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I actually had bloody eyeballs.

March 3, 2018

7Thank you for your prayers.  This is probably the first day in three weeks that I have had any desire to sit down and write anything on my blog.  The worst thing about this flu virus I contracted is that it has interfered with my thought process, even after I felt good enough to go back to school.  My brain was like an off-track roller coaster, with everything flying around in my head with no control whatsoever: kachunka chunka chunka.  Stuff was whizzing through my skull, blurry and confusing.  Things became fuzzy.  Thinking became labored.  Even a simple thing like taking classroom attendance or preparing the day’s PowerPoint seemed like the mental equivalent of trying to lift a kitchen refrigerator.

You know how, when you get sick, one single song or musical phrase keeps repeating itself?  In the depth of my fever my brain replayed Glen Campbell’s I Remember You about eight gazillion times. It only took time off to replay the old television commercial ditty for a tuna product:

“Ask any mermaid you happen to see:  What’s the best tuna?  Chicken of the Sea.”


Oh, I’ve become a veteran of these flu seasons.  War-wounded, you might call me.  I am not sure whether I should be proud of this or not, but the fact is, when flu season strikes every January or February, I am at a 50% chance, vaccination or not, of contracting the virus.  I might dodge it one year, but the next January, blammo, I’ve been hit by the influenza train.  I think over the twenty plus years of teaching I’ve been run over at least ten times.  And hey, I don’t just dabble my toes in the sickness, brother – I jump into the deep end of the flu pool.  Put it this way –  when it comes to sickness, I commit myself to the cause.  I get the whole shootin’ match from my eyebrows to my toenails.  I want you to know that I am a teacher to the core, even when it comes to the flu in my body:  I want every single blood cell to be able to study and take notes on the virus, so my whole blamed carcass’ population shares every available ounce of infection with each other.  And they take their time doing it, too. My body is like a bienniel Convention Hall for Influenza. Free admission.  Plenty of parking space.  Two lines, no waiting.

I recall about ten years ago I caught a flu so quickly that I actually knew the very moment it hit.  I was at a Super Bowl Party for teens in a gymnasium, with about seven or eight high schools represented.  It was about thirty degrees outside, and the kids coming into the gym were nursing colds from every school system in a twenty mile radius.  The host group was kind in offering the more than two hundred students the choice of watching the game on a giant screen on one end of the gym or of playing basketball on the other end.  Think of it:  masses of teens playing basketball and wheezing out their various colds into the air of an overheated gym –  the classic incubator.  At halftime a tremor ran right through me just as my two teens sons were asking if we could head home.  By the time I took three steps I was shivering violently, and I mean visibly trembling.  I could barely stand the outside cold as we ran to the car, and my boys can attest to the fact that my hands were literally shaking on the steering wheel.  That night I (pardon the graphic detail) vomited continuously and so hard that I actually broke blood vessels in my eyes.  By the time I went back to school later that week my eyeballs were still showing large blotches of red, and I was known as Vampire Zockoll for a few days.  Unknown students would come to visit me between classes just to view my Gothic eyeballs.  To be honest, it felt pretty cool to make middle school kids shiver just by looking at me.  I got an idea of how Cthulhu must feel.

I’ve been walking about during my lectures but found myself having to sit and regain my breath virtually every other class period this week.  I feel every bit of my age and even more these past few days.  The students have been understanding; in fact that is really why I wanted to write this particular blog.

Yesterday one of the shyest girls in any of my classes sidled up to my desk quietly and stood waiting until I finished sending an in-school email.  “Amy” then leaned forward and asked me:  “Dr. Zockoll, are you feeling better?  I’ve been praying for you.”  As I responded positively, she quietly laid a small package next to my keyboard and smiled.  “I bought something for you.”  Then she quickly darted away.

There on my desk was a small package of Cheez-It Sandwich Crackers – the kind of cellophane six-cracker units that have little yellow crackers with Cheez-It cheese squeezed between them.

I’m telling you, that was one of the nicest things I have received this year.

In fact, I have been seeing the same thing in many of my classes, and this was an example of it. 

You know, I have been teaching the facts and narration of the Bible –  from Jesus’ miracles to Solomon’s temple to Adonijah’s rebellion to the prophecies of Isaiah – and my deep desire is that the students take these important spiritual lessons to heart.  However, the one thing I cannot instill in them by quizzes or tests is the kindness of Jesus.  That in itself must be caught more than taught.  And here’s the great thing: I have been seeing an increasing number of students catching this, thank the Lord.

Students who were loud and abrasive in September are now quietly helping a fellow student prepare for a quiz.  Students who in autumn would not open their Bible except during a lecture are now in February showing up at lunchtime in my classroom for our daily Bible study time.  Students who were earlier stand-offish are now taking newcomers into their circle of friends and making incoming pupils feel welcome.

Students who used to show only emotion in their texting and Instagram are now literally weeping in sympathetic compassion when they hear of a loss in the family of a student or a teacher.

I haven’t graded them or forced them into this new heart attitude.  They have taken in this all-important Christlike compassion of their own accord.  I don’t know when or how or even why, but oh, do I love witnessing this.

On the first day back to school after my sickness I cannot tell you how many students stopped me in the hall to hug me and give me a “welcome back.”  They had no reason to do so other than the fact that they genuinely have learned compassion.  How many times students went out of their way to stop at my classroom desk and asked if I was feeling better … well again, I cannot count.

My students are growing up!  Let me explain:

When I look at the First Corinthian 13 definition of true Christian love I see that it is patient, kind and genuine… and a sign of maturity

Look at verse 11: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me…”

If I read this right, then this passage is stating that self-centeredness is a childish thing.  True compassion is the sign of Christian maturity and strength in the faith, right?

My students are showing me that they are indeed learning how to become Christian adults, growing in their walk with Christ.  He is leaving an indelible mark on them, and that is the mark of love that goes beyond the sit-in-the-classroom instruction.

I love it, I love it, I love it.

I am seeing students graduating, preparing for the life and ministry outