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Day 9: I can’t believe he is sitting in my classroom

August 21, 2018

1Sometimes it takes me quite a few looks in order to understand something in the way that it will reach deepest into my life. 

Take, for instance, Matthew 22:38-39.  Jesus was challenged concerning the utmost of all God’s commandments, and He immediately quoted Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Okay, I can understand that easily enough.  God the Father is the recipient of my love and worship.

But Jesus wasn’t done.   “This is the first and great commandment,” Jesus told them. “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’

This slows me down a bit, but I still get it.  When I talk about my literal neighbor this isn’t so easy.  I have a neighbor who doesn’t know how to make his dog shut up.  The hours-long barking is enough to make a Franciscan monk look for a sniper rifle, but I’m dealing with it bit by bit and I think we’re able to see a good conclusion that keeps my nerves healthy.

However, this obviously goes further than the people next door.  It involves all of those around me, those within my sphere of existence on this planet.  I got to thinking about this as Monday got underway.

“Annie” hasn’t had a decent quiz grade yet.  Her grasp of Greek letters is nowhere near correct, and she is making up fantasy words in trying to describe them:  ontoo instead of omega, tidalus instead of tau.  Even spelling books of the Bible is far off;  Ezernick instead of Ezekiel and Inthus instead of Isaiah.

Aaargh. 

I look at the missteps and I have to crumple the paper.  Every quiz makes me grit my teeth.

Then there is “Lyle” whose eyes flutter unknowingly at any doctrinal teaching or even the simplest Bible passage explanation.  I can get animated as I teach about about a Biblical mystery and Lyle will respond with “meh”, but when anything is mentioned about the National Football League or any SEC-related college football discussion, he enters the fray like Einstein going after quantum mechanics.  Why won’t he pay attention to the Scriptures as well?  At the end of the day I leave the building frustrated at the Droopy-Dog pace he takes when we get down to serious work.

The lackadaisical approach to studying for quizzes.

The low-energy response to a new Bible truth.

It’s like hitting a pothole while cruising along at 65 on the interstate.  Or better yet, hitting a speed bump; you can’t help but get thrown by it.  It reminds me of fumble-fingered “Calvin” from last year.  Bless his little winsome heart, this fellow was required by his coach to continuously drink water for hydration purposes, but for the life of me this kid could not keep from spilling the stupid water on the stupid classroom floor.  It seemed like every week he would knock over his plastic bottled water in class, and of course it was never when the cap was on.  I would undergo a slow burn as he would fall to his knees and begin mopping up the floor while profusely apologizing.

Annie.  Lyle. Calvin.  These types of students interrupt the flow of class procedure.   I don’t have the time –

Wait a minute.

What did Jesus say?

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  And who is my neighbor?

Zockoll, you know full well.  Fix the phrase.  Edit it.

You shall love your student as yourself.

As yourself.

Well, Lord, now that you mention it, I really do get along with myself quite well.   I mean, I’m comfortable with me.  This is not to say, Lord, that I’m some self-centered screaming egomaniac, but in all honesty, I do enjoy my company.  I get along with me quite well.

I mean, I am content with my strengths.

And I understand my weak –

Um.

Yes.

Okay, I see.

Yes, I understand my weaknesses.  When I look at myself, I can even look past my failures and am pretty patient with them, many as they are…

You shall love your student as yourself.

Yes, Lord.

For the Christian educator it’s one thing to have curriculum but it’s a much more powerful thing to have compassion.

I believe I know which one will have the greater impact.  If I love my students as myself, I must put myself in their position, and that opens up a whole new world of understanding for me.  I’ve got to sit where they are sitting – in my classroom, under my teaching, hearing my rules, looking at my directions.

I see myself struggling to understand those squiggly lines known as the Koine Greek alphabet.

I see myself trying to keep my mind focused after lunch, looking at Powerpoint and typing on my laptop while slowly digesting the Chik Fil A that i chomped down only minutes before in the cafeteria.

I see myself embarrassed over my clumsiness, praying that I do not draw attention to myself while trying to both balance my water bottle and concentrate on the study of the book of Revelation.

I’m reminded of the delicate yet unpredictable and even fearful days of adolescence.  I’m reminded when I myself felt the gentle draw of Jesus through those murky waters of change that can occur each day.

I’m renewing my love for my neighbor.  They are my students.

Thank you, Lord, for this instruction.

 

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