(Today’s article is a guest post from our brother, Mark Twombly. Mark originally published this article on his blog in April 2020; he has graciously allowed me to repost it with some slight edits. I’m sure you’ll find its content still just as relevant today.)
Make me know Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.
I wake up desperate. No matter how refreshed my rest, my mind just takes off, and more often than not in a negative direction, one that, if left in its default mode, will sink into anxiety and depression.
I desperately need God to teach me.
Earlier this week I read Psalm 119:66: “Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.” Strongly implied here is that I will be lost unless God directs me—and so will you. Objectively speaking, the amount that we don’t know is infinitely greater than the amount that we do.
God began to bring to mind other verses with the phrase “teach me,” and so I did a search for the phrase in the Bible. It occurs 18 times. Here are those references—all of them! Enjoy: Job 6:24; 34:32; Psa 25:4-5; 27:11; 86:11; 119:12, 26, 33, 64, 66, 68, 108, 124, 135, 171; 143:8, 10.
Teachability and Desperation
Commenting on Psalm 119:66, Charles Spurgeon in The Treasury of David writes (emphasis mine):
A sight of our errors and a sense of our ignorance should make us teachable. We are not able to judge, for our knowledge is so sadly inaccurate and imperfect; if the Lord teaches us knowledge we shall attain to good judgment, but not otherwise. The Holy Ghost alone can fill us with light, and set the understanding upon a proper balance: let us ardently long for his teachings, since it is most desirable that we should be no longer mere children in knowledge and understanding.
“Teach me” is a prayer that the Lord will ALWAYS answer.
Teachability and Clarity
Theologian Wayne Grudem, speaking on the clarity of Scripture, writes in his systematic theology, “The clarity of Scripture means that the Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God’s help and being willing to follow it.” We recognize from the Bible itself that, to truly learn, both our minds and our wills must be receptive (Psa 111:10, John 14:21).
Teachability and Deception
But I wonder: Do you and I truly understand our need here? Consider Proverbs 28:26: “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.”
That’s a strong word, swimming against the cultural current of “trust your heart” and “you do you.”
I have been amazed at how my perception/emotions have differed from reality. I can recall the first time Proverbs 28:26 truly landed in my heart. I had just completed a work project that I had thought had gone totally off the rails. I was then told by the account executive how pleased the customer was with the results and that she had never seen this kind of project go so well. I was stunned. I knew I had a problem. My perception was opposite reality. Admittedly, there are countless times when my perception of myself is positive and the reality is negative, and those are far more common!
I recall when John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash in 1999. He was a relatively inexperienced pilot who declined an offer by one of his flight instructors to accompany him on his final, tragic flight. The final cause was determined to be “spatial disorientation,” which Wikipedia summarizes as the “inability to determine one’s position, location, and motion relative to their environment.” “In aviation, spatial disorientation occurs when aircrew’s sensory interpretation of their position or motion conflicts with reality.” JFK Jr. had not qualified to fly with instruments only, which is required when visibility is lost or impaired. The NTSB concluded “that the crash was caused by an inexperienced pilot who became disoriented in the dark and lost control.” In brief, JFK Jr. thought he was going up when he was going down, and, tragically, it cost him his life and the lives of his wife and sister-in-law.
The AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) says of spatial disorientation: “Pilots can avoid relying on their ‘feelings’ to guide them in flight by learning to fly by reference to their instruments.”
Might we say the same thing of us even as Christians? Proverbs 28:26 is telling us that there are times—perhaps many more times than we care to admit—that we need to act against our feelings and trust our “instruments,” that is, the Scriptures. What seems right to us, may in fact be deadly, perhaps eternally so (Pro 14:12).
Or, as Spurgeon reminded us earlier, “A sight of our errors and a sense of our ignorance should make us teachable,”—to put it mildly.
Teachability and Transformation
I trust you remain more convinced than ever of your need to learn, to be taught.
A while back I wrote about the importance of teachability, which is the litmus test of wisdom. Is it too much to say that a disciple must be a follower, and a teacher a learner? We must look at what we are doing with what we know and what we are modeling to others.
Let’s keep learning, and enjoy the process of transformation. We have the very best Teacher who walks with us.
Lord, teach me!