Career changes are common over time. Many of us have several different jobs in our lifetimes. Often, our current occupation is preparation for what will come next. So lately, I have been asking myself this question, “What skills am I acquiring at my current job?” and “What kind of a job will these new skills equip me to do and do well?” One possibility was really a surprise to me. I had never desired nor contemplated this particular line of work, but upon reflection, I realize that every day as a substitute teacher I utilize the skills necessary for this new career choice available to me. This other job probably pays better and would be no more dangerous than what I encounter on a daily basis now. It might even involve less conflict and intrigue than I currently experience everyday as a sub.
Let me explain. I work in a high school so the students attend at least five different classes during the school day. Each student has a schedule telling them which class they are to attend in which room, and the period of the day that they are to be in that class. I, as the substitute for the day, receive a roster for each class that will be meeting in my room that day. This class list includes students’ full names and their grade level. Part of my job is to take accurate attendance. This is important because state law says students must be present a certain number of days in the school year in order to pass their classes. Attendance would seem to be the easiest, rote, routine, most mundane of all my responsibilities as a sub. However, as it turns out, it is anything but – it turns out to be quite the challenging task.
Here’s why. When students realize there is a sub in a particular class, they see this as a golden opportunity to skip their own class and attend class with a friend where they can kick back and enjoy a little food and a little fun. They feel they can get away with this because the sub doesn’t know their true identity and they can use a fake name. And so the game begins! I call names and when finished with the roster I often have more people in the room than those just counted present. Upon inquiring of those “extra” students who they might be, I get various responses. Some say they are new today, and I should add their name to the attendance roster. Or if not new to the school, they tell me they just had a schedule change and this is their new class. (of course they don’t have a paper copy of that “new” schedule with them for verification – printer broken, system down etc.) Some say they want to look at the roster so they can “show” me their name on the list. This is the most popular ploy by far. I always find it concerning that they don’t know their name until they look at a list of names. (obviously the intent is to choose a name from the roster of a student who is currently absent) This works well until the absent student shows up for class.
You see, often, a student will know of a friend who is absent and belongs in the class they wish to crash, so they will respond to that student’s name when attendance is called. But just as often, later in the class period the “real” student whose name they have usurped, who belongs in the class, will walk in, giving me their name, of course, for attendance and it is then that I see I have already marked them present and the imposter is exposed! Then the games take an interesting turn. Either the imposter runs from the room or the late arrival, realizing they have exposed the deception of their classmate, backtracks, saying they were just playing around by giving me the first name and that they are really – and they come up with yet another name. When asked for student ID, it is always conveniently left at home. And so the intrigue continues until someone “cracks” and admits they are not who they claimed to be and the classroom is emptied of all who do not belong there because their names are not on the approved list.
Are you now thinking what I’m thinking about my next career move? Do you see it too? I am doing the job of a bouncer, aren’t I? I mean the similarities are numerous. I let “approved” individuals in and keep out anyone not on the list. The list in one case is those legitimately enrolled in the class, or in the latter case, those invited to a special place or event – the beautiful people. Either way, the job description is the same – let some people in and keep other people out. You work from a list and the list is law. The list determines who gets in and who is denied entrance and turned away. It’s all about getting your name on that list if you want to be allowed in.
Now granted, all I know about bouncers I have learned from what I’ve seen in movies or on TV. I have no real life experience going to places that are so exclusive that bouncers bearing lists are necessary because everyone wants to go there but not everyone is on the “approved” list for admission to such a place. Also, the bouncers I see on the screen all look like they are former NFL players or ex Marines or MMA fighters and such. So physically, I don’t quite fit the profile of a bouncer. Still, I like to think I have keen powers of discernment, allowing me to spot those imposters, pretending to be someone on the list, when in reality they are not that person whose identity they are stealing. However, I don’t know if my skill as an imposter spotter will make up for what I lack in physical intimidation?
So not sure whether I will be making that career move from substitute teacher to professional bouncer anytime soon but subbing is definitely giving me lots of practice at honing my bouncer skills. I work from a list and I stick to the list. No one gets to stay in the classroom if their name is not on my list. As I said earlier, it’s all about getting your name on the list if you want to be allowed in. Which makes me think of a place most people say they want to go one day but they wonder whether their name will be on the list when their time comes. The place is heaven and the list is found in “the Lamb’s book of life.”
This list differs from the lists used by bouncers at exclusive clubs, in that everyone is extended an invitation to this heavenly destination. Anyone can get their name added to the list by RSVPing to God’s invitation. No one is excluded. The invitation is extended to all. Yet how many times have I received an invitation to an event and neglected to respond until after it was too late? If I haven’t responded by the deadline, my name is not put on that list. If I show up, I will be turned away because my name is not on the list and the bouncer doesn’t know me or know that I was once invited to be on the “approved” list. The bouncer cannot be bribed and I am not admitted in to join the others and celebrate with them.
So who gets to enter Heaven? Revelation 21:27 gives us some guidance on this saying,
“Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Revelation 20:12-15 gives an account of how this plays out –
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. . . . If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Jesus told His followers, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)
Indeed our names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life from the very beginning because we have always been invited, included and put on His list. King David acknowledged this when he said,
“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)
The only way my name gets taken off the list is if I don’t respond to the invitation, if I don’t RSVP saying “yes, count me in! I will start preparing now for this great event to come.” – or if I turn my back on the One who issued the invitation and pursue other things, my name will be deleted from the list, from the Lamb’s book of life. God does not wish that anyone should refuse His gracious, eternal invitation.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter:3:9)
My Heavenly Father keeps the RSVP option open for me and for you till our very last breath, dear readers. Remember the thief on the cross next to Jesus? He had a last breath conversation with Jesus which went like this –
“Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.’ ” (Luke 23:42-43)
The thief’s last minute RSVP was accepted. He responded to the invitation and his name remained on the list kept in the book of life. And of all the lists for all the parties, this is the list that matters most in the end. Actually, it is the only list that matters. When I face heaven’s bouncers (aka list keepers) what assurance do I have that they will find my name in the book of life? 2 Timothy 1:12 says it best –
“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.”
Jesus is keeping my RSVP secure in His book of life, no bouncer will turn me away. I can rest secure in the knowledge I will be let into God’s kingdom when the time comes.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’ ” (Matthew 25:34)
sincerely, Grace Day