Teenagers can be difficult to figure out and relate to. In general, they like to put on a suit of armor when it comes to interacting with their teachers or other authorities. But years of experience have taught me that it is just a suit that can be put on or taken off. Every now and then you can get a glimpse through that exterior shell into the gentle, vulnerable, human being made in the image of Christ.
One particular teenager, in addition to trying to survive high school, is also trying to survive her home life. Things at home aren’t good. And that’s about all that I know. I don’t know the details and I don’t need to. I can accurately assume that it involves drugs, alcohol, and abuse. Thus she is often absent and especially armored when she returns to school. And yet, I was privileged to see a chink in that armor in the form of a grateful, appreciative smile.
So far, I haven’t see much in the form of a relationship between this girl and I. Today, she returned to school after being absent for several days in a row. I ran into her in the restroom and as I walked past I offhandedly commented that I was glad she was back. I glanced over my shoulder and saw in the mirror, a definite smile break through her armor. She didn’t respond nor did she know I saw the smile. I can only thank the Lord for that glimpse into her heart.
She needs Jesus so much and there’s so much she doesn’t know. But hopefully, today she knew that she was missed and appreciated here at school. Prayerfully, she will know that the love she feels here comes from the Lord our Savior. I pray that someday she will come to know Him personally and know the worth that He provides. I don’t know what her future holds, but I know He loves her and He is Immanuel, God With Us. I trust her to His loving hands and I thank Him for her smile.
God works all things for good to those who love him. I’ve been thinking about this in regard to our playground. For years the health inspector had recommended that we replace our homemade playground fort with a commercial apparatus. I strongly resisted tearing down a perfectly good fort and spending the money for an updated playground. Finally, the inspector insisted. So about this time last year I bought a used apparatus on Ebay and went to NJ to get it. We have had to purchase some slides that were missing but the manufacturer also donated about $3,000 worth of equipment. In all we’ve spent over $10,000. We gave it a fresh coat of paint, installed it and it looks great. But the wonderful thing is how much the children enjoy it. I love sitting outside and watching 20 or so kids climbing, sliding and enjoying the new playground. They use the new one much more than the old fort I tried to hold onto. So, even though the inspection was a trial, it has in many ways made us make improvements that have benefited the school children.
We often get visitors showing up unexpectedly to our house. Last week that happened. A neighbor came, deeply depressed, head down, and in a monotone voice began to recount his woes–no job, no money, no vehicle, no purpose, totally dependent on others for his upkeep. In a word, HOPELESS!
Sometime in the next few hours hope showed up. As our friend talked he began to think of ways he could earn some money. The more he talked, details were filled in. His whole demeanor changed. He lifted his head and talked with animation. He even smiled and said,
“Do you think this idea was Divine?”
I have it on good authority that Hope is making her rounds and plans to show up at your house today….so watch for her.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
During first grade math class, the students were looking at shapes. One of them looked at a five sided shape and said,
“Miss Jen! This is your shape, it looks like a pencil!”
We looked at each other, both confused, and when I asked her if I look like a pencil, she said, “No, it’s because you are from Pennsylvania.” I laughed, because I never noticed that my state seemingly has the word pencil in it, and she didn’t understand what was so funny. I suppose nothing will show you what a strange concoction the English language is like teaching kids to read and spell!