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I was choking; so were my students

June 11, 2018

1The doctors finally found out the answer to my illness. They are not sure if that “super flu” that hit me in January caused my breathing difficulties (can you believe that I carried that miserable sickness for over five months?) and caused swelling or an obstruction, but the conclusion was that I was suffering from a severe lack of sleep.  My particular condition was called hypnopnea – a form of sleep apnea that involves shallow and incomplete air breathing, resulting in a very low oxygen concentration in my blood.  I was waking up over five times an hour, unable to get any rest.  This caused me to stumble around the classroom at times, grunting like a Neanderthal while I tried to remember the outline of the book of 1 Peter.  Or the students’ names.  Or my own.

My speech would be slurred at times.  Each day seemed like another in-the-rut trudging through fatigue and fog.  I was desperate for a remedy; in fact, I literally begged my family doctor to find me some relief, any relief.

The answer was CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure).  It’s a machine to help me breathe and get the proper oxygen flow into my system.  I was told to put on an Air Force-type mask each night and the little computer next to my bed would regulate how much air pressure was needed, then continually puff a bit in through my nose as I would sleep in order to open the airways.

The first time I tried it I had dreams that someone was trying to pillow-smother me.  Imagine the feeling of having a plastic robotic hand covering your nose and mouth and you will understand the unnerving feeling I felt those first few days.  At various times of night I would rip off the mask and start gasping in panic.

But I had to get better.  I was tired.  I needed a remedy from the aching fatigue that dogged me in the classroom, at church services, while driving, in communication with people … everywhere.

And then, brother, it happened.

After the seventh day, I hit the Promised Land.  I slept a whole night without a waking incident.

I could sleep!

I could think!

I had energy!

I came into the kitchen, grinning like a Cheshire cat and gliding across the floor toward the coffee machine.  My eyes were bright and my voice was chipper as I greeted my now-unnerved wife and daughter.  Jill smiled and slowly edged toward the door as I leaped towards the toaster and hummed a Brandenberg concerto.  Julianne made an excuse about feeding the cat and disappeared into the garage.

No matter.  I was finally breathing again.  No more fog.

I am thinking clearly and enthusiastic about the hours of the day I can regain.

I am now eager to get things right.

And that includes my teaching ministry.

I have been greatly grieved since last September over the spiritual morass that I see my students slogging through.  Mind you, I noticed the problem months before I contracted the flu.  Since the beginning of the school year I would share with Jill the sorrow I felt for the hollowness of the many students in the classroom who knew how to write down notes in rote fashion but had no inclination to take any of the Bible training to heart.  It’s hard to put into words, but the best way I can put it is that there was a spiritual laziness that I had not witnessed in years.  Our school campus energies and excitement were channeled into sports, academic scholarships, musical talents and theatrical productions.  I witnessed Bible being slowly edged back into a very small corner of the campus.  Christianity wasn’t being rejected by the students; it was being seen as irrelevant.

I discovered that a huge chunk of students didn’t attend church at all.  I found numerous pupils admit that their parents gave no spiritual encouragement to their children, nor had they any inclination to follow Christ.  I saw that many families were obsessive with scholarships and grants – but little or no interest in the Christian faith.

It’s like the entire campus needs a spiritual CPAP machine.  It’s not that the high school is void of a desire for God’s direction and glory; it seems like the atmosphere is, well, shallow breathing.

I am spending the summer in deep prayer and fasting for the coming year.  I see the need for my classroom and –  if I am allowed –  my chapel speaking times to call for the Heavenly power from the Father to revive the hearts of the Believers and bring salvation to the lost students.

I don’t want to spend my final years of teaching on a religious conveyor belt.  I refuse to shallow-breathe any more, nor will I allow my students to yawn through the class time.

These next months are in solitude for me to grow in Christ.

This is a summer of breathing fresh air – the air of me once again bring refreshed by the love of Christ and the glory of the Father.

And that is my prayer for the classroom this year – that we may all breathe the vibrancy and power of the Gospel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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