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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Teachers (07/12/04)

TITLE: Once Again the Student
By Mary Elder-Criss


Of all the things that I stated I wanted to be when I grew up, “Teacher” was not even in the top twenty. I’d contemplated being an artist, or a writer, or a vet, but teacher? I didn’t even like being a student; why would I consider becoming a teacher? And children? Humph. In high school, I could have been voted “most likely never to have any.”

Considering that adolescent lack of maternal desire, coupled with my absolute disinterest in the teaching profession, I have to say that God often has the last laugh. Not only did He change my mind about bearing children, He also ordained that I should teach them.

My oldest daughter, Emily, was four years old when He began speaking to me about homeschooling her. My initial reaction was summed up in six words, “You want me to do what?”

Sure that the whole idea was ludicrous, and just a passing fancy of His, I decided to bypass kindergarten that fall. As her birthday fell after the cut off date, I was legally able to wait until the next September when she was due to turn six before committing. I figured the extra year was all that God needed to see that the idea of me teaching her was questionable, knowing my lack of patience and desire.

How is it then, that here I sit, seven years later, shopping for homeschooling needs for not one, but two daughters? Scrolling through page after page of spelling and vocabulary books, reading and grammar, math and science, I am threatened with overwhelming feelings of inadequacy. I find myself questioning God again.

“Lord, are you sure that I should continue teaching my kids?”

“Are they really learning everything they need to succeed? Wouldn’t it be better if someone with an actual teaching degree did this job? Plus, You called me to write for You, Lord. Remember how difficult it is to find time to do that once school starts back again? Maybe it would be better if we enrolled them in a public school. What do you think?”

Waiting for the Lord to answer me and give me permission to do just that, I am met instead with silence and the convicting verse, “It is better to obey than to sacrifice.” (1 Sam. 15:22)

“But God,” I think protestingly, “I AM sacrificing by obeying. I am sacrificing my time, and my wants; I am sacrificing peace and quiet in my house during the day when I could be working for You. I’ve done it now for seven years. I’m just not sure that I am qualified to keep doing this job…the classes are getting harder, the amount of time involved is getting longer, and I’m even looking at having to dissect things for crying out loud in my kitchen. Haven’t I been obedient in this calling long enough?”

I am answered with the resounding question. “How long is long enough, Mary? Is it acceptable for you just to be obedient until the going gets rough? What do you think you are doing if not working for me by following my command to homeschool them? Should I give you permission to quit something just because your flesh is tired and unsure? Is that really what you’re searching for in your walk with me? The easy way out?”

“Have I not always walked with you, and provided you with the strength that you needed? Have you not felt my comforting hand upon you when you felt unqualified to do the work? Do you and your children not share a relationship that is unequaled because of this command I placed on your life? Would you trade the closeness you share with them in exchange for a quiet house and a clean kitchen? Yes, I have also called you to write for me. I have given you that gift for a reason. But I have also entrusted those children to you for a reason as well. If you obey and sacrifice the time, I will redeem that time. I am with you…I will lead you…I will provide. I always have, and I always will.”

Thoroughly chastened, I acknowledge His words. Clicking on the “Add to your shopping cart” button, I purchase the needed books with a prayer for continued help. Before the first day of the school season has ever begun, an important lesson has already been learned. The teacher once again has become the student.

Copyright 2004

Member Comments
Member Date
Julie Pisacane07/19/04
The world is indeed our classroom and we are all students!As with many of your aritcles, this was filled with your gentle style of humor and pleasantry. I would know your work without your name on it ! Your children are getting the very best of an education with you in charge!!Blessings, Julie
Joanne Malley07/19/04

How wonderful for you that you noticed God's calling for you even though it was something you were almost certain would not fit into your own life's plan.

Maybe someday you can write an aricle on recognizing his "nudge!"
That would be an article I'd be reading over and over! LOL :)
Lynda Lee Schab 07/19/04
Wonderful article! I was the opposite of you -I tried homeschooling without the call from God! How very important for us to listen for His voice in everything we do!
Loved the line about having to "dissect things, for crying out loud, in my kitchen" LOL!
Well done!
Blessings, Lynda Schab
Randy Chambers07/20/04
Very nice! I especially loved how you wrote God’s dialogue with you. It reminded me of such times in my life where God speaks to me. I’ve had conversations with Him while driving down the street--you know the kind—God was talking, I was questioning, complaining, talking out loud. I was sure that if anyone saw me, they were sure to think I had lost it. But God is good and always the teacher.
Thanks for sharing.
L.M. Lee07/22/04
I have the utmost respect and admiration for people who chose to homeschool.

Interestingly enough, that is how America was founded, by families who taught their children.

Maybe that is why God is calling it back.
Karen Treharne07/25/04
Congratulations, Mary, for listening and following God's word and direction. Your family is richly blessed because of your obedience and honor to God. Isn't He something else? The last laugh indeed, and the teacher becomes the student...great last line.
Marcell Billinghurst07/25/04
Praise God for your obedience in teaching your children and for the gifts God has given you, in teaching and writing. He will bless you over and abuntantly above all you can ask or think as you obey him. God bless you in all areas of your life.
Jean Boulmay07/27/04
Excellent, and a good reminder that God is always with us, helping us with whatever he has for us to do.