Michael and I just finished a little experiment. As it turns out, trying to make cheese fondue without a fondue pot or a recipe is a bad idea. Lots of work, very little deliciousness as a result, and a whole bunch of clean up to boot. Ahh, well, now we know.
Lately, our lives have seemed a little frustrating. I'm not going to turn this into a post full of complaints, so don't worry, and please keep reading. This year is so much different than last, and I'm starting to figure out that last year had its issues, but this year is bringing about a whole new set of hurdles to jump.
I think one of the biggest things for us last year was that everything was so new, that a lot of things simply escaped our notice. I spent so much time trying to figure out how to make lesson plans, what exactly I should teach, etc. that I ignored a lot of other little things. This year, school is starting to take its toll on me. Maybe I'm just feeling burned out (it is mid-semester, the time for burned-out-ness to happen!) but everything these days seems to annoy me. Too many students are late to school and class, too many people standing outside my door talking while I'm trying to teach or concentrate, too many papers to grade, too many things to figure out, too many slow-moving people, too much of this, too much of that. Boy, when I put it in writing, I sound like such a crab.
I had a dream recently, and I shared it with my homeroom class during a devotion time last week. It was one of those times where I felt like I was really putting myself on the line - I felt vulnerable, and yet I felt like I had to talk about it. The dream I had was more of a nightmare, and when I woke up, I immediately thought and felt that it hadn't been just a dream. It was an attack. I felt like I was being attacked by demons and by spiritual darkness.
Those of you with a similar background as mine probably know about how much time I spend thinking about those kinds of things. During a normal week, demons don't cross my mind once. But ever since that dream, I have been more aware of the battle that is going on around me. It hurts because I know that I'm not as strong as I could be; I'm not as strong as I should be. I'm not doing everything I can to fight in that kind of battle because my life has been focused lately on fighting battles against time, against my own emotions, etc. Spiritual battle? It takes the back burner in my life.
But here's the thing: this battle will continue to rage whether I pay attention to it or not. This spiritual battle is not disconnected from whatever else we focus on, either. It's right in the middle. One of my students, during class on Friday, exclaimed to me, "Mrs. Megan, you're in a good mood today!" I guess I've been taking my frustration out on some students lately without realizing it. This spiritual battle that has been going on around and within me has taken its toll, to the point where I've become a crabby teacher instead of a teacher who reflects the love and grace of the Living God to her students each and every day.
Grace. I keep coming back to that one word. This is what I focused on when I talked to my homeroom class last week. Yes, I fail. I fight on the losing side of a spiritual battle when I fight by myself. Despite that, despite my hatred of my own sin, despite my frustration with myself, I have grace to fall back on. I have been given a grace that I could never find elsewhere. It's that grace that keeps me going, that reminds me I have been forgiven, that pushes me to put one foot in front of the other each and every day. It's that grace that makes me different from many of my students, and from so many people in Thailand.
There is a spiritual battle going on around us, wherever we are. In Thailand, the darkness is evident through shrines, temples, idols, and other things. Elsewhere, the battle may take the form of materialism, love of money, desires to climb to the top rather than to be a servant, etc. Wherever you are, that battle is there.
Become aware. Please. I've recently been shaken awake, and the amount of darkness that surrounds us is oppressive. I feel it. I see it. I can't get away from it. But we are not alone. It reminds me of a passage from 2 Corinthians 4:
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body."
Remember that the battle continues, although it has already been won. Fall back on grace, and encourage one another to do the same. And, if you have any encouragement for us, we would appreciate it, too. :)