Preparing the Way

Written by Dawn Boling

“Whose crazy idea was it to put the alphabet in math? I have enough trouble with just the numbers!” said one of my students in 7th grade math class.  I have the challenge of trying to transition these 12 year old brains from general math into Algebra, and that is not an easy task.  Students generally understand why 2+2=4; that makes sense.  But then when you throw in those x’s and y’s, many begin to get quite confused and frustrated.  “Why do we need to know this?” is the comment I often hear.  It’s difficult to give them an answer to this question that will satisfy them.  

My response?  “You can’t see the future; you can’t yet be sure what you will be doing as an adult.  My job as your math teacher is to help you become prepared for any path that you may take.”  I remember having those similar feelings as a child when I first learned Algebra, and maybe you can relate too.   

One of the ways I introduce Algebra is by showing my students a clip from the movie The Karate Kid.  Mr. Miyagi (the karate sensei) is teaching his student (Danny Larusso) the techniques of Okinawan Karate to help him defend himself from bullies at his school.  During his first few sessions, Mr. Miyagi had him use specific methods to wash his car, paint his fence, and sand his deck.  Of course Danny is extremely frustrated because he just wanted to learn karate, not do this man’s chores.  However, after completing all of these chores, which took a couple of days with aching repetitive work, Mr. Miyagi demonstrated how these methods of repetitive work had actually built muscle memory that developed innate karate skills in Danny.  He was quite amazed and continued to come back for more lessons.  By the end of the movie (Don’t read this next sentence if you don’t want a spoiler alert!!) Danny wins the local karate championship.   

Just as John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, and I try to prepare the way for my students’ journeys to high school and beyond, and Mr. Miyagi prepared the way for Danny’s karate success, Jesus is always preparing the way for our path as well.  So many things he asks us to do may seem to have little meaning or purpose at the time.  But Jesus knows what is down the road for us, and He also knows what we will need when we get there.

He asks us daily to build our spiritual muscles by spending time with Him in prayer, reading His word and telling others about Him.  He is preparing us for the plan that He has for our lives; the plan He has had for us since the beginning.  

God gave us His Word to prepare our way.   He gave us the Bible to teach us who He is, and He gave us Jesus, to be our example. And not only does He prepare our way, but he provides everything we need along the way.  [2 Peter 1:3 God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and for godliness.]

And where does this “way” lead?  To a place better than meeting John the Baptist at the Jordan River.  To a place better than finally understanding algebra. To a place better than the winner’s platform at the championship karate tournament.   Following Jesus’ path leads us to an eternal life with Him in heaven. Even when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, know that it is there.  Jesus is the light [John 8:12], and He is always there [Matthew 28:20].  Everything He asks us to do helps keep us on that path; the path that leads to eternity with Him.  

So when you can see how Jesus’ way makes sense, when it is as clear as 2+2=4, rejoice in that.  And when you start feeling like life’s x’s and y’s are being thrown in with your numbers, and it just doesn’t make any sense, you can trust that Jesus will walk with you and continue to lead you in the right direction. [Isaiah 55:8-9 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.] Keep reading His word, keep praying, keep listening, and keep following.  It is much easier to see where we’ve been and where we are than where we are going, but Jesus has that under control. 

We all weren’t meant to be John the Baptist, karate champions, or Algebra experts, but we were all created with and for a purpose.  The only way to be prepared for our purpose is to follow the One who created us.  Even if we don’t know where we are going, He still knows the way! 

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1


Oh, and in case you were wondering, it was Francois Viete (in the 1500’s) who is credited with first using letters in math.  Although I doubt you were actually wondering.


2 Responses to “Preparing the Way”

  1. Jenell Jacks says:

    Thanks Dawn. Loved the analogies. And I actually wondered who started the letters in math. Thanks for that too!

  2. Holly says:

    Dawn. Thank you for sharing part of your story. Your witness is so needed at Floyd Central, thanks for stepping up and making a difference in these kids lives.
    Blessings to you, and your family, Holly

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