My favorite book to teach my students is hands down S.E. Hinton’s the Outsiders. In chapter five Ponyboy Curtis, the protagonist and narrator of the novel, is watching a sunrise from the top of a mountain in the countryside. Beautiful purples, oranges, reds, and yellows mold together before his eyes, creating a landscape worthy of being attributed to our Creator. Ponyboy’s friend Johnny appears next to him, and together they take in the beauty of that moment, savoring every second, knowing in less than hour that splendor will come to pass. Ponyboy is inspired at that moment to recite a Robert Frost poem called “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”
Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf’s a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay
My class always parks on that poem. We take it line by line, analyzing its meaning and dissecting its structure and theme. We come up with the conclusion that Robert Frost is saying noting perfect can stay forever, and then we debate that. I laminate the poem for all my students and give it to them as a small gift, letting them use it as a bookmark. Finally, I always encourage the kids to memorize the poem and give them extra credit for their efforts if they get it right. I have had students past that visit me years down the road and recite that poem for me. It is in their hearts. It can come out whenever they need it, and it helps them put perspective on life.
Much like my students memorize that poem, God has a calling for the Christian teacher. He wants us to put His Word in our hearts. Deuteronomy 11: 8 states, “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” Psalm 119: 11 goes on to say, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” God encourages scripture memorization. And how often would it benefit us as Christian teachers as we go through our days at work? The possibilities are endless. Look at some hypothetical situations below.
You’re at the end of your day, and you’re spent. The last half hour is that dreaded Cougar Time when kids are supposed to be working on homework, but all they really want to do it chat it up. You feel like a broken record, telling them to get out their math work, but the kids are paying more attention to the hardened gum found smooshed on the floor. You need patience! Romans 12: 12 might be helpful to recite in your head. As you recite the verse in your head, it provides you with strength to endure.
How about this one … lunch time has arrived. About ten teachers are savoring the 25 minutes of adult conversation around the teacher’s lounge table, and the complainers have officially come out of the woodworks. They are using students for the punch lines of their quips, mocking their immaturity and behavior as of late. You almost feel like you have a right to vent a little and complain—that is until you remember Philippians 2: 14-15. You take solace in that verse and find somewhere else to sit.
One final illustration to prove the point … You and a fellow colleague are walking out of school together. Your friend has some juicy gossip about a supposed budding romance between a para in your building and another teacher. The temptation to listen to the story is all too alluring, yet you stop yourself as a scripture that you have put in your heart floods to the surface: Ephesians 4: 29. You politely dismiss yourself from the conversation by saying you have to go to the restroom and avoid hearing any more nonsense.
It is truly amazing how the perfect scripture can overcome any temptation thrown your way! But these verses won’t just magically appear in your head. They take time to memorize, study, and apply. The most beautiful thing about scripture is that you don’t just have to use them at work; you can use them at home, at play, or wherever you may be wandering. I have been doing a verse a week since January, and I am now up to 17 new verses that I can recite at the drop of a hat. I say this not to brag but to prove how desperate I need these scriptures! They are all on flashcards, and on a daily basis I flip through them in the morning or before I go to bed. They have become a part of me, and I use them often. Isn’t it time you did the same? Put God’s stamp on your heart today.