The school bell rings. Lines of kids sit in small desks. One of the kids is making spitballs. (He will become a weapons engineer. Be nice to that kid. The kid eating glue will make an 8 figure salary.) It’s elementary school and school is in session. This is where we learn life’s lessons. We learn the right answers. We learn to raise our hands before offering them. We also learn to be confident when we know the right answers.
Then we get to the ‘real world’ and it all backfires. In college everyone sits and raises hands and the professor says, “Come on, Call it out!” Okay. Then in group discussions you have to learn the right away of conversation traffic. Just when you think you have a handle on situation and group dynamics, you learn that your education is incomplete.
New scene. It’s Sunday School, 10 minutes left in class. The class has had lots of speaking and is warmed up. People are smiling and laughing. The pastor is asking questions. Answers are being called out. A few correct answers had been mumbled, so volume is encouraged. Then, trying to make a point about the completeness of scripture, the pastor asks this basic question:
“How does the Book of Revelation end?”
Oh! Oh! I know this one! Easy one! It’s time. Confidence. Volume. Clarity.
“Amen!” Taaadaaa! Yes, that is how it ends. Well, actually, it is The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all, Amen, but I was being specific.
Unamused look from the Pastor. Head cock to the side. “Before that?” “ I am coming soon”, I answered, more quietly but still with confidence. Come on now, I read the book for myself, thank you very much. The pastor sighed. “I mean, what does the last warning say about adding to scripture?”
WHAT?! Well, fine! Let’s not look literally at scripture then! Oh, you meant Revelation 22:18? I knew that too. Please, allow me to sputter it out… nope. Too many people are now mumbling. When things go badly in class in elementary school, you wait and tattle to your mommy. Thankfully, it was bring your parents to Sunday School Day! Victory in Jesus- they were visiting. My mother rang out with a near-direct quote of Revelation 22:18 to save me from spouting from the New Paraphrased Version in defense. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book that if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book…” Hooray for Mom! At an acceptable break she looked over at me. “Well, each time you had the right answer- just not the one he was looking for.”
Does that happen to you? It happens to me constantly. Sometimes talking with people is as frustrating as yelling into the phone, “Representative! I want to speak to a representative?!” and hearing, “I’m sorry. Did you say, ‘Banking’? Transferring now.” We live in a time where knowing an answer and knowing the right answer are very different- and often subjective.When did it become such a stigma to not know everything? If there is a constant need to be right in a specific way, how will any child ever raise a hand with confidence? I remember kids raising their hands and declaring, “I forgot” or “I am 6 today!” When you did get the right answer, you may see a little fist clench and pull back into a “YES!” just for the sake of knowing. Of course, stickers were awesome too.
There is a wonderful joy in the human being that erupts from success. Watch Olympic gold medalists or World Series victors. Arms raise, they jump, they smile, they yell- there is something wonderful in that. I noticed that when my high school students mastered a skill or something hard, they did the same thing. When they guessed correctly on a hard test question and realized they had been right, their hands go up and a “YES!” breaks out. Furthermore, when someone confidently and eloquently voices an opinion that echoes the cry of your heart, it is easy for a “that’s right!” or “Yes! Amen!” to erupt. Let us not lose that nature. There is too much uncertainty and questioning in this world to lose the confidence that comes with knowing yourself and knowing the right answer. This is not to praise the know-it-all who never shuts up or the need to always be right, but to reaffirm that it is okay to speak up even when saying what isn’t exactly desired. Whether you raise your hand, call it out, or keep it to yourself, the right answer is the right answer. After all, the last word in the Bible is Amen; it is a declaration of affirmation which literally means “so be it; truly”. It’s a big ol’- “that’s right”- and it IS the last thing Revelation says. Thanks, Lord. Amen.