October 04, 2007

You Can Learn A Lot As A Substitute Teacher

At our local middle school, the PE teacher had a doctor's appointment, so I was called upon to instruct our children in the fine ways of physical fitness. I knew it would be a daunting challenge. It would take skill, precision, intellect, and poise. That and a large Coke.

I have to say that when I showed up at 7 AM, I really had no idea what was in store for me. I suspected that at sometime during the day, a good game of kickball or dodge ball would break out. And it did, for two classes of fifth graders. A word to the wise: Playing dodge ball with kids may be exhilarating at the moment it happens but your body will rebel later on in definite disapproval of your activities. Make sure you have two ALEVE ready to go at a moment's notice.

But it was the rest of the day that reminded me in a powerful way of God's presence, His love for me, His love for children, and His grace in putting up with my idiocy and rebellion. I want to tell you about three kids:

  • Emily is a special needs girl. I believe she is autistic and probably has several other conditions. Emily would not be what the world would consider normal. Emily cannot speak. She can make sounds which resemble the phonics you and I use but she cannot annunciate her words. I had the honor of going with Emily and her para-professional (a wonderful lady) to an adapted PE class just for Emily. We spent 25 minutes together. Emily bounced on a big rubber ball as we counted along with her. I played catch with her. We tried to get her to sit down on a rocking board meant to help her balance. She would have no part of it. We jumped across lines with Emily only after we asked her to "hop like a rabbit" because that's what she understood. We took Emily back to her class and I left to go back to another school.
  • Corey is a para-plegic. He is a little sixth grade boy confined to a mechanized wheelchair. He has an infectious smile. I'm not sure what exactly his condition is, his Physical Therapist couldn't tell me because of privacy laws, but Corey and I had the chance to play football. I would be the quarterback and he would "go out for a pass" in his wheelchair. He could catch really well. He could throw even better. I let Corey do some bowling which he really enjoyed. And then his PT (Brenda Cook) came in to stand him up and give him some time on his feet. Corey told me that next year, he was going to be the waterboy for the junior high football team. He was very articulate and a great kid. He was so happy and lively. He didn't for one instance show any resentment for the physical body he had been given.
  • Luke And Bradford – These guys were great. They were high schoolers. Luke had Down's Syndrome and Bradford – well I believe he has a number of conditions but one things was for sure. Bradford was a local celebrity in a high school of over 2,000 kids. Everyone knew who he was. Yesterday was "Walking Wednesday" so I had the privilege of walking with eight special needs high schoolers on the inside track. Luke and Bradford were my buddies. I would tell Bradford that he was the man. He would yell out "Luuukke…Luuukkke da man". And then Luke would take off running down the track yelling "Wheeeeeeeeeee"…all the while with the biggest smile on his face.

And then I finished the day singing the Alphabet rock song with ten preschool kids. We did the bean back boogie. And a lot more. It was a real hoot.

So why am I telling you all this. Because I want you to freakin wake up and realize how blessed you truly are. Quit whining about how busy you are. How overworked you are. How your wife doesn't understand you. How your husband doesn't know you. How you don't get paid enough money. How you're not appreciated enough at work. How your boss doesn't tell you how great you are enough. How your church doesn't feed you enough. How you don't have enough sex. How you drive a beat up car. How you live in such a small house. How you don't get to travel enough. How you don't get to experience life. How you can't get a date. How the pressure of ministry is getting to you. How you congregation doesn't understand. Blah Blah Blah…

These kids can't walk, talk, speak, or even make intelligible noises in some instances. Their families have to exist with little or no support. They'll never have the kind of opportunities afforded to you and me.

And yet we sit here and cry and complain about how bad our lives are. You know what. We're pathetic. We're pieces of crap sometimes stupid for our petty little attitudes we hold before God. There are people who will die today because they don't have anything to eat. What the hell in the world gives us the right to complain about anything. We woke up today in the United States in the top 10% richest people in the world. And yet we find a way to piss and moan complain about what we don't have instead of being freaking grateful for what we do have. And what we have been given. Have you ever thought about what you took for granted this morning

It is time for us to wake up and quit being sniveling little brats before God and get down on our knees and be thankful for the blessings bestowed on us each and every day. And I thank God that Emily, Corey, Luke, and Bradford, as challenged as they are went through their days with something I can't muster sometimes and that's a smile. They don't let their circumstances get them down. They just go about life. One day at a time and make the most of it and have fun doing it. I vow today to do the same. I'm sick of being a pathetic weasel before God. And I'm sick of other people being the same way.

