My kids were seven and nine. Dance on Tuesdays and Thursdays, church on Wednesdays, and baseball six days a week. (What’s that about anyway?) Every day looked the same - I dropped them off at school at 7:20 AM, squealed into my parking spot at 7:50, and prepped for fifteen minutes. The first bell rang and I was off to the races, teaching class after class, rolling in like the waves on the shore. Crashing into rocks more often than rolling on the shore, actually. Lesson plans were always ahead of actual plans. The to-be-graded tray was piling up as parents were drumming their fingers via email. “When will you be updating grades? Soon, I hope.” The tone was never subtle. Or forgiving. And when the last bell rang, I would scramble to make copies and tutor and grade, only to rush out the door at 5:00 PM to pick my kids up at after-school care before they were the last kid remaining. Because to be the last kid there meant I was failing, or so my kids said (never with their words, but always with their faces). And then drive-thru dinner on the way to church/baseball/dance followed by a barrage of demands on the way home. “You guys get your homework finished as soon as we get home. I’ll fix your lunches. What do you need from the store? Quickly get in the shower when you’re finished. Stop arguing over the front seat. Don’t forget to brush your teeth! Good grief, it’s already 8:30. You guys should be in bed. Go, go, go! Hurry up so you can get to sleep.”
And then as I crawled in bed, my prayer would go something like this: Lord, please allow me the opportunity to be a good mom to my kids. And please give me the strength and endurance to be an excellent teacher. Show me ways that I can love others and do more for Your kingdom. Amen.
And God’s all up there like, “You’re joking, right?”
It’s as though we can totally buy into this God who created man from dust and woman from man, but He’s not equipped to manage our lesson plans. He can make the blind man see, but He isn’t available to heal my anxiety. He can sculpt the Colorado Rockies, but He is too busy to calm my classroom.
Author Julia Cameron talks about how we tend to underestimate Him:
One of the chief barriers to accepting God’s generosity is our limited notion of what we are in fact able to accomplish. Remembering that God is our source, we are in the spiritual position of having an unlimited bank account. Most of us never consider how powerful the creator really is. Instead we draw very limited amounts of the power available to us. We decide how powerful God is for us. We unconsciously set a limit on how much God can give us or help us.
To put it into practical scenarios, you can’t figure out how to manage the behavior in third period. You ask a peer. You Google articles. You suck it up and take it. But do you ask for God to calm the metaphorical seas?
You have a troubled student and you just can’t even. You try discipline. You try love. You try ignoring him. But do you ask God to just handle it for you?
You are feeling some resentment toward your ________ (feel free to fill in the blank here). You gripe to your spouse (unless the blank is your spouse). You chalk it up to creative differences. You put on that not-so-poker face smile and just deal. But do you ask for God to intervene? Resolve?
You need help knowing whether or not you should cull out some family activities. You seek the advice of older friends. You read Facebook articles on how to manage family schedules. But do you beg God to give you an answer and then sit still long enough to hear it? (Ouch.)
How reckless are your prayers?
Are you asking, with fearless audacity, for every single thing that you want? And need?
Here’s a good exercise for you. (And I give you permission to do this during your next staff development. You’re not listening anyway.) At the top of a blank piece of paper, write I WISH…. And then make a quick, uncensored, brave, wild, imaginative list of things that you wish. They’re wishes, for Pete’s sake. Get crazy. Get real. Get honest. Get real honest. The only one who’s blocking out God’s all-consuming power is you.
And then turn the wishes into prayers.
Fair warning: If you ask, you have to be willing to receive. And it may not look like what you thought it would look like. But I can assure you, it will be better. It says that in the Bible somewhere. I'm sure of it.
1 The Artist’s Way
2 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20