Yesterday, I subbed for Christian Studies again at the local Christian school down here in the Bible Belt (or “GOD’S COUNTRY” as a student once referenced it). I’ve been having a lot of mixed feelings about teaching at a private school because I grew up in one. There have been so many interesting experiences already, but yesterday made me sort out a lot of my own thoughts.
The teacher’s sub plans delineated a journal over Proverbs 15, prayer requests and prayer for the class as a whole, and reading Isaiah 1, 6,7,8, and 9 and journaling about each chapter. I understand that the teacher was trying to keep them working while they had a sub. and I understand why the students were frustrated that they had to do what they deemed “busy work,” but no amount of understanding cleared up their callous attitudes toward God’s Word. They made jokes. They complained repeatedly. They tried to excuse why they hated the class (even telling me how much they hated their regular teacher). They tried to tell me “we don’t do that” when I asked them to explain their answers. So I made them read a chapter of Isaiah and then we went through it together. I really really really grew from understanding the plight of the Israelites when I finally acknowledged my own rebellion at a very dark point in my life and it makes this part of scripture especially dear to me.
We talked about why God was upset, how this behavior was not a new thing for Israelites, and to look for the pattern of God demonstrating His wrath, but never without His mercy, thus demonstrating the dual nature of God (thank you Knowing God by J.I. Packer and EIBC for working on me the summer of 2010). Some of them caught on to how Israel, even though they actually did the things listed in Isaiah, was almost a metaphor for each of our individual relationships with God, and how just as God calls for Israel to repent and He will draw near to them again, so we are given the choice daily to repent or go our own way. We also talked about what true repentance looks like (actions, words, and heart), and for those who had seen someone in their life completely devastated, how that kind of devastation is the attitude we should have toward our sin and our broken relationship with God. Also, I may have said something along the lines of, “if hard times in life haven’t found you yet, keep watching; they will.”
Of course I’d love to tell you that this group of sophomores suddenly became very earnest, repented of their mockery of the pursuit of Christ, and started a revival of the school. However, it didn’t happen. I was equally flattered that one student thought I had a theology degree (don’t worry, I know I’m not qualified to teach this class really) and then disgusted when another student said she’d just ask her mom for money for more school . Yes, that’s about how it went but for the 5 or so students who seemed to stop and think, it was worth it for me.
What I realized about myself through this experience was that I was frustrated with Christian school because students can become so numb to the gospel when immersed in a culture that is well-intentioned but very secluded from the secular world. Some of them often show no respect toward authority, and although I understand a lot of that may be a difference in how teachers approach classroom management, it does not excuse the blatant disregard for the Word of God. Experiencing this made me realize that I wouldn’t mind teaching at a Christian school if I was given the opportunity to push students out of their comfort zones in order to be more prepared for life after Christian school. I love teaching, and I love that sharing the Word brings out my passion for the gospel. If God were to open the door to this school, I think I’d have to take it to at least see what it would be like.
We’ll see, Lord.