Adam Cottrell, CCC Member
I am a school teacher.
Summers can be nice for school teachers. Mine, though, ended with getting 9 rabies shots. It's a long story.
As the school year started this past week, I found myself reflecting quite a bit on how my relationship with God progressed through this past summer and into the start of a new school year.
I had, for a period, been good about reading a bit of the Bible every day as well as the daily passage from Oswald Chambers'My Utmost For His Highest. I was feeling pretty rad about myself. Go me!
Then, of course, summer vacation started with later nights, less structure and more travel. My daily work evaporated pretty quickly, and being out of town kept me away from CCC more Sundays than not. So, all in all I hadn't been thinking about or speaking much to God.
The return of the school year created a bit of a "there are no atheists in foxholes" type of situation for me. I needed God again.The grind to get prepared and nerves over meeting new students took over. I wrap up a lot in having a "successful year". Before this one started, I worried about how the land mines of problem students, helicopter parents or hard-driving administrators might get in the way of my "successful year".
Inevitably, I instinctively started in with lots of "low level" prayers. Please let this day go well. Please let my students like me. Please let me plan good lessons. Please let these kids understand the math I'm teaching them.
With time, I thought a bit more about what a successful year would really look like, and I started to ask for things that aren't just about making myself look good. Please help me stay patient. Please help me show my students Jesus. Please help me remember that it's not about what students learn, it's about who they become.
If God answers my "low level" prayers (and I hope he does!), I know in my own sin I'll be tempted to think those were things I accomplished on my own. I can probably convince myself that I have good days, create interesting lessons and a get a few kids who pass some tests "on my own".
But if the "big stuff" works out and the little stuff doesn't, I'll be thankful because at least I know I'm more apt to see God's hand in it. I know I can't be completely patient for 180 days. I know I can't be selfless and ego-less and Christ-like to cocky teenagers. I know I can't value what happens to a student's heart above the test scores that could make me look like a "world class educator". On my own, that is.
Thankfully as Christians we are not on our own! Where us emptying our tanks ends, God's work begins! And it's moments like the exciting but stressful beginning to a school year that shows me that God can accomplish what I can't. I remember Exodus 14:14, "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."