Teachable Moments

Lou Lotz

READ : John 16:12-15

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (v.12)

There is a Zen saying: “When the pupil is ready, the teacher will come.” The only time we learn anything is when we’re ready to learn. I wonder what God would whisper to us, if only we were ready to listen. “I still have many things to say to you,” said Jesus, “but you cannot bear them now.”

But teachable moments do come, moments when we are ripe and ready to learn. I have found that teachable moments often occur in times of protracted illness. When I was a seminarian a hospital chaplain spoke to our class. He said: “A dormant faith is more likely to come alive in the hospital than in the church.” At the time I thought: No way. Today, 30 years later, I think he was right.

It is easy, in the church, to play games, to keep people at a distance, to keep God at a distance. But hospitals are humbling. Lying in a hospital bed you have time to think. You reckon with your mortality. You realize that you are not in control of your destiny. Those are the moments, the teachable moments, when we pray deep and think hard. Those are the moments when we remember who is God. And who isn’t.


Lord, I am ready to listen, ready to learn.