Today I was in the middle of a grammar lesson and one of my students sighed dramatically and exclaimed, “What’s the purpose of this?!”
A valid question, to be sure. But when attempting to teach 25 children about misplaced modifiers, it is difficult to explain the relevance of such work early on in the process of learning it. The truth of the matter was that I couldn’t effectively and efficiently explain why this lesson was important. He needed to trust that it simply is important, and in time, he would see why.
In getting slightly frustrated with this boy, I was reminded how God works in the same way, and to Him, I must sound like this irritating child who just couldn’t do the grammar exercise without being explained it’s importance.
So often God instructs me with His Word or His Holy Spirit and I don’t understand the purpose of His instructions. I become bothered by the lack of explanation He provides and my trust dwindles.
When this happens with my students, I, rather exasperated, remind them how well they did on the last exam because of this kind of practice, or I remind them that I graduated with a degree in English and that they can trust me that reading the assigned book will indeed make them more educated human beings.
Then I am humbled, thinking of myself in my student’s place, sitting at my own little writing-desk which God has called me to, complaining about the lack of direction in the open-ended assignment he has given to me. How many times has God saved me? How does it usually work out when I break away from His will and do my own thing? Has He ever allowed me to fall from grace and has He ever left me with plans which hurt me?
I am reminded that in order to learn something new, you have to trust the masters of the craft. Just as my students can trust me as their guide when writing a reflective essay on internal racism in “The Bluest Eye”, I need to trust God in the work he has for me to do. When my students trust in the process of writing, they soon realize it’s value when looking at the end product. With God, it is just the same.
Since I am seeking to do His work, I have to trust in His process if I want to see the product that He has in mind.
Lately I have been wondering what God’s got up His sleeve. I hear His voice calling me to specific projects and even to avoid specific people or activities, but I don’t know what the purpose is. I feel like that dramatically exasperated boy in class– too wrapped up in the world to open his eyes and see the big picture, or too self-concerned to trust that there even is a big picture to see.
One of His latest assignments, among others, is to plant a garden. My friend gave me a starter kit vegetable garden and it has been sitting in my kitchen looking cute and taking up valuable space for about two weeks. I also have two bags of soil sitting on my porch also taking up space and looking… well, not so cute.
I could not explain to you why God wants me to plant a garden. I even expressed to my husband today how I’m not sure I enjoy gardening at all, and how I would really love to like it, but I’m not sure I do, and anyway, I’m so busy with work and church obligations, and housework and you know, being alive, that I just don’t think I have time for planting things…Well, that may be true in my mind, but to God, I am just that obnoxious student who always vocalizes frustration with not understanding the point of reading such an “old” book!
In short, I am a disobedient and disrespectful child when I question God’s purpose, even if it is in a simple assignment such as planting a few tomato plants. But if I cannot obey God in the small commands, how can He trust me with larger blessings? My students cannot write a full essay until they know how to write a sentence, and if they practice their addition and subtraction, they can soon divide and multiply.
If I want my gifts and blessings from God to multiply, I must do good with the small responsibilities that God grants, even if I don’t understand His purpose. For, as He says, “my thoughts are higher than your thoughts”(Isaiah 55:9); I am not meant to understand His ways, and if I did, He would not be a God worth obeying.
The all-knowing-all-seeing Lord tells me through His Word: “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land”(Isaiah 1:19)…. and in the case of crop-growing, that promise may be very literal.
What assignments is God giving you these days? How have you learned to trust Him without always knowing His purpose?