The clock is ticking. Time is pressing. The shortened weeks of third quarter, although pleasant with extra time off, make time melt away like hot butter on a stovetop. Pressure begins to come at you from all angles. Are you ready for assessments? They’re coming in March and April. Whether you’re ready for them or not. The administration starts feeling it because don’t you know their superiors are feeling it. And even though they probably don’t intend to freak teachers out, the burden they feel is heavy. We start freaking out. Students have already started freaking out. By the time March rolls around, with a minimum of three assessment e-mails sent out per week—all of which by the way are pages long, numerous “important” material highlighted in different colors—teachers may find themselves drowning in one major freak out session.
Assessment season makes us all a little on edge, and the workload begins to pile. And pile. And pile until you’re cooked. Suddenly family time, even quiet time, is being substituted for arriving to work early, staying late, or ever teacher’s dread, dare I say taking work home. Oh yeah. Don’t get me started there. The life of a Language Arts teacher never ends with grading. My new favorite tactic is to leave after our 9:00 am church service every other week, the weeks I don’t teach Sunday school and my wife works lights both services, and drive five minutes down the road to work to crank out an hour of grading in the peace and quiet of an empty building. Rest on Sunday? Ha! Guilty as charged, Your Honor.
There is, however, one constant in my life that I refuse to rid myself of. Every morning my alarm jolts me awake between 4:30 and 5:00 am depending on what I have going that morning. My workload, though it may be weighing heavy on my soul, gets shoved to the side. I put the coffee on, grab a granola bar to munch on, and settle into the comfort of my black leather chair, feet propped up on the cozy ottoman in front of me. I take a deep breath, try to listen for a few short moments, then spill myself out to my God. He drives my quiet time. I attempt to listen to His voice, letting Him dictate what I do. Some mornings it is reading a devotional. Other mornings I set up accountability through e-mail or a face to face meeting with a Christian brother. I crack the Bible open and soak in truth, attempting to memorize scripture to confront my weak areas. I journal. I blog. I read Christian books. In a sense, I die to the world in an attempt to insert God into my life daily.
Why do I do this? Because I am a sinner. Because I need God more than anything in my life. Because I can’t do this life on my own. I am in desperate need of wisdom about parenting, work, friends, and being a husband. I do it because my quiet time sets the mood for my day. Without it I am lost. Without it the chinks in the armor are all too apparent, letting the world creep into me. Meeting God in His house on Sunday is not enough time for me. Zipping through a quick devotional as I once did in fifteen minutes does not satisfy my soul. I make an appointment with God every morning I arise to let Him strengthen my flesh which is weak indeed. On most days, I meditate with Him from 5:00 until 6:30 am, and I wouldn’t have my day start off any other way. That is how much I need God.
The results of this time with God? Astronomical. Never-ending. Enduring. Fortifying. I have become a better father, a better husband, a better teacher, a better friend. My time management has improved, I am more positive about life, and my mind is set straight for the day. There is simply a pep in my step that can’t really be described any other way than that I walk with a purpose. I am more adept to deal with unruly students, I procrastinate less, and I love on others more. And as for those days when I don’t give God my best in the morning, believe me, I feel it throughout the day. Patience is replaced by short-temperedness. Encouraging words are replaced by gossip and negativity. I go through the motions on those days favoring sitting behind my desk and getting caught up on checking e-mails as opposed to getting off my rear end and doing what I am paid to do: teach.
All that being said, I ask you as gently yet convicting as possible … how are you doing here? Are you giving God your best? Or is the world getting the best of you? This is the time of year we need God more than any other time. First Peter 5:7 states, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” Empty your fears to Him. You know how much you love others on earth? Your children? Your spouse? Your best friends? He love you more. God’s love supersedes any earthly love by infinity. We cannot even wrap our minds around the power of His love. And He deserves your best. Daily. If you are not going to God on a daily basis in prayer, quieting your soul to let Him speak to you, you are not giving God your best. Even as I write these words, watching the time tick away to when I must leave to provide for my family at work, I secretly crave an extra hour with Him. The time He has blessed me with is all too short!
Are you convinced yet? If you aren’t, I haven’t done my job here. 🙂 Be still today. If you haven’t made time for Him yet, do so. Start small if you’re at a lower level. Shoot for fifteen quality minutes if you are just beginning this process. You will soon realize that fifteen minutes is not long enough for discovering all the beauties that God wants us to inject into our hearts. He is calling your name right now. Amidst all the stresses of 3rd quarter, He needs you. He needs your time as much as you need His. To work the Lord’s work. To spread His Word. To make disciples. God needs your time, and you need His. The good Lord blesses us with 24 hours every day. Make the most of it.