March 21, 2013

A patient teacher

By Jessica Gotwals, a senior nursing major from Telford, Pa.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 50:4-9a (NRSV)

Many of the people who are most important to me in my life are teachers by profession: my mother, my siblings, my cousins, my aunts and multiple friends from high school and college. Because of these relationships, I’ve seen the time that goes into lesson planning, the energy that goes into building relationships with students and the hope teachers have for the ones they teach. And since I admire the teachers in my life, it is not surprising to me that I often conceptualize God as a teacher.

There are two main things that I appreciate about today’s passage in Isaiah. First, I love the beginning verses, because they remind me that God is also a teacher, committed to challenging us and making us Christ-like. Verses 4 and 5 say that God has “opened our ears” and helps us to listen “like one being instructed.” Understanding God as a teacher is particularly helpful to me during Lent. Lent is a time to clear the excess from our lives and expose the things that block us from the Divine. There is something about being emptied that leaves us more open to the possibility of learning and gaining the new wisdom God has to offer us. What have you removed from your life this Lenten season? What wisdom have you gained in turn?

The second thing I appreciate about this passage in Isaiah is the striking assurance the author has in his faith. In verses 6-9, he is not fazed by oppression or by the opinions of others. This passage encourages us to be assured that the teachings of the Lord are good. Once we open ourselves to receive God’s teachings, we cannot ignore what we have learned, and our lives are inevitably changed. The convictions we have for our lives as people of faith may not always make us more well-liked, more wealthy or more successful by the world’s standards. However, these things are not our highest priority. God equips us with the Holy Spirit to be more like Christ. And, when we walk in the way of the Lord, we are not ashamed.

During the remainder of the Lenten season, may you be receptive to the teachings of the Divine, and may you be confident that the direction you are going is blessed. May you be made aware of the ways you fall short, but be reassured that you are learning to embody shalom. Praise to the God who teaches us patiently.

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 50:4-9a (NRSV)
The Lord God has given me
the tongue of a teacher,
that I may know how to sustain
the weary with a word.
Morning by morning he wakens—
wakens my ear
to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I did not turn backwards.
I gave my back to those who struck me,
and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face
from insult and spitting.
The Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me.
It is the Lord God who helps me;
who will declare me guilty?
All of them will wear out like a garment;
the moth will eat them up.



Comments (12)

  1. Thank you, Jessica, for your thoughtful meditation, which I found an edifying reading at the beginning of this day. As a (retired) teacher (and once upon a time English major in college) let me note that the word you want is “fazed,” not “phased.” Have a good day and good semester. Marlin

    Marlin Jeschke March 21, 2013 |
    • Thank you Marlin for catching that! That’s this editor’s fault. – Jodi Beyeler, devotions editor

      Devotions editor March 21, 2013 |
  2. Thanks, Jessica, for a very perceptive, encouraging and invitational reflection. Wilma

    Wilma Shank March 21, 2013 |
  3. Thank you Jessica it reminds me of how God is and how he works in my life!!!!!!

    Bob March 21, 2013 |
  4. Thanks for your thoughtful reflection on God’s heart towards us as a teacher. I want to always be learning and listening. You are a good teacher today through your words. We have heard.

    Ruth March 21, 2013 |
  5. Thank you Jess. Wise beyond your years. :)

    Brenda Shelly March 21, 2013 |
  6. Thank you, Jessica, for a thought-provoking devotion. However, for our daughters, both teachers, I’m not sure what the equivalent is for “pulling out of the beard.” Perhaps it means that women make better teachers than men?

    Norm Morford March 21, 2013 |
  7. Thanks Jessica. This has always been a favorite passage of mine, and your comment on it is very insightful and helpful. I’m printing it off for further reflection!

    Mary Ellen March 21, 2013 |
  8. Thanks Jessica. I love the thought of God as a teacher. Blessings to you as you think of April, graduation, and beyond. Ruth

    Ruth Yoder March 21, 2013 |
  9. Thank you, Jessica, for an insightful meditation. The best to you in the remaining weeks of this semester!

    Rachel Nafziger Hartzler March 21, 2013 |
  10. Thanks Jessica! The best to you as you finish your education at GC!

    Vicky Kirkton March 21, 2013 |
  11. It is often the student who becomes the one that teaches. I believe that is why teachers teach, so not to miss the blessing. Nicely done Jess.

    Denny Gross March 22, 2013 |