Sunday, July 9, 2023

Truths about Teaching: Availability Is More Important Than Ability

The art of Bible reading -- and it is an art -- requires us to assume the role of a private detective. Thoughtful Bible study involves patience. Start with a wide angle lens. Get a sense of the big picture of your passage. Then zoom in on the details. I did that this morning in my daily Bible time. I was led to Exodus 3, that magnificent passage where God commissions Moses. I dove in and enjoyed the experience. I'm a firm believer in the value of having a set time and place to the study the Scriptures. In the process, I've discovered something about the Bible. There's not a verse of Scripture that's thrown together haphazardly. Every word contributes to the overall meaning. Sometimes words are repeated for emphasis. In verse 3, the Lord calls out, "Moses! Moses!" Repetition in Hebrew often adds a sense of urgency to what is being said. Then notice Moses's one word answer:

One word?" you say. "My Bible has 3 words - Here I am." Yes, one word. Here it is in the Hebrew: Hineni. It literally means "Behold -- I!" Go ahead and say the Hebrew word out loud. It simply rolls off the tongue. You don't even have to close your lips to pronounce it. I love how the Orthodox Jewish Bible translates this verse:

And when Hashem [the Name] saw that he turned aside to see, Elohim called out unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, "Moshe, Moshe." And he said, "Hineni!"

Just imagine. After 40 years thinking he has been abandoned by God, Moses hears his name, not once but twice, and it is the Lord who is trying to get his attention. As I thought about his, I thought about the students I've seen in my classes year after year, many of whom have no idea what God wants to do with their lives. I remember being there myself. I recall someone saying to me, "Dave, God is not so much interested in your ability as he is interested in your availability. Have you ever made yourself completely available to him?" That cut me to core. All of us want the blessing of God. But are we responding to his call? All we have to do is say one word: Hineni. Of course, it's not what we say that matters. It's what in our hearts. Samuel's hineni moment came while he was sleeping when he hears a voice calling him. What a flash of light in an otherwise dark story! His response? "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!"

My friend, if you are contemplating a career in education, please remember that teaching is more of a calling than it is a career. With a career, you are paid to do it. With a calling, you are made to do it. Not a few of my students have gone on to answer the call of God into full-time teaching, and I could not be prouder of them. Their life calling arose from a response to what God had shown them. Their availability was the basis for genuine transformation. 

It can be that way for all of us.