November 15, 2013
Teachers Talk - Life’s GPS Still Directs Us
Arlene Belle, Teacher, Crawford Adventist Academy, Willowdale, ON

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are wonderful instruments on which we depend to take us to our varied destinations. We simply put in our intended destination, wait a few moments, and the path is mapped out for us. Despite having this instrument on our cars, it is not unusual from time to time to make the wrong turn or pass the intended destination. When this happens, the instrument does not nag or reprimand, but simply recalculates our new path from the current location. At times this means we need to make a u-turn, when it is safe to do so.
 
Our educational system is a partnership of  home, school, and church. Each partner has its unique role but the common goal is to prepare our students for this world and for the world to come. This is by no means an easy task. Despite our tutoring, prayers, counselling and yes, nagging, some of our students wander off the path that we intend them to take. It is at times like these that as partners we need to work together with the students to recalculate a new path for them to take.  At times making a u-turn from the current circumstances is not possible and getting back on track will be a long and painful experience. Nevertheless, a new path must be established.
 
Disappointment, discouragement, and loss of hope are some of the emotions that engulf us when our students refuse to follow the instruction of those who have travelled the path before and have clearly identified the dangers. We all have great dreams for our students; the potential for them to succeed is unlimited. In front of them is the map telling them where to go and what steps they should take to succeed in this life and in the life to come. It is at times like these that I reflect on Proverbs 22:6.  The New Living Translation says, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”  Wow!  Map out the path they should take. It’s a life time process, but it works.
 
It works, it really does. Over the years I have seen former students who left the school in less than ideal circumstances who have made choices that only brought pain and anguish to the church, school, and home, but who have listened to the still, small voice and have returned to the path. Some are pastors today, ministering to others.  Unfortunately, getting back onto the path can take time. It may leave bruises and scars, but the GPS continues to point to the final destination. Do I dare say that some who did not follow the GPS in their youth are ministering in our churches, teaching in our schools, and are proud parents today?
 
Who can forget the classic story of a typical youth who blatantly ignored the GPS instructions? The prodigal son made several turns off the beaten path, and ended up asking himself the reason why. But Proverbs 22:6 came back to mind and he got back on track.
As an educator, I will continue to lay out the path that my students should take. At times it may not be pleasant, for either the students or, at times, the parents, but remember, we are working for the long term, not for the here and now.  This is a partnership, a partnership in the best interest of students, so I am soliciting the support of  parents to keep our students on the right path.
 
One of the sweetest sounds from the GPS is to hear the words “YOUR DESTINATION IS JUST AHEAD”, and finally, “DESTINATION”. These are the words we want to hear from our Saviour’s  lips.