Jesus said, “It is finished”.
I read John 19:30. “It is finished,” Jesus said. My emotions resonated with Jesus’ words. It 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, this school and my job finishing are not as significant as Jesus paying for our sins on the cross.
Meaning of It is finished
Tetelestai is the Greek word for “It is finished”. It is an accounting term meaning paid in full. Jesus said “It is finished” because he paid the full 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.
The decision was made to be finished
The announcement came in January 2020. The school would close in June. COVID-19 was not a factor in the closing. 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.
I was a part of the discussions to close the school ten years earlier. The school board chairman asked me to step in as principal for two to three years until we could secure someone else. As I considered the opportunity and what God wanted from me, I knew that was not enough time. My experience owning a business and in a start-up division of a large corporation told me so. Therefore, I knew I would need more than a few years to achieve whatever God wanted in this.
My simple reflections
Consequently, I committed ten years to the project. The first five would be to rebuild the school. The next five would be to see if it could sustain. 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.
Jesus said it is finished meant he would stop doing some good things
Honestly, COVID-19 forced me to get perspective and face it all. During the weeks at home and helping the teachers run their classes online, 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, taught, healed, or was able to have a human-to-human relationship with. There was so much more “Good” that could have been done before Jesus said, “It is finished”. 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 stayed focused on a bigger plan. A plan that I always do not know or fully understand. But I know its author is a potter that empties, fills, prunes, waters, and cares for His vessels. The potter knew best as it emptied Little Pot again and again. 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 God will give us new things if we are first emptied. In 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 relationships the most. It was working with amazing educators, doing ministry with gifted pastors, and partnering with parents to help students grow spiritually, socially, and academically that I value the most. That was fruit-bearing. As Tea Pot illustrates, fruit cannot be taken away. We use fruit. Then reproduce it again and again. It is never finished.