Winter is over, but many readers are still looking at dirty snow on the ground. Spring is here in Seattle, with daffodils and plum blossoms everywhere, but spring break still feels far away, and the end of the year even farther. It’s that time of year when school feels “heavy.” Kids have heard the rules a million times, and we know they can do what they’re supposed to do. So, why don’t they do it? How can some of them–granted, the few–be so defiant in their disobedience? Why have some kids (again, the few) come back to school after the mid-winter break in February seemingly determined to be as rude and miserable to as many people as possible? It’s “Weary Time,” at least for me. Add blustering wind and rain, a sore throat, laryngitis, runny nose, and cough, and June feels very far away indeed.
I was caught off-guard listening to a conversation in the staff room the other day. A teacher was commenting about how much better a couple of her more difficult students had been lately. With the thoughts just listed running through my head, I was happy when someone asked her what her secret was–how did the kids turn it around? I expected to hear about some new teaching strategy she had employed.
“Prayer,” she said.
Many people might say something like that, and follow it up with a chuckle or some other sign that they are being a little facetious–especially in a public school staff lunch room. Nothing like that here, though. This woman, who I had never chatted with before about faith matters, was dead serious.
She continued. “I started praying for the ones that were driving me crazy, and it changed the way I approached them, and the way I talked to them. It worked! Now I’m praying for three others.” She added with a smile, “But I might have to up it to three times a day!”
Abraham Lincoln, facing more troubles and threats in his presidency than I can imagine as he struggled to keep a country together, is famous for saying, “I have been driven to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day” (quoted from http://www.hispenonmyheart.com).
God assures us in the Bible that He wants to hear our prayers. In Revelation, our prayers are described as the incense-filled bowls brought before the throne of God (Rev. 5:8). Apostle Paul reminds the Ephesians to “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Eph. 6:16), and the writer of James (believed to be Jesus’ brother) tells us that we should “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
I confess that I have been tempted to feel a bit on the hopeless side regarding those “certain few” and more prone to feeling sorry for myself for being hit or sworn at by kids I thought I had a positive relationship with, than to praying for God’s presence in my attitude toward them. I’m glad to be reminded that Jesus loves the naughty ones, too. Loves them enough to die for them. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln had the best strategy of them all, and the one with the best chance of reaching the most difficult kids!
I will teach you the way you should go; I will instruct you and advise you (Psalm 32:8 Good News Bible).