One gift of a Monday with no school, thank you Mexican Independence Day, I met with a friend for a run on the beach. With the sun on our backs and the sand sliding into our shoes, the miles and conversation passed quickly. We arrived to our destination, catching our breaths in a shady area. The ocean was filled with surfboards and tourists, and we watched as joyous and shaky riders conquered waves and face planted into others. Yet always willing to paddle back out and try again.
I’m sure many messages have been and could be written about the connections between surfers and following Jesus. The unknown of the waters, the determination and ability to take risks…but, I’m not going to talk about those topics. For off to our other side were 5 men. Five men that had nets, simple clothes, and no shoes. Fishermen.
I’ve never had much interest in fishing. After seeing a hook get stuck in the palm of my big brother’s hand, I stayed away from the sport. If I’m honest, maybe I just don’t have the patience. Regardless of the reason, I had never really watched the process. I was mesmerized as the men worked together, casting out the net, pulling it in, each with his own purpose (one seemed to simply keep the others laughing).
We watched them pull in a big load, the birds loudly protesting from above, and my friend turned to me and made an unforgettable observation, “Just imagine Jesus walking up to these men and saying Follow Me.” And I realized that I had never truly paid attention to that part of Scripture. I always took for granted that of course they would follow Jesus. Of course, they would understand what was to take place by leaving everything to follow Him. But they didn’t.
So, I thought about what that meant for them to leave their nets. In Matthew 4:19 it says that Jesus simply states, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” He doesn’t say, “Don’t worry, you will always have enough to eat” or “With me you will see amazing things of God.” Jesus only says, “Follow me.” He doesn’t entice us with beautiful views, delicious food, or amazing coworkers. He just wants us to follow Him.
I will never forget a quote which states, “When you delay obedience, doubt and excuses creep in.” For the next verse says, “At once they left their nets and followed Him.” They were the first ones. They didn’t have the gift of seeing others already following Jesus. They didn’t read books about missionaries or watch inspirational movies. They heard His call and simply obeyed. And I think in many ways if God did show us His plans…well, in our humanness, we would freak out a little bit. So, in His graciousness, He shows us one step at a time. One day at a time. One moment at a time.
Sarah Quigg is serving her second year at our school in Mexico as the 5th-grade teacher. We are so blessed to have her on our team, and our students are INCREDIBLY blessed by her God-given talent for teaching and loving them so well.
All throughout school my English teachers have tried to broaden my vocabulary. “A lot is a piece of land, not a description of many things.” A dragon isn’t scary; it’s terrifying or frightening!” And the most common correction: “You will receive points off if I see the word GOOD on your paper.”
And so I journeyed through high school avoiding the word good like the plague. Excellent, magnificent, incredible, breathtaking. Those are words that add life to the blank page.
It all started back in elementary school (which is feeling farther away than ever these days). I was a typical, needing my sister’s approval, young girl and my Mom was taking us shopping for new birthday skirts. What seemed like hours later (I’ve never been a professional shopper), and thinking about the next chapter of my awaiting novel back at home, I finally pulled a skirt from the rack that just might be THE ONE. It had oranges, pinks, and reds all throughout a swirly pattern (if it sounds hideous…Well, it most certainly was). I was in love. I found the perfect complimentary shirt (imagine a tasty sherbert orange kind of color) and headed for the dressing room. It fit perfectly (due to the handy elastic band) and I boldly opened the door to show the world!
My sister took one look and said, “yeah, it looks good.”
Good? These colors looked amazing, stupendous, lovely. But good? I returned dejected. There is no way I could buy a skirt that was just…Good. (after some encouraging words only a Mom can give I ended up wearing that skirt for many years).
And so explains my aversion to the word good. Until I heard that song. That song that most of you have now running through your mind. That song that describes our amazing, merciful, trustworthy God as a GOOD GOOD FATHER.
That’s when I did something that many word lovers can relate to…I looked up the definition. Good: morally excellent, virtuous, righteous.
And then those lyrics made a little more sense. Actually, a lot more. Because nothing else in this world can be described as good. Humans most definitely shouldn’t be, as we fail continuously every day. Animals, nature or even a colorful skirt can be used for evil.
Then we catch a glimpse of the work of our good, good father. We see Him turn an evil act into bringing glory to His name. We see Him redeeming and refining His people every single day. And most importantly we see that in any situation: an unexpected death or sickness, a financial burden, or even just a hard day…Life can still be lived with joy because God is still GOOD.
Sarah Quigg graduated from Liberty University in 2015 with a B.S. in Special Education. She loves running and growing closer to God while exploring His creation! This is her second year teaching 5th grade at the Manantial School in Mexico.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of a teacher is, “one whose occupation is to instruct.”
I am here to tell you that after only three days as a teacher (most moments I still cannot believe I am actually a real live teacher now), I know for a fact that this definition barely scratches the surface of what being a teacher entails.
No amount of planning, college instruction, watching teacher movies, or hearing testimony, can prepare one for the moment when the first student enters your very own classroom for the first time.
Mine just happened to be the cutest little boy…who spoke no English. My first procedure was teaching my students to answer a Question of the Day when they first entered the room. So, with a perplexed look on his face, he followed my hand motion instructions to copy the question on his paper. After that task was complete, I tried to explain what the question, “What was your favorite summer moment?” meant…using the limited Spanish words in my vocabulary. His confused smile made me switch tactics and try to explain that he could just draw a picture instead. I pointed to the painting of a tree in the classroom and mimed drawing on his paper. He smiled and nodded, proceeding to draw a tree on his paper. My next three students all spoke only Spanish, and so they too copied the unknown words on the board…and drew trees on their papers. Hey, I love nature too. 🙂
A few unforgettable moments:
~A mischievous boy tried to grab the pencil case on the girl’s desk next to him, causing it to fall and scatter across the tiled floor. I looked at the mess, and responded with, “okay, let’s pick it up.” A boy stared at me and replied, “Miss Quigg, you have a very patient face.”
“Lord, help me choose patience in every moment with my students, so they might know you more.”
~As the class was lining up for lunch I looked back to see if everyone was lining up correctly and noticed busy hands writing, “I love Miss Quigg” on the white board.
“Lord, help every student see your love for them through my love for them.”
~After lunch I was at my tree position, monitoring the soccer being played. These kids could outplay most adults, the ability to move with the ball seeming to flow from their souls. The same mischievous boy, who has added much fun and challenge in the classroom, was trying to get the ball from one of his buddies. They were past the tree, which is no soccer territory, and I tried to explain using hand motions that they could not play over there. A few minutes later the ball was kicked past the tree again, and he ran to challenge the student who had arrived first. Then, as if sensing my eyes, he turned, flashed me a smile and walked back. It’s just the little victories sometimes.
“Lord, help me to focus on the good in every child.”
~We played a get to know you game: two teams with a sheet being held between as a barrier. One person from each team sat near the sheet, and as it dropped whoever said the other person’s name faster won the point. In one particular instance, a boy said four names before guessing the correct girl’s name on the other side. By the time the name was guessed every child was laughing with such a free abandon, I wanted to live in that moment forever.
“Lord, help me show the freedom in joy that can be experienced through a relationship with you.”
I love hearing “Miss Quigg” as it comes out sounding like, “Miss Quick,” or “Miss Queek,” or teacher, or maestra.
I love being told by a student that he told his Mom, “I can’t wait to go back to school tomorrow.”
I love being the one that my students run to when they need help.
I love having the responsibility and challenge to meet every student’s needs.
I love watching their natural and talented soccer skills after lunch.
I love sweaty hugs goodbye and Buenos Dias as they come into school.
I love knowing I am right where God wants me to be.
On Friday, I had never felt so emotionally drained, so physically exhausted (when do teachers sit down?!), and empty of all creativity. On Friday, I had never felt so overflowing with love, excited about seeing my students again, and filled with an unmistakable peace.
I know that I am young, naive about the amount of hard work and time-consuming labor that it takes to prepare each night, and lacking experience and wisdom in many situations. But, I will choose to remind myself why I am here, why these students were placed in my life, and the way God worked all things out for me to be in this place, in this moment in time, with these particular people.
Miss Quigg, 5th-grade teacher
More of Sarah’s thoughts and stories can be found at her personal blog, “How Missions Ruined My Life.”