Tools and technology in the classroom are often a blessing to both the student and the teacher, but sometimes they can cause great embarrassment.
I have been using document projectors in my classroom for many years. They display students work on the screen, books, pictures, and maps, really just about anything you want to put up on the big screen. What you don’t ever want to do is place a student’s grades up on the screen.
I print up and send home progress reports every Monday and collect them on Tuesday. Once I tossed them on the table with my document projector on, and one student had his low grades on display to the whole class till I realized what was on the screen. I quickly removed them but did not say anything to cause further embarrassment.
Later that day when we were walking outside, and I had a moment alone with him I apologized for causing him shame and embarrassment. He kept repeating it was OK, but I knew he was hurt by it and felt disgraced. I stopped him and faced him directly, and gently placed my finger on his chest and said, “Your grades do not define who you are. I see your good character, and that is more important to me than your earning good grades.” He looked at me for a moment and then covered his face with his hands and began to sob.
The more broken you are, the more light can shine through. As I reflect on my mistakes of my past, I realize all the more how my failings do not represent me. I am defined by the blood of Christ. I heard my pastor say recently we can’t let the failings of our past mentor us in our future.
Tenth Avenu North has a song titled; You Are More. Some of the lyrics are:
You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.
G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The criminal we must forgive unto seventy times seven. The crime we must not forgive at all…And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”1
Not long ago I heard a testimony from a speaker who talked about our efforts in ministering to others. He encouraged us not to just walk up to someone and pray for a miracle in their life, but rather be the miracle in their life. This is especially true if you are in a place in your life where you need a miracle. Then in that process, we become the kind of people who are so caught up by being a miracle for others, we no longer need to ask for one ourselves. That spoke to me. Need a Miracle? I sure do. Then be one for someone.
After our brief conversation, I wrote my student a letter the next day, and I told him to read with his mother. This was my effort to be a miracle for someone by simply offering words of encouragement. I may never know how this letter will impact his life, but I do know he came in the next day and said he appreciated what I wrote. He was quite sincere and thanked me more than once.
Since I shared my history with the men’s group I meet with on Sunday mornings, I have been blessed by many of their responses. One called me and conceded some things he said he never shared with anyone before. This simple act of sharing with another brother allowed him to have some breakthrough in his life. I was blessed to be used as a tool for some healing in another’s life.
We have all experienced failure in our lives or have serious challenges to overcome. Some have fallen far and have lost just about everything they hold dear to their heart. Others are struggling with disappointment which could be in their job, friends, or family. Others may feel overwhelmed at work or feel buried by debt. Some may have chronic health issues which rob them of peace and joy. Still, others may be struggling with school and worry about their grades as finals are around the corner. Have you lost someone dear to you? A child or spouse? A close friend to cancer? Some may have all the money they want, but feel empty or without purpose. Maybe you have broken relationships with your children or parents? Do you have parents that love you?
People can relate to a fall more than a trophy. Success stories are inspiriting to be sure, but a success story after a fall is something special. It is special because the greatest success story the world has ever heard came after a fall. Popular culture recognizes this and movies cash in every year with down and out characters who rise out of dark and overwhelming circumstances to influence the world around them. It may not be an impact you would find in CNN news or on mymotherlode.com. It may not even be public, but simply an impact on a neighbor, a friend, someone at church or an individual you interact with on the street.
At CR the other night one man gave a lesson on the difference between giving our life to the Lord and giving our will to the Lord. We often make decisions to turn our life and our will over to God, but is there a difference between the two? I can’t count the times I have said, “My life is yours Lord, use it as you see fit.” As he talked about the difference between giving our life and giving our will, I struggled with the concept. But the other morning as I walked around our school and was taking the time to give praise to the Lord an analogy came to me that may help. At least it helped me.
Some of us might loan our car to a friend; we might hand over the keys and say here is my car for you to use as you need. Feel free to use it for what you like. How generous of us to loan our car, something worth thousands of dollars. It is theirs to use for a day, a week, possibly more. Not long ago my friend Brett loaned me his car for a couple weeks. It was a blessing to have a vehicle that was reliable. I used his car to drive to and from work, go grocery shopping, pick up my daughter at school, and to get around town for various errands. It was mine to use, but it was not ‘really’ mine.
If we give our life to the Lord, we may have the best of intentions, but just giving our life to the Lord without giving our will to the Lord cuts things short. Imagine loaning your car to someone, much like we might loan our life to the Lord. He can drive it around, but He can’t make changes. No new paint job, can’t repair the engine, and He certainly can’t get in an accident with it. We would take it back, snatching the keys out of His hands and say, “You messed things up now!”
Now imagine signing the pink slip to your car and giving it to your friend. That is the difference between giving your life and giving your will. We allow the Lord to work in our life, but until we hand over our will, we have not really given ourselves over to Him. Giving Him our will is like signing the pink slip. No conditions, no exceptions, giving it all. Depending on the circumstances when we give our will over to Him, He might be carrying us through difficult trials. So when crying out for His help, there may not be a whole lot more He can do for us if He is already carrying us.
Louie Giglio wrote, “When things are going great, it’s far easier to forget God. When our deals are going through, when our Facebook page is active and we’re getting a lot of likes on each post, when our relationships are smooth, when our bank accounts are in the black, when our health is good, when our children and friends are happy, when we’re doing well that’s when it’s the hardest to be closest to God. But as soon as that great job is lost or relationships fragment or when someone we love is hurting or dying, that’s when we look to heaven and call on God.
Sometimes God in his sovereignty will strip away those earthly things we cling to hardest to get us back to the epicenter of our existence, that we would seek God, reach for God, find God. The time when life is difficult are the times when we make the most progress and see the most expansion in our personal relationship with God.”2
Remember the story of Elijah and the widow? He asked her for water and a meal. She gave all she had; it was her last meal. She had nothing left but a bit of oil and flour for her and her son. Understand that back in those days if you did not have a man around, surviving was questionable. Many had to rely on the generosity of family and friends just to survive. Louie Giglio pointed out that particular meal represented not only trust but complete trust, and that is not easy to do.
Repentance is not self-loathing, but God loving. Repentance is looking at our lives from God’s view, not our own. If we truly repent of our sin and failures in our life, if we not only give our life over to the Lord but sign the pink slip giving our will also, then we open the door for more miraculous interventions in someone’s life, and that life might be your own.
1. Chesterton, G. K. “The Paradoxes of Christianity” Orthodoxy, Simon and Brown, 2012, 95.
2. Giglio, Louie. “Jesus is Enough.” The Comeback, Passion Publishing, 2015, 159-160.
Be A Miracle by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.knowingforsure.com.