Teaching on Grace

I saw a sign recently that read: this classroom runs on laughter, love, and lots of coffee.  While I still want a sign like that for my desk, I’ve also been reminded recently that my classroom runs on grace.  And mercy.

It’s only the second week into the new semester, but the crunch has already started.  Looming state assessments seem even more formidable after this week’s meetings.  So do the personal evaluations that start up again next week.  Then all the worries and questions start: Am I a good teacher?  Did I teach everything?  What if the students don’t do well?  What if I tank on an evaluation?  What if I’ve already failed?  What if?  What if? What if?  It’s like finals’ week in college — only I feel responsible for the finals of 24 other people as well as my own.

So, where do grace and mercy come in?

Earlier this week, I taught a community ESL class.  I prepared for it, ate dinner, and dashed out the door.  With the wrong bag.  I showed up five minutes late with no handouts, no visual aids, no TE, no pens, and, worst of all, no dry erase markers.  I leaned my head against the door frame of the car.  “Why, God?” I groaned.  It felt like another try-but-fail.  Racking my brain about what to do, I walked in the building.  The director of the program greeted me as I came in a steered me toward a desk organizer he had acquired this week.  It was stocked with dry erase markers.  And paper.  And pens.  And was I ever grateful.  I went to the classroom and greeted my students.  As I turned to the board with one of the new markers, it hit me like an audible voice: “This is what you are teaching on — grace and mercy.  You don’t always see it, but it’s there.  That marker in your hand is providence.”

God had just given me a dry erase marker.

I don’t know what amazed me more, the gift or that God cared enough about the state of my complaining little heart to mercifully bring this to my attention.

Don’t get me wrong.  God isn’t there to smooth over my mistakes.  But He does always supply me with grace and mercy.  Even if it’s not in the way that I want it to come, it’s there.  Even when I feel like I’m scrambling, the strength comes from Him.  The will to try again comes from Him.  A positive evaluation comes from Him for my good.  A negative evaluation does, too.

So do dry erase markers.

If the One who made the sun, moon, and stars noticed my need and supplied me with something that is smaller than my hand and costs about $1, then there is nothing He will overlook.

…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Matthew 6:8

and

… your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  Matthew 6:32

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