I just finished the hardest season of my teaching career. As soon as I hit the 10th anniversary of my teaching on the collegiate level, Belhaven University decided to fill my schedule with classes. I’ve taught around 26 of the past 27 weeks. One particular 4-week stretch saw me in the classroom three times each week. Most recently, I taught two classes for the past five weeks, one of which was in Dalton, GA (about an hour and twenty minutes from home). You can imagine how nice it is to finally have a breather. I will not be in the classroom for another two weeks, and only then to substitute in New Testament history. And then we head to the beach. Without a doubt, I am very much looking forward to some time to unwind. I plan to take long walks on the beach, hang out with the family, study God’s Word and watch sports.
As I think back over the past ten years, I feel fatigue over how much effort I’ve had to put forth in order to provide for my family. Entering into my forties, I knew that the next twenty years or so would require maximum effort. I realized that I had reached the genuinely productive period of my life. The fact that I found myself busy did not surprise me. What I was not expecting was how exhausted I would feel ten years into the twenty year marathon. I suppose I am finally feeling my age. But now halfway through this period and with a house full of kids, I find myself extremely grateful for a full-time job and the part-time job, both of which I enjoy. While I wish I didn’t have to work as many hours as I often do in a week, I am thankful for the opportunities as well as for the health God allows me to experience. Even though I am tired from a rather physically challenging year, I remain committed to doing what I can to meet the needs of our family and to provide some of our wants–like our upcoming respite at the beach.
This week the city of Charlotte, NC erupted. Yet another black man was shot by police (this time it was a black officer who fired). Within hours, chaos ensued. We’ve seen these disturbing events unfold in several cities across our nation over the past few years. There is some legitimacy to the anger within the African-American community.* However, I am also aware that there are far too many unemployed young black men in our cities. These individuals are usually the agents through which the violent retaliation takes place (killing or injuring police, destroying personal and public property, theft, etc.).** What every young black man needs is the same as what every man needs–a job. Men are created by God to work (on a boat or in a field or at an office). Woven into the fabric of a man’s psyche is the knowledge that he is meant to be productive. Too much time on a man’s hands is a dangerous thing indeed.
Well, I cannot fix the ailments of the inner city any more than I can do so for my next door neighbor. In fact, I can’t even fix my own issues! But what I can do, I will do. I will work. Unless circumstances or God prevents me, I’ll be back in the office in the morning serving our clients. When I am offered another class, I’ll agree to teach. Right now, it’s the right thing for me to do and knowing that makes all the difference in the world.
*Did you see the video of the shooting of the black man in Tulsa? I just shook my head, marveling at how that incident could happen and why–IF a shot had to be fired–a leg or rear end wasn’t the target in order to take the suspect down. I am being very vulnerable when I admit that I am glad that I am not a black man in our nation because I would not want to live under the cloud that I am presumed guilty rather than innocent regardless of the accusation (and, please know, I am very pro-law enforcement).
**I am aware that inner city protests and riots and the “Black Lives Matter” movement isn’t wholly comprised of African-American men. Several races and members of both genders can be found present, but the particularly destructive and/or violent events are caused predominantly by black men, most of whom are young and without full-time jobs.