If you ever want a dose of reality, go substitute teach for a day instead of sitting in your high fallutin position, office, corporation, or ivory tower. Go see what you're missing. I promise you, you'll leave the day understanding how much the Gospel really hasn't captured you and more aware of your pathetic spiritual condition before God.


Anonymous said...


"Quit whining about how busy you are. How overworked you are. How your wife doesn't understand you. How your husband doesn't know you. How you don't get paid enough money. How you're not appreciated enough at work. How your boss doesn't tell you how great you are enough. How your church doesn't feed you enough. How you don't have enough sex. How you drive a beat up car. How you live in such a small house. How you don't get to travel enough. How you don't get to experience life. How you can't get a date. How the pressure of ministry is getting to you. How you congregation doesn't understand. Blah Blah Blah…"

1. Who are you referring to?
2. Are you referring to yourself in that statement?
3. Are you referring to people in your immediate "circle of trust"? Do they know that you feel that way about them?
5. Why are you so negative all the time?
6. Do you hate your life and the world?

You began your most recent blog entry very sincere, which surprised me, and then, like a bipolar patient, you jumped right in and started trashing people. Why is that? How can you take such a wonderful moment in your life and then use those poor, defenseless, children as an example of how to not live ones life?!?

Here's a thought, how about writing about something POSITIVE in your life...maybe you might feel better about yourself.

You are quick to point out deficiencies in people but you never offer any sort of thought provoking solutions as to how one can better themselves.

Your weak interpretations of the Bible and your feeble attempts to legitimize yourself as an intellectual are amateurish at best!

I feel very sorry for you and will pray for you each night before I go to sleep. I will pray that you see the good in all people. I will pray that you focus on all the wonderful gifts that God has offered for your stewardship. I will pray that one day you will see "the light"; like a beacon that shines upon you for all eternity. I will pray that God show you a love so big that it engulfs your entire spirit. I will pray that you choose a path that will make you less cynical and more open to people and their belief systems. And finally, I will pray that God have mercy on your soul for all the negativity that you project through your daily blog entries.

In God’s name

Marc Backes said...

Another Anon...

No I don't hate life. Not at all. I like your comment:

How can you take such a wonderful moment in your life and then use those poor, defenseless, children as an example of how to not live ones life?!?

Because they are examples of how not to live one's life. I guess Jesus was wrong for using lepers and lame people as examples for the Pharisees. You can interpret me honoring them as using them all you want. I doubt most will read it that way. Also, I didn't single out others alone. I singled out myself hence the use of the word "we" in most of the post.

I appreciate you reading the blog. I appreciate you giving anonymous comments. It shows a lot about you as well.

Also not sure that "your light" is something I want to see...

Thanks though...

Goodlikeamedicine said...

Hey Mark,

This is Kristi, and I hope you're doing well. I suspect you may not be after the discussion this post created. I ask you to hear me out because I haven't reallly thought a whole lot about my response or sought the Word before responding (I'm lying in bed on the mend from a nasty stomach bug), and I know I am younger than you, so please know that this response is coming from a sister in Christ who loves you much in Christ.

That said, I really do feel like you love the Lord; you have emitted a passion for Him and His Word ever since I met you in S'burg. I think that you really wanted to make a point about having a grateful heart and how these children taught you that.... I heard you, and from your story I appreciate you sending that reminder my way.

I would respectfully challenge you, though, to consider God's grace, and his love, and kindness when you deliver a reminder like this. Responses like anonymous' are honestly to be expected when you communicated God's lesson to you that way.

You may be frustrated that others walking under the banner of God's kingdom do not seem to appreciate or worship Him as you feel they ought... but do remember, you never know what is going on behind the scenes. You have only your one heart to see, and scripture says even that can deceive you. One of the lessons God taught me when we lived in FL was when we became very close to a couple who were a couple decades older than us in age, and long-story short, many months of fellowshipping with them did not even hint that the husband was struggling daily with "staring at the wall" 24-7 depression. I was floored, and that taught me, "Kristi, you never know...."

You spoke of having a dose of reality. Please be careful with those words. Remember that some of the people have both - they sit in offices every day, but they may have given a bath to their disabled child before work, or they may be going to take care of the helpless elderly after work. Maybe one such person may even seem grumpy or self-focused, and it's because they're worn out, wishing for one day their relative would be "well." We're human beings, and this kind of attitude happens. God is gracious with us! You never know what is going on behind the scenes.... and some people may seem "high-fallutin" or ungrateful and truly have the exact opposite spirit within them.

Then again, you may be hitting the nail on the head with some people. But condemning them for not seeing God's blessings is not at all what Jesus commands us to do. The Word says that it is God's kindness that leads us to repentance... and, if I may add, it is His kindness, and His greatness and faithfulness that is what brings us to him daily on our knees. We may get on our knees because of this realization of our sin or depraved state, but we won't stay there very long if we aren't looking at the beauty of the Cross. It is His beauty that makes us worship like we should, not our beautiful gratitude. Otherwise, even our praises will be ultimately (albeit subtly) centered on ourselves.

I am well aware that I went very long with my comment, and I do hope that you receive it with joy and appreciate and not defense. I took the time to write this because I struggle with the same tendencies, and I do not guard my delivery of what God is teaching me very well sometimes. (I do mostly on my blog, but in real life conversations, whewwww! look out!) :)

I love you, brother, and unlike Anon, I don't "feel sorry for you," but I can identify with your struggle of wanting others to see what you saw that day. Take the lesson, and point it to the beauty of the Cross. That's where true repentance and lasting joy is. I know you know that. :)


Marc Backes said...


Hope you guys are doing well. You and your hubby rock...

Thank you for the admonition. Truly...as most who read the blog will notice I've gone back and struck through some of the stronger choice of words I used earlier this morning...leaving the ones I used in full view...why? Because I understand words can be used better than they are sometimes and I understand that emotion comes out too freely (especically from me)...

AND at the same time I've left my post essentially as is because I wouldn't change the spirit of what I was saying. You know (and those who know me best) my heart and that for those families struggling with things in their life...I'm entirely compassionate. I think a certain lady named Ms. Anderson at Upward can vouch for that...as can countless others..

Today's post was not aimed at them. It was aimed at the countless "Christians" I've encountered over the last year who know better or should know better. It's aimed at the people who want to claim the blood of Jesus but don't want to follow the Jesus that shed that blood. It's aimed at the people that will follow Jesus until he doesn't work for them and then complain and gripe about their situation like they have no idea who Jesus is..

I wish you could have been there to hang with these kids. Talk about feeling "naked" spiritually. All of my filth and all of my childishness laid bare before God because he put Corey in front of me. And then my mind turns to all of the folks out there who are just plain lazy and bitter because they want following Jesus to be about them and if life can't be about them, then they pout and sulk like a 2 year old...

I truly do have kindness, compassion, love, and help for those who are lost, those who are hurting, those who are at least attempting to put one foot in front of the other in walking with Jesus...

BUT, I also have the same "want to voimit you out of my mouth" as Jesus had for those who want to be washed in the blood of Jesus but want to be lukewarm for Him...He said be hot or cold, but don't be warm (i.e. lazy, undecided, whiny, compainy, pouty, divided in passion, in love with the world)...

Get in or get out. On or off. Hot or cold. Sold out or spit out.

That's all I was trying to get to in this post. And being with those kids was the best reminder for me and should be for anyone else...

Much love for you all and the "yung un's" as T Sparks would say...


Anonymous said...

I am truly sick of anonymous posts. It is the most cowardice form of Freedom of Speech. You Anons spew venom and then don’t want to take responsibility for your posts. Grow Up! If you want to post something – use your real name!