As I have stepped back into substitute teaching this fall I’m amazed at how very easily I returned to the rhythm, the systems, the words I used all the time as a middle school English teacher, though it’s been 4 ½ years since I was in the classroom full time.
This week I subbed in middle school English, and found myself patrolling around the work tables of 8th graders, heads bowed over their iPads, supervising their work, making sure they were on-task and working on their assignment. Predictably, 13-year-olds do not always remain on-task, and may not always make the assignment given by their teacher their #1 mission in life. And so the same words I used so often returned to my lips without a thought:
“Use your time wisely.”
“Make sure you’re spending your time on what’s really important.”
“Complete your assignment.”
My breath caught in my throat mid-way through one of these sentences. The words that slipped so easily from my lips focused a searchlight on what God is reflecting back to me this Christmas season: Spend your time wisely, Kathleen. Pour yourself into what is really important. Complete your assignment.
Though it will come as no surprise to those who know me, I’m a girl who loves Christmastime with a near-insane fervor. You better believe my halls are decked (I did start in November, I’ll admit it), that holiday dinners are planned, Christmas carols have been playing in my car for a while already, and that I just spent an insane amount to ship a lot of boxes to people I love in California. We add another layer with my daughter’s arrival home from college next week, taking time to prepare for that, excitedly getting the guest room ready, and planning fun activities. Love Christmas. And there’s not a single thing wrong with any of those preparations.
But, God is beckoning me to not just all the trappings of Christmas, but to truly “use my time wisely,” to intentionally turn my heart to Bethlehem, back to the GIFT not just the gifts I’m giving. Back to intentionally see Jesus (Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace) in the midst of all of this. To sit in stillness at the manger, not just allow my natural flurry of activity- that’s only magnified this time of year- to take me away.
He gently reminds me to “make sure I’m spending my time on what’s really important,” to intentionally bless my sisters in my small groups, to send that text, to make that call, to sit across the breakfast table with my 22 year old son and look into his eyes and hear him, to love my husband and love him well, to seek out the whispers of Jesus around every corner this time of year.
And He wants me to “complete my assignment.” All the students in that 8th grade classroom had the same assignment, but my assignment for Christmas won’t look exactly like yours. The Lord is urging me to make my home a place of welcome, not a place of perfection, but a place for people to sit and be loved and be at home. My assignment is to welcome, to invite, to love and to love well, just as Jesus loves so well. Just as He welcomes, just as He invites.
As you walk through this Christmastime, pause for a moment. I invite you to lean in to hear a teacher’s heart who is doing her best to listen to her Father’s heart.
Use your time wisely- starting with time with Him.
Make sure your spending your time/money/life/self/resources on what’s really important- by seeing and loving those God has put in your life.
Complete YOUR assignment- listen and hear where He is calling you to love as He loves.