Psalm 119:130 – The entrance of your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.

On my first assignment as a supply teacher, I spent the hour before the start of school looking over the various mathematics lessons that I would teach that day. What clever examples I had devised for illustrating the commutative, associative, and distributive properties of numbers! Solving for x would never again be problematic for the algebra students! Those in the more basic classes would surely understand how a decimal point moves when the number is multiplied or divided by various powers of ten.

But oh, how quickly my plans faltered! It didn't take long for the students in each class to size me up as "green" and push the limits of my patience with their interruptions, unsolicited criticism, requests for passes, chatting among themselves, getting up to sharpen a pencil, napping on their desks and in general, undermining of my authority. A quick, desperate reading of the "Survival Checklist" in my Substitute Teacher Handbook provided the absolutely useless advice to "Praise the Positive!" "Show enthusiasm" and "Avoid harsh tones and sarcasm."

What I really needed was an understanding of the school's discipline policy. My planning time should have included a familiarization with the procedures and forms necessary for referring to the principal and assigning detentions. Without a knowledge of the laws for behaviour, my skilful approaches to mathematical laws could not come to light.

The second day, though not perfect, went much more smoothly with an explanation of various infractions placed prominently upon my desk. As the writer of Psalm 119, I rejoiced in a document that I could refer to when problems would arise and when decisions needed to be made. I was actually able to teach some math when my Grade Eight microcosm of the universe had its natural tendency toward chaos reined in. An understanding of the rules and their consequences enabled us all to rise above our base behaviours and aspire to something greater.

In a similar way, our adherence to God's commands frees us rather than limits us. We become greater in our servanthood than we ever could become on our own when we plan and carry out our daily activities in ways which are in keeping with God's laws.

Prayer: Lord, yours are the words of everlasting life. Your commands are as blessings to those who know and follow them. Write them upon our hearts and help us to live by them. In the Name of Jesus, the Word made Flesh. Amen.

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About the author:

Andrea Chapman
Lakeland, Florida, USA

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