My mailbox was full of unwanted paper this morning – some of it was important, but unwanted, like bills; and a lot of it was just plain unwanted. My husband calls the latter “kindling”. But among all the unwanted stuff was a catalog listing upcoming community education classes.
I don’t often attend these classes offered by the local educators, mainly because the procrastination gene I was born with prevents me from actually sending in the registration form. I really do like to browse the catalog though, and I usually circle a couple topics that sound interesting.
I have noticed that the type of classes offered over the years has changed with the times. I remember that the primary classes offered twenty years ago were on things like sewing, cooking, and auto repair. These days the listing includes topics on resume writing, the ins and outs of eBay, and tips on investing in the stock market.
It’s interesting to note that although there are so many new offerings for community education, the old standbys are still quite popular. I’ll call them the “Appreciation Classes” – you know the ones: Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation, World Literature Appreciation; I’ve called the local community center to suggest that they offer a Wife Appreciation class next term, but they haven’t returned my calls.
Of course the idea behind these Appreciation Classes is to expose the participants to little-known background information about the composer, author, or artist in order to provide a new perspective. Understanding something of the artist’s environment, personality, and motivators opens our eyes to the significance of his or her work. For instance, knowing that Van Gogh was a pauper all his life, that he was not acknowledged as a talented artist until long after his death, and that he suffered severe depression because of it, helps us to recognize frustration and sadness in some of his work. Similarly, learning that Beethoven became deaf fairly early in life, and composed many of his works after the onset of deafness makes his masterpieces all the more remarkable!
As I leafed through the pages of the catalog, my mind was churning on the whole idea of Appreciation Classes. I was kidding of course, when I suggested the Wife Appreciation class, but I’m thinking that I really could use a class or two in Appreciation. Teenager Appreciation would be a good one for me. If I took the time to learn a bit about what motivates my kids or my husband to behave the way they do, I think I’d appreciate them more. At least I’d have a better understanding of the whys behind their actions, reactions, and inactions.
And to take this a step further, I’m certain that I could use a class on appreciating the Lord. So often I breeze through my day, running this errand or that one. Picking up one child or the other. Attending some function at church, or rushing to the store to grab something for dinner. I know there are whole days when I barely acknowledge that God had anything to do with my day. Oh sure, I may shoot up a quick prayer when I need something, but how heartfelt was it? And did I even say thank you?
In Philippians 3:10, Paul says, “I want to know Christ…” (NIV). The Amplified Bible expands this statement to read, “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly].” Imagine if this were the description of a class offered in your community education catalog! Sign me up!
I want to learn true appreciation for the Lord. I need get to know this Artist who so creatively fashioned the universe. The One who decided that pansies should look like faces wearing too much makeup, and who chose to make dolphins so playful, who assigned giraffes to be tree trimmers, and gave earthworms the job of tilling the soil. I want to be intimately acquainted with this Jesus who willing gave up everything – even his life…for me.
In the 3rd chapter of Acts, Peter calls Jesus the Author of Life. As with every artist, we will come to appreciate this Author’s work so much more if we take the time to get to know Him. By spending time with Jesus, in prayer and in studying His word, we will begin to understand His nature, and what motivated Him to do all He has done for us. It’s a challenge to be sure, but graduates from this Appreciation Class will carry with them skills and wisdom that will last for eternity.