Emptied Again.

In John 19:30, Jesus announced, “It is finished”.

On June 5, 2020, as I read John 19:30, the verse resonated with my emotions. That day was my last day as the principal of a school where I had worked for ten years. The school had existed for 51 years and was closing its door permanently. Obviously, me verbalizing that this school and my job being finished was nothing as significant as when Jesus said it as the payment for our sins on the cross. In the Bible, the Greek word translated “it is finished” is tetelestai, an accounting term meaning paid in full. When Jesus said it, He was paying the debt of our sins. His work on earth was complete. He did what He came to do, and that work was the greatest gift ever. So please forgive me for using such a significant event as a connection to finishing my career as the principal of Central Christian Academy. I am going to be bold enough to connect the events only because I believe God was letting me know that He understood what I was feeling that morning.

I have been wanting to write this blog for several months. Many people have asked me to share my thoughts about the closing of a school that I had given everything to for the past ten years. But, honestly, I struggled to put into words my feelings about it all. It was the last week of January before COVID-19 was ever a thing that the decision was made. It was a decision that did not surprise me. What many people do not know is that ten years ago, the school struggled much the same way it had during the past three years. Ten years ago, I was involved in discussions about closing the school. It was through those discussions that I was asked to take the role of principal for just two to three years until we could secure someone else. As I considered the opportunity and what God wanted from me, I knew that two to three years was not enough time. I had run my own business and been involved in enough start-up divisions of larger corporations to know that I would need more than a few years to achieve whatever God wanted from me in this. Back in 2010, I committed ten years to the project. The first five would be used to rebuild the school and the next five would be to see if it could sustain itself. From a business standpoint, the first six to seven years were a great success. The school doubled its enrollment and earned the highest marks from accrediting institutions. From a ministry standpoint, it continually provided opportunities where I was able to impact people with the love of Jesus. Through our new curriculum model and methods, we saw children, parents, and teachers grow spiritually each year. During the past three to four years as the school’s financial needs grew, it was the ministry aspect that kept me fighting to keep the school open. Only God knows the many sleepless nights and the tears that I shed. My inability to give up and let go of the assignment and task He had given me was daunting.

Honestly, COVID-19 forced me to get perspective and face it all. During the weeks at home and helping the teachers run their classes on-line, I got a clearer mindset as to what God needed from me. As I thought about Jesus ending his ministry on earth, I thought about the many people that He never met, or taught, or healed, or was able to have a human-to-human relationship with. There was so much more “Good” He could have done before He went to the cross. However, it was not what His heavenly father wanted him to do. He submitted to His Father’s will and went to the cross. He set aside His own immediate needs and the immediate needs of the people around Him. A much bigger plan was in place.

So, as I removed years of work from computer files, loaded a dumpster with classroom creations, and said goodbye to teachers and students, I tried to stay focused on a bigger plan. A plan that I still do not know or fully understand. But a plan that I am completely submitted to because I know its author is a potter that empties, fills, prunes, waters, and cares for His vessels. As Little Pot is emptied again and again in the story, it realizes that the potter knows what is best. Only through the emptying and pruning can the vessels make room for new growth. Like Little Pot, I seem to have things in my life dumped out often. Maybe it is because I hold on too tightly or value them too much. But I know that it is only when we are emptied that we make room for God to give us new things. The past ten years there was a lot to fill me with. Anyone who has done the job of a principal knows the exhausting responsibilities that go with the job. Of all the things I cherish the relationships the most. It was working with amazing educators, doing ministry with gifted pastors, and being real with parents as we partnered together to help students grow spiritually, socially, and academically that I value the most. That was fruit-bearing. And as the story of Tea Pot illustrates, fruit cannot be taken away. It is used and able to be reproduced again and again. It is never finished.

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