Wednesday, November 14, 2007

We Walk on Water

This is from a book called Bless My Growing, by Gerhard Frost, who was a pastor and teacher in the Lutheran Church. It was published in 1974, and has been out of print for a long time. I still find myself coming back to this and other books by one of my favorite authors, a man of faith and simplicity. The subtitle of the book is, by the way, for parents, teachers and others who learn.

"But I never feel prepared!"
It was at a winter retreat
that a student said it,
and he spoke with the anguish of deep sincerity.
I was pleased when a counselor replied,
"But we walk on water all the time."

It is well to be prepared,
but we dare not forget that we are never fully prepared
for the tasks that are most worth doing.
The tasks that are worthy of us, as persons,
are often beyond us.
This is true of the challenge
of teaching.

Perhaps there is no effort
which is as total,
or which makes one so vulnerable
as teaching.
He who attempts it reaches beyond himself
and senses that his best is not good enough.
Humbling as it is, this work must not
discourage us.

As Christians, we who teach
truly walk on water all the time.
It is frightening until one remembers --
remembers and listens --
for across the broad waters comes the Voice, saying,
"Fear not, it is I."

What about you? Do you ever feel unprepared? If so, when?


Gartenfische said...

I feel unprepared all the time. At the steering committee meetings I go to--when somebody says that we will now go around the table and share our vision and our wishes for the organization; at get-togethers, when someone asks, And what do you think? Etc.

I can't imagine being a teacher, I feel unprepared with just the day to day stuff.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I feel very unprepared to leave a pithy and enlightened comment here. Which is just about par for my days.

I've taught before, but it was improv which is very free and all you need know are the games and when to rotate so everyone has a turn.

"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...

Unprepared...happens mostly when I get pushed to give an answer before I am ready. As an introvert, I need times (sometimes days) to process best answers are usually past-due.

Wyldth1ng said...


One of the reasons I visit so often, so I can be more prepared.

RevDrKate said...

For class tomorrow...and it kind of bothers me that it isn't bothering me as much as perhaps it should. But it's just been that kind of a week.

mompriest said...

I work really hard to never be unprepared for all those things for which I know of in advance and can prepare for.... throws curve balls and the best laid plans require great flexibility and the ability to go easy on ourselves when we've done the best we can with what we have...

great reflection...I may have to copy that one for myself...

FranIAm said...

Feeling unprepared is a way of life for me. It is not as overwhelming today as it once was.

I really loved the words from that book!

Diane said...

I love that he says that the tasks that are most worthy of us are beyond us...I think that is true of many things

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

oh diane that piece was gooood... i'm just flying by the seat of my pants most of the time.

redheadrev said...

I never wanted to start preaching for this very reason!

I tagged you on my blog!

David said...

So often that it is scary. I tend to do things on the spur of the moment, so preparation is not a strong suit for me.

LET'S TALK said...

the tasks that are most worthy of us are beyond us... my question is why?

I think that I'm prepared sometimes, but it comes down to me adjusting to whatever life and puts in my path at every moment.

If you have the time, please take a trip over to Bob Clark's blog, he has a great real life story there.

steve said...

The really important areas of life are complex and dynamic -- always changing, always in a state of flux. It isn't possible, I think, to "prepare" for them -- at least not in the sense of "preparing" for a test.

LawAndGospel said...

The tasks that are worthy of us, as persons, are often beyond us. When do I feel unprepared? When I teach Sunday school, when I make a presentation in class; when I am in a new place and people think I know what I am doing, but I know I do not. When my children ask "big questions" that I did not expect and for which I am ill prepared. When I am talking to my friend with cancer who asks the clarifying questions. In all of these moments, when I seem to have nothing in my bag of tricks, and I have nothing of "me" that I can see, that is when God gives what is needed for that moment- the moment when I stop having faith in myself and listen to "Fear not."

Grandmère Mimi said...

Every single day. The unexpected really throws me sometimes. I persist in thinking things will go as planned.

lj said...

I absolutely love the line about the things worthy of us being beyond us. We are called to be so much more than we could ever possibly prepare for. God sees the biggest possibilities for us and we keep making our plans for our little taks.

leah sophia said...

wow, diane--really wonderful. this reminds me of one of my all time favorite books, gerhard frost's job: the color of the night. looks as if that'd be a good one for me to retrieve and post some quotes from. thanks!

The Unlikely Conversationalist: said...

I'm always unprepared. Even when I think I've covered every possible detail I realize that there's so much unsettled.
The hard part is trusting in the Spirit to guide through the unknown. It's not enough for me to be prepared; the bigger reality is that If God isn't there it doesn't matter if I'm prepared or not.

Diane said...

thank you everyone! I am in New York now, sitting down to a lasagne meal with friends! amazing to think we'll be back home tomorrow!

Barbara B. said...

looking forward to hearing about NYC!

FranIAm said...

It was great to meet you and John, which is chronicled a bit here.

Can't wait to hear all about the rest of the trip.

And how was the hotel?

Thanks for making time for me.