Some of us are slow learners, maybe most of us. When I spent three years as a Jr. High basketball coach, we started every practice almost the same way. We had ball handling drills, passing drills, shooting rotations, and defensive footwork. Every night, five days a week for one month, we practiced skills while learning the basics of basketball.
In a perfect world, the kids would have listened to our coaching, then practiced the moves once and had it memorized for any future setting where it was needed. That is not the nature of humanity. We need to be shown the correct way to do things over and over while trying to do it on our own.
I imagine God as the ultimate coach. He looks down on our life and says, “This is what they need to work next.” We go through an experience or a season, and we learn the moral lesson he is teaching us. We might think that is the end of the story; lesson learned, now move on to the next thing as we are prepared for the future. But that is not how life works. We must repeatedly be taught the most basic principles of what it means to follow Jesus.
God has been teaching me to more patient with people. He wants me to show mercy and grace to those who behave in ways I do not understand. The lesson is one that stretches me as I suffer through people’s short-sightedness and personal issues. I wish I could tell you that he has shown me this one time and I learned my lesson. No, God has been far more persistent than that with me. He keeps showing me the same concept in one encounter after another. This has been happening week after week, year after year, for what seems like decades.
There are few life skills that God teaches us with one experience. Most of the time, we must be shown over and over to get the point. The question is often not, “What new do I need to learn today?” Instead, it is, “What do I need to relearn that I should have mastered long ago?”