For the most part, teaching Elementary PE really is all fun and games. But there is a moment in every class that I dread. It comes after the warm-up and stretch, after I’ve blown the whistle to sit and listen, after all the game instructions have been given.
The dread is enough to cause a pause as I reconsider what I’m about to do, as I wonder if there is any way to avoid it. In the end, I take a deep breath and jump in with both feet.
“Are there any questions?,” I hesitate to say.
Much like puppet shows and Karaoke; question and answer time is to be endured not enjoyed. But I am getting better at it. Halfway through my second year of teaching, I know what to expect when those little hands shoot into the air. The nature of the questions never change . . . nor do the questioners.
The “exhibitionists” always get their hands up first. They appreciate the open forum to express how much they “love this game” (funny because I made it up like ten minutes ago), to assure the entire class of their athletic abilities, and knowingly ask how many goals they will be allowed to score before I (like always) make them pass to someone else.
Quick to counter the “exhibitionists” are the “evaders.” These are the kids who don’t exactly love PE. They usually just ask to go to the bathroom.
The “Pharisees” always ask rhetorical questions. ” . . .And when we’re tagging we shouldn’t punch each other in the face, right?”
The “patronizers” are more interested in scoring points with me than in the game. They open with “Miss Olivia, you’re really pretty,” and close with, “can I pick up the cones when the game is over?”
The “aliens” were on another planet during the directions and usually ask for already given information. Assuming they even remember their question when I call on them.
My favorite, though, are the “worst case scenario” kids. These are the kids whose imaginations take me places I didn’t even know existed. “What if I kick the ball so hard that it goes over the fence and hits a bird in the tree and the bird dies and falls out of the tree and hits the window of that house and breaks the window and lands in the house where there is a cat who eats it and the mom who lives there gets really mad . . . will you give me another ball, or will I have to climb the fence to get that one?”
I call on those kids last. They are the perfect lead in to the words that conclude every question and answer session. “Let’s just play,” I say, “and we’ll work it out as we go.”
Every day, the game is laid out before us. We face anticipation, decisions, tragedies, and triumphs. There is also a moment when we face God’s silence. It is as though He has given direction and then invited questions. He is not speaking, but allowing us to seek.
It is then that we bring our skills, plead to escape the difficulties, remind God of our virtues, hope to earn points by reminding Him of how great He is. And if God stays silent long enough, we surely find ourselves entertaining the worst thoughts possible.
If we stop and listen, I think we will hear Him say. “Let’s just play.”
Faith is an action. It walks, moves mountains, lives, makes whole, heals, is seen, and brings an understanding.
Life is full of things we don’t understand, questions we have, rules that seem unfair. Our questions are not answered in a forum, but in living. Hebrews 11 lists men and women who “by faith” did great things. Men and women who saw the game and chose to play. They offered better sacrifices, saved nations, brought down walls.
We may not fully comprehend the game that God has prepared for us, and He does not condemn our questions. His silence is our opportunity to lay it all on the table and then choose to play. Holding tight to the promise that He is faithful — even when the ball goes over the fence.