And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote. Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.” Isaiah 29:13-14, NLT
That is why the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the people of Israel, “My people will no longer be ashamed or turn pale with fear. For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob. They will stand in awe of the God of Israel. Then the wayward will gain understanding, and complainers will accept instruction.” Isaiah 29:22-24, NLT
Israel had lost her passion for her God. The people were externally compliant with the rituals God had given them centuries before, but their hearts were not engaged, and there was no internal transformation. The rituals meant to reaffirm their relationship with God had instead replaced genuine worship. They were just going through the motions. But God wanted their devotion.
Reading this Scripture causes me to reevaluate my worship practices. I think, Does my mind wander as I pray or read Scripture? Am I more concerned with impressing someone with my stellar harmony when I sing than praising the God Most High?
This also got me thinking about the practices I learned during my first years of teaching: writing objectives on the board, full lesson plans with anticipatory sets, direct instruction, practice, summation, and assessment, and even the content and pace of my courses. All those things were meant to help me teach with excellence, but some of those are not even considered best practices anymore. Am I mentally, emotionally, and spiritually present in my classroom planning and presentations? Or am I just going through the motions?
God promised to change things up for Israel and astound them with amazing wonders if they returned to Him. What if we asked God to reevaluate our routines, activities, and assessments? What if we took the time to pray about our current students’ needs, how they learn, and what engages them? We can ask God to work wonders in our classrooms, bless our students, and help the wayward gain understanding and complainers accept instruction. Or, we can continue just going through the motions.
Heavenly Father, thank you for listening to us when we pray and for caring about what we care about. You have given us the privilege of training young minds and hearts. It is a responsibility we do not want to take lightly. Grant us the inspiration and the energy to work hard at meeting our students’ needs and instructing them in wisdom. Amen.
Copyright Diana Anderson.
Diana is a member who teaches history and art to secondary students at a Christian school in Kennewick, WA.