In life there is so much to learn. The boy who straps wings on his arms, waves them wildly in the air, and then jumps off the garage roof thinking he will fly, will soon have a “teachable moment.” Less dramatically, when parents take their children on a hike or on a sight-seeing vacation, there are innumerable teachable moments —“our heavenly Father made all this out of nothing for His glory and our enjoyment and use.” Most of these moments are even much closer to home.
A teachable moment requires that we teach (or are taught) the truth. Watching a “Planet Earth” on TV that shows how such beautiful and wonderful things have evolved over millions of years is a teachable moment that teaches lies. Instead of ascribing to God the glory for His magnificent creation, everything seen is said to have evolved; thus, it has no meaning for us. It is still changing, so the final result is still uncertain. It is a teacher of lies based on lies.
Aside from the things observable with the eye, there are many other teachable moments in our lives that are simply the result of God’s providence. Every day, as God reveals His foreordained plan in His providential acts, we are being taught. It may be in joys or in sorrows. Our catechism explains that “herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things come not by chance but by His fatherly hand.”
Think about this. If all things come by “the almighty, everywhere-present power of God,” then all things serve as a teachable moment for us. The sin-blinded eyes of the unbeliever will learn something too, but never the truth. The only reason that Christians can make every moment a “learning moment” is because God has opened our eyes to the Bible in order to reveal what marvelous things He has done.
All of us, but especially parents who are teaching their children, need to see that all of life is a series of teachable moments. Nothing is outside of the scope of God’s sovereign power who upholds the heavens and the earth with all His creatures. We never stop learning about the plan of God.
We see our nation suffering with huge indebtedness, increasing socialism, loss of freedoms even greater than loss of jobs, rising immorality, and great discontent. This is a teachable moment. And what do we learn? When we turn away from God, can we still expect His blessings and not His curses? We should be learning that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).
When our loved ones die, what do we learn? What do we teach our children? Funerals are teachable moments. It is not about the great things the deceased has done, but the great thing God has done in giving and taking life. For a believer in Christ’s resurrection, death is not the end, but the beginning of something infinitely better. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).
When someone stands before a congregation and confesses their faith in Jesus Christ, or a child is baptized, these are teachable moments. It is not because of the methods employed or the efforts of man, but the powerful grace of our covenant God through His Word and Spirit that is before our eyes. This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes. He is building His Church. These are moments one generation must explain to the next.
We are all surrounded by “moments.” God has given each of us just so many moments of time and then this life will be finished. The wonderful thing about life is that every moment is an important teaching moment. Nothing just happens. We must learn that each moment is determined by God, used by God to fulfill His purpose, bring Him glory, and is necessary for our edification. We may not let life fly by as if it came by some unknown, impersonal force. Our heavenly Father is teaching His people, who are also His pupils, that by His grace in Christ, our glorious moments will never end.
The apostle Paul reveals this when he says, “in Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:11, 12).