Thursday, January 30, 2014

Don't fail me, Mrs. Sumrall...

It was an innocent joke made in an email response. Like most of us, in typing a message response via facebook, a former student had misspelled a word or two and used incorrect punctuation. I could almost hear his laughter as he typed, "Don't fail me, Mrs. Sumrall." So why did that one phrase stick with me days later?

Perhaps it's because I've been thinking about my own children and wondering where did the time go. Maybe it's that nagging feeling of failure that I get when I realize how many opportunities I've missed to live life, waiting for there to be more money or time or whatever lame excuse I wore shackled around me like a weight. Maybe it's because I recognize all the times I have failed - not only those around me, but myself as well.

We all fail, every single one of us. In fact, there is only one who never fails - God. Spouses, parents, children...and yes, even teachers, will fail us. Worst of all, we fail ourselves...but God is still always there. He never wavers. He never lets us down.

Oh, we may THINK He has let us down when life doesn't go according to our plans...just like some of my students talk about that mean old teacher who "failed" them. They conveniently forget the papers they left undone or the nights they should have taken the time to study but chose instead to watch tv, or even the times in class that they decided to pass notes (or texts) to a friend instead of paying attention. You get the picture. We pretty much accuse God of failing us when in fact, once again we did it to ourselves. 

Still He waits there, patiently, ready to take our hand and walk with us through the failure. 

But what about....and all of us could rattle off a long list of things in life that have just not been fair. I get it. Had more than a few of those myself. But it wasn't God that failed us. Maybe it was someone else, maybe it was ourselves, maybe it was simply life. 

The thing is - this is sort of our classroom. I often tell my students if they don't understand something - ASK! Sometimes they can ask those around them, but sometimes the only one who can help them is the teacher...and sometimes as the teacher I don't give the answer directly but allow the student to work through what is in front of them. I know I have students who want me to "just tell them what to put down on the paper." They want me to do the work for them...but that's not what teachers do. They instruct, they guide, they help, and the student works it out. 

Like my students we're constantly learning, growing, and yes sometimes failing...and sometimes it seems that the answer won't come this side of heaven; but through it all, we're not alone. In the midst of our mess, we have a teacher. Better than that, we have a Savior! God is there. He never leaves us...even when we fail.

So, asking me not to "fail you" is a pretty useless request...because I will. I fail students all the time (and I don't mean in the grade book!) I have bad days, weeks, years - I am human. I fail my children and my husband and my friends. I failed my parents when they were still alive...that one stings most of all, cause there are no more second chances for make-up work there. Because of this, I choose to cling to the rock of my salvation Who is never moved by the storms of life that surround me. There is nothing more profound that I can say other than Jesus is the teacher Who never fails His students...not even one.

Here's a link to a song that always encourages me...Your love never fails

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

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