There was not enough ibuprofen in the world to make my arm stop aching on Sunday night. Matt had left for work that morning, and I had put on my old shorts and t-shirt, for a serious work day of my own.
By the time Matt got home at 3:00, I had tweaked all of my Spanish lesson plans for Monday, tidied the whole house, washed four loads of laundry, spent an hour ironing the preacher’s winter dress shirts, loaded the dishwasher, scrubbed the kitchen floor by hand, mowed the lawn, and bought groceries.
“It’s mopping the floor that did it,” Matt said, as he watched me stretch out Grandma’s homemade rice bag on my arm.
I could only moan a response.
Then Monday came, and I went to bed a different kind of tired. I had taught all day, and if only I could have heated up a rice bag for my brain. All of the relational interactions and teaching tweaks I needed to make were vying for mental attention. It only took me a minute to fall asleep that night, but then at 1:00 a.m. I was wide awake thinking about all of it.
“Lord,” I said. “I don’t know if I can be a teacher. What if my brain explodes in trying to manage all of this? What then?”
Howard Hendrick’s words came to my mind in that moment, from his book Teaching to Change Lives. He asked a pathologist if he had seen many brains, and the man said he had seen hundreds of them. He asked the man if he had ever seen one worn out. The pathologist answered, “I’ve never seen one even slightly used.”
On the heels of that story, came the most amazing thought. The Lord made me for this.
The Lord made my body to be able to work hard. In fact, the harder I work my muscles, the stronger they get.
The Lord made my mind to think hard, without even exploding.
The Lord made my heart to love and forgive generously, even when it feels broken.
The Lord made my soul to commune with him while I’m working, to stretch out my hand to him for encouragement, wisdom, and strength along the way.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind. (Luke 10:27 NIV)
Love God, and you will be tired at the end of the day. You’ll stretch to all kinds of uncomfortable, exhausting places, but in stretching you’ll become stronger –your brain, your heart, and the muscles in your arms.
Love God, and you will need Grandma’s rice bag.
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