School of Hard Knocks

I want to confess something I’ve told very few people.

I dropped my motorcycle.

Few of us who ride like to admit that.  It’s a point of pride (and consequently, embarrassment).  Here’s what happened.

I pulled into a gas station to top up the tank.  As I stopped, I put my left foot down keeping my right foot on the peg/rear brake.   Unnoticed by me was the pool of oil deposited by another vehicle - exactly under the shadow of my boot.  I put my foot down, and the oil slid it out.  There was nothing I could do.  It all happened slowly as I lost my balance.  The bike came over on me, and I was pinned underneath.

Before anyone could run over to help me, I managed to wiggle my way out from under the bike and get it vertical again.  Even though it was running on fumes, I started it up and made a hasty exit.  The next gas station down the road got my business - and I took care to look where I put my foot.

When I got home, I recounted the story to Sharon.  She was concerned about what happened and asked, “Are you OK?”

“Yeah, the bike is fine” I assured her.  If you ride, you know what I mean.  And no, other than my ego, I suffered no injuries.  Most importantly, the bike was fine.

This happened several years ago.  My license was about two weeks old.  These life experiences teach us in ways we don’t soon forget.  I’ve learnt to be a little more attentive to where I place my foot.  Even though it seems strange to me, I’ve learnt that “Are you ok” refers to me, not the bike.    Daily experience can be a great tutor.  Welcome to the School of Hard Knocks.

Like any learning institution, the School of Hard Knocks has a Guidance and Counselling Support Department (GCSD).  The head of this department is called Faith.  Most of us don’t go to the Guidance Department until the Hard Knocks overwhelm us.  That is unfortunate because the support and guidance offered by Faith is preemptive.  Enrolling in Introductory Classes with Faith will provide significant coping skills and strategies for the Knocks to come.  Failure to familiarize oneself with this guidance makes the Hard Knocks even harder.  It is like trying to sit an algebra exam when all you’ve done is study math facts.  

Fortunately the GCSD offers remedial courses for those of us who are life-learning challenged.  These courses allow us - if we commit to the effort - to quickly get caught up and engage new life skills “on the fly,” as it were.  One of the most important courses offered by the GCSD - both at the remedial level and advanced level - is the one called, “Studies in Metaphysical Analysis of Ultimate Cause and Effect.”  Don’t let the course title intimidate you.  Most of us refer to it by the subtitle, “Embracing the Sovereignty of God.”

No course makes us immune to the Hard Knocks of life.  However, the earlier this course is taken, even if it is at the JK level of learning, the better one will cope with the Hard Knocks.  The added benefit is the future levels of the course - which are almost always accompanied with Harder Knocks - are much better learnt and applied.  The Knocks do not necessarily become easier but the Knock-Resilience skills become sharper.

Not enough good can be said about the Department Head, Faith.  Warm and inviting, Faith always meets the students at the level where they enter the GCSD and takes them forward to more advanced levels of learning.  Even if we are adults doing the JK level of study, Faith is patient and kind.  There is an expectation of rigour and discipline.  Faith is not faith for faith’s sake.  Faith always has an object.  It isn’t just about “believing.”  It is about that in which we believe.

The object of Faith is the Creator God.  As the unique, one and only God, Faith teaches us that this One is Personal, engaged, gracious, and compassionate.  Further, we learn that, despite many alternative options to this object of our faith, There Is No Other.  Full stop.  The object of our faith is singular:  Almighty God.

We often struggle to get our heads around this.  It seems counter-intuitive.  It seems to defy our logic.  But Faith’s co-teacher, Truth, affirms this is so.

Truth loves to use big words.  The One and Only is often described as “sovereign.”  I know what that means, but I’ll freely admit there are times I still struggle to know if this is, in fact, Truth.  The Hard Knock experiences I’ve had make sense only if this is Truth.  Yet, something inside me still finds it hard to understand.

Perhaps I need to review my Remedial Notes on Faith and Truth.  I’ve heard there is a course called “TOESS” that explains some of this.  Maybe I’ll see if I can find it and do some review. 

Graham Bulmer
Lead Pastor
Graham and Sharon Bulmer bring many years of pastoral, teaching, leadership development and administrative experience to the Q50 Community Church plant. They served in Latin America as missionaries for almost 15 years, and have pastored here in Canada.