An Exercise in Faith

By David Midwinter | UK National Director

In our exploration of TeachBeyond’s core values, we have now come to faith. Hebrews 11 is the great Bible chapter on faith and there we find a definition of this value: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see[1].” The chapter goes on to illustrate what this virtue looks like using the lives of many of the great heroes of the Old Testament.[2]

There are some common themes that run through the various illustrations. One is that often the goals pursued by these heroes seemed completely unattainable. Think of the stories of Sarah, Joshua, Gideon and others. The thing they hoped for seemed impossible. Another common theme is the lack of resources that these characters faced. How could Gideon possibly win a battle against the vast Midianite army with only 300 men? How could Moses lead the Israelite slaves out of powerful Egypt? And even should they succeed, what was there in the desert to sustain them? A third theme is obedience: these heroes of the faith reached their goal because they did what God challenged them to do. This is true even when they could not see the outcome they were working towards, a final theme of this chapter.

It would be easy to think that somehow these people were special and not like us, but when you read through their stories you see that this is not true. Moses tried all sorts of excuses to avoid facing Pharaoh. Gideon demanded miraculous signs to convince him of God’s clear direction. Even Sarah laughed when she first heard the Lord’s promise. Just as it took these men and women time to grow in their faith, we should take heart in realizing that faith is journey and not something that happens to us overnight.

How It Works in the Classroom

So how does this relate to our work in the classroom? Let’s consider the four themes highlighted earlier.

Do you ever feel the targets you have been set are far too high and unrealistically? Do you wonder if the head of your department or the school principal realises what the children in your class are like? Or perhaps you wonder if your small attempts at Biblical integration or modelling love and discipleship are capable of making an eternal difference in the lives of your students? If so, you are in the same situation as our faith heroes and the good news is that God specialises in helping us reach goals that seem impossible.

What about resources? Maybe you know that your children are very capable, but lack reliable internet or your textbooks are old and out of date. Maybe there are just not enough resources to go around. You are in good company. Thankfully God specialises in using people who feel weak and inadequate to accomplish great things.

Then there is obedience. Joe Schuringa often says, “God has not called you to fail.”[3]  What a great reminder: God has called you and placed you where you are now serving, and He challenges you not to dwell on the problems but to look to Him in faith and see how He will achieve great things through your ministry.

Finally, the heroes of faith were still living by faith when they died; they did not always see the outcome of their work. There will be children who will challenge you and when they leave they will appear to have taken no notice of many things you have tried to teach them. Don’t lose heart, because the fruit may not come for many years. It is not your job to save your students; that job, thankfully, belongs to the Lord!

Just like the heroes of faith, you may find moving forward in faith a challenge, but remember to keep your eyes on Jesus not on your circumstances. You are not in this position by accident, and the one who has called you will certainly equip you with everything good for doing His will[4]. As your faith grows your life will have an impact on the children you work with, even if it is just because they see you exercising your faith day by day.

[1] Hebrews 11:1

[2] Please make time to read the chapter because the examples we are given are inspiring.

[3] Joe is a member of TeachBeyond’s global committee.

[4] Hebrews 13:21

Photo Credit: Moses. By Hult, Adolf, 1869-1943; Augustana synod. [from old catalog]. wikimedia commons.