It had been one of those semesters where the light at the end of the of the tunnel [Spring Break] seemed to be getting dimmer as I was drawing closer. A grueling nine straight weeks of going to school, teaching my heart out and feeling beat down emotionally and physically, I desperately needed a perspective shift, because my focus was solely on the obstacles I was and would potentially face with the students in my classroom.
No doubt, God called me to teach. But, I allowed myself to bask in the desperate darkness of frustration in the Land of “What Ifs”, more than the glorious light in the Land of “What’s Next God”. Even after two years of questioning God’s plan and sporadic moments of understanding His purpose for the pain, I could not seem to shake the dust off my soul. My default, unkempt thought process led me to view God as my personal Reward Giver, rather than my Ultimate Reward. Leaving part of my heart in cobwebs, unable to notice what God placed in front of me, right where He led me, His goodness.
For several weeks, I had my quiet time in my classroom, before students filled the desks and biology words exited my mouth. I continued to pray, “God, please let me see you, in the little things, in a student, and in me.” Yet, once the morning bell rang, it was as if I experienced short term memory loss and forgot to be on the lookout for God’s Presence. By the dismissal bell, I felt drained and uneffective. I was missing the point.
One day my legs with the flexibility of steel rods were attempting downward dogs and warrior poses, in a yoga video. It was the scheduled recovery video for the week, after breathtaking cardio and butt-wrenching leg workouts earlier in the week. All of the videos in the program include a stretch portion at the end, but I typically skipped it. I didn’t see the need to spend time on something that wasn’t burning many calories. Although I was looking forward to the easier workout, I continued to watch the clock tick down, like a hawk. Yet, it was here that God spoke to me.
I initially struggled to find myself in tree pose, with one foot planted on the floor and the other resting on the planted foot. Once I found my center, by looking at the same point on the wall, I instantly gained pride in my ability to not collapse for the past 10 seconds of my existence. The yoga instructor began discussing the importance of finding balance in life. Yada, yada, tick, tick. But, then she threw me a curve ball. “Close your eyes,” she said. Simple enough, right?
I was wobbling all over the place. I was losing my balance, because I was missing the point I had been looking at directly. God hit me like a wrecking ball right there. And, it looked like He did as I stumbled to regain my balance.
Everyday He has given me the opportunity to see Him in my classroom. Yet, I wasn’t focused on this point, I had no balance in this area of spiritual discipline. I was asking Him daily for a point to fix my eyes on, but I seemed to be refusing to look to Him. Therefore, by the end of the day, I was left with my head in my hands wondering why God never revealed Himself to me and why I felt like the purpose and passion God gave me for teaching had disappeared. As I contemplated the physical reenactment of my inward spiritual struggle, a verse came to mind, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
“16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
I was expecting God to be flashy and show up in what I my eyes were focusing on: student’s emotions, test scores and teaching strategies. Rather, He met me where I was, with my eyes closed, to show me that my focus was in the wrong place. Balancing is not impossible with your eyes closed, but it does require more intense concentration. The same is true for a strong relationship with God.
You will lean and sway, like a tree in the wind, as you learn to trust and follow Him, sometimes to the point where you almost topple over. But, when you choose to align yourself with Him and focus on His plan for your life and His kingdom, you regain your balance, your passion to be with Him and know Him more. Colossians 2:6-7 says, “6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” This verse reminds me of when I initially asked God to be my Focus, my Savior, the Center of my life and the passion that came with that invitation. But, Paul also insinuates that this isn’t a one time decision in verse 6, but a constant choice to focus on Him and His goodness. As I stood in tree pose with my eyes closed, the instructor directed me to, “Fight for my balance and to be rooted like a tree, standing tall and firm.”
I couldn’t help but smile at the way my clever God had shown up in the workout I always skipped over and couldn’t wait to end. He was stretching my faith by showing me the importance of establishing my focus on Him. Rather than skimming for His Presence in what I can see, remembering that roots grow underground, out of view, and my faith grows out of His love and a reciprocal pursuit of one another. God used a mundane yoga video to help me grasp the divine significance of gaining rest and rejuvenation in acknowledging His Presence. There is no doubt that He is in my ordinary, but I have to choose not to skip over the commonplace and make a point to focus on Him in order to find balance in what He makes extraordinary.