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Day 10: a new bowl game and an open gym problem

August 22, 2018

1This picture is of the actual Cheez-It shrine I have next to my desk in my classroom.  Mind you,now, don’t make any hasty judgments; we do not worship Cheez-Its in Room 129;  we do, though, venerate them as the best snack ever invented in the history of mankind (and that includes Boston cream pie, so you know I’m serious).  I was given the wondrous news story telling us that the former NCAA Cactus Bowl football game has been now re-named the Cheez-It Bowl, and in celebration the students had no quiz yesterday.    There was much jubilation and dancing in the halls.  Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but we were happy.

Starting today my Bible Doctrine students will be given “team speeches” on the study of Heaven, complete with PowerPoint slides and note cards.  In order to give the teams of three ample preparation time, yesterday I took them into the empty gym where they were designated an  area to let them practice away from everyone else.  I put no limitations on their mode of preparation – they could walk through the speech, sit and compare notes while narrating their part of the presentation – you get the idea.  In other words, they were given free time to use in any way to help them prepare for the speech (test-grade importance on this one; it’s worth 100 points).

There are teams that squished themselves into a corner and immediately came up with ideas on how to make the best speech possible.  Others openly gestured and enunciated aloud and critiqued each other.  At no time were teams allowed to communicate with each other – this was a project that is also a competition, for the best team speech wins the group extra credit.

Free time.  Open space.  Specific rules on stay-with-your-team.  Some members used the time right up to the dismissal bell, and even then added a few more finishing touches to their speeches.

But you know, there are some others… you teachers know what I am going to say…

I would glance up from my grading and see someone start to wander off lazily, seeking to chat with other groups.  A few students concluded after ten minutes that they didn’t need to study any more, and I saw them sit back and stare at the gym ceiling wihile their co-workers did the research and practice.  My sharp retorts would bring them back into line, but for the most part they couldn’t handle the responsibility of so much “open time.”  You know the type of pupil I mean.  Unless they are given specific instructions and guided down a narrow path of discipline, they simply have no incentive to step out on their own and take the self-propelled initiative of becoming better. 

How very much like the Christian who cannot find time to block off  to spend alone with God.  When free time comes, my first thought is on what I can do to get ahead in my studies.

Or what the latest sports scores would be.

Or looking at the news wire.

Or a bit more exercise.  Or a hasty phone call.  Or something, anything but be still and see that He is God.

The Father has made a refuge for us, free from anxiety and hubbub and deadlines and fears.  Psalm 91:1 makes it plain:  “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”  In this quiet time God doesn’t lay down a specific series of passages to memorize, rituals to practice, or liturgies to sing.

He says “Dwell in My shelter.  Use your free time to be with Me.”

Yet I often slump by His shelter, seeking some petty distraction.  I miss out on abiding in His shadow, and what a great retreat that would be!

When I see the errant sophomore try to slide outside the rules and wander away from the profitable use of his time, I see myself.

Lord, help me to take my time and handle it wisely.  Let me set the alarm to remind me to spend time in Your shelter. 

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