Yesterday I was tired of The Plan. My foot hurt really badly and I was tired and cranky. This morning my day started around 4am. I should have been cranky, but I wasn’t. It is becoming clearer and clearer that my body can function quite efficiently with about five and a half hours of sleep. I no longer just lay there worrying about why I’m not asleep. I get up and find productive things to do like read my bible, pray for people, pack my lunch, and boil water to soak my foot.
Friday’s are always good days because they are very relaxed and slow paced. I give my students thirty minutes of free silent reading time at the start of class. Generally they love this time because it’s quiet and they can spend time in their own heads. Today the new ELL teacher came to talk with me. I did a little informal training with her about how our department is structured. I like her. I generally don’t like anybody the first time I meet them. I think first impressions are over rated. People are generally on their best behavior the first time you meet them. I reserve judgement until after I’ve had a few encounters with them. Some people drain the life out of me. Some of the previous ELL instructors were such people. I try to avoid said people as much as possible which makes collaboration hard. But so o far, every time I’ve encountered her I’ve walked away with a good feeling. I think we are going to work well together. I was energized after meeting with her and it set the tone for my morning….
Which went on to be really great, but this is where I throw my chronological account out the window. I want to save the best for last. The second best thing to happen today was the repeat performance of out “play.” I realized last night that it needed quotation marks because my students read the play. They don’t speak English well enough to actually memorize it and deliver their lines. They might be able to memorize them… but if they had to do it in front of an audience, they’d be so nervous that they would choke and forget everything. So we did it Greek drama style with a chorus to give them added volume and they all had copies of the script which they held. What they lacked in costumes and facial expression they more than made up for with verbal expressiveness, clever staging, and enthusiasm. They were SO excited as we rehearsed it twice before our audience showed up.
The audience was a shocker. There were more students in the class that I’d invited than I’d expected plus three staff members came. We ran out of chairs. There was standing room only. We turned off the lights and let my white Christmas lights set the scene. They play was a hit. The audience was quiet and attentive, yet laughed at all of the parts that we meant to be funny. And it ended with a round of rousing applause as they took their bows. It didn’t matter that I was proud of them — they were proud of themselves.
So what tops that??
Just before lunch one of my newer students poked his head in and asked if I was having Bible Study. Honestly? Since I started The Plan it’s been fizzling out. Since I only work four days a week I have to use every spare minute that I am there to catch up and keep up. Giving up my lunch time for Bible study hasn’t been at the top of my priority list especially since I personally don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. I had no problem teaching Bible lessons when I taught in Christian elementary school. I also had a small bible study in my home once. But doing it at my workplace where I do have limits about what I can say if I want to keep my job… and where people are coming from so many different cultures and world views? I’ve struggled to know what to say to these 20somethings when temptations to follow anything but Jesus are all around them.
The plan was to only do it during the summer months when there was enough daylight late enough for me to safely drive home. Now that it gets dark so early I have an excuse. I could have stopped, but students asked me to continue so I did. But it’s pretty clear that revival is not going to come to my school through me. I usually only have a handful of students show up and I haven’t held it consistently. I can say that I tried... but it’s hard to go from classroom teacher to bible study leader mode. So I was surprised when he popped his head in and asked if I was having the study. My excuse for not doing it sounded lame even to my ears, so I asked if he had five minutes to talk to me about what he wanted in a bible study. On Sunday I felt like God told me to stop giving answers to questions that nobody was asking. I do that. I tell them a lot of stuff that I think they want to know and then try to disseminate the information. It still feels like class to me. But today class was already over and this student approached me before I started eating my lunch.
He’s a brand new believer away from home for the first time. All those Old Testament Bible stories that we often take for granted? He’s never heard any of them unless you count the “Prince of Egypt” cartoon. I figured he had no idea what he expected from a bible study. I was surprised when he sat down and told me clearly and concisely exactly what he wanted. He wanted somebody to sit down with him and go through the bible and explain it. He has a billion and one questions about Jesus and the faith and didn’t pull any punches. He told me that he wanted to know everything so he was starting at Genesis and was working his way through it by himself. I told him that he might make it through Genesis and Exodus… but that he’d hit a wall when he tried to read Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy with all the confusing laws, difficult to pronounce names, and long lists of families he didn’t know. I suggested he start with one of the gospels and then explained what that was and where to find them in the bible.
I end up inviting him to split my lunch with me in my classroom and we had an impromptu Bible Study 101. He asked questions and then I’d opened my bible and try to show him what the bible had to say about that question. He was confused by the behavior of Christians that he knows. He thought that when you became a Christian you just became this good person who doesn’t sin and has no struggles. Boy. Did God send him to the right person?! I was able to set him straight on what it meant to walk with the Lord… how being made into the image of Christ doesn’t happen overnight and that it’s a lifelong process of growing in him as we seek to know him.
It was amazing.
This kid has the seeker’s heart that I had when I first got saved. I lost that seeker’s heart because I had unrealistic expectations. I, too, had once thought that I’d become sinless and never have any struggles because I didn’t have anybody to tell me otherwise. When I hit my first major battle with sin and Jesus didn’t just swoop in and save me from it I thought that I was the worst sort of Christian and so did this kid.
I ended up telling him that while I feel like leading the Bible Study is beyond me… I am more than capable and willing to have talks with him the way we did today. I didn’t feel like his teacher imparting a bunch of information that he’d have to spit out for a test. I felt like I was an older believer trying to guide a younger one. He was so appreciative that I was filled with a joy and a peace that I haven’t known. And that was the emotional and spiritual wave that I was riding while my next class rehearsed for, and performed, the “play.”
Today was Day 50 and I got to do two things that I love doing. In helping my students pull off the “play,” I got to create something. I am a very creative person, but lack artistic outlets. I don’t consider my writing “artistic.” I write because I can. It’s what I am. Today was a way for me to express my artistic side in a visual and very present way at work. Plus, I got to have an honest, no holds barred conversation about Jesus with somebody who was thirsty for it. I felt like I was giving water to a man who’d been stuck in the desert his whole life. God entrusted this precious new child of his… to me… and it was awesome.