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They Walk the Halls and Nobody Dares to Stop Them

March 4, 2014

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel of John 13:34, 35

He died, and I felt very hurt and very lonely.

I sat at my desk the very next morning after receiving the news, hours before the school bell would ring.  I stared blankly at the computer screen, trying to process my thoughts and grief.  My older brother Bruce had unexpectedly passed away, dying of a heart attack the day before.  I sat in shock, unable to stay home yet not sure if I could stand in front of a classroom. Simply put, I was a mess.

Matt Mercer, basketball coach and school chaplain, came in quietly.  “Dr. Zockoll, we’re all praying for you and your extended family.”  He reached over and slid something onto my desk.  “We know the funeral is later this week down in Florida.  This will be something to help with the gas expenses.”  He turned and left with no fanfare.  I opened the envelope to see over a hundred 1bbbdollars in gas card credit.  I sat and stared at the card.

Within minutes, guidance counselor Donna Poole slipped in as I was still holding the envelope.  “I know you’re going with your sons to the funeral, and you’ll be spending some long hours in the car.  You’ll need to have some money to feed the lot of you.  We will continue to pray for you.”  She handed me an envelope with numerous gift cards for restaurants that would be along the highway.  I was unable to speak, but she smiled and nodded as she slipped out of the room and closed the door.  Trisha crept into the room and gave me a hug, crying as she did so.  I cried also.  Matt put his arm around me.  Riley and Eric both stopped me and prayed with me.  Throughout the day I shook my head in wonder as I saw silent yet loud examples of God’s love in my time of mourning.

These kind of memories sit etched in my memory through the years, carved deep into the part of my brain that finds God’s glory showing brightly in His people.  The teacher becomes a student – I was once again back in the school desk, getting a clear lesson in God’s love. I have experienced this many a time in my teaching career.

Yes, yes, we Bible teachers have a regular refresher course in the heavenlies now and again.

The Scripture is amazingly strong, there’s no doubt.  How I’ve seen it change students’ lives through the years!  As Bible teachers we teach the truths of the Book, which have the power to stir the soul by its reading alone.  Sometimes, though, it doesn’t go beyond the notebook.  Often the words stay dormant on the Power Point screen, nothing more than the object of hum-drum note-taking by a half-interested student.

Well then, the assumption is, you should be strong enough to provide the example and set the course, right, teacher?

Hey – we’re just regular folks who have our weaknesses, too.

I find that often the assumption is that we Bible instructors are unable to bend in our faith.  We’re supposed to be stalwarts in the Scriptures, facing the challenges of life with nary a misstep.  We’re the veritable mountain goats of Christian society.

Oh, how wrong that can be.

We get tired.  We get discouraged.  We get frustrated.

So often I enter the hallways of the school drained of the joy of the Lord, having lost the vision of the Father’s love through my own myopic existence.

That’s when I yearn to read of Christ’s love once again.  And I find it almost immediately.  There I can see it, throughout the school building in the hallways – in the form of walking books.

I find the Father’s love through Christians whose manner is so genuinely adhered to walking with Jesus, it’s as if they thrust a telescope to my eye in order that I might see the Heavens more clearly.

I saw it this year when Rachel put her arm around new student Tanya and welcomed this new transfer student into our school on the very first day – no, within the very first hour.  She introduced Tanya around and by lunchtime you’d have thought our new pupil was an academy veteran of many years.

I saw it when varsity player Mitch broke up a dispute between two fellow ballplayers and mediated carefully so that each could air his grievance with respect and dignity. I saw it when Carl counseled and cajoled troubled student Kent into a strong friendship and a more content spirit in the classroom.

I saw – and still see it – when I move past math teacher Greg Wilson’s room late in the afternoon.  The man never wavers in his caring attitude for students who struggle and moan over Calculus and Algebra.   He mentors pupils in an insanely unpopular subject, never expecting to receive recognition or accolades.  I am overpowered by his Christ-like spirit of humility.  The man arrives early and stays late to help students every day.  Every day.

I remember the love of Christ spilling over at graduation when I saw Deidre Randles, our German teacher, over in a corner by herself weeping deeply as the seniors lined up for the ceremony.  “I’m going to miss them so much,” she said, dabbing at her eyes.  “They’re part of my family.  This is so hard.”  Her genuine love for her students reminded me of Christ’s love for his disciples and for the multitudes that followed Him, often moving Him to tears, so great was His compassion.

These are the kind of people that walk the halls of our school, unchecked by the selfish “me-first” siren call of society.  Nobody tries to stop them as they permeate our school with a display of Christ in various forms and vibrant ways.

Two years ago, I sat in the principal’s office, discussing the methodology of teaching New Testament Survey for the upcoming semester.  I was distracted, I must admit, by cares outside of the classroom.

Randy Down put his papers aside.  “Are you okay?”

I shrugged.  “A lot of things seemed to be landsliding on me, I guess you could say.  My wife’s illness has escalated, and she’s been bedridden for almost a week now.  We just had a washing machine break down and don’t have the money to fix it.”  I shook my head and laughed without humor.  “We look like hillbillies, hanging our laundry on a rope across the basement.” I looked down.  “Even my shoes have worn out,” I said, displaying a gaping hole near my right toe. “So, no, I’m not okay.”

Randy never hesitated.   “Look, I want to pray for you, Brad.”  And he did.

The next day was a Saturday and we received a knock on the door of our home.  Two parents of the school were standing next to a washing machine.

A new machine.  Brand. New. Washing. Machine.

The two men were grinning widely.  “We’re here to do some installation!”  They ignored my stammering and lugged the machine to the basement and spent the next hour setting it up.  My wife was overcome, but they sheepishly waved off any thanks.  “Just something we could do.  We just appreciate you all.” And they were gone.

As I sat at my desk early Monday morning, Randy walked in, business-like.  “I happened to find a pair of shoes that were given to me last year – I never used them.  I believe these are your size?”

I opened the box.  They were new, black, sleek, and my exact size.  “Th-this is great!” I stuttered.  “Look, I cannot thank you enough…”

He was gone.  Not another word.

But he didn’t have to say anything else.  Like so many who walk the halls here at GCA, Christ was showing through loudly.

Let ’em walk.  Don’t you dare stop them.

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