Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Steward of Circumstances

It is with a great sigh that I end this year of teaching. It was a year like no other. I have no doubt that God placed me in this classroom for such a time as this; as I learned how to minister in ways I never have before. And perhaps more importantly, I learned how to be a good steward of my circumstances.

Last year, I taught at a school with a freshman class composed of 69 members. This year, the freshmen class of my school was made up of 775 members. That was only one of many differences. Many of these kids faced difficulties that I can not begin to comprehend, and sometimes those difficulties manifested themselves in the classroom. All of them crossed the threshold of my classroom looking for something. I learned to sharpen my spiritual eyes to learn what it was they needed, to provide what I could.

My experience with Kristina has been a wealth of training. She is slow to confess her hurts and to give voice to her needs. Often I have to look for the signs and attempt to unravel things from there. It is rare that she follows up with "Thanks for the discipline, Mom!" or "Thanks for loving me even when I acted like I didn't want to be loved!" And similarly, it is rare to get that kind of feedback in the classroom.

In the last week, I have been slowly tearing down my classroom in preparation for next year. All the posters, student work, and notices have come down. By yesterday, all that was left was the contact paper on my bulletin boards. Knowing the paper would end up in the trash, I refrained from saying anything when I saw kids scribbling on it throughout the day. As the final bell rang and students were dismissed, I stood in the doorway as they scrambled from the room. I'd hear "Mizz L!" periodically and see a hand wave goodbye above the mass exodus as the hall emptied. I stepped back in my room and surveyed what work needed to be done. I reached up to pull down the faded yellow paper on one of the bulletin boards on my way back to my desk when I saw my name scribbled in an unidentified hand. I stood before the board and realized the kids had signed their names, left quotes from things we read and discussed, and written little personal notes of gratitude. I read each of the entries and moved to the other bulletin board to find the same thing.

Finding joy in our calling depends largely on our motivations. It's easy to loose sight of our purpose when circumstances are less than ideal or when there appears to be little "pay off", but that should never affect our calling. Since Robert graduated RTS last May, we've felt like we were sitting on "G", waiting on "O". We know that there is something out there that God has for us to do. Orphan ministry and teaching continue to be huge desires of our hearts. As a family of seven, we have prayed over where God would send us to accomplish this ministry. Could I take my children and go to Eastern Europe or Africa? Would I really be willing to sell everything, leave friends and family behind, and journey to a distant land to see this calling through? We wrestled with that possibility in the last 6 months, making connections in Uganda, and discussing the options with commissioning agencies like MTW. Still, we wait on doors to open and God's directing to be clear.

There is a great line that opens the movie Bella:

"If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."

In our finite understanding of the grand scheme of things, we cannot possibly see all the possibilities. Kristina's presence in our family is a souvenir of that truth. This school year has been a reminder that regardless of whether I serve in Orlando or Odessa, Mississippi or Malawi, the measure of my faithfulness as a servant depends only on the desire to see His work through.

"For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord."
- Romans 14:7-8


Scribbling Suit said...

Good words, friend, wise as always. Glad to hear your school year was rewarding and that God blessed you with just a glimpse of how you have affected your students.

Ashley said...

This is a wonderful post. I needed this tonight. Wherever you are or wherever you are going, God uses you. You are a wonderful person, Leslie. I am so happy to know you. If you end up in MS, I would love to help with an orphan ministry. God has been speaking to me about this for quite some time. I would love to help you. Maybe you will end up here and Grisha can have Kristina. That would be awesome, but I know you will go where God wants you to and not where I want you to be. :-) You are an amazing friend! Oh, I still have your converter that I need to get back to you. :)