by Joan ClaytonRemember those wonderful days of childhood when the last day of school arrived? "I've got to hurry home and get to playing," our youngest son would say. He could hardly wait to make every summer day count. In my memory bank, I thought high school would never end. Then the long-awaited day of college graduation arrived. After all of that, I discovered something: the "school of life." This school has included many stages: marriage, children, career, empty nest, and retirement for me. In each stage I have learned many lessons. Some of those I didn't learn the first time and had "to go around the same old mountain" again. Believe me, I would rather have learned the lessons the first time. Learning the hard way involves pain-yet it is in the valleys that we grow. Each day presents lessons to be learned in this journey. We never graduate from learning in life. Whatever our next pursuit, we find life is a growing process. Someone has said, "When you think you're ripe, you're really rotten." In other words, "If you are still green, you're growing," learning from mistakes. "But good people will grow like palm trees; they will be tall like the cedars of Lebanon. Like trees planted in the Temple of the Lord, they will grow strong in the courtyards of our God. When they are old, they will still produce fruit; they will be healthy and fresh. They will say that the Lord is good. He is my Rock, and there is no wrong in him" (Ps. 92:12-15 NCV). We learn to grow in our jobs, relationships and hopefully, our spiritual lives. We learn to get along with others. Learning to deny self and selfishness, we reach out to a hurting world. In "Life's School" I don't always receive a good grade. I must renew my efforts to do a better job next time, acknowledging my shortcomings. Knowing God's grace and forgiveness covers me and encourages me to keep trying. Many times I had rather not be in school but somewhere else. Yet my duties and obligations cause me to "count other's interests above my own" (Phil. 2:4). My "Teacher" has provided the guidelines for my life in His Textbook, the Bible. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end" (Jer. 29:11). I must not procrastinate and neglect my homework but study to show myself approved (2 Tim. 2:15). When I face an obstacle, I go back to my text and resolve to do right. Some of the man-made rules in life's classroom are unfair. I may suffer injustices, but my Teacher knows my pain. He comforts me and tells me how much I mean to Him. He watches over me, wanting me to learn my lesson in His love, His nurturing and His tender mercies. Whatever stage of life you are in, He will still be your Teacher. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28). Our Teacher is on our side and teaches us how to overcome hurdles in our lives. "Tell me in the morning about your love, because I trust you. Show me what I should do, because my prayers go up to you" (Ps. 143:8 NCV). What a wonderful way to live. I love this "School of Life." Every day is a day of adventure and excitement in Jesus. To that I say again, "life is delicious!" Finally when we celebrate our Graduation Day and He hands the diplomas to His students, we can say-like my second graders used to say: "I passed! I passed!" Until then, school is never out.