The Years Teach

The Years Teach

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“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

“The years teach much which the days did not know” (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Experience).

Bertha Munro’s autobiography was published in 1970 by Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, a former publishing trademark of Nazarene Publishing House (now The Foundry Publishing). She titled it The Years Teach:

The years teach me about my “soul.” They have given me more than a fatalistic dependence on happenstance, or even a blind trust to a magic protection from harm in life’s chances and changes. They have shown me that I am not a helpless pawn or a bouncing shuttlecock in a game between the forces of good and evil. I have something to say about what becomes of me. Every “self” is more than self-aware; it is self-directing. It has a will. The chances and changes are beyond our power, but the total picture is “chances and changes, and choices.”

Heredity and environment are strong, but the human will is stronger, and when linked with God, invincible. Even our wills are not enough to carry us through, but a life committed fully to God is indestructible, un-destroyable—safe.

Our wills are ours, we know not how;

Our wills are ours, to make them Thine.

—Alfred, Lord Tennyson, from his poem “In Memoriam.”

The phrase “Not Somehow, but Triumphantly” belongs to me, they say. But not as a boast of achievement; rather as a reminder of resources in Christ. I hope they remember that the word “triumph” implies a battle. It has not always been smooth sailing. I have needed all the grace my faith could grasp.

With the passing of time I have become more deeply stirred by the wonder of the abiding dependability of Christ’s principles and presence.

I have discovered, and been captured by, clearer insights. The years still teach with experiences of specific grace to help in the nick of time—God always on hand for every one of the days. They were not by chance. They proved the existence of an active, beneficent, cosmic Intelligence—absolute, infinite—noticing, aware before I recognized my own need, providing in advance the saving word. And this miracle is available to every individual, living or yet to live who will tune into the wisdom of God. The universe is a-tingle with God. This is His mind, and it works for the mere dot which is I—and it works in love!

The years teach; and here I see exemplified a new dimension of prayer, a new dimension of faith. The prayer goes on working long after the death of the pray-er. You may die with a prayer “unanswered”; God does not forget. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). You and I live to reap the results of others’ prayers.

Prayer for the week: My whole soul goes out in a prayer for the future, a prayer that has promise at its heart: “Behold I will do a new thing (Isaiah 43:19a).” Could the two, prayer and promise, make prophecy? “Even now shall it spring forth” (Isaiah 43:19a). Prayer by Bertha Munroe.

Merritt Nielson has a ministry career spanning 50 years including being former director of curriculum for Sunday School Discipleship Ministries. He currently serves as constituent engagement manager for Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.