ARE YOU IN YOUR MACARONI?
I teach middle school students with moderate to severe disabilities. Add a couple of students with behavior issues, and my days are full! Soon after the beginning of the new school year, my special education director knocked at my door. “Be prepared,” she said. “You are probably going to be getting a new student.” I was not surprised, and more than a little excited. I love challenges, especially when they involve children. I had already heard about the issues “Ralph” was having in the general education classrooms. An observation one morning verified what I had heard.
And so he arrived. Like a turtle, he tucked his head into his jacket. “No!” he protested as he was led into my classroom. I purposely ignored him for a few minutes as he threw furtive glances around the room. I knew that he had been a “runner” (one who bolts from the classroom), and that he craved constant movement. He certainly didn’t like sitting at a desk at school. Therefore, I had prepared his own space.
With duct tape embellished with pictures of macaroni, I taped off a section of the classroom next to one of our tables. Inside the square, I placed an individual student desk. Taking Ralph’s hand, I walked with him to the taped section of the room. “This is your space,” I told him. “You have a desk, but you don’t have to sit. However, you do have to stay in your macaroni.”
He tested me. One foot over. “Stay in your macaroni,” I reminded him. He stretched out on the floor, and looked questioningly at me. “As long as you’re in your macaroni, you may lie on the floor,” I stated calmly. He scooted his desk away from me to the corner of the taped-off area. “That’s fine,” I said. “You are still in your macaroni.”
He jumped. He hopped. He occasionally rolled on the floor. But he stayed in his macaroni. He had the freedom he craved within his macaroni space!
That’s how it is with us and God. God sets boundaries for us, not to punish us, but to protect us. Boundaries are for our benefit. If we accept them, there is freedom within those boundaries. If we stray outside those boundaries, God brings us back. We read the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15. The shepherd searched for the one sheep who had strayed from its boundary, found it, and brought it back safely to the fold. That’s what boundaries do for us!
Ralph has become very possessive of his macaroni. Yesterday, a co-worker came into my classroom. She walked over and gave me a hug. Unfortunately, she was a bit too close to Ralph’s macaroni line. Pushing himself between the two of us, he proclaimed, “Move! You’re in my territory!”
Out of the mouths of babes… Should we not say the same to Satan and temptation? Our territory is in Christ. Satan cannot come into our territory unless we allow it. James 4:7 says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” We submit to God when we stay within the boundaries God has set for us. We resist the devil when we affirm that he has no place in our territory.
Are you in your macaroni? Have you strayed away? If so, be assured that Jesus is looking for you, drawing you back into the safety of your boundaries. Protect your territory! Stay in the safety of your macaroni!