My youngest daughter, Courtney, is a fifth-grade teacher at VisionWay Christian School. Each morning, the teachers and staff gather for a time of devotion. She shared her January devotion with me, and while we aren’t all teachers, I believe her reminder of spiritual weariness can challenge and encourage each of us. I’m thankful she’s sharing on my blog today.
Seven years ago, I spent two weeks in Cambodia. When I turned 18, I told my parents I was going to Cambodia with Rapha House on a mission trip. I guess that was my first “adult” decision.
I didn’t know anyone else who was going. I didn’t really know much about Cambodia. But I had become passionate about Rapha House since a youth conference early in my high school years. Rapha House was on the front lines of ending sex trafficking in Cambodia and around the world. My heart broke when I first heard the stories of the girls they worked with and what they had gone through. I could not imagine.
But when I stepped off the plane in Cambodia, I suddenly could imagine it, because I saw it. Nothing could have prepared me for those two weeks, which changed my life forever.
Our little group of 16 Americans and one very feisty Khmer woman pulled into the city limits of SIem Reap, one of the main cities in Cambodia. We were there to learn more about the culture as well as see the tragedy of the openness of trafficking there. Our guide warned us that people often get physically sick in Siem Reap.
Sure enough, not two minutes after pulling into the city, we had to pull off the road. Several members of the group were immediately sick. I didn’t understand this. Was it the air?
Sure, the air was heavy, gross, and dirty. Sure, we were eating food that was…questionable. Sure, we were tired from the completely different time zone. But that’s not why some of us got sick.
I experienced things there that I still can’t talk about. Some things are just hard. Going through the red light district and seeing girls from age six or seven through young adults waving men over to the shops. Seeing the tourists and listening to their blatant reasons for their “one night layover.” Walking through the night market and realizing how truly naive and clueless I was about the world.
I began to understand why so many in my group were sick. It was weariness. Not just any kind of weariness, but spiritual weariness. The air wasn’t just heavy from pollution and yuck, it was suffocating us spiritually. Being around such darkness for any amount of time takes a toll. Constantly pouring ourselves out to people can be exhausting.
I know this comparison is a stretch, but bear with me. While I have never experienced the level of spiritual weariness I did in Cambodia seven years ago, the weariness exists here, too.
We’re teachers. Our kids are back from Christmas break. There’s snow outside. And it’s testing week. What on earth is there to be weary about? Physically, we might be worn down. Mentally, we might feel like we’re going a little crazy. And then we think of the little boy in our class that doesn’t ever seem to have enough for lunch. Or the girl who rarely talks, and we know things haven’t been good at home. We spend so much time preparing Math lessons and class projects, we sometimes forget that we are weary in another way: spiritually.
I love walking down the hallway in the morning. When my class goes to our special, many of you are either in prayer time or beginning the first lesson of your day. I love listening to your excitement and encouragement as you talk to your students. I love hearing you lead your classes in prayer or guide your students to lead their classmates. I love knowing I am part of a community of men and women that cares so much for the eternal future of these kids.
But I also know that it is hard to pour yourself out for your students day after day.
Chad Sykes says, “Spiritual weariness is fought by a steady diet of the Bible. God’s words to us in Scripture infuse life into our very bones. Paul explained to Timothy that the best way to become equipped for what lay before him was by the words of Scripture. I believe Paul wasn’t merely describing a knowledge-based intake of Scripture; he was talking about an intake of those words into both our hearts and minds. Through the Word of God, we allow ourselves to be taught, rebuked, corrected and trained in righteousness. The Bible protects us from having the wrong view of God and of ourselves. It enables us to live ready to respond to God and others in the world, because it is the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
“We are—at the same time—people in the world and people of the Word. The world in this current age attempts to convince us of truths contrary to God’s revelation to us. And at times, we get caught in the rip current of uncertainty, hopelessness and despair. The only way to swim out of that undertow is through the Holy Spirit revealing God’s truth to us. In and through Scripture, God Himself has spoken. In the battle for our hearts, minds, ideas and the world, God’s truth overwhelms the lies of men.”
“The Bible is as necessary to spiritual life as breath is to natural life. There is nothing more essential to our lives than the Word of God.”
God, we’re tired. It’s only Wednesday, and Friday seems a long way off for some of us. But we know you are good, and we know you will strengthen us through prayer and through your Word. We’re thankful we have this place to come each morning in fellowship, and we’re grateful to work in a place where we can speak your name and teach your Word freely. Help us today as we prepare to pour into our students. Remind us that you made each of them one of your special children, and that you love them unconditionally. We lift up those who are sick or hurting today, and we pray for safe travels for everyone on the road today. Thank you for giving us your Word and revealing yourself to us. In your name we pray, Amen.