Tonight the Lord graciously reminded me that grace is incredibly messy. It requires me to "get my hands dirty" in the trenches. I find this is incredibly uncomfortable. In light of the numerous ways that I have been blessed, being confronted with need is just so awkward and troublesome. Afterall, I might actually have to do something about it! There might be a cost involved. So often I would rather remain in ignorance and keep my idol of comfort intact. I am far too content in my "pure impeity and impious purity" (to steal a line from Shakespeare's Much Ado). This holds true in life and in the classroom.
I would like to have a set of very well-mannered children who do what I ask, make good grades, understand the first time, and are kind to one another. It may sound blissful, but the truth is, it would be downright boring. We are so quick to fall prey to worshipping our comfort as teachers. It would be so much easier if the kids just obeyed implicitly...but when would I get to shepherd the heart? When would the Lord reveal my own sin to me, which He uses temper my repsonses? How would God remind me that I am indeed the worst sinner in my classroom? I don't doubt that He would, but without the discomfort of being forced to extend grace, I would miss so much of the sanctification process in my life. When you get down to the heart of it, every sin that my students battle is a sin that I myself am struggling with (sometimes unknowingly) in one way or another. I just hide it better than they do. Thank God He's gracious unto me.
Extending grace in the classroom is hard. It's messy, uncomfortable, and sometimes painful. It often causes one to be misunderstood. Grace means dealing with difficult situations and loving difficult people. It requires one to go the extra mile, to give your coat and your cloak as well. I don't have it down. But by God's grace, I grow in this a little every year. And every year becomes a little more messy and uncomfortable than the last. God is good that way. He won't let me remain in my complacency. Afterall, as I attempt (by His grace) to shepherd and train my students' hearts, the Lord is really shepherding mine.