Master Teaching

a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher

A Taste of Heaven on Earth

122f7-joyLooking for inspiration on how to give the gift of joy to our students, I opened The Valley of Vision and found this under the title “Joy:”

There is no joy like the joy of heaven, for in that state are no sad divisions, unchristian quarrels, contentions, evil designs, weariness, hunger, cold, sadness, sin, suffering, persecutions, toils of duty.[1]

Heaven will be full of peace, illumined by the Light, where we will see Love face-to-face, and where all our hopes will be realized. And it will be a place of unbridled joy.

I wonder if we could give the gift of joy to our students by making our classrooms a taste of heaven on earth, a place of rest, contentment, and laughter.

Rest

I’m not suggesting that we make our classrooms a place where students do no work. Learning is not an absence of work…anymore than heaven will involve kicking back on a cloud for eternity. But couldn’t our classrooms be, in some small way like heaven, a place of relief from the weary world

Sometimes when prayer-preparing for a class, I’ve pictured my students arriving at the building bent low under giant burdens. (I’m pretty sure the picture I have in mind comes from a children’s version of Pilgrim’s Progress I read long ago.) And I’ve asked that they would leave their worries at the door so that in my classroom they experience a few moments of rest.

In class, we might give our students learning burdens but only ones that are easy and light.

  • manageable load of new material that is easy to assimilate because it clicks into what they already know
  • teaching styles that fit students like a glove and give us no reason to save the receipt in case something has to be returned
  • techniques that make learning purposeful and interesting, even fun, instead of fearful

Contentment

I won’t speak for people from other places, but we Americans are blessed abundantly. In fact, we have so much that it spills from our closets and over the top of our pants. Sometimes I wonder if my students observe me and think:

  1. Melissa has a lot.
  2. She’s happy.
  3. Therefore, having a lot leads to happiness.

And so, just by living, I’ve added to their discontent.

How can I get my students to see that true happiness comes not from the pursuit of things or situations but from the pursuit of treasures like excellence, compassion, and righteousness?

That it’s not dependent on their state of life but on their state of mind…and soul?

How can I make my classroom a place of contentment?

Laughter

Revelation 21 doesn’t mention laughter, but can’t you hear it? “No more death or sorrow or crying or pain.”[2] Instead, titters and chuckles and giggles and snorts and hoots and JOY!

Laughter truly is the best medicine for easing burdens and finding paths out of discontentment. But it won’t help if we’re making fun of people. Then, our students might go away feeling kind of dirty. We can laugh at situations, though, and ourselves. Self-deprecating humor might even fit well into the culture in which you work—like for me in China where “modesty” is honored, and people are taught to lower self while raising others up.

Sometimes a taste satisfies. Often it makes us hungry for more.  May a taste of heaven on earth—joy—make our students pine for Home!


[1] Arthur Bennett (ed.) (1975), The Valley of Vision, The Banner of Truth Trust.

[2] Revelation 21:4, New Living Translation

Further exploration

  • Revelation 21-22
  • “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” especially the verse that begins, “All ye, beneath life’s crushing load…”

What’s your perspective?

  • What do you think about this way of giving the gift of joy to our students?
  • How do you make your classroom a place of rest, contentment, or laughter?

Post Author

Melissa K. Smith

Photo Credit: failing_angel via Compfight cc

2 comments on “A Taste of Heaven on Earth

  1. Shelly
    December 17, 2014

    Melissa, I really like the idea of making our classrooms a “taste of heaven.” I think my language foibles bring laughter and some encouragement to language learners to take risks. I also think that giving time to things that happen that students find funny helps. Why squelch the giggles so soon? Let the belly laughter bubble up and enjoy it together. Being a person of joy is important. I know that I tend to be serious, and am only beginning to learn that seriousness on my part doesn't necessarily bring better results out of my students. I need to practice play, laughter, and rest myself so that I might share it with my students.

    Like

  2. Melissa K. Smith
    December 19, 2014

    Yahweh often uses my words to convict me. The morning of the day this post went up, my clothes literally spilled from my closet as the rod they were hanging on came crashing down. So while you're working on play and rest, I think I need to spend some time reflecting on contentment and how my way of living might feed my students' discontent. 🙂

    Like

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This entry was posted on December 17, 2014 by in joy, Melissa K. Smith, teaching as a gift.

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