Jump Start # 3215
Mark 14:8 “She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for burial.”
NOTE: Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. There will not be a Jump Start tomorrow. Enjoy the day with family and friends and be THANKFUL.
The other night nothing much was on TV so I pulled up the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus. I hadn’t seen that movie in a long time. Mr. Holland is a frustrated high school music teacher who wonders if he is making a difference. He has dreams of composing a classical piece. Time goes by, he is always busy with school activities and he never seems to accomplish what he really wanted to. His life is spent with students who don’t appreciate music like he does.
We teachers of God’s word have had our own “Mr. Holland’s” experience. It’s a Wednesday night, people have gathered but it seems they are somewhere else. The teacher pours his heart out but his words seem to fall flat. Blank stares. Little interaction. And, on a cold, dark night, the teacher questions his ability. We preachers have had our “Mr. Holland’s” experience. We work hard all week to develop a sermon that we think is helpful and needful, only to feel after we have preached it that we are wasting the audience’s time.
There was a defining moment in that movie when Mr. Holland made some adjustments to the way he taught. He found a way to connect. He joyfully expressed, “I love to teach,” which was a complete opposite of how he began his teaching career. It’s hard not to watch movies like that and wonder about yourself. There was a time in my life when I wanted to write some restoration books about God’s people in Southern Indiana. I’ve been told many times, “You ought to write a book.” I always think, “Sure. When? Who has time for that?”
The movie ends with an auditorium full of former students who showed up to express their appreciation for all that Mr. Holland had done. And, an orchestra composed of former band students played his Opus, that he had tinkered with for a lifetime. The governor of the state, a former student, declared, “We are your music. We are your notes.”
As we head towards Thanksgiving, some thoughts for us:
First, God knows the wonderful work you have done. Even a cup of cold water that is shared is noticed by Heaven, Jesus tells us. The hours you have poured over sermons, class material, cooking food for someone, helping someone move, is seen by God. Your efforts were not wasted. You were doing exactly what God wants you to do. Engaging in good deeds is characteristic of a disciple of Jesus. Maybe you didn’t get a thankyou that should have come your way, but God knows.
In our passage today, a woman poured costly perfume on Jesus. She was scolded by the apostles. It was wasteful they thought. Jesus defended her. “She has done what she could,” is a powerful statement. She couldn’t do it all, none of us can. But what she could do, she did. She didn’t wait for others to join her, because there were no others with the heart to help. This wonderful story reminds us that we need to do what we can. Don’t wait for others. Don’t get discouraged if others complain. Don’t stop if you are the only one. Do what you can.
Second, there is much good that is done that you will never know about. A thought in a sermon, a passage explained in a class, a text sent in love, a helping hand, these are all the things that make a difference. Some never say a word, but what you said helped them. Some never express thankfulness, but they are. As preachers and teachers, ours is to present the word of God accurately, practically and plainly so it becomes understandable and useful to the audience. When that is done, we have done our job. Blank stares, minds that wander, are not to be indicators that we have failed. With just as many blank stares are those who have held on to every word.
Third, it is good to try to improve yourself as a teacher of God’s word. Mr. Holland was bombing as a teacher. He wasn’t connecting. He made adjustments. He found a bridge that he and the students could meet on musically. We must not get stuck teaching the same way. Find ways to connect. Address things that are currently on the minds and hearts of the audience.
Fourth, it is helpful for us to express our appreciation to those who have labored hard among us. There is a lot of work that goes into planning and teaching God’s word. Let those who teach know that you recognize what they are doing and that you are thankful.
Finally, as we live for Jesus, let our lights shine, we do make a difference. Every parent sometimes wonders if they are making a difference. Every shepherd. Every preacher. Every Bible class teacher. Am I doing anything worthwhile? And, the answer is “Yes.” You may not see it right now. It may not be expressed to you right now. But deep down, lessons are being learned and the good you are doing is helpful. When we do not feel like we are doing good, we tend to quit. We give up. We become discouraged. We count all the hours that we poured into those lessons and no one said a single word. Why, we wonder, do we keep doing this? And, the answer is because we are making a difference and it is the Lord’s will. Don’t give up. Don’t cut corners. Don’t look for shortcuts. Keep plowing the fields. Keep sowing the seed. Keep at it and with it.
We all touch the lives of others. We are impacting and influencing others for the betterment. And, for that, we are very thankful.