As I worked my way through old voicemails, deleting most of them in an effort to clean up my inbox, I finally got to the ones I’d saved on purpose over the last five years. I intently listened to the seven cherished messages my dad had left for me—some on special occasions, others just to let me know he was thinking of me. When I shared this discovery with a colleague, he smiled with understanding and reached for his phone. Then he played a precious recording of his own father, who has been gone for nearly a decade, wishing him a happy birthday.
Oh, how we treasure the voices of our loved ones! For a brief moment, we are in their presence, whether they are still here on earth or already in eternity.
In the same way, I treasure the voice and presence of my Heavenly Father. And, what a wonder it is that He longs for us to hear His voice and be in His presence! Because of the blood of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we can do both.
The Gospels show us that Jesus purposely withdrew from the pressing crowds to spend time with His Heavenly Father. We, as fully human teachers, certainly understand the exhaustion of constant interaction, problem-solving, and relationship-building. So, how can we step away from our pressing crowds and make time to be with God?
- Surrender each day to the Holy Spirit and ask for His direction. Before we pick up our phones and connect digitally each morning, we can connect divinely, asking the Holy Spirit to direct each hour of our day. Sometimes we may receive a clear assignment from Him. Other times, we may simply feel the reassuring comfort of His Presence.
- Worship! Whenever possible, we can let the words of our favorite hymns, praise choruses, or Psalms remind us of the mighty God we serve. We can sing them from our hearts to our Father’s heart, taking in the sweetness of our relationship with Him.
- Renew our minds by opening our Bibles or listening to God’s Word. Spending time with God’s Holy Word is another way to spend time with God. We can do this at home, on a walk, or even in the car.
- Spend time in nature before or after school. We can let creation fill our senses and quiet our anxious hearts. We can remember that the One who created the heavens and the earth also created us. He is the Artist behind the sunrise and the Shepherd who leads us through green pastures and still waters.
- Pause and breathe in God’s presence. When our classrooms are empty, we can pause and breathe. We can quietly pray: God, use me. Direct me. Help me. I need you. I love you. You’re amazing. We can let Him refill us with His presence for the next class.
- Plan a spiritual retreat. We can book a vacation rental for a night or two to spend time alone with God. We can go with the eager expectation of deepening our relationship, just as if we were meeting an old friend. We can aim for one or two of these times of solo Bible study, prayer, and worship each calendar year.
Spending time with someone we love is pure joy; we can’t get enough of it. And since our relationship with God is the most incredible love we’ll ever experience, our souls—helplessly overcome by His great love for us—long for more of Him. Let’s treasure the sound of His voice and the time spent in His presence.
Kristi Shanenko teaches ELA in North Dakota. She loves her teenagers at school and at home and feels grateful that God chooses to work through His children in small but eternal ways.
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