day we ask God to help us grow in wisdom, so that we might change our lives according to his best plan.

The point of praying for wisdom is not only an acknowledgment of our need for God’s help, but also an admission that we are willing to change.

The second action I would suggest, is that we become lifelong learners. Like Julie, we might always increase the boundaries of what we know whether it is in a field in which we already have years of experience, or if we are desiring to follow a new career path and learn something completely new to us.

Recently, I’ve begun taking two courses from a website called Coursera.org. This site allows you to take courses online from leading universities in the United States and around the world. Many people have used these courses to change career paths and gain certificates that allow them to obtain better jobs.

In my case, I am auditing two classes for free. I am auditing a class on historical fiction and a course on female mystics in medieval times. I’ve written historical novels and novels with a religious/mystical themes, so both courses are meaningful to my writing career. However, I’m also taking them simply because I love to learn.

As much as learning keeps our minds sharp and may help us obtain better jobs, I believe a love of learning has a greater benefit to ourselves and to our communities.

As we gain wisdom, we receive a greater respect for the value of each day, and plan accordingly to use our talents and time more efficiently. We value our health and become better caretakers of our bodies and our environment. We also become more aware of how our actions impact the lives of others.

Remember, when Solomon asked God for wisdom, he also asked for a discerning heart. He wanted to be able to deal in a just manner with his citizens.

As we learn, we are exposed to new ideas, our perspectives are broadened, and I believe this allows us, like Solomon, to develop discerning hearts, to see both sides of an argument, something we dearly need today.

“Happy is the person who finds wisdom. … Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.” — Proverbs 3:13, 17-18

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.


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