I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me. Psalm 119:102
The first time I took Algebra 1, I was a freshman in high school during our year of furlough in the United States. It was a horrible year regarding my aptitude in math, consisting of depressing progress reports and me barely making a final passing grade. Math had never been my strong subject. It was not my mother's either. That was a problem because she homeschooled my siblings and I for during our first term as missionaries to the Democratic Republic of Congo. She and I cried together out of frustration and a sense of helplessness over my eighth grade math homework.
It was merely out of kindness that my Algebra 2 teacher gave me a passing grade my junior year of high school. In fact, with a mixture of pity and sadness on his face, he motioned me to come up to his desk and quietly showed me that although my work deserved a D he was going to give me a C- for my final grade.
I left high school convinced that whatever I chose to do as an occupation in college, I must avoid math as a requirement for my degree at all costs. I graduated four years later not having taken one college math class.
I congratulated myself.
Five years later, however, I found myself back in college with a two semester math requirement for the new field I was pursuing. I was beside myself with worry.
I walked into my class the first day fully expecting not to understand what was being taught. To my utter astonishment, my professor made math come alive. I found myself actually looking forward to math class! And my homework and tests were proof that I was really learning. She made what was impossible to understand before clear to me. I left the semester with an A as my final grade. I was stunned. The next semester, taught by a different professor, played out the very same way. I fulfilled my two semester math requirement with straight A's.
I have thought about my learning experience with math many times over the nearly two decades that have passed since then.
I am convinced that the difference in my experience was two-fold. My college professors loved math. They both were absolutely passionate about the subject. They had also had many years of training in the subject. They had learned math so well that they could teach in such a way that I, as their student, saw benefit in learning from them. I also was a willing student, eager to learn, because I knew they had wrestled the same problems out before me and would be able to help me find a solution.
What is Jesus teaching you and me that we will one day share with someone desperate to learn what He has taught us? The agonizing wrestling through that we might not understand will one day bring Him great glory as He is able to teach us so that we can teach others about His faithfulness. The best teachers are the ones who have walked the path before us and have learned well that wrestling through with Jesus is safe. They are the ones whose passion for Him is forged out of experiential living. They know that Jesus is the Provider, Comforter, Healer, Redeemer because they have real life experience that they are willing to transparently share with others. They are the ones who can hold others hands through the valley of suffering because they have walked it before them.
Are you and I willing to pay the cost that is required to be a great teacher in Christ's kingdom?