Wouldn’t it be great if life came with instructions, some kind of course map that outlined all the major events (and the corresponding dates) scheduled to take place? You could consult it whenever you needed to – confirm a coming test or trial, brush up on the rules, jog your memory on the expectations and the objectives. You would know exactly how much weight each occurrence or incident would have on the overall outcome of your life. There would even be a phone number or e-mail of who you should contact if you get lost or confused.
Something like this, but, you know, less boring:
Back in class today, standing up in front of my students while coping with jet-lag and its nefarious pal, the pounding headache, I quickly recognized how off-track you can feel when you don’t have a detailed, balanced syllabus to consult. In my new electives this semester, I have not had a chance to complete the corresponding syllabi; thus, any directions or instruction I offered seemed to float about the room like fog, clearly present but making everything hazy. No matter how free-spirited you are, when things get confusing, all you want is order and organization. Order helps you keep a steady pace – organization spares you stressful surprises.
Some people refer to the Bible by the acronym Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth – they feel this is a great way to summarize the content as well as the purpose of what they consider to be God’s Word. I’ve always found the insinuation dull, that it robs Scripture of its mystery and controversy and strangely compelling influence. Treating the Bible like it’s a syllabus for living on planet earth is like believing The Lord of the Rings is a how-to guide for crafting and decorating jewelry. Sure, you may be able to glean some tips and a significant amount of inspiration, but the extent of what you have missed could fill the Bay of Belfalas.
We need more than a mere syllabus to embrace this life. We need confidence in our own story, and we need to see how thousands of other stories long past can still mirror our own ambitions, fears, hopes and anxieties. We need friendly classmates who make good partners, and we need to be responsible with the resources of which we are given charge. We need to understand that the more intentionally we analyze and evaluate and probe for truth, the wiser we will become.