Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Willing Heart, Willing Hands

     In the book of Genesis, chapter 24, Abraham is growing old. He wants to see his son married to a righteous woman. He send his trusted servant to the land of his birth to find a wife for Issac. As the servant approached the village, he prayed for God to show him a sign when the right girl was found. The sign that he prayed for was that he would be shown a girl having a good heart and willing hands to serve. He prayed that as the right girl came out to the well, and he asked for a drink, she will not only give him a drink, but will offer to water his camels also. To understand the enormity of this request, it is important to note that this man was traveling with 10 camels. One camel can drink 30 gallons of water at one time. So he is asking for a girl that would volunteer to draw and carry 300 gallons of water from a well to give to a stranger. When the beautiful Rebekah came out to the well, he approached her with his request.

 17 And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher.

 18 And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.
 19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.
 20 And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.
     To me Rebekah is the ultimate example of willing and unselfish service. She had no idea that this man was the representative of her future father-in-law. She simply saw a need and filled it. Most of us who became teachers, did so because we had a sincere desire to serve. We saw a need and wanted to meet that need. We loved children and wanted to see them bloom and grow. Sometimes, after fighting weeds in the hot sun, we forget why we came to the garden in the first place. We forget that we came to nurture flowers, so to speak. I know that there is a limit to what any of us can do. We need time for our own families. We need time for ourselves. I cannot, will not, put 12 hours every day into my job. I can go to work and serve the children with a willing heart. While I am being asked each year to do more with less, I can do it. Rebekah did not say, "I have never done it that way before" or "this will never work", she hasted and emptied her pitcher and ran again to the well.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Battle is the Lord's

     Do you ever feel like you are overwhelmed? Did you go into teaching thinking that you would be a shepherd, guiding your little sheep down a path of learning? Do you now feel that your sheep have morphed into something that you have no idea how to deal with? If you answered yes, then we are on the same page right now. I teach K-5 and sometimes with the little ones, I feel as if I am herding cats. I have never actually had to herd cats, but I have tried to make one cat behave and it listened as well as some kindergarteners do. With the older students I still feel like a shepherd, but I am facing the wolves instead of the sheep. Maybe I feel like the young shepherd David, facing little Goliaths.
     There is much to be learned from the great story of David and Goliath. As many teachers face the biggest challenges of their careers, I believe it would serve us well to study this story. Let me point out right now that as teachers, the fact that David slew Goliath is not the part where we should find our solace. The entire story is found in 1Samuel 17, but I want to talk about  verses 45-47.
     Up to this point Goliath has been mocking the armies of Israel and challenging  them for 40 days. When David goes out to fight this giant man of war, armed with only a sling and some stones, Goliath sees David and disdains him. He curses him by his gods, and tells him he will feed his carcass to the beasts and the birds. But David addresses him with power.

 "45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
 46 This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
 47 And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands."

      The Lord does not save with a sword or with a spear, yet the battle is the Lords. In this story the Lord did slay Goliath by the hand of David. Yet, most of the battles that the Lord concerns himself with are not fought on a battlefield. The battles that the Lord helps us fight are battles only in our own hearts. 
      The battles that we will win in the classroom will be won with love. If we give our hearts over to God, he will fill us with his love and this power is greater than any weapon of war. In 1 John 4: 7-8 it says: 

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

     I know that when a child comes to me, filled with anger and attitude, that it is not power that will win them over, but love. The pure love that only God can give me. 
     When we give our hearts to God, then the battle is the Lord's.