Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Promise of Spring

There have been days this February when spring seemed just around the corner. The weather has been warm, the birds have been singing, and Suzanne and I have been able to take long walks in the surrounding woods. On days like these, it is easy to believe that the earth will soon become green again and that we won’t need to put on several layers every time we step out the door. Alas, it is only February and those changes are still several weeks away.

Suzanne and I are thankful, however, for those times when we get a glimpse of the beautiful transformation that will soon take place in the Black Forest. Often, when the days are cold and dark, it seems hard to truly believe that warmth will come again. Of course, on one level we know that this change will take place because we have seen it happen all our lives. Still, it can be difficult to live with that future in mind rather than focusing on the cold weather and drizzling rain.

In the same way, teaching is a task best suited for those who can look beyond the daily life of lesson plans, grading, and meetings. While all these tasks need to get done, it can be difficult at times to know if students have actually learned as a result of these efforts. Grades can perhaps give some indication, hearing the students talk about what they learned can be another, but the end result will never be seen. Teachers want their students to be able to take what they have learned into their daily lives after formal schooling ends and apply it in such a way that it makes a difference in the world at large. So how do we know if what we are doing is working?

It is wonderful to see returning graduates of BFA coming back to visit and hearing their stories. Suzanne and I were able to reconnect with a few graduates this past Christmas break and were encouraged by the way those kids had grown over the couple years since they left. Ultimately though, we have to have faith that our work here will produce fruit in the future. We have to trust that the same God who has called us and allowed us to be here will take our imperfect work and turn it into growth for his kingdom. Winter seems long. But spring is not far off.