from doing to breathing and the grace in between

“When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’” –John 1:37-38

As of late, my pen has been silent. There hasn’t been room enough in my life for words.

Just doing. Mostly, just doing my job. It consumes my waking hours, which is most of them … all twenty-four of them. Whether I’m upright or horizontal, I’m thinking about my fourteen fourth-graders. I am exhausted. A life of perpetual doing doesn’t always leave room enough for breathing. Too much doing and the spirit goes dry. Life without breath feels like death to a soul, and for the past few weeks, I’ve been slowly suffocating.

And crying. And praying. And asking God through choke-filled sobs for this doing to start making sense, even one little bit.

My family’s been praying too. On Thursday night, Billy and the kids huddled together upstairs on my behalf and sent God their requests in sacred whispers. They just wanted me to find the air that I so desperately needed … for a fresh wind of the Spirit to blow over me.

On Friday God answered their quiet whispers as loudly as he could.

Every school day begins with a Bible lesson (one of the great privileges of teaching at a Christian school). I consider this to be the best part of our day together. I’m in my element when I’m telling God’s story to others. In the first half of the year, we covered Genesis, the Christmas story, and have recently begun to talk about Jesus’ early, ministry years. This week’s focus has been on those first disciples who took those first steps toward following Jesus. In particular, we’ve zeroed in on the question that Jesus asked of Andrew and John at their initial meeting:

“What do you want?” or as the King James’ version states, “What seek ye?”.

I asked my students to consider that question, to have those ancient words jump off the pages of holy writ and to imagine God asking the same question of them.

“What do you want, fourth graders? What seek ye?”

In our moments of morning contemplation, I could see that my students were thinking – that just maybe this question was meant also for them and not simply for those disciples in those early days of kingdom expansion. This was a good way to start the day; regardless of any drama that might follow, a solid foundation had been laid.

Fast forward a few hours. The students were finishing up a reading quiz when one of them approached my desk and asked if she could speak to me in the hallway. Her distress was apparent, and I immediately took her aside to assess the situation. We’d barely made it to the hallway before the tears began to collect in her sweet brown eyes. Quietly, tenderly, and most assuredly, this precious young girl added words to the moment. In doing so, she’s added a thousand more words to my heart.

“Mrs. Olsen, I need God.”

Let that settle in on you, friends. Just be with us there in that moment. Don’t rush past it. Moments like these should be held up to the light and cradled … celebrated in the heart. Really, could there be a more worthy, purer confession than this?

In the minutes that followed her disclosure, we sat together in the hallway where we talked about her need and about our God. And then as smoothly and as naturally as breathing, we prayed together and the kingdom of God expanded … just one little bit. For everything that hasn’t made sense in these past five months of doing my job, Friday’s one thing made perfect sense, and I am stunned by such privilege.

Every tear I have cried; every prayer I have prayed. Every word I have spoken; every plan I have made. If this one little bit is the sum total reason for God calling me out of my comfort zone and pushing me into the middle of discomfort, then this is enough fresh air to keep me breathing in the season to come.

Tonight I hear the Father asking me a familiar question, the one he asked his first disciples 2000 years ago and the one I asked my students earlier in the week:

“What do you want, Elaine? What seek ye?”

My response?

“This, Father. Just this.”

How beautiful this grace that is sufficient and all-powerful. It reaches past and beyond my weakness and perfects the imperfect. One little bit … one little heart at a time.

On Friday, I had the joy of welcoming a new child into God’s family. I’m so glad that she has Him and that He has her. She doesn’t know it yet, but her best days are ahead of her. With Jesus, her best days are yet to be. The multiplication tables and helping-verb lists she’s mastered in the 4th grade may not be remembered in years to come. But this one little moment?

Well, it will never be forgotten. It’s etched into eternity. This is forever.

Peace for the journey, sweet girl. God is with you. God is for you. God loves you.

I am too – with you, for your, love you.
{aka – Mrs. Olsen}

15 Responses to from doing to breathing and the grace in between

  1. What a wonderful privilege and blessing, indeed, to lead that precious child to Jesus! Oh, Elaine, this blesses me, too. Rejoicing with you, my sweet friend.

  2. I KNEW IT!! I was absolutely certain, and I remain so, that our Lord placed you in that classroom to draw hearts to Him so they, too, can experience PEACE FOR THEIR JOURNEY. What a beautiful blessing it is to witness it from afar, through your words. My friend, feel the smiling nod of God on your life, ministry, and heart! Feel it. Revel in it. Know that you are deeply adored! This, Elaine, is cause for huge celebration!!!

  3. There really is no greater privilege! What a blessing the Lord had for you, so happy your obedience resulted in such a way! Love reading things like this!

  4. What a beautiful and heart-warming story! Thanks for sharing it.

    There is a story here also about how this child trusts her teacher.

  5. No words! Just a few tears and a lump in my throat! I love your spirit “Mrs.Olsen”!

  6. Angels in heaven and friends in Blogland join you and your family in rejoicing!

    We sang “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” in church this morning. “…our ancient foe DOES seek to work us woe – his craft and power ARE great and armed with cruel hate…” but “one little word shall fell him”! The Spirit and the gift are ours through Him who with us sideth!

    Breathe, my friend! And DO, too! His grace IS sufficient!

  7. Silent tears of joy fill my eyes. Wordless awe. The Holy Spirit working. And intersecting His movement with your need. God’s goodness.
    Welcome little one to the family of God.
    Hugs, love and prayers,

  8. wifeforthejourney:

    God really has humbled me this past week and over the course of the MLK, Jr. weekend with how He has answered our prayers. Thank you for your obedience and availability, at home, at church and in the classroom.

    Lord, we all need you; may we find the courage to ask, to seek and to knock.



  9. This is awe inspiring, Elaine. What courage to admit her need. What humility. At a point of desperation, she takes off her mask and come to the one who she knows has the answer she needs. What trust indeed. And what grace…This just shows your investment is not in vain. What encouragement!


  10. Oh Elaine, what a blessed privilege and opportunity! I’m so glad God used you to help bring a new soul into the kingdom — and helped refresh your weary spirit at the same time. All praise to our Father!

  11. Oh Elaine! What JOY is in my heart – hearing this. Not just the new princess on the block but the WAY that God used each one [those who prayed ~ your own tears ~ and God’s perfect timing to let it all make sense! Out of the comfort zone in God’s economy ALWAYS adds to His kingdom. If only we could just rememebr that!!! Praising our Father with JOY abounding! XOXO Stephanie

  12. How precious. You should be “stunned by such privilege”, what a privilege that is. I can’t imagine the unseen miracles God is orchestrating behind the scenes.

    May you breath deep this weekend.

  13. The mental image of your family huddled in quiet prayer on your behalf is so touching & powerful. What a gift! And what a precious way for the Lord to meet your need and answer their prayer. Amazing grace.


  14. Oh Elaine what a privilege to pray a little one into the Kingdom! I could cry every time I hear of another one saved. I know the exhaustion of teaching. Many times I wish I was at a Christian school as I cannot talk of Jesus where I am. But I try to let His light shine through me in other ways. At times, I have the opportunity to share and there are a few Christian teachers that I work with. Hang in there Elaine. This is why you’re there.

    Blessings and love,

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