“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight a boxer beating the air.”
1 Corinthians 9:26
It’s easy to slip into that state of running aimlessly when I am buried under lesson planning, grading and deadlines. It’s easy to fight the boxer that punches air when I am tired and sleep deprived. It’s easy to forget who I am ultimately working for, the reason I am here in Accra, and only focus on trying to purely survive teaching. It’s frustrating when I find myself living in the school bubble and feeling like I don’t have the time to enjoy living in Ghana. I always feel 10 steps behind in my classroom, trying to keep my head above the waters (which I am assuming/hoping most 1st year teachers feel) I start to feel sick when I realize the relationships back home in Colorado are slowly slipping away because of distance. I am in love with discussing the love and grace of Jesus Christ with my twelve 3rd graders, but often spend more time planning for their lesson and spiritual growth, than my own.
But then God wakes me up.
He uses my students to humble me. They are the ones who remind me who I am serving and why I am here in Ghana. Recently one of my students reminded me of an acronym that I learned in college that helped deepen my prayer life;
We have been talking about the Power of Prayer (P. O. P.) in class and I have been overwhelmed by my students understanding of God’s goodness and power. Often students make connections to Christ throughout the day during our science, math, social studies, and language arts lessons. Over the past month my students have memorized 5 bible verses, and like to shout them as loud as possible in the mornings. One morning (same morning the printer broke down, sending me into panic and stress for the day) they had this great idea to hide in the 4th grade classroom, just before they came in for snack, and pop out shouting our bible verses from the past two weeks. I got goosebumps when watching the joy pouring out of my 3rd grade students and the 4th graders as my students yelled Philippians 4:4-7 at the top of their lungs.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; I’ll say it again, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious in any situation, but in prayer and petition, and thanksgiving in your heart, present your prayers and requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard you hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
As we work as a family to integrate God’s word into every part of our classroom, I have started to see God’s word integrated into every part of my life, now and in the past. It’s in these moments of realization that I begin to gain aim in my running and face the real boxer. There is a reason Jesus tells us to have faith like a child!
This past weekend I was able to get away and see more of Accra! A group of teachers from the school were able to spend our weekend at a beach resort about an hour away from the school. I don’t think I have ever been more relaxed in my life! We spent the weekend lying on the beach, swimming in the waves, sketching and painting (with some help from local kids who decided to join us), eating delicious food, and dancing to live reggae music under the palm trees. Now I understand why all reggae musicians always look so happy (well besides the other reason…). Throughout the weekend I kept picturing my students shouting “Rejoice; I’ll say it again, Rejoice!” I am filled with joy and thanksgiving for God’s blessings in my life: the places I have seen, the people I have met, the prayers He has answered, and His grace that pours over all His children. I am filled with joy, shouting “Rejoice” to the Lord our God!