A time to reflect was forced upon me last Fall. It was once again made clear to me that only ONE THING is ever needed: the love of Jesus and faith in his Salvation. My time of reflection was forced upon me with the sudden and unexpected death of my younger brother. My parents were both Christian educators and we were blessed to be raised in a household where centering our lives on the Gospel was a given and relying on Jesus was the natural thing to do. My brother did not always make the best choices in life, but I know that up until the very end, he continued to rely upon God’s strength and his faith for his sustenance through some very difficult times.
At his memorial service, several people chose to offer remembrances of him and my parents. All of those individuals were former classmates of my brother and students of my parents in our Lutheran school. They all remembered the kindness, care, and support that both my brother and my parents offered to all the students in the school. All of them offered words of thanks for the gift of sharing the Gospel that they had received through my brother and my parents. I am sure that they were also thankful for a solid educational foundation, but they all realized that the educational foundation would not have been possible if it weren’t for the faith foundation that supported the educational efforts. Some of them had learning challenges that required the extra patience of a teacher who believes in the abilities that a student does have and allows the individual to build the strengths they have while working on the weaknesses. Regardless of ability, all were showered with the love of Jesus and the knowledge that no matter what we can do or who we are, Jesus always loves us. With that knowledge and love, all students can thrive and make progress.
It is so easy to get caught up with all the things that ‘have to get done.’ The long lists of tasks we carry out to make education happen for all kinds of students is overwhelming at times. The reflection time I had with preparing and attending the memorial service for my brother helped me to remember that we are all working as conduits through which God’s love flows to those around us. From this perspective, the “one thing needed” is to maintain our own spiritual health so that the love of Jesus flows out to all the people with whom we work, the students we teach, and families with whom we interact. The best thing and the first thing we need to be sure we offer our students every day is a confident reminder that Jesus is our Strength, our Deliverer, our Source of Joy, and our Salvation. Through Him, we truly can do all things. “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matthew 19:26). Because of Jesus, we can be confident that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
The narrative of Mary and Martha in Luke chapter 10 is a good reminder for me. As task lists for a new school year start to lengthen, it is easy to feel overcome by all the many things that need to be done. Jesus reminded Martha (and me) in this narrative, “‘Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” We are called to do our best using the knowledge we have to help children learn, but in the end, the best thing we can offer them is the love of Jesus and his Salvation, an eternal gift.
Life can be hard, and teaching can be difficult. Sometimes we lose those we love and wonder why. When everything is too much, we can focus on the “one thing needed”: Jesus. Never forget that when we are sharing the love of Jesus with our students, they are getting the best gift we could ever share.
Only ONE THING is ever needed. That is the love of Jesus and faith in his Salvation.