Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reading Errors

One of the great joys I have had, over the last year, is witnessing my son learning to read. He began with just the letter sounds, which he picked up pretty easily. Then putting those sounds together was a bit of a struggle, but once he did it a few times, he was off to the races. He can now read most any word, at his level, and he sometimes attempts ones which are much harder.

I love to read with him at night just before bed. If it is a short book, I let him read it to me. If it is longer, I take a line or two and he does the same. We take turns reading until we are finished. Of course, he still loves for me and his mother to read a whole book to him.

One of the problems he has with reading, at this stage is that he wants so badly to read faster. Sometimes, he will read a story to me, and will do fine for a while. Suddenly, I’ll hear something that doesn’t quite make sense. When I check it out, the first few letters of the word are the same as the word he said aloud, but the word is completely different. When I make him go back, he reads the word correctly.

There are several reasons that cause him to make this mistake. First, he has a desire to read faster. Secondly, he doesn’t take the time to make sure of what the word is before moving on to the next one. Thirdly, he wants to be impressive to whomever he is reading. Fourthly, he is overly confident and thinks he knows the word already.

Of these reasons, the first is the most noble. I appreciate his ambition to be better, but we all know there are no shortcuts to getting better at anything. It takes practice and hard work. The second reason could be caused by impatience, or tiredness. Either way, it can cause quite a bit of confusion. The third reason is useless, because I could not be more impressed with him than I already am. I know his limits, and his level of learning and I do not hold an expectation over him beyond what I know he is capable of. However, I do expect him to perform any task to the level that I know he can. The last reason is common also. He is feeling good about what he can do, and overlooks some basic rules of reading because he thinks he is past that. However, how many times in life have we all had to go back to basics in order to reorganize life?

This is a good example of our Christian walk. As we learn more about God we tend to make the same mistakes as a young reader. We begin using what we learn from God, but we want Him to move faster in our lives. First, we don’t like the pace God has us on, even though we are not ready for the next level with Him. Secondly, we don’t make sure of the Word before acting. Thirdly, we want to impress others (or maybe God) with our faith, so we act a certain way based on how we think we should live. Fourthly, we get a small glimpse of God’s plan for us, so we run ahead assuming we know where to go.

All of these mistakes are detrimental to reading, and also to our relationship with God. God works in His time, not ours. God gave us His word to guide us and lead us. If we do not consult the Bible and commit its words to our hearts we will never be sure of God’s true plan. God already knows what we are capable of, He created us and knows us inside out. He is happy when we do something pleasing to Him, but we do not need to call attention to it. He already knows, and we have no reason to impress other people with our faith. Finally, God knows what lies ahead, even though we do not. Wouldn’t you rather follow someone who knows where you both are going rather than to run ahead, only to have to come back to basics later?

Trusting God is hard sometimes, but He will always prove His power and glory in your life if you let Him. Give Him your time, read the Bible for guidance, live only to please Him, and don’t get ahead of His plan. If we can avoid these mistakes, then we will truly honor Him.

My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones. (Proverbs 3:1-8)

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