Saturday, September 22, 2007

Success

I guess I am a successful educator.

Of the various indicators, most of them seem to reflect that I do my job fairly well.

This is my tenth year in this school. The steady, consistent improvement of my craft makes me feel good about what I do for a living.

My students like me. They return years later saying, writing, and sending nice things indicating I have made a difference.

My superiors like me. They support the various projects I do, the programs I run, and seem to always be asking me to go to some conference, teach or demonstrate some concept or skill, or praise me for some silly little thing I managed to accomplish.

My colleagues seem to appreciate my input, and value the work I do.

I like the successes I see in my work. I love seeing the light bulbs metaphorically appearing over the heads of my charges. I find joy in creating good programs and curriculum.

My professional success is all the sweeter because there has been so many jobs and goals I have set that did not work out well at all.

I was a milkman, a cook, a graphic artist, a heavy equipment operator, film developer, magazine editor, construction estimator, a dishwasher, insulation installer, salesman, laborer, and hermit. I have raised animals for food, and I have survived on wild plants. Nothing I have ever done has been met with the success, honors, and personal enjoyment I find in being a middle school teacher.

I have not been so successful in other areas of my life. I have not been the perfect father, or the perfect son. I certainly have not been the perfect husband.

Yet I have loved deeply.

The risk in loving deeply is that one can be hurt deeply.

Lately I have found I have lost the love of the one person I most value. It is a commodity that cannot be bought nor sold. It means more to me than just about anything else, even life itself.

There was another time I was deeply hurt. Our first child died while in my care at three and a half months old. I cannot think about that terrible event with my breath becoming ragged, my heart racing a little. It is a bit like the way I feel now under these current circumstances.

In thinking about professional success and how much I value the love of my wife I am reminded of something in scripture.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. --Philippians 3:7-9

I am a fool. I have filled my mind and heart with the wisdom of men, and even of angels, yet have not seen clearly the life I have been living, the pain of my wife, a blindness springing from self-centeredness. I haven’t seen or applied the balms of healing I should have provided her.

With the recognition of the loss of the heart of my wife I hold all my successes in contempt. And taking it the next step along with the apostle, I see that even her love pales in the light of knowing Jesus.

I was given a blessing the other day. I was permitted to feel a sense of peace within the turmoil of my heart. Even days later when hints of anxiety creep about the edges of my life, that peace is still abiding deep in my heart.

Like most things I have seen coming from God it isn’t evidence I can demonstrate to others of His real presence, but it is enough to buoy my heart, to lift my eyes to horizons which lie beyond this sea of wind-whipped waves which lift me up and then sink me down.

...the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. --Genesis 1:2

Perhaps I cannot feel anything beneath my feet while I tread water... but that does not mean I am alone. I know I am not alone. I know there are many praying for me... I know there are many who care.

I also know that hovering above the waters is my Lord:

...But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" --Matthew 14:30-31

Lately I have felt that hand, and though I am still waist deep and fearfully shoved by the currents in my life... the grip is strong.

6 comments:

curious servant said...

Curious here...

Could the reader from Huntington Beach shoot me an email? I'm a little curious if I know you.

greenleaf.will@gmail.com

Ame said...

I understand. I really, really do.

You move through this time, knowing that hovering above the waters is your Lord . . . knowing that walking with you on the waters in your Lord . . . and even, when you find yourself perilously drowning in the depths of the ravaging seas ... you will find ... your Lord ... waiting for you ... already there ... calling to you ... from within the deep ... to your deep ... caring for you.

And you will God will enlighten you to areas of His character you have never known before ... at a depth that you will struggle to even articulate, so intimate and personal and powerful it will be.

I love how you described all this ... absolutely love it.

Chris Krycho said...

Hmm... this provokes thought, meditation in me. Thank you. :-)

You said something that struck me - that loving deeply opens us up to being hurt deeply. This is so true.

I have not been where you are at. Yet I have been at a place that is a pale shadow of it - a time when there was the pain of betrayal, a loss of trust, from the two people I was then closest too. And a very wise man said something to me then that I do not think I shall ever forget.

He said that our lives - our hearts - are like clay. If you love deeply, you get hurt deeply - and that gouges deeply into the clay, leaving great wounds in it - deep holes. Yet in loving, we open ourselves not only to pain but to joy - and that joy can fill us only as deeply as the pains have cut away at us. Those joys fill our souls to the same degree that our souls have been torn open by pain...

I think that maybe that is why the people who reflect Christ most deeply to me are often those who have experienced the deepest pain, and yet are now filled with the deepest peace and joy.

I would write "God be with you" as benediction, but somehow it doesn't seem right tonight. God is with you. May that bring peace and joy to your heart and your mind. May you sleep well tonight. I pray you continue to love, and continue to know the deep deep love of Christ.

Amrita said...

You are a multi-faceted person, made in the image of God.

Judas Hate said...

It was so good to talk with you yesterday. I am thinking of you and your family and praying like I've never prayed before. I had a long talk with Him after we spoke. I asked for personal help (which I NEVER do) twice, and both times I recieved an immediate response. It sent chills all through me.
I then began to pray for you, Brenda, Isaac and Jeremiah. Although I know He is EVERYWHERE, I still have a habbit of looking to the sky while I pray. It was a strange weather day. Most of it was overcast and we had some heavy rain. During that time though, it was very sunny and clear blue all around where I was looking, but clouds creeping in from all sides. Just as I finished praying for you all, He let me know in a most spectacular way that he was with you. The moment I said, "Amen", a plane broke the tree-line. The sun was reflecting off the surrounding clouds and back up onto the belly of the plane. I so wish I had my camera! It appeared as a glowing, bright silver / white cross!!! If I had not stared at it long enough to clearly see it was a plane once the suns reflection faded, I would have been sure it really was a glowing cross:-)

HE IS WITH YOU!!

And so am I, Brother!

I love you, Will!

Stay strong, my new old friend:-)

Justin

Judas Hate said...

P.S. I was typing in frenzy, so please forgive the typos:-)