Something really cool happened this week.
A lot of my kids failed a quiz I gave them.
Before you classify me as a jerk teacher, let me explain that it wasn’t the failing of the quizzes that was so cool, but what happened as a result.
In fact, there were many times while grading the quizzes that I felt like I was going to burst into tears, find a way to curl myself under my desk and rock myself in the fetal position… which would no doubt make all of these silly grades go away.
Giving your students a bad grade is way harder than I ever thought it would be. If you ever thought your teachers enjoyed giving you a bad grade, I HIGHLY doubt it. It breaks a small part of my heart every time.
But there has been a common theme I’ve started to notice among the 7th grade class lately. They’ve been showing up to class with a “I just don’t understand Latin and I’m never going to” attitude. Even if they study their hearts out, they psyche themselves out right before and convince themselves that they really don’t know the information. It’s like someone showing up for swimming lessons and saying “I don’t know why you’re even teaching me – I can’t swim. I’m never going to be a swimmer. I’m awful at swimming. What’s the point?”
So I was sick of it.
Lately I’ve been encountering God and having convicting revelations while in the shower in the morning. Is this normal for anyone else? No? Cool.
I started realizing that my kids were literally speaking death over themselves before quizzes and tests. DEATH. And I couldn’t stand by and let it happen anymore.
So for my quiet time that morning, I wrote a teaching about prophesying over dry bones in Ezekiel 37. I’ll admit it, I was way more confident and fired up about it within the four walls of my bedroom, but I thought it’d be worth a shot to share it with my students. There was literally nothing to lose and everything to gain. The worst thing that could happen is that they think I’m crazy and well… I think they already do.
I sat my first class down and explained to them that we needed to have a heart-to-heart. Their eyes got big. I told them I wanted to read them a story about skeletons. So I read them Ezekiel 37:1-10 in the Message version –
1-2 God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.
3 He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Master God, only you know that.”
4 He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’”
5-6 God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”
7-8 I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.
9 He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”
10 So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.
They looked at me wide-eyed and silent. “That’s in the Bible!?” one said. “THAT WOULD BE SO WEIRD!” said another as I explained how these dead bones came to life in an instant, simply because of the declaration “Live!”
I told them that when they invite Jesus to be the Lord of the life, then the Spirit of God comes and lives inside of them. And then they have the power to call things that are dead as if they were alive. That’s what prophesy is – calling things that aren’t yet as if they were.
I explained how every word they speak over themselves is either speaking life or death. And that when they say they’re stupid, they’re prophesying death over themselves. They have a choice to speak life instead of death.
Then we had a little “defense against the dark arts” training (Yes, I know it’s Harry Potter, but come on how prophetic is that?! Training against attacks from darkness?? YES.) Anyways, I told them that the thing about speaking life over dead places is that it makes Satan really mad because he hates when we walk in life and not death. “If you get a bad grade back, you might start having these thoughts of ‘I’m stupid. Miss Gilliam hates me. I suck at Latin.’ and those are all lies. And you have a choice if you want to agree with them and give Satan power or if you want to speak life and truth over yourself and give God power. Because all power belongs to God, so the only power Satan can have is when we agree with lies that he tells us.”
Every single one of my students is staring at me, completely silent. If I could only explain to you how rare that is for a 7th grade class…
I encouraged them to speak life and prophesy over each other. “Some of you might have done well on this quiz. You might see one of your friends getting upset because they didn’t do well on it. You have the power inside of you to speak life into them too!”
Then I handed back the quizzes. Again, total silence in the room. (This reaction was the EXACT same for ALL THREE of my classes).
I was nervous that I had just totally freaked them out.
Then I heard it.
One of my boys mutters, “Jeez, I suck at Latin.”
Then one of my girls, without hesitating a second, goes “HEY! You’re not dry bones!”
And then my heart exploded and I wept.