I probably shouldn't be sitting here writing anything. I probably should be getting ready for bed. The reason for that is because I start a new job tomorrow. After over 2 years of no hits, I finally have a crack at another teaching job. It's not full-time, it's merely a 2 month long-term subbing job. But at least it's a foot in the door.
Turns out that I'll be shadowing the teacher for all of his classes tomorrow to make the transition easier on the students. These are not ordinary students. These are some very difficult kids. They come from some very difficult backgrounds, and simply do not fit well in a standard classroom. (Just picture your stereotypical "At-Risk" kid...and then hand them some brass knuckles.)
This is not a teaching job for everyone. But for me, in many respects it is absolutely perfect. Most of my teaching career has been spent with either "Special Needs" students, "At-Risk" students, or all of the above. I like to refer to my classroom as the "Island of Misfit Toys." Again, not for everyone, but I love it. (I must be a Masochist.)
These guys can cuss me out until the cows come home, and it really does nothing to me. I just see a kid that needs to have someone believe in them. They teach me a lot about God's kingdom..."F-Bombs" not included.
Perhaps this song will explain it better.
OK, now to be serious.
There is a reason that I like these kinds of people, students, kids. At my old job, I had more than one substitute teacher leave our area in tears, and ask me how I could possibly work with such devious teenage monsters. Well, I shall now attempt to explain.
At the end of Jesus' epic Sermon on the Mount, he makes a statement that I have found to be quite true over time.
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house, and it fell with a great crash." (Matt. 7:24-17)
In my previous post, I mentioned how I had been badly burned by a church and by people who called themselves "Christians." I was hurt to such an extent that I went into a bad rebellion for quite some time. I HATED Christians...still not particularly fond of many of them. I was a strange type of atheist, I suppose. I still had a type of belief in Christianity, but I really didn't think that Christians actually existed. (If that makes sense.)
I went off on a bad spell for quite some time, until one day the pastor at my old, home church reached out to me. I have a story for another time, but essentially God himself reached out and spoke to me. He rescued me and called me back to him.
However, THIS TIME I decided that I had to be perfect for God. So I worked at it. I worked, worked, worked and worked myself...right into what I guess is called an "Anxiety Breakdown" and ended up on the therapist's couch for a few years. (In fact, I enjoyed the first breakdown so much, that I had another one a year later. AWESOME!)
During all of this, both during the rebellious phase, and the "Mr. Perfect" phase, I could not understand why God was allowing any of this to happen to me. I was very angry at him. There were times where I would scream at the top of my lungs at him. During this time, God rarely answered me. I was very frustrated.
However, what I learned was that my house had been built upon a rock. Even when I was very angry at God, I still understood on a deeply subconscious level that Christianity was the truth. I had studied other faiths. I had searched openly and honestly at other religions. But something always drew my back to Jesus. I simply couldn't let go of him...even when I really wanted to. He was my rock. He was the truth. It was more than an intellectual decision. (Yes, I new intellectually that Jesus' claims about himself were true, but...) It was deeply woven into my bones.
Jesus never sugar-coated anything. He said that in this life there would be trouble. He said there would be storms. He never pretended otherwise. However, if a person's life is built upon Jesus, then that person will ultimately survive the storms. And what I will argue is that they will be better for it. They certainly will have a better understanding of the God of the Bible, and a closer relationship with him.
Attention: Pay no heed what so ever to these preachers who promise you "Your Best Life Now," or that once you follow Jesus you will be trouble free, wealthy and healthy. They are lying to you. Jesus never promised any of that.
But he did promise that he would be there to give you strength.
It is precisely because I had to go through my own difficulties that I AM able to work with the types of students that I will meet tomorrow. Paul told the tiny church in Rome that "In ALL things God works for the good of those love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I have seen this come true in my own life. God took all of the difficult struggle, the depression, the self-destructive behavior, ALL of it and he recycled it. He remade me. I am convinced that I would not have the patience, the empathy, the humility, any of the tools required, to work with students like this, if I had not had my own downfall. (I'll find out for sure tomorrow, one way or the other.)
I have a wise friend who likes to say that she does not trust Christians who have not been broken. Often times it is quite easy to call yourself a "Christian" and to go through the Churchy motions, but still be quite dead inside. Often, it is easy to actually BE a Believer, but to never really get out of the boat.
God allows hard times to come our way because he seeks to refine us. He wants to break off the useless things. As in the military, the boot camp experience is necessary to break off the civilian mold so that you can be rebuilt as a suitable soldier, so too does God provide his own boot camp to those he wants to use. To be used for a task in the kingdom, you simply must be properly trained. It can be painful, brutal, and often without explanation, but it is ultimately worth it.
Also, it is most certainly the best way to find out where you really did build your house.
I am so thankful, when I look around at many of the families of students that I work with, and know that I was blessed with two godly & loving parents under one roof. They loved me unconditionally. They set an example of "Christ-Likeness" for me. They laid a foundation for me. I don't know exactly how God goes about his business of salvation, justification and sanctification, but I know that he has been faithful to me even when I was at my worst...probably even more faithful when I was at my worst. He never gave up on me.
I am so far from perfect in every way. I have so far to go to be more like Jesus. It is a long, long journey, and one that will be many years I think. But I know that I am on the "Rock," and that he will always rescue me. He rescues me every day.
P.S. Many years ago, when I began my healing process, I heard a song that has become my unofficial theme song. I still listen to it every time I go biking. Enjoy.
Speaking of the "Rock of Salvation," if you would like to enjoy a bit of Soul & Gospel music with White People vainly attempting a display a sense of rhythm, you should also enjoy the following video.