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A Lesson Learned on the Highway

March 5, 2014

Before our class entered the book of Acts for yesterday’s study, we had some of our training in speaking before groups.

That means we had our sandwich speeches again today, and that means we had an enjoyable time.

“Ah, lucky people, I’m going to show you how to make a ham-and-cheese sandwich,” enthused Jared.  “As you see, I get a little OCD with the way I break the cheese into little squares.  Gotta make those squares. ”  He was dividing cheese up into miniature chunks a little more than the size of his thumbnail.  “And I’ll now put on mayonnaise.  You must have lots of mayonnaise in order to get the ingredients to jell. LLLLLots of mayonnaise.”  Jared was heaping on the white stuff.  Some of the students were turning green.  He took a bite and smiled, giving us a thumbs up.  Half of his face was smeared with mayonnaise.  The students broke up laughing.

Then there was Derek.  “I’m going to make you a Nutella-on-waffle sandwich,” said Derek, holding up two freezer-thawed Eggos that did not have the benefit of a toaster.  They had been thawing out in his locker all day, and they looked like soggy, spongy little Frisbees.  As he talked, Derek gestured with one of the waffles.  It flopped around like roadkill, much to the delight of the class.  “You really don’t need any more flavors than just this Nutella, so I’m going to just s-s-slather this Nutella onto the waffles. Wow, does this look good.”  (It didn’t.)  I don’t even think he thought it was good, because when he took a bite, his face took on a pale shade.  He got a passing grade though, trooper that he was.

Then we went on to our study, which was just as active.  Energy and enthusiasm carried the day.  The questions were flying yesterday.

“Why did the jailer’s family get baptized?  Did that show their faith?”

“I just saw the movie ‘Son of God’ – what do you think of it?”

“Why did the lame man sit at that spot by the Beautiful Gate?”

“How did they choose Matthias to be the newest part of the Twelve?”

“Do you think the ‘Noah’ movie will be any good?”

“What do you think Jesus looked like in His resurrected form?”

It’s times like this that I think I most enjoy being a Bible teacher.  These are questions brought from the students who want to get the holes filled in, so to speak.  They have grasped the knowledge but they haven’t felt that the job is complete – something just needs to be added, explained – and they can’t rest until they see the holes in the walls patched up.  That’s why I like those extra questions.  The classrooms were lively yesterday, with lots of conversation about numerous Biblical topics.

Wait, that’s not really a complete answer.  I really enjoy those times, but I’m going to correct myself and say that I enjoy the 1bbbquieter moments of being a Bible teacher as well.  One-on-one time is especially important to me.  I am reminded that the Lord tells His children in the thirtieth chapter of Isaiah: “in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”  Often, quiet times of counsel will be the most important things I will do all day.

I remember the time that 18-year old Jeremy came into my classroom early one morning.  “Can I talk with you?”

He was one of the spiritual leaders in the school and usually of a strong and stoic countenance.  Not today.  His face was troubled.

I gestured to a chair next to my desk and leaned forward.  “What is it, Jeremy?”

He sat down and folded his hands.  “As you know, I’m one of the interns for the county fire department, so I spend at least two nights a week with the crew, and also looking to see where I can help out as the department allows. I keep my eyes open for an emergency where I can assist and I use my emergency phone to call for help where the need is great.”  I nodded.  He’d been serving with the county fire department for over a year.

He shifted and looked away.  “Last night I was coming home on the interstate after a basketball game, pretty late because I hung around the parking lot.  The highway was pretty clear as I headed home.   I was coming around the bend and saw two cars – a sports car and a pickup truck – driving wildly next to each other, about a half a mile ahead.  Looked like they were racing but it seemed to be more than that.  As I got them into view I realized I was watching road rage, and they were going at it.  The pickup truck was trying to block the sports car, but I lost sight of them around another bend in the freeway.”  He coughed and paused.

“Then as I got around that bend, the pickup truck was coasting along the side of the highway, on the shoulder.  The sports car was gone.  The pickup rolled to a stop and bumped the guardrail.  I pulled up behind the pickup truck and carried my emergency phone.”  He blinked a few times.

“I came up to the door and looked in and the driver was laying there, and had an odd gurgling sound coming from him.  Then I looked and saw that there were bullet holes in him.  He had just been shot. The other driver just shot him.”

A tear rolled down his face.

“The driver of that pickup – well… well, he kind of looked at me and made some noises with his throat. I called for help.  It was too late, though.  He died.  He looked at me and died.  Right there, he died.”  Jeremy looked at me.

“I saw a man die.”

And he started sobbing.

I put my arm around him.

“I saw a man die.”

I prayed for Jeremy right then.

We spent some quiet time in praying, talking, crying and more talking.  We talked about eternity, the brevity of life, the power of the assurance of God’s care and the destiny of Heaven.  Jeremy talked some more, asking questions.  I do not remember how long we sat together but when Jeremy finished, he stood up.

“Thank you.  I think I’ll be okay.  May I talk with you later about this?”

“Sure.  Get in here anytime you want.”

I don’t believe he shared the incident with any students that day or any other day, for that matter.  This was too personal.  We talked a few more times about it, and I saw Jeremy slowly growing in maturity each time we met.  He had seen a human take The Great Step, and Jeremy would never be the same.

I was privileged to watch this young man incubate his thoughts and strengthen his Christian walk through this.  It is my understanding that he is in ministry in Texas as I write this.

I was able to counsel, yes, but more than that, I was able to learn.  Jeremy and I both came out stronger because of this event.  We both had our quiet moments with God in prayer and reflection.

The quiet times in the classroom are powerful ones for a Bible teacher.  It’s where we get a private tutoring session from the Father.  And, oh, I love those quiet times with the Father.

“…in quietness and confidence shall be your strength…”

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