Now that it is officially summer, I have had a chance to reflect on this past school year and wanted to share one of the biggest things the Lord taught me:
It was 7th period and we were writing. The objective for the day was to write an informational essay while being timed. Eventually my students were going to write some sort of an essay in 40 minutes, and I wanted them to be absolutely prepared for the test. I wanted them to go into the test confident. I wanted them to feel ready to conquer that test. This could only happen if we practiced writing while being timed.
I told my kids what we were going to do, and I instructed them to get out a piece of paper. I even told them this was going to hurt a little bit (their hands and maybe stretch their thinking).
I set a timer for us to brainstorm some ideas.
Then we started writing.
I set the clock for 5 minutes to write an introduction. We had to write fast. I was asking my students for the opening sentence, while gently guiding them to a good one. At some points, I would give them some words when they didn’t have the right ones, but most of the ideas were coming from them. I was writing the paragraph on the board, and they were writing it on their paper–having to do it just as fast I was writing.
Two and a half minutes into the five minutes, the kids were saying things like, “Ms. Clark why are you torturing us?”, “We thought you loved us?!”, “Why are you hurting my hands?”. These were all questions I would eventually answer, but the 5 minute timer was going and I needed them to finish the paragraph before I answered all their questions.
With about 10 seconds to spare, the kids and I finished writing the first paragraph (we still had 4 more to write). Immediately when the timer went off, the kids pretty much threw their pencils on their desks and a class-wide moan went off. I heard a multitude of the same kind of thoughts and questions I mentioned earlier.
I told them to stretch out their hands because we were going to start writing our next paragraph.
I set the clock for five minutes. We wrote. We beat the timer. And again, the kids moaned.
Once more, I set the clock for five minutes. We wrote. We beat the timer. And even louder, the kids moaned.
But this time, I answered. I said something along the lines of, “Because I love you all so much, I’m making your ‘hands hurt’ so when the test comes, you will be prepared! It’s for your good!”
That’s when God spoke to me.
Up until this point, I had felt like my students. I was crying out to God saying things like:
“God, why are you making me do this?”
“I thought you loved me!”
“Why are you making my heart hurt?”
God was and is with me when I asked all those questions. He was in essence standing at the dry-erase board working with me through all my struggles. He was giving me the words to say in times when I didn’t have the right thing to say. He was guiding my thought process. He was molding me for the future. He was preparing me for “the test” of sharing in His holiness. He did it for my good!
It was in that moment, I realized God loved me. He wasn’t making me struggle to torture me or to cause me pain, but it was out of His great LOVE that He allowed me temporary pain to prepare for “the test”.
Scripture looks at this preparation as discipline. We often think about discipline as being a bad thing; something that we only experience when we’ve done something wrong. But really discipline is about training, correcting, cultivating, and educating us to mature properly. In this case, I was being trained, corrected, cultivated, and educated to mature properly in the Lord. I was being disciplined by God, my gracious Heavenly Father.
Hebrews 12:10-11 says, “he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (emphasis mine).
I was amazed that God was using my teaching experience as way to grow in relationship with Him. He was teaching me about His love for me and how it looks similar to teaching my kids.
My students don’t always understand at first why the lesson has to take place, but the lesson is always something they need for their future.
This. Is. Me.
I don’t always understand why I’m going through a lesson, but according to God, it will “later yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness”.
After class that day, a few students came up to me and questioned my love for them. I remember my response being, “If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t put you through this.”
Right there again, I realized it was out of God’s love for me that He put me through practice. He wanted me to be prepared. He wanted me to be trained. He wanted me to feel confident when I went into “the test”. He did it for my good. God was speaking to me Hebrews 12:4, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves.”
God. Loves. Me.
I didn’t expect God to show up in the middle of 7th period, but I’m so glad He did. His love for me was made so practical in that moment. It all made sense. We go through different trials, and we experience different sufferings for our good; so we can ultimately share his holiness.