Last week I woke up to the smell and breeze of ocean waves crashing in just outside my window. As I lay under the blue mosquito net staring out the window at the palm trees, I thought I could do this every morning. Wake up with no worries, no where to be, no cellphone service. Just a few days before I would have already been at school looking at the cluster of sticky note to-do lists all over my desk and reading through my emails before all my students rush in. What would life be like out here without the stress of the the teacher life? If I just dropped everything to live off the land on the coast. All of this was sounding pretty good to me. Then, as always, God began to speak.
Third quarter had been crazy busy. Several school events, coaching, new students, meetings, goals, testing. I could go on and on but I don’t want to scare off any future teachers (I really do love my job). Time seemed to fly by and creep along all at the same time. My mind had become clogged with 1,000 things to do and people to talk to that I could hardly think straight. That is when the negativity slips in. Negativity about work, church, about the people around me. When I am in survival mode my entire focus becomes revolved around myself. Not on the students, my coworkers, my friends at church, and not on God.
As always my students humble me. Sometimes I wonder if they teach me more than I teach them. We studied 1 Corinthians 13 together, discussing love. Near the end of the unit I asked my students to focus on one attribute of love that they want to improve on and pray about. I was expecting them to take a long time to pick, grumbling at the assignment, but their response surprised me. They all began to shout “ONE?! Ah, I could circle like six. Love is not self-seeking, easily angered, keep records of wrongs, does not envy, always perseveres…..” I was so impressed with their vulnerability with their struggle to love. As we made our goals, love is not self-seeking continued to run through my mind. I had been so caught up in my to-do lists and complaints that I was missing out on loving those around me and blind to what God had been doing around me. I began to pray that God would expose me to all my selfishness and help me to focus on Him and others more. Praying for Him to be glorified in all things so that His kingdom will grow rather than for my own needs. He answered.
As he humbled me I began to remember the God I serve. The love that surpasses all understanding, and overwhelming holiness that puts my selfishness and pride to shame. I felt so little, so unworthy of His love. Yet knowing He has called me worthy anyway. He highlighted countless moments where He had moved and I was oblivious and ungrateful-but that didn’t stop Him. The week before last was Spiritual Emphasis Week at AIS. During this week we spent every morning worshiping God and spending more time teaching about Him. Throughout the week I had one student in particular on my mind. He had been asking very deep questions about religion, Christianity, Jesus, and more for a while now. He is very analytical and inquisitive. I was asking God to speak to Him and give me the wisdom to help him learn. On the last day he came up to me in the middle of worship tapping my shoulder. He looked at me puzzled and said..
“Ms. Walsh, when we worship, it feels like my heart is crying.”
He is only nine. You see, God was moving in his heart even when he didn’t quite understand how or why. Even when I am negative, doubtful, stressed, and distracted God continues to move through me and those around me. Just because He loves us.
In the midst of lounging on the beach and enjoying the peace of doing nothing over spring break, God reminded me of the joy in the calling that He has given me. I was able to rest in His presence, thanking Him for every prayer answered and for the grace given to me each day. I wouldn’t be honest if I never wrote about the hard times, but in the midst of the hard times there is treasure. 2 Corinthians 6:4-10. Below are just a few of these treasures.
- Getting the opportunity to coach girls high school basketball. Watching them improve significantly in their basketball skills (many never playing before) and loving each other and other teams with the love of Christ.
- Celebrating the 26 different countries represented at AIS during International Day. My students performing a dance and skill for our country, Brazil!
- Watching my church Hope City explode with new members as we moved into a new building and splitting into two services after only 7 months in our new building. The youth ministry, NEON youth, is also continually growing with over 130 kids at our last event!
- Watching God move in the hearts of my students and their families throughout the semester and Spiritual Emphasis Week.
- Visiting a school in a village near Accra opened by one of my friends from church. Hearing about God’s provision and guidance in her journey.
- Countless long conversations and prayer with co-workers and friends at church.
– Students who have decided to follow Jesus this semester, for growth in their walk with Christ
– Hope City church in our transition to two services, welcoming new members
– Energy and perseverance through our last quarter of school!
Again, thank you for all of your prayers and support!