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Superintendent's Corner: Mr Jeremy Tinsley

The Heart of Jesus

Many years ago I taught a student in grade 1 who would have loud and dramatic meltdowns that included lying on the floor kicking and screaming, with arms flailing about wildly.  This would go on for several minutes, all too frequently.

I sometimes wondered why the student was in my class and why I was the teacher who had to “deal with him” each day.  ‘This kid shouldn’t even be here, should he?’ I thought, ‘Look at the stress he is causing me!’ I was frustrated. My response was too me-focused, rather than wondering what was going on in the life of this boy that would cause him to act this way. 

I learned that the boy’s English level was very low - English was his second or third language - I eventually learned that his meltdowns were a response to frustration and exasperation. He didn’t want to cause issues in class, but he didn’t know of any other way to communicate. Perhaps there were deeper issues in his life that I didn’t know about. 

He and I eventually figured out a system of communication that didn’t rely heavily on spoken language, but rather on body language and a picture of a stop-light that I hung up in the class. My raised eyebrow (learned from my wonderful mother!) and my finger pointing at the “Yellow” light was a warning that he understood and resulted in him quickly correcting potentially problematic behaviour.  He and I started to trust one another, the meltdowns steadily reduced, and we both learned from each other. 

Helping that student move closer to a place of flourishing was one of the most rewarding (and difficult) moments of my teaching career.  He taught me about my own areas for growth, while also causing me to reflect on the attributes of the heart of Jesus. 

I believe that Jesus' description of his own heart impacts the question of who we serve at VCS. Christ speaks to his own heart in Matthew 18:28-30. 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

For I am gentle and lowly in heart."

Dane Ortlund, author of Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, unpacks this passage like this:  Christ’s heart is tender, open, welcoming, accommodating, understanding, humble, and willing. 

Ortlund says that the Christian life is “inescapably one of toil and labour.” Christ isn’t saying that life will be easy in the way society thinks of the easy life.  Rather, through the toils and struggles of life Jesus continually “lives in our place of need,” not just meeting us there, “but living there with us.” We are carried along in life by his “endless gentleness and supremely accessible lowliness.” 

The word “easy” in this passage - my yoke is easy - may be better understood as “kindness” as also referenced in Ephesians 4:32 and Romans 2:4. His yoke is a yoke of kindness.

May we be a community that models the heart of Jesus to those we serve, whether flourishing or not yet. The toil of this work is worth it. Jesus did the same for us.