Deliver me, O LORD, by your hand from those whose portion in life is this world. Psalm 17:14
Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; I shall keep it with all my heart. Make me go in the path of Your commandments, for that is my desire. Incline my heart to Your decrees and not to unjust gain. Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; give me life in Your ways. Fulfill your promise to Your servant, which You make to those who fear you. Turn away the reproach which I dread, because Your judgments are good. Behold, I long for Your commandments; in Your righteousness preserve my life. Psalm 119:33–40
The third question asks: At what stage of life are you at?
This is certainly one of those verses that I have never particularly noticed before, but as a middle school teacher it strikes a whole new chord of terror…with just the slightest of paraphrasing…from those whose portion in life is middle school.
In fact, I often say that this is why I teach middle school, to defend those who need deliverance from the sleek, smug vicious ones who rule middle school with a sneer and disdaining word.
Because middle school is mostly the other sorts, the slightly trembling awkward ones desperately seeking validation mingled with creeping-around-the-edges anonymity. And they never quite measure up because they are eyeing a false scale of shimmering perfection that doesn’t really exist outside of eternity.
And like my Father who walks alongside me through this life, murmuring His love for me and His great validation of me, His beloved child, this is how I want to walk through my rather long day: You are loved. You are delightful. You have a purpose.
Because middle school, like life is not pretty. Yesterday my sub from last week left a little note tucked into my laptop: Hi. Not going to lie to you. This was ranked the #3 in the hardest classes I ever had since 2003. I had fights, one girl actually stabbed a boy with a pen, I had pens, pencils, markers and erasers thrown around and kids running out of class all of the time. I survived one whole week. I totally give you 100% credit for surviving as long as you have. Take care,
Because this is my stage in life right now. I have made it through the Slough and the Valley of Humiliation and Vanity Fair and now see the Delectable Mountains stretching with glorious perspective in the distance. And like my Abba Papa, I want to be a kind and wise Shepherd who encourages wayfarers along the path. Oddly enough it was the slightly frumpy old priest passing out rosaries on The Way that called me to make that pilgrimage.
And riding through the desert, those old Catalinas rise up in my distance, and once again remind me from whence comest my strength. And the rain-drenched creosote pierces through the early morning mist.
Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; give me life in Your ways.