Monday, February 28, 2011

Casting Your Bread Upon the Waters

"Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.  Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land."  Ecclesiastes 11:1-2

King Solomon was the inspired writer of the words above.  Surely a man who knew so little of poverty and of want must have been inspired to write those words, because they are so full of wisdom.  Brian and I abide by a philosophy that we call "casting your bread upon the waters."  I studied this passage of scripture many years ago when I was teaching a ladies' Bible study group.  I asked the students to picture standing beside a flowing stream and leaning down to place a large loaf of bread into a basket.  Then, I had them imagine placing that basket into the stream and watching it float downstream from them.  As the bread journeys along the stream, it is picked up by a person standing further along the water's edge, who pulls it out and takes it home with them.  If we all placed something into the stream, then when we find ourselves in need,  we'll be taken care of.  This has been revealed over and over again in our lives.  We would give unselfishly, and would receive whatever we needed at the right time.

Previously, I wrote about battling discouragement.  Last week, I really struggled with being discouraged myself.  It crept in early last week, and on Tuesday, I felt truly down.  Monday had been a school holiday (Presidents' Day), and not a particularly bad day.  I substituted Tuesday, and it was one of those days where it just didn't seem like I was needed.  Several teachers had mentioned that it was a slow day, so I didn't take it personally.  However, as the day wore on, I just started to get down.  In any job, there are difficulties.  There are unique aspects of substitute teaching that are enjoyable, and some that are not so enjoyable.  For myself, flexibility doesn't come naturally.  It is something that I have to work at.  I suppose that on Tuesday I was feeling the strong desire for permanence and stability.  I just wanted to feel that sense of knowing where I belong.  At any rate, I prayed.  I asked the Lord to encourage me, and He did.

The next day I subbed in a class for children with severe mental retardation.   Somehow, it was just what I needed.  I enjoyed the challenge of meeting the special needs of the children.  I really enjoyed the structure of the class and the ladies that I worked with.  It was an interesting--and exhausting--day.  Before I realized it, my heart was lifted!  I thanked God for encouraging me. 

How does this tie in with casting bread upon the waters?  Well, as it turned out, a dear Christian friend of mine had recommended me to the lead teacher of the special needs class.  This dear friend, Susan, has been a source of encouragement to me as I have been subbing.  She has subbed in our district for the last few years.  I am so happy to know her, and to have her friendship.  Susan cast out bread, and I received it.  So, I cast some out, as well.  I wrote to the school administrator to mention how great the teachers in the special needs class are.  It takes a lot of creativity and patience to instruct children with significant challenges.  These ladies work hard every day.  So many people are quick to complain, but how many are quick to compliment?  Make it a point to give compliments to others who deserve them.  When we give encouragement, it will come back to you when you need it most.

If you live in Texas, tomorrow will be TAKS testing day for many of our students.  Be sure and encourage the students and teachers who are testing.  With the statewide concern about the budget and with the funding for our schools being so precarious, teachers can use all the encouragement that they can get.  And for those of us desiring to work in education, well, let's just say that it's a time of uncertainty.  In my teacher certification class, I see the anxiety on my fellow classmates' faces.  I try to encourage my new friends as best I can.  I think that the best thing for all of us to do is pray.

Many blessings,


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