When I taught school, I rarely took students outside for class because of the many distractions there. But as the little pitcher above demonstrates his rock-throwing form, we can all acknowledge that much learning occurs in a greater arena: it is life’s school yard.
I distinctly remember two childhood teachings from my parents. My mother’s lesson involved placing Queen Anne’s lace into various jam jars of colored water. With amazement, I watched science happen as each white flower drew up water and changed colors.
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
My second lesson came as my father and I weeded in our family garden. As a child, I was undoubtedly whining about the repetition of pulling weeds when my no-nonsense, Dutch father made this analogy: weeds, like sin in our life, always pop back up and need to be pulled out. As Dave picked corn yesterday at a friend’s farm, her apology about the weeds took me back to the lesson my dad taught so long ago.
How do we recognize teachable moments? Honestly, I don’t always catch them. Like a firefly’s blink, the light of opportunity appears without much warning and then is gone. The astute teacher must recognize the distraction as a learning diversion, take time when it is usually not convenient, and give just enough information to pique future inquiries, or cause deeper thoughts later in time. If I sense the moment, I should grab it!
But how do I prepare, especially if the moment might lead to sharing, not just scientific facts, but true spiritual wisdom? While the apostle Paul lay in prison, awaiting his death, he wrote to his spiritual son Timothy. Since I believe we often speak meaningful things as we near the end of life, I hear both instruction and passion in Paul’s words.
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Tim. 4:1-2 ESV (emphasis mine)
The “be ready” part implores me to study scripture daily; I must engage with Truth if I’m to impact the mind. The “with complete patience and teaching” speaks to my character; I am called to teach in a way that touches two hearts: mine and my students’.
Although a huge task and responsibility, teaching wherever keeps my eyes, ears, mind and heart open to the One who gives wisdom generously. May He graciously give us opportunity today to declare Him in large and small ways.