Now that school is in full swing and the adrenaline has worn off, I find myself literally falling face first into bed each night, or maybe I should say early evening since last night I am pretty sure I was asleep before 8 pm. When my alarm goes off at 4:45 in the morning (yes, you read that right. I'm convinced there's a special reward in heaven for high school teachers that are single moms because we have to get up this early), I think something along the lines of, "God this is either a cruel joke or you better help me get out of bed." Occasionally, like this morning (after two nights of bedtimes before 8:30), I actually stretch luxuriously and find a tidbit of thankfulness deep down in my heart for the gift of being awake and alone to enjoy Jesus all to myself.
Lately my spirit has felt gaunt. What a lovely word. It means lean and haggard because of suffering or hunger. How appropriate.
At a seminar this summer, a veteran teacher described teaching physics as a performance art. I would probably generalize that to say that teaching well is a performance art. Imagine performing interactive, improvisation with a captive audience, all with teenage hormones and a penchant for emotional drama. Sounds like a blast, doesn't it? I must be nuts. If I'm not setting up a lab, fixing something broken, attempting to design engaging lesson plans, grading papers, or teaching rocket science, then I am trying to make struggling students feel warm and fuzzy, obnoxious students love learning, lazy students catch a vision for greatness, and hoping I could accurately tell the difference between those students.
But imagine trying to do all of these things and stay in constant communion with the Spirit of God. No wonder I'm feeling gaunt. It's hard to hear the voice of Jesus over the dozens of voices coming from hormonal teenagers in various stages of emotional crises and their anxious parents wanting to make sure I see their child as an individual. So as I fall into bed each night, I feel my spirit stretched thin, like a thread of metal wire being heated and pulled into a very fine wire.
And I find myself hungry. Literally hungry all the time because I feel like the Brittany Spears of physics teaching, dancing around the room with weights and springs and light bulbs while singing, troubleshooting, and generally entertaining groups of teenagers. Emotionally hungry because I have been drawn out of so many relationships I love since teaching and parenting are about all I can handle at the moment. But mostly spiritually hungry. I prayed yesterday morning with fond longing in my heart for the chance to read more of John Owen. Just a couple pages, I prayed. I carry it around with me in the hopes of snatching a minute here and there to read. I miss slow days where it is easy to turn my heart to prayer and carry the awareness of Christ with me throughout the day. I prayed this morning just to not forget Jesus in the hustle of life with high schoolers and a kindergartner.
So God answered my prayer last night and this morning, and I did get read some in John Owen, about five pages. I wrapped up the first book in the set of three and began the second book. He admonished the reader to start the process of mortification by setting your faith on Christ. As the prodigal son fainting with hunger in the pig pen was revived by the knowledge of his father's riches, so should our fainting hearts be revived by the knowledge of our Father's tenderness, faithfulness, and love. The Lord's deliverance, his rest, his provision always appear at the right season. As the Lord says to Habakkuk, "though it linger, wait for it, it will certainly come and will not delay."
So I'm waiting. and falling. and praying. and waiting.