Thursday, December 11, 2014

Searching for Stones

The words marched out of my mouth like a song that has been played too many times. I had memorized the text in front of me, I only glanced to ensure accuracy. The students eyes stared at me as I pleaded with them to follow along. We've worked hard the past few weeks, multiple forms of activities, hands on, drilling, group and individual assignments... what else could we have done to guide them to this moment ensuring success?

Not much, unless more time was an option. 

So there they were, small groups of 5-11. I read the test aloud, encouraged them to attempted strategies that are taught daily in order to increase their chance of success. Yet only a few attempted. The rest... the rest just guessed! Forget the hard work, it's long gone... they don't want to be here. Maybe they have seen failure too often; I see it pouring out of their eyes, they believe it doesn't matter if they show evidence, no strategy will help them. 

My heart breaks, I become frustrated (with all my strength I try not to show it). The words desperately tumble out of my mouth again and again, "Please, use your strategies. Go back and justify your answer. Prove it! You have it in you to succeed, it just matters how much you're willing to try." 

Then she looks at me, "Are you serious Mrs. Palacios?" 
I nod my head. 
She nods hers, imitating the last glimpse of hope in my eyes.
So she tried... she really tried. 
The sweet girl who cried the last time she worked hard and still failed. The girl whom we (co-teacher and I) told... your time will come, don't give up. She didn't. That one girl, worked hard and soaked the ambitious words into her heart and ventured into the face of her giant pulling her strategies out one-by-one. My gosh, she put in effort... and success was hers to hold.

How many times in our life are we one of those discouraged children, who have been drilled over and over again, strategy after strategy, skill upon skill, and when the time comes to put it to the test we automatically raise the white flag?

Finished without a fight. 

What if David had eyed the Giant and timidly scurried away, just at one glance? There would be no fearless hero who won with a pocket full of a mere 5 stones ready to face adversity. 

A heart filled with confidence in the teacher, the LORD Almighty, and a handful of stones... he knew his strategies had defeated the most daring bears and lions, but would he trust his teacher and heart enough to face the most dreaded task? You see, David had practiced in all circumstances except against a human giant. However, when his world collided with opposition he didn't disappear. NO! He grabbed a significant tool, glared his giant in the eyes, and pitched the stone at the enemy who approached as if to engulf the young boy. 

I want to be like David, but so many times in life I am like my students. I want to be like the young girl who trusted me, pulling out the strategies she learned in her co-teach room. It was possible. She knew it, David knew it... do you acknowledge the possibility as well?  The possibility to defeat your giants? Do you have your stones? David only needed one... but he still held 4 more in his pocket. 

What are your stones?
The stones our God has taught you to use. 
Have you not acknowledged them yet, or have you used them over and over again?

I encourage you friend... because I need encouragement. I have found 3 stones that are significant when I face giants in my life. Stones that strengthen my wobble in the rage of a giant. Stones that put God first, empty me, and fill me with the spirit of strength... not timidity. Stones that scream, "THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ME! ONLY THE ONE WHO HAS DEFEATED THIS WORLD!" Stones that tug at my heart strings and I use them, because they will bring trust, hope, and a triumphant roar!

Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag, and with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine. 
Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. "Come here," he said, " and I'll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!"
David said to the Giant, "You come against me with sword... but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty...",
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching in to his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
1 Samuel 17: 40-45, 48-49

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