What if we were having school today? Students would be in their desks, working with a teacher looking over their shoulders. Teachers would be able to say 100 more times the things they have already said 1,000 times this school year. “Hold your pencil like this.” “Look at me when I am talking.” “Slow down and do your best; it’s not a race.”
What if the privilege of in person contact with our students was suddenly taken away from us? So many lessons we were working on so hard-interrupted. So much effort invested in building relationships-threatened. So much progress made-now halted.
We have achieved so much this school year, but we weren’t there yet. We were almost to reach our goals. Almost to break the bad habits and instill the new ones. Discipline carefully established, routines in place. Classes, well-trained, respond easily to their teacher’s voice. Hard fought battles result in homework turned in on time, formulas written before solving problems, forbidden words replaced on English assignments. And then, just when we reached the climax of the school year, everything changed. Teachers became students, scrambling madly to learn foreign technological tools. Barely ahead of their students, they forged on to lead the way to a new method of learning. Changing expectations, accepting less than what they believe is the student’s best work, rewriting lessons for home learning, settling for less than what they hoped to achieve.
But, what if God’s lesson plans for this year are different than ours. After all, His plan hasn’t changed. What if His plans didn’t include perfecting fraction multiplication or practicing cursive. What if He has bigger goals for our students than holding their pencils correctly or not racing to be the first one done? What if He has something better for our students and for us? We know that if school is always easy our students won’t really learn. We expect them to do the hard problems. Should we expect God’s lessons to be any different? What if we stop wishing for what will not be and embrace what is? What if we look past the textbooks and e-mailed lesson plans and consider what else might be on the scope and sequence for this quarter? What if we look at our student’s faces on Zoom and realize that God might have something for us to say to them today that we wouldn’t have thought to say if they were sitting in front of us. Are frightened or discouraged? Are they lonely or confused? Are they more spiritually sensitive than ever before? What if God wants us to be able to speak truth to their hearts in a way that we never would have been able to if life was normal? What if the way this class remembers us stands out because this school year will not be like all the others? What if God is planting seeds for a unique relationship with this group of students that will allow us to speak into their lives for years to come?
What if God wants to do something in us this school year that we didn’t expect? What if He wants to give us lessons that are hard in a way that teaching has never been before? What if He wants to make us stronger, more compassionate- more Christlike? What if He wants us to sit in our quiet classrooms and consider Him and His purposes in a new way? What if our interaction with our students is limited in order to teach us to make the moments count? What if God is reminding us that the little worlds we think we control-our classrooms-have never really been ours to control?
What if God really is in control, and each time the internet blips, each time someone can’t connect or watch a video, each time an assignment disappears into cyberspace, each time a teacher cries, is all a part of something God is doing? What if we see this as an “unprecedented time” not because of the challenges but because of the opportunities? What if we allow God to unfold his plan without asking us, without arguing, without complaining? What if we accept the gift of this moment in time that God has graciously given to us and live it to the fullest?
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