Living in the Ancient Story
In the story The Kite Runner, the author, Khaled Hosseini, presents the dark story of a man who discovered a magic cup and when he wept into it, his tears turned into pearls. Though he was poor, he was basically happy and rarely shed a tear. So he found ways to be sad so he could be rich. As his pearls increased in number, so his greed increased. The story ends with the man sitting on a heap of pearls, knife in hand, weeping uncontrollably into the cup with his beloved wife’s body in his arms.
In stark contrast are the remarkable true stories of those who discovered the reality that to lose one’s life for Jesus is to truly find it (Luke 9:24).
Raising students to flourish in a highly secular and hostile environment is not about giving them a protective shell for the shell may easily be discarded when the pressure is applied. Rather, schools should be growing strong minds, shaping hearts that love and lives that give. How then can we nurture our students in God’s eternal truths so they can blossom into Christ’s ones who embrace the wisdom of His purpose for their lives?
God enters human history through His people. He reveals Himself in real life, in visible and distinct ways that defy neat explanation. We tell stories – the stories of those who discovered in our Ancient Story a profound sense of who they are, where they came from and where they are going. They found God’s purpose by rejecting the dominant culture centred on self and gave their lives over to the purpose of God’s Kingdom – to love God with their whole being and their neighbours as themselves.
These stories link us to the past, provide us with critical insight into our present and enable us to envision our lives not just as they are but as they might be. Imaginative knowledge is a way of perceiving the world and understanding our purpose in it.
As a Christian educator, a flawed human being in the process of renewal, I pause to think about the lives of all those who have helped me to become who I am today. I ponder the many people who have loved me and contributed to my life – family, friends, pastors and mentors. But the stories of people both past and present whom I have never met have also impacted my life and shaped my faith. These ones are also part of my personal “cloud of witnesses” because their lives embodied what it meant to love and serve the Lord Jesus and to be part of God’s great mission of re-creation.
If God reveals Himself so sublimely in the incarnation, then the followers of Christ are to embody His life and action. “We need real, breathing, walking around, hands and feet human examples, followers that are following Jesus. This is essential and without substitute. The example of Jesus alive in the framework of living flesh and blood, gives the greatest reference for potential followers to follow” (Ford, L., Unleader, p.169-170).
As teachers, let us tell the stories of those who have faced reality without flinching and responded without compromising faithfulness. God creates our students and gifts them for the purpose of His choosing and plants them in a place to bless others. There they will be truly themselves. These are God’s impossible people, “those with hearts that can melt with compassion, but with faces like flint and backbones of steel …. without ever losing the gentleness, the mercy, the grace and the compassion of our Lord”. (Guinness, Impossible People, np). In this series, we will tell some of their stories.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for” (Hebrews 11:1,2).
Grace and Peace
The Excellence Centre