I teach first graders, and I love, love LOVE what I do! Besides being a very rewarding job, I have multiple opportunities every day to get closer to God as I navigate the complexities of being Christ-like in all situations, helping every individual student grow, and all the while feeling like I’m playing a rousing game of Whack-a Mole all day long. Fellow teachers, I know you know what I mean!
One of the most surprising things that has happened to me as a teacher is that I constantly see snippets of myself in my students. They whine when they don’t understand something–check. They rage when someone cuts them in line–check. They fuss when someone else gets that one cupcake with the sparkly sprinkles they really wanted–check. I’m convinced most grown-ups are still first graders, just bigger, louder, and driving around in cars.
But first graders also have many positive qualities that convict me of my spiritual weaknesses. Something they do very well is violating the “bubble principle.” They just want to be close to other people, whether it’s me, their neighbor on the carpet during circle time, the kid in front of them as we walk down the hall, or whatever. Of course, COVID-19 has interrupted this phenomenon for the present moment, but I have NO DOUBT it will return in full force when we’re all allowed to return to normalcy.
During a regular school year, I spend a lot of time teaching students to respect the space of their classmates, but I have to state this: Wanting to be close to others is really not a bad disposition to possess. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s actually a natural expression of a very basic human need: We are wired to be close to God and others, and this often drives us to seek closeness with those around us.
James 4:8a says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (ESV) If you want to get close to God, all you have to do is draw near to Him. Like my students, He is eager to be close to you, but sometimes we need to take the first step. When you’re thirsty, water is always waiting for you, but you must go to the faucet and turn it on. When it’s dark, light is available to you as soon as you flip the light switch. Go flip the switch, and get near to God.
Happy December 5th!
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