Some people call it information overload. In the social media world we've shortened the concept to simply TMI, too much information. It's the bombing of the human mind with the 34 GB of information the average person downloads to their brain synapses every day (from a study by researchers at the University of California-San Diego). Fine printed in the study are more numbers---105,000 words received per day, or in case you were wondering, 23 words per second. In my personal contact list it is the volume of pass words stored, each eight digits with one capital, one minuscule, at least one number, and a minimum of one symbol, changed every three months. Yes, then the instructions for operating the new MacBook, iPhone, Nook, iPad, charging system, wireless sound, FitBit Surge and Aria, BlackBoard, and how to open a cereal box.
No wonder I can't remember anything. It's like a friend told me the other day
(actually three years ago). The mind is a bucket. Every day since birth we're
loading stuff into our bucket. Finally the bucket gets full. Things start falling out.
What falls out is the last thing we put in. So, we can't remember what we had for
breakfast this morning but can remember details of our first date with someone
sixty years ago. Yuk. Yuk.
As a believer in lifelong learning I can't say anything negative about keeping pace with a world moving at this speed. It is what it is and God placed me and you at this juncture in history so we better get tuned in or we'll soon be tuned out, which many of my boomer cohort already are. But, with most of my formal education on the wall behind me life is teaching me the lessons of strategic learning. That is, insuring that my learning systems resonate with my life purpose and mission. Sure, over the years I've learned to make flatulent sounds under my armpits and many other important life-cycle lessons that helped me stay connected to my peers. But, my reduced capacity and storage capabilities translate to be being more strategic about the learning thing. Yes, learn. Always. But, learn the right stuff.
Years ago God taught me the discipline of connecting the dots as a learning metric. it was a lesson our groups encountered many years ago studying Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King (LifeWay Press, Nashville: 1990). Lesson 4 in Unit 6 was about establishing spiritual markers. Blackaby and King defined a spiritual marker as a time of transition, decision, or direction when we clearly know that God has guided us. The learning of connecting spiritual markers is that "when God gets ready for you to take a new step or direction in his activity, it will always be in sequence with what he has already been doing in your life". This is the strategic learning of connecting the dot's, that is, connecting the spiritual markers in our lives.
Sometimes I don't know what to do. Something new is on the horizon. How can I verify that this new direction or mission or ministry or purpose is from God? How can I know if this is the new direction for me? My tendency is to read a few new books on the topic, receive some good advice from trusted friends, or enlist some prayer partners, all very good moves. Often, however, the answer is in connecting the dots, evaluating where God has been directing my life in the past in order to discern his continued and consistent direction for the future. As Blackaby and King reminded me in the study, spiritual markers were left by the great Old Testament leaders so that they could remember their encounters with God in moving forward under his guidance and care.
When God spoke to Moses about leading Israel out of Egyptian bondage he reminded him of the many times he had been with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, how he had seen the misery of Israel, and how he was going to deliver them. Exodus 3 is a beautiful recitation of the spiritual markers God related to Moses to enlist his leadership. It was strategic learning for Moses, the greatest leader in Israel's history (see Deut. 34:10).
it's the information age and ther's plenty of it. Learning is premium these days. Strategic learning is learning what matters most. And, learning to connect the dots may be among the most important life learning activities.
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