Like a mother who gushes with affection over a sleeping child, I often feel particularly fond for my students when they are taking tests. They seem so quiet, so studious, and so devoted to the task at hand that I find myself gazing at their little, intent faces and being so thankful to be a teacher.
In all honesty, that isn’t the only moment I am thankful to teach, but it is one continually recurring theme. Moments of quiet, moments of humor, and moments of profound learning make me grateful to teach. The inside jokes we share and the relationships that are built over time make me thankful to interact with so many high school students. When I am able to step back from the late papers, endless questions, and constant repetition of directions, I see young people seeking. Seeking just like I am–for happiness, for joy, for love, for peace, for life. When I see that perspective, I am grateful for the time to be with them, accompanying them for a short while on their journey to eternity.
It makes me wonder if I have any type of impact. This little heart inside of me longs so much for a great mission. And then I remember that I teach. I interact with young people daily and if that isn’t the rich soil for a great mission, I don’t know what is. Grades, dress codes, and attitudes can make me forget the mission that is in front of me every day. Yet every now and then, I will get a glimpse of what God might be doing in souls. I see that perhaps my littleness might be in the midst of something great right now and completely unaware of it all.
Still, the heart longs to know a difference is being made. Thankfully, God gives me reminders in little moments. There is enough to assure me that it isn’t for nothing and yet little enough so that it doesn’t all go to my head. It is found in class camaraderie when one class writes me up for a detention when I return a little late for class. I see it in a small group of women who enter into conversation about pursuing true beauty. It is experienced in random after school conversations and hearing that my class is teaching something. The look on some students faces as we tackle the problem of evil and honestly question how a good God could allow awful things to happen. Brief moments, easy to pass by, but ones that remind me that something is happening here and now.
It isn’t because of me. It is because of God’s grace. I know enough to know that if I had only myself to offer, it would be far too little to do anything in their lives. But the truth of God pierces to the soul. I’ve seen it do so. That is what I want to give them. Not Trish’s opinions or thoughts but the truth of God. I want mercy to overflow on them in my class and I want them to realize that the heart of God is something they could never plumb the depths of, even if they lived until they were one hundred years old.
If this is to happen, I need my own heart to be immersed in God’s grace and mercy. I need to recognize, daily, my radical dependence on God. It needs to be lived and not simply said. I don’t want to just know the right answers, I want my life to be a living answer to the questions so many ask. “Why am I here? What is my purpose? Is there a God?” I want my life to be a witness of the truth of Jesus Christ, His incredible love, and a continual pursuit of the Father’s heart.
It starts here. It starts now. With this stack of tests and papers. With these lesson plans. With this little heart. With a small Yes. Many great things have started with the same meager offerings.