Those of you who have been around me for any length of time, know I am a teacher by the call of God. In my many years of teaching, I have had far more joys than sorrows in helping students grow as people and learners. Because I teach in the area of learning disabilities, I often work with students who see themselves as less than their peers, as outsiders. One such kiddo I'll call Billy, for now. Billy came to me in the fifth grade barely able to read and less able to write. In fact, when I asked him to write a paragraph, after telling me he couldn't, he asked that age old question students ask, "How long does it have to be?" I told him, "How about five sentences?" So Billy set to work, and when he was finished, he had written:
1. i love cats
2. i love cats
3. i love cats
4. i love cats
5. i love cats
Now, obviously, at that point Billy was correct when he said couldn't write a paragraph. He could, however, display a certain amount of courage. After I tested him and told him between his hard work and the gifts God had given me, he was going to learn this year, he asked me to call him John. John, it turned out was his actual first name, Billy his middle name. So despite the fact that everyone else associated with him, including his own mother, called him Billy, from that day on, I referred to him, to one and all, as John. Perhaps he felt fifth grade was going to be a turning point for him if he had a teacher who could look him in the eye and tell him he was going to learn. Or perhaps, it had nothing to do with it. But for some reason, that name change was important to Billy, and so he was John to me.
How others see us, and more importantly how we see ourselves, can have a huge impact on our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Peter was a disciple of Jesus who had blundered head long into problems and rash decisions in their three years together. Yet Jesus chose him to be the leader of his followers after his death. Upon first meeting Peter who was then called Simon, Jesus said to him, "You are Simon, the son of John. You will be called Cephas," which meant Peter. (John 1:42) Later Jesus said, "You are Petras (Rock) and upon this rock, I will build my church." (Matthew 16: 18) Jesus saw something in Peter from the start that Peter couldn't yet see in himself. Peter went on to do mighty things in leading the disciples after Jesus was crucified, rose, and ascended into heaven. Peter bravely took the gospel to many parts of the world and gave his own life for it. When Jesus first met Simon/Peter/Petras, he was a simple fishermen. Who knew besides God what amazing things Peter would go on to do after meeting Jesus, face to face and heart to heart?
Need another example of a changed man in the bible? Check out Saul who was a leader in the move to persecute and exterminate Christians. His encounter on the Damascus Road lead to temporary blindness, and ultimately the change of his name to Paul and his occupation from leader of the persecutors to head evangelist and the writer of 32% of the New Testament.
How about you? Do you see yourself as a blunderer like Simon Peter? A hater like Saul? Or an outsider like Billy/John? Perhaps other negative terms come to your mind when you consider the choices you have made, the roads you've taken, and the messes that have resulted. Perhaps you think you will never amount to anything and that it is too late. Remember this, God says you are His precious child and that He will never leave you or forsake you. God says you are wonderfully made and that He alone know the plans He has for you. God says He stands at the door and knocks, if anyone hears His voice and opens the door, He will come in to him. ANYONE.
God can make your crooked path straight and make you into a new man or woman. God's message is one of hope and new life for you. The first step is to call upon Him. Ask him to forgive your sins and come live in you. Today is the perfect day to make it happen. When that happens, you get a new name--Child of God. Together you and God can take the broken pieces and create the hope of a new future.
And what about Billy/John who you met at the beginning of this piece? To be honest, I do not know where he is today or what he is doing. But I can tell you, that year he learned to write a real paragraph telling a real story. And with that success, his confidence in himself as a learner grew. If a simple teacher like me can help bring change into a student's life, how much more hope for an amazing future can you have when you say yes to following Jesus? When you choose to do this, I'd love to know; why not email me at:
© 2014 LCA
Sometimes life is just not how we want it to be. We ourselves make choices we wish we hadn't that lead to consequences we wouldn't have chosen had we thought it through. Sometimes these are choices others have warned us against. Sometimes that someone was even GOD. Or we truly do have an unfair thing happen to us. Like the ten year old who gets cancer, or a child who is abused and left for dead by adults in his world like Victor Marx, or a baby born with no arms and legs like Nick Vujicic. The difference between those who succeed in such circumstances and those who don't is that they hang on to hope. And if there is no hope, they create it.
Yesterday morning on my way to work, I witnessed a great example of hanging on and not giving up. As I started my car, I was busy thinking of the numerous things I would do when I got to work. When I noticed the dew on the windshield, I turned the wipers on as if on autopilot. Within seconds what I did not notice at all upon starting the car became abundantly clear. There, hanging on for dear life, was a bright green, two inch long insect that looked more like a Chinese peapod than a creature.
I had used the auto switch and so I fumbled to turn off the wipers. No luck. Slap, slap, swish, swish. The bug hung on as if on a crazy carnival ride. Finally, the wipers came to rest. I felt relief for the bug. I was in my neighborhood, so my speed was low. Yet what does 20 miles an hour feel like to a two inch being with spindly legs? Probably like a hurricane to us. Now I was out on the highway, easily at 45 or 50 miles an hour. That bug never spun off into the stratosphere, but rather dug in and hung on.
My ride is short, but had to feel endless to the bright green bug. But when I turned the engine off and walked away, the bug was there. And when I came out of the building eleven hours later, it was gone. It had lived to fly again.
And that's how it can be for us as well, if we don't give up, and we hang on. Hang on to hope. Hang on to our dignity. Hang on to God. He is an ever present help in times of trouble.
© 2014 LCA
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Sometimes what you'll find on this page will be original writings by one of your JDC team members. Other times it will be a writing one of us saw on the web or at our church and felt could help you like it did us.
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