It has been interesting to listen to leaders (e.g., government officials, board members) speak about the current state of education. Most appear to be using their platform to justify decisions that are impacting thousands of teachers and students. For example, a board member was recently quoted as saying, “The education students are receiving online is as good as what they were receiving in person.” Seriously? Ask any educator and they will tell you this is not the case. Today’s classroom—either virtual or with masks and social distancing—is not the best experience for students, and we all know it despite how hard we have been working as educators. Denying reality doesn’t help. It only raises the level of frustration on many whose frustration levels are already at an all-time high.
Despite this, educators know how important it is to stay positive, to find the good in every situation. Educators are renowned for successfully navigating challenges, even in a pandemic. However, if you are like me, the longer the current situation drags on (eight months is a long time) the harder it is to paste a smile on my face! The stress of the holidays, the disruption of our daily work life, and the threat of COVID have stretched the limit of the most committed educators.
We all know this isn’t going to last forever, but there is a strong possibility we have more to endure. I feel confident Christian educators are surviving through prayer, Bible study and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. May I suggest one more action to take that might help? Look up! I literally mean to stop where you are and physically look up to the heavens! This may sound a bit odd, but try it. Stop reading right now (I’m serious) and look up. Something changes when our attention shifts heavenward. For me there is this sense of awe, an acknowledgement of God’s power, authority, and presence in my life.
I find it interesting that Jesus looked up often.
Feeding the 5000. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people. Matthew 14:19
Raising Lazarus. So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me.”John 11:41
Facing crucifixion. After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you.” John 17:1
There is no better time to look up than when we feel discouraged, tired, and frustrated. In each of the situations noted above, it was obvious Jesus was yielding himself, placing himself in a position of humility. Looking up changes our posture and our focus. Instead of bending toward the world and fixating on our current circumstances, we can stand tall in the full assurance of God’s sovereignty. In other words, God’s got this!
· When we look up, we won’t wallow in negativity.
· When we look up, we are strengthened.
· When we look up, we are reminded of God’s call on our lives as educators.
· When we look up, we can thank God for the opportunity to serve children who need us during a pandemic.
· When we look up, we are reminded of His power, His presence, His goodness, and His faithfulness.
Life will be crazy this month. I am challenging each of us to stop at least one time a day to physically LOOK UP! As Billy Graham says, “Earth’s troubles fade in the light of Heaven’s hope.” Let’s keep looking up!
Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:26-31