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Test all things; hold onto what is good.

(I Thessalonians 5:21)
Fire and High Stakes Testing (Part I)
It was raining gently when Francine walked outside and sat under the covered picnic
table in the school yard and set her Bible, journal, pen and lunch down on the table. Raised on
a working farm near Brenham, Texas, Francine always felt more at peace and at home when
outside in nature rather than when cooped up in a building.
It was Francines lunchtime and she opted to eat outside alone instead of with her third
grade teaching team. She had just completed the high stakes state testing of her students
earlier in the week. It was her first experience facilitating the state test. She couldnt believe all
the protocols used in the testing and consequences for violations. She couldnt believe she
wasnt supposed to read any student questions on the test. It made her think of hunting on the
farm without ever looking down the sights of the gun at the animal she hoped to shoot.
Francine had played four years of softball at Texas A&M as a pitcher at the highest collegiate level and in all her years of
athletics she had never experienced the stress she was placed under this rookie year of her teaching career. The year before she
arrived at McBride Elementary in Harlingen, Texas, the school had been designated as low performing. As a result, a new
principal had been hired and much supplemental work and documentation was required by all the teachers this year. Other than
her work, Francine felt like she had no life this school year and usually got home between seven and eight oclock at night. She
always worked on weekends.
Francine felt nauseous and had eaten little the previous two days of testing. As she sat at the picnic table alone, she
wondered if she would have an appetite. She decided to first confess to God and then open and read her Bible before eating.
Francine prayed aloud in a quiet whisper in the gentle rain, Lord, I confess the anxiety and fear I have experienced over
this last week and entire school year. Your word says, True love casts out fear. (I John 4:18) I truly love you more than my job
and I need you to cast this fear out now, today.
All the fear among the teachers and administrators of the school this year remind me of the wildfire we had on the farm
when I was a child. All the fears have jumped off onto me and I havent been able to put them out. I have not come to you to put
out this fire because I have been SO BUSY. My job has been more important than my relationship with You. I am sorry for this
and I repent.
I am here now. Please put out this anxiety fire with your true love. Lord I want to be like the three Hebrews who were
thrown into the fire yet did not burn because of their faith and trust in you (Daniel 3). Like them, please help me come out of this
fire unharmed and not even smelling like smoke. Replace my fear with faith, trust and hope. Please become the highest priority in
my professional life. In this fire of anxiety, I have lost the love for teaching You gave me. Please help me find it.
When she was done praying, as tears fell from her eyes, Francine randomly opened her Bible and found herself looking
at I Thessalonians 5:21, Test all things; hold onto what is good.
For the first time in three weeks, Francine began to laugh as she read the verse aloud. Only God would pick out a
scripture about testing for her to read after testing all week. She knew this was a year of God testing her love and faith in Him and
she hadnt scored very well on this test. As she laughed, the blazing fire, the accumulated anxiety of her first year of teaching,
was snuffed out instantly. Francine physically felt the anxiety leave and immediately thought of the scripture, The joy of the Lord
is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
All year long she had mistakenly believed that it was the perfection of her work and the work of her team, the exercise of
all the new programs and strategies she had been taught, which would improve test scores. She had sought them first instead of
the Lord and was well on her way to becoming a workaholic. She had many role models for this at the school. She had already
lost the initial joy and sense of calling that had first led her into teaching and she was unconsciously beginning to resent the time
her job was taking away from other needed areas of her life that brought her health and joy.
Francine then picked up her journal and began to write what she believed was Jesus response to her prayer. (To be
continued.)

Prayer: Jesus, we confess to you all of the fear and anxiety that we (students and staff) experience regarding high stakes
testing. Replace it with faith, hope and trust in You, not the work of our own hands.
Reflection: Have I been fearful or anxious regarding high stakes testing? What can I do to put out this fire?
Getting Real: Confess to the Lord your professional fears and the fears of students and other staff members. Ask Him for more
hope, faith and trust in Him instead of your own and others work.
CLASSROOM LIGHTHOUSE SERIES: Love Ladders Love Matters (For info or prayer contact ceaihouston@sbcglobal.net.) WEEK 24