Saturday, May 24, 2008

Reflection on a Day

Wednesday, the bell will ring ending not just the school day, but the entire school year. Our students board the buses, and we teachers line the sidewalk of the parking lot. All wave vigorously, shout and smile to each other until the last big, yellow transport rumbles away. Imagine that feeling, like a Friday before a weekend. In the moment you leave work, the entire forty-eight hours loom ahead of you. Multiply by 100. Ahh...summer break!

I have had an especially good year with this particular group of children, but the cycle of events that opens the summer to me is a significant part of the job. The summer break is what many folks outside the profession see as the best part of teaching. However, and this is all the more rich, I also have the opportunity to carefully reflect on the year past and contemplate how to improve in the fall. There is time to plan and do the ground-work for the plan. Many jobs will cycle through seasons, but except for a vacation, the grist mill turns endlessly. I have a renewal every summer.

My annual work effort has a clear beginning; a vigorous, challenging climb toward a lofty goal; a climax with strong, satisfying results among most students; poignancy over kids who don’t get it; and a joyful, celebrating end for all. In the midst of the warmth and frolic of summer days, the lessons I’ve had through that year begin to percolate into ideas toward teaching more effectively.

As a disciple of the Living Jesus, every day of our lives can be like that in a small way.

He is new every morning:

Lamentations 3 --

21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. 22 The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 {They} are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him." 25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him. 26 {It is} good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD.

Resting in the Presence of Jesus, we have one day at the time. The past is covered by Him and the future is in His care. We enter each day and for that amount of time actively trust in His lovingkindness. In one day, we have a clear beginning, the needed level of challenge, results to be celebrated or considered, and a clear finish. Throughout the one day, we have the opportunity to meditate, pray, and know His comfort and guidance, while we work and interact among others. Sleep holds the promise of waking in Him again. He is a life-giving cycle for living one's life.

Contemplation and reflection inwardly in the spirit Presence of God, on a daily basis, is not a checklist discipline that makes us a “good” Christian.It is more like controlled breathing during exercise. It is an act we do that enables and supports our exertion. We can exercise without controlled breathing, but all our effort is weakened. We can physically live without resting/reflection in Jesus, but what a strengthening effect we miss!

When we make the effort to be at rest in the spirit, we connect with all good things that we need: faith, hope, and love.


Jimazing said...

Happy Summer Break to you. I am impressed with the way you see this as a strategic part of your mission. It's easy for me to romanticize and be envious of your break. I pray that it is restful and rich.

Your comparison of the spiritual disciplines with controlled breathing during exercise is particularly moving to me. I am part of a small group of guys who meet once a week. One of our "rituals" is a check-in time where we talk about our week. During this time, I frequently hear a bit of self-flagellation in their words. "I didn't read my Bible like I should." or "I didn't pray as much as I should." Many of us grew up in the church have a picture of spirituality embedded deep in us that is particularly un-spiritual. Your perspective is particularly refreshing. I will share your words with them when the time is right. Thanks for reflecting "out loud."

ded said...
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ded said...

Wow, Jim, I could talk a while about that! Tell your brothers to throw out every "should"!!

Should's are law not life and worrying over keeping laws brings NO growth in the spirit.

Christians walk too often in a sin-consciousness. Focusing in effect on the sinful nature we are told in Romans to consider dead.

It is much more fruitful and real to focus on learning who we are in Christ, since in Christ is our life. We honestly know God.

Do you want your airline pilot to begin the a 3000 mile flight apologizing for what he or she doesn't know about flying? "Well, ladies and gentlemen, I should have studied more about take-offs, but will give the throttle a shove, point the plane in the right direction and see what happens."

Reed said...

There is no substitute for the reflective and contemplative life. I cannot fathom any other way to live in, as Peterson so excellently puts it in Matt 11:28 of the Message, "the effortless rhythms of grace". Unlike David, I do not get the enviable summer break so my reflective and contemplative time has to be that routine breathing in & out while in the midst of work. Without it I find myself to be a human doing instead of a human being. By regularly practicing the reflective/contemplative life, work becomes an act of worship and not merely work. There is a rhythm to the dance of it you get into with God. It takes on the reality of in Him "we live and move and have our being". I simply cannot live in the checklist with God reality where I have to earn my good standing (or lack thereof). Jim I hope your guys have ears to hear when you share with them.

ded said...


Thanks for stopping by and commenting! (Greatly enjoyed your company over coffee the other day.)

You make a most excellent point that I think not nearly enough have come to understand. A "quiet time" isn't a prescribed program. It is being still before God. Reflection, contemplation and ease before Him who loves our souls is much more valuable than reading a pre-determined amount and/or some author's devotional thoughts.

All believers need to explore their "personal" relationship with Jesus.