August 25, 2015

Blessed Rather than Stressed

It is a good Tuesday and I am sitting here at home after a morning of teaching at ACU. I am tired, so very tired, and my legs are sore from walking a mile or more back and forth on the campus at Grand Canyon yesterday. The first day back to GCU is always a bit stressful. The campus is so large, with almost 15,000 students this year, so parking and manuevering is always a challenge on the first day. Furthermore, the building projects are in full-swing so there are workmen digging, pounding, and generally making noise throughout the day. Still, my first full-day of teaching went well, and my week is now off to a good start. I am blessed, so very blessed.

I woke up thinking about being blessed today. I don't know why but I think it has to do with the fact that I have been struggling lately to process all the details of my life, put everything in order, and generally, map out a plan that aligns with what I believe the Lord is calling me to do. Yesterday was such a challenge for me. I was up at the crack of dawn, over at campus before 7 a.m., and ran non-stop until I left to come home around 3:15. I was tired, hot and sticky, and very sore. Yet, I had this great sense of peace about my day. I was less stressed than ever before, and I felt completely at ease as I moved from class to class. I encountered a number of issues -- from AC not working well to lights flickering off/on -- along with the usual frantic pleas from lost freshman to avoiding all the wild skateboarders on campus. The day was full, to say the least, and I came home and promptly passed out (yes, I did!)

In all the details of the day, I couldn't help but feel as though I was blessed to be a part of GCU. I was blessed to be there, to be at school, and to be teaching. This morning as I struggled to get out of bed and dressed, I thought (for a short minute) that it would be so good to be off to a day in the office rather than driving over to teach at another school. Yes, I thought how nice it would be to go sit all day long. As I said, it was a short minute, because after those thoughts percolated around my mind for a bit, I said to the Lord, "No, Lord, I am thankful that I have my T-Th's partially off, that I have these days to rest in between my long, hard days at GCU." In truth, I am thankful for teaching, for this kind of schedule, and for the fact that I get to do this kind of work. I mean, I get to hang out with young people all day long, and I get to run the "show" so to speak in my classes. I have total control, total freedom, and blessing upon blessing, I get to make my own semester schedule. God is good, so very good.

Yes, I know now that every job has ups and downs, good and bad, and that no job is perfect. Teaching is no exception. I am tired, I am weary, and the semester has just begun. I am feeling the burn of my legs as I hustle across campus in order to not be late to class. I stress over the details often, and I do feel at times like I am not the best teacher. But, whenever I do feel that way, the Lord brings me sweet testimony to change my mind. Yesterday, while I was reading my book for COM 709, one of my former students came up to me to say hi. He was a joy to have in class last semester, and I strongly encouraged him in his pursuit of evangelism. He is former Army, a young married man with two small children. He is trying very hard to do the right thing by his family and his wife. I could tell that about him right away -- he was a new Christian -- though he said he was raised in church, but had fallen away for a time. He was actively pursuing ministry, and he had this intensity about his desire to serve the Lord. I liked him a lot, and I wanted to encourage him in his ministry pursuits.  After we chatted, he told me how important my class was to him, and how it was his favorite class at GCU. He said I was an awesome, wonderful teacher, and how much he learned from me.

I was humbled, and I was blessed. I may not reach every student, but every now and then, I reach one or two for Christ's sake, and well, things just happen like that. It is so encouraging to me to hear feedback, to know that my students are being fed by whatever I say to them, and that they are finding my classes and my approach meaningful to them. I have said it before that I am not a great teacher, but that I am good (pretty good). I would like to be better, but there is part of me that realizes that for me, being better is not really my end game. I used to think it was, but now I think I am more interested in investing in the lives of these young people, in reaching them for Christ, than in becoming a better teacher. I mean, yes, I need to be a good teacher and all. But in truth, in the light of eternity, what matters is their relationship with the Lord, their love of God and others, and their understanding that God has a plan and purpose for their lives. I love these young people, all of them, and I desire to know them and to help them in whatever way I can. It is not about teaching for me, and I guess that is the nub of the point. It is about my life being emptied out and filled with His life so that the work I do is all about Jesus, all about my Lord and Savior. I want my life to filled to the full with His work so that everything I do, every day I spend, is blessed by His presence, blessed by His infilling of the Holy Spirit, and blessed by His influence over my words, my ways, and my walk. May everything I do be about Him and not me. May my life be a reflection of His character, may my testimony bear resemblance to a life lived in submission and holy pursuit, and may my days be filled with good things, good noble and perfect things. I ask this in His name because I believe it is His will for me. I believe that I am to teach professionally, but mentor spiritually. I believe that teaching is the forum He intends to use to reach these young people. I believe that my role is to facilitate relationship building between my students and Jesus Christ. I believe that my responsibility is to handle the Word accurately, and to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in me, the hope of a future eternity with my Lord. Yes, this is my work. This is my ministry, and this is my calling. I see it now, I get it. For a long time, I believed that my ministry was something different, something way off in the future, something necessary but not aligned with the actual work (or job) I would do.

I have come to learn that the work I do is two-fold. There is practical good work (job), and then there is spiritual work (ministry). I am blessed to be able to do both at the same time, to work to earn a living, and to work to minister to students. It gives me the opportunity to be about His business on a daily basis. I love this fact, and I love the results I see. I see faces of students, and I realize that each day I can reach them, teach them, and help them understand what they need to know. My hope is that I can encourage them to find the Lord's will for their life, and help them on that path through my mentorship. I pray for my students, and I pray for their academic studies. I pray for their testimony and witness, their relationship with the Lord, as well as their relationship with their friends. In all, my prayer is for these young people to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and then learn to walk in His way according to His will and His word. This is my ministry and it is my calling. I get it, I see it, I accept it.

Lord, may I live out my calling in complete surrender to your will. May I go where you send me, and do the work you have prepared for me to do. I trust you now to do your blessed work in me and through me -- for your name sake! Amen!

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