Musings: Learning from Experience

My family has a lot of what you might call shade tree mechanics. Several are actual, honest to goodness mechanics, but many of them simple like to or know how to work on or with cars. Given many of them owned cars that required constant upkeep, it’s no surprise to find this a common skillset. My father was always pretty good at it and he tried to show me a few things here and there, mostly basics to keep a car running.

But all the lessons in the world are no match for actually spending time working on or with cars. Case in point. I was trying to get an old truck running that my father-in-law was basically giving me. The truth is, all it needed was a battery charge and it should have been good. No problem. I’ve had to use jumper cables on a few occasions (usually when I was a teenager and left my key in the ignition and the switch on to listen to the radio), so this was no big deal. I just had to match the positive to the positive the negative to a ground and voila, the truck she is fixed. Except that I wasn’t paying attention, assumed the left cable was positive (it was on my car), and connected the cables backwards.

I was really looking forward to having a truck again. I would have look to the future. I left it like that for about five minutes and tried to crank the truck, not realizing that I had reversed the polarity. It was an older truck, but it still had enough electronics to fry out most of the necessary systems. A little more experience or practice working on cars and I might have paid closer attention (something I am very careful to do now) and I might have had a truck.

Our faith life works in a similar way in that experience with our faith teaches us much. It can teach us how to hear, feel, listen to, and experience the Holy Spirit. It can teach us how to discern the moment, to hear what people aren’t saying when we interact with the family of God. It can teach us how to approach the bible with greater care and consideration for things like the history around it, the culture, other writings about it, not to mention simply being aware that we ourselves bring much of ourselves and our understanding to how interpret the bible. It can teach us to look beyond our local and personal traditions to see that there is not always just one way of interpretation. It can teach us to be aware and alive to the possibilities the Holy Spirit can open to us, if we allow experience and the desire to gain new experience to become tools of understanding and growth.

With that I ask you, what experiences have you had with the Holy Spirit? How do they shape you, drive you, teach you? What can you/are you open to learn from the greater library of experience around you?

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