October 29, 2013

Journeys With Jesus

It was a typical day at school. I was halfway through my morning’s work of teaching piano—halfway through listening to scales, finger exercises, hymns, and gospel songs, reading chord charts, and teaching improvisation. Some students had practiced hard, and some hadn’t. Some kids were incredibly gifted, and some made up for that lack by diligence and perseverance. The morning had gone well—nothing earth-shattering, just the normal routine of daily life.

I stepped out of the music room into the hallway to find my next student, little knowing that my morning was about to change.

The teacher had just dismissed her multigrade class for recess, and I paused to watch the exodus. Children ran down the hallway, eager to get to the gym for playtime. Their voices rose as they laughed and argued, as kids everywhere do. I smiled as little girls joined hands to play jump rope, while the boys started shooting baskets in a corner. What a joy to have freedom from classes for a moment. Doesn’t every child love recess? (Doesn’t every teacher love recess?)

As I turned to enter the classroom, the moment happened. Just as I reached for the door handle, the door opened suddenly, and I found myself looking down at a very cute little guy. Navy-blue pants and a light-blue polo. A short, almost buzzed, cut of blond hair. He was our only first grader this year.

“Good morning, James.* How are you?” My question came out almost automatically. Rhetorically. I smiled at him and turned to enter the classroom. 

His response stopped me in my tracks. “Hi, Miss Jill. How is your day going today?”

Had I just heard right? Had a little boy—a first grader—actually asked about my day? I let go of the handle and allowed the door to shut behind me. We were alone in the hallway. Oh, there was lots of commotion, but we were somehow shut in—he and I—in this moment of time. I stooped down and looked into his brown eyes. “Thanks for asking, James! My day is going very well—especially now. How about you?”

The moment had almost passed for him. He was already reaching into his locker for his midmorning snack. “Oh, it’s going really good.” He pulled out his lunch box. 

Still blown away by his interest in others, by his unselfishness, I tried again. “And what’s made your day so good, James?”

He grinned as he munched on some crackers, crumbs on his fingers and around his mouth. “That’s easy. I have food right here to eat, and I have two good friends.”

Food and friends. That’s a pretty good combination, I thought as he ran off to play. But in reality he had much more than that. Oh, he had a good home, good parents and siblings; but somehow I sensed that wasn’t all. His was an unselfish heart. A caring heart. A heart that thought of others even though he was only 6 years old.

As I entered the music room with my next student, the day seemed different. Brighter somehow. All through the rest of the morning I pondered the sermon I had seen—lived out through the life of a child. What was God, through this experience, calling me to do? Was He asking me to “get out of myself”? Yes. Would my worldview change if I lived each day speaking an encouraging word, seeking to lift up my sister or brother, searching for ways to bless others? Absolutely.

Wasn’t this our gospel commission: Go, therefore, and teach and love others; preach and show Jesus; baptize and live His life (see Matt. 28:19, 20)?

It’s a calling He’s placed on my heart. What about yours? n

* not his real name