Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I’m back!

It really is difficult to find time to blog!

I’m sorry I’ve been away so long—something like seven days (a long time, for me). Between family, work, job search, sermon preparation (I preached last Sunday as a guest at New Life Fellowship, and I’m preaching there again this coming Sunday), my wife needing the computer to enter grades for the classes she teaches, or just being plain tired, I’ve not been able to get around to writing. I even have questions and comments from two readers, Lance and Deborah (Thanks for writing!), in response to one of my posts during Black History Month (February), that I have yet to answer. I haven’t forgotten! I just need to spend some time thinking about a response (and then find time to sit down and write it). So, please bear with me.

Some may wonder what I do to support my family. Since February of last year, my main employment is being a daily (or permanent) substitute teacher at one of the campuses of our local high school, which happens to be, literally, just down the street from our home. It’s a fulltime job—doesn’t pay much—but it’s something to do. In the meantime, I’ve been looking for open high school choral music teaching positions within reasonable commuting distance from our home, but those are fairly hard to come by in Chicagoland. Usually, one has to wait for someone already in that position to retire, move, get fired…or die.

While I’m on this subject, here’s something you can pray about: About three days ago, I learned of openings (and sent in the online applications) for three different positions (which, let me tell you, is a large number of openings for this region). Combined with the two I’d already applied for, I am now hoping and praying to hear from at least one of five schools. I’m especially interested in two of these school districts because of good pay (which would really be helpful), the reasonable driving distance from home, and the community support for performing arts in school. So, if you feel led, please pray that some school administrator would be interested enough in me to invite me to interview (public school districts in this region pretty much operate on the philosophy of “don’t call us; we’ll call you”). Thanks, in advance, for your prayers!

As a substitute teacher, I often have time on my hand, so that’s when I do most of my reading. Today I was reading John Piper’s recent book, Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce (Crossway Books, 2006). Another two periods of hall duty, and I think I could have finished it. Anyway, there were a few sentences about Wilberforce that grabbed my attention. Consider the following (the bold print is my emphasis):

“There was a ray of hope in 1804 that things might be moving to a success (three years before it [the abolition of the British slave trade] actually came), but Wilberforce wrote, ‘I have been so often disappointed, that I rejoice with trembling and shall scarcely dare to be confident till I actually see the Order in the Gazette.’ But these repeated defeats of his plans did not defeat him. His adversaries complained that ‘Wilberforce jumped up whenever they knocked him down.’ One of them in particular put it like this: ‘It is necessary to watch him as he is blessed with a very sufficient quantity of that Enthusiastic spirit, which is so far from yielding that it grows more vigorous from blows.’” (p. 47)

“He sustained himself and swayed others by his joy. If a man can rob you of your joy, he can rob you of your usefulness. Wilberforce’s joy was indomitable and therefore he was a compelling Christian and politician all his life. This was the strong root of his endurance.” (p. 61)

Even as I type these quotes, my attention is drawn to what Piper says about Wilberforce and how that applies to me. I don’t know about you, but I’ve “been there”: defeated by repeated defeats and robbed of my joy. I don’t want to go “there” again; it’s horrible. I think every true believer in Christ wants to be useful to the Lord. “If a man can rob you of your joy, he can rob you of your usefulness.” Think about that! That makes me want to hold on tight to the joy that I have and cultivate a greater and deeper joy in God, that I may be “useful to the master” (2 Timothy 2:20-21).

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