This morning I sat across from a six-year old boy who is learning to read. He has memorized many rules and exceptions to rules over the past couple of months. This morning he had so much confidence when reading some words — in fact he helped me ‘learn’ how to break some words into syllables and how to play some games. At those moments his eyes were bright and his smile was wide. But the same six-year old boy had moments of frustration where his eyes were focused on the words, his brows were knit together, and he just couldn’t make sense of the message. He could persist in trying to figure it out for a few minutes, but if it took much longer, he was prone to putting his head down in defeat.
I’m leaning a little toward the second posture at the moment. I have been looking at some words for the last couple of hours on and off. I sense they are trying to convey some meaning to me…but I’m just not getting it. Now, I am not six years old. I have been at this reading game for quite some time. I’ve got all the words decoded. In fact, I know what they mean on the surface, but I get the sense that I am missing the bigger message. I have walked away a couple of times thinking, “it’ll come to me…”
This morning when my student got discouraged, I turned to the more experienced teacher at my side to watch what he would do to breathe a second breath into the little guy — what would transform his defeat into determination. I was impressed when the teacher pulled out strategy after strategy — but even more impressed when our munchkin left after two hours of hard work, high-fiving us and smiling!
I wish I had that kind of resilience!
Instead, often when the message seems cryptic, I walk away.
So here’s the message I’m trying to digest: I was reminded this afternoon of the book Through Gates of Spendor which chronicles the work of missionaries to the Auca tribe in Ecuador in the 1950s. The Aucas, according to my Bible study, “have allowed the Gospel to radically change their lives. The practices of their people relentlessly handed down through the generations have been completely altered by the Word of God.”* Ok, I got that part. The part I am struggling with comes next. The idea, I think, is that God may want to also radically change my life with the Gospel.
Huh? I am a life-long Christian. I have been a Christian school teacher, youth leader, pastor’s wife. How much more can my life be radically altered? What ‘practices of my people relentlessly handed down through the generations [need to be] completely altered”?
I’m struggling with these two sentences: “The dilemma is weighing our genuine need for God’s direction against our personal resistance to alteration.” “Will you allow Me to dramatically alter your ways to teach you my own?”*
You may be saying to yourself: Come on, Kristin, this isn’t really that complicated. Let God have his way in your life.
Ok, sure. I get that. I mean, I did just let go of a job I loved, a home a loved, and a city I loved in order to move to this new chapter in my life. And I have no regrets. So far, so good! But I am sensing that those big and noticeable changes are only paving a way for some more internal changes — the ones that aren’t so easy to spot; the ones that have needed changing for a very long time. I just don’t see how those changes are going to happen or what they are going to look like.
Part of the lesson this morning required my student to stand at the white board and spell out a word that I gave to him. It was a word that he could have easily read if it was printed on the page in front of him — he had read dozens like it already this morning. But when I asked him to write it on the board, he wasn’t having it. I stood at the board and asked him to race me to spell it. Nope — he didn’t want to do that. I tried to make it into a different game. Nope — not gonna happen. We struggled together to get through that one word and then the other teacher moved us on to something else. Today writing on the board was not a success, but tomorrow we will give it another try. He doesn’t have to learn everything all in one day.
Sometimes when I am reading my Bible study, it makes sense right away. Other times, my blogging clarifies ideas and helps me make sense of what I have read. Today? Today I think I got a quick preview of a lesson to come. It’s like I was sitting in the back of the classroom and the teacher told us something we would be doing next week. I know something is coming, but I really don’t have a clue what it is. And, right now I am content with that. I mean, seriously, I don’t have to learn everything all in one day.
I think my new job is more about teaching me than it is about teaching children. As per usual.
Make me to know your was, O Lord; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me.
Psalm 25: 5
*Quotes taken from Moore, Beth. Whispers of Hope: 10 Weeks of Devotional Prayer. Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2013.