Seated in the Seat of the Learner

Lisa Cooke

Seat of the LearnerTroubles abound in this fallen world, don’t they? Jesus told us we would have tribulation in this world (John 16:33) and Psalm 34:19 says that, “…many are the afflictions of the righteous.”

Christians have tried to explain why bad things happen, why they happen to good people, and why they happen in our own lives. In a message on the storms of life, Tony shares three biblical examples of why Jonah, the disciples, and Paul all encountered a terrible storm. Simply stated, Jonah’s storm was encountered because of disobedience, The Disciples’ in the midst of Jesus’ mandate to go to the other side (Mark 4:35-41), and Paul’s because of the decisions other people made that affected his life while on his way to trial in Rome (Acts 27).

So we see that there can be different reasons why we find ourselves suffering through a difficult time. Some will say that we have these seasons in life so that God can teach us something. I’ve thought about this for many years, and was taught early in my Christian walk that God doesn’t cause or even allow bad things to happen to us just to teach us something. I believe that. But I also believe that we can learn something if we look to the Holy Spirit as our teacher in any trial, tribulation or affliction we encounter.

This past year, I began to “see” myself as a student seated in a classroom at a desk, ready to learn, as a position to be in before the Holy Spirit. As a twist on Psalm 1:1, instead of being in the seat of the scornful, I decided I would sit in the seat of the learner, especially in tough times, trusting the Holy Spirit to teach me what I needed to know. Am I in this situation because of obedience or disobedience? Do I repent or do I persevere?

Someone sitting in the seat of the scornful might say “How I hated instruction and discipline and my heart despised reproof! I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers nor submitted and consented to those who instructed me.” (Proverbs 5:12-13 Amplified)

But those seated in the seat of the learner will “pay attention to your teacher and learn all you can.” (Proverbs 23:12, GNT). This is what I am endeavoring to do in the face of every difficulty.

When one chooses the seat of the learner, they choose a posture of humility. It’s a position one assumes when they realize they don’t know everything. For me it also means that I have ceased from my own striving. I don’t know everything and I can’t fix everything either, so I sit down to learn from the One who does and can. We know God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble, and that “those who have reverence for the Lord will learn from Him the path they should follow.” (Psalm 25:12, GNT) Humility and receiving answers and direction from the Lord seem to go hand-in-hand.

Another thing that happens when you sit in the seat of the learner is you can become like your teacher. How many times have we seen young ministers, even older ministers, imitating the hand motions, facial expressions, and even accents and colloquialisms of their ministry mentor? Matthew 10:25 says “So a pupil should be satisfied to become like his teacher…” (GNT) Interestingly, this verse in context is about the persecution that comes when disciples are following the will of God! But we are to be imitators of God, learning His ways and conducting ourselves accordingly. We study Him when we are seated in the seat of the learner.

Remember how difficult it was to sit still in your classroom chair during the early school years? For some it never got easier! We were in trouble if we squirmed, fidgeted, or got out of our seat for any reason without permission. Patience had to be developed to be able to sit through the lessons, waiting for the final bell to ring. This took years for some of us. Letting patience have its perfect work so that we may be perfect and entire is part of being able to sit in the seat of the learner. Time is the investment that patience makes, and we will need to invest our time in the seat of the learner if we expect to receive anything from our Teacher. Faith and patience are necessary to receive the promises of God, including the promise of wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

One thing I have learned in the seat of the learner, is that God does not ordain everything that happens in this world, but He does redeem whatever we turn over to Him for redemption. For those who love God, He works in all things for good. The Holy Spirit is the consummate teacher – He will not waste a teaching opportunity if we would but sit in our seats and pay attention to Him.