When I'm teaching, I feel a sense of connection to God that I don't feel when I do anything else. But there's some parts of it that I like more than others...
I love studying God's Word. I love spending time getting to know my audience so that I can find the best way to communicate the truth to them. I love finding creative ways to make things more interesting. I love telling stories. I love asking questions. But, one thing I don't necessarily love (although I am thankful for) is how, in preparation for a lesson, God has a way of prying open my heart and dragging things out into the light.
I'm of the opinion that, teaching is made better through experience. In other words, when I teach on things that I've gone through, I'm able to bring more to the table. But sometimes I have to teach on things that either I've never experienced or, thus far, have been unwilling to. Editor's Note: And by "unwilling", I mean things that I've either consciously or unconsciously kept from God.
This week, I taught four lessons (from a series that I taught in my Middle School weekend service last May) on giving your whole life to God. One of these lessons was on our hearts. Specifically, that in order for your life to belong to God, your whole heart has to be given.
During my preparation and prayer time before the service, I would walk in the snow, praying. Saturday night, as I stopped in the middle of some trees, I began to pray for God to open the hearts of the students and begin to show them anything that they might be holding back from Him, and then, give them the strength to turn it over. Then, God began to show me that there were areas in my own life that needed to be released.
I began to realize that, instead of dealing with what's been happening in my life for the past 7 months (job change, relationship changes, uncertainty about the future), I've been hiding it away, hoping that I wouldn't have to face it. But my God knows that's not the healthy way to do things. So, as I stood in the snow, leaning on a giant pine tree, I began to cry. It was as if I was finally told that it was OK to have an emotional release for all of the loss that I've tried so hard not to feel. I cried because I was sad. I cried because I was angry. I cried because I was confused. And, in the midst of my outburst, I felt God reach through and ask if I trusted Him. That's a great question, God.
As I walked back to the meeting room, I thought about the story of Jesus healing a boy possessed by an evil spirit in Mark 9. Not so much because of the boy, but because of his father. He (the father) realized while asking Jesus for help with his son, that he was still holding back. And in verse 24, he exclaims to Christ, "Help me overcome my unbelief!" And that's exactly what I ended my prayer with. Help me overcome my unbelief.
I know that there's still so much for me to see, surrender, and deal with in my heart. But, I know that God is faithful. You can't teach unless you can learn. And I can see that I've got a long journey of learning ahead of me...