Today an interesting thing took place in my classroom. It happens every now and again and I am in a quandary for a few days. I teach high school students. Smart ones. AP students. Students that give me a run for my money half the time and the rest of the time I am trying to bluff my way through and make them think I am smarter than they are. It is getting harder and harder to do. I love teenagers. I don't know why but I do. Let me clarify - I love my twelfth graders. I get to teach them and not so much police them. Mostly they teach me and many times things I wish they hadn't.
Back to my classroom - We just finished Night, Elie Wiesel's drama on life in a concentration camp. A harsh look at dehumanization and its horrific effects. One of the main themes of the book is the narrators (Wiesel's voice of his own self during the Holocaust) struggle with his faith in the face of such unspeakable acts. "Where is God?" he continues to ask. This without fail leads to some interesting class discussion. I teach in a public school and try to be careful not to cross any lines with my teaching, however I am a teacher known for voicing her opinion and in knowing that, my students have no doubts that when they turn to me and say, "What do you think?" I will answer before thinking! Overall the discussion was everything a teacher would want it to be - engaging, respectful of each other and not dull for a minute. But then we got to the end of class. Several of the students said they wanted to think they are full of faith but that their faith had not really reached a crisis point in their life at this age. Therefore, they didn't know that they might not feel different than the narrator. Honest. I like that. Then several of them got in a little bit of a heated discussion about whether or not hell exists. It is interesting to observe these kinds of discussions as I can fit students beliefs at this point in their lives in one of two categories. 1) Those who are spewing forth what they have heard in their homes all their lives and
2) Those who are spewing the opposite of what they have heard in their homes for rebellious reasons.
For the most part this is true, but there are always exceptions.
I am impressed with what I am hearing and frightened by some of it. Then the question gets directed at me, "What do you think?" HHMMMMMMMMM!!!! A smart teacher would transition to another question or quickly steer it away from myself. But as I stated earlier I am not always the smart teacher. I thought for a minute about the most diplomatic, effective answer I could give and finally said,"I believe Jesus was not a prophet. He was and is the Son of God. He was sent to this world to die on the cross for our sins. If there was no Hell why would God have put His son through all of that?" Many times I think the best way to answer a question is with another question. Lots of head nods except for one young man who raised his hand and said,"Don't you think it is a tad dramatic for God, who controls all things to have his son put to death just to make a point about our sin?" Every head in that room turned to me. My heart was racing and he was waiting for my answer. I won't tell you what I said as I don't want to be judged for my answer!! But here is what I cannot quit thinking about - If our children are not grounded in their beliefs before they leave our homes for college or wherever they are going, they will fall for anything. Are we giving them a good foundation? How do we deal with thought processes that say isn't that a little dramatic for us to grasp hold of?
As a young college student I was not rock solid in my faith. As a matter of fact, I thought about changing denominations a few times as I saw other denominations seemed to be having more fun. Skewed and terribly immature which resulted in some poor decision making. Thank you Lord for grace and mercy. I love my job. I know at this point in my life it is what God has called and equipped me to do. I pray every day for Him to give me an opportunity to glorify Him and let others see Him in me. He can do that in a public school setting just as He can a private Christian school. If you are reading this, please pray for our teachers but more importantly for our students. Many of them have no one lifting their names up before the Lord. These are hard times for young people. So many temptations available to them and pressure to do things that can ruin their lives. So much pain and heartache and many times their peers are the ones most unkind. Ask the Lord to open your eyes and your heart to pray for this generation.
Help them to know that there is a God who loves us so much that even though He is in control, He chooses not to control us but allow us free will. And to see that the point of our sin is we deserve death but our Drama King offered a payment on our behalf. Thank you Lord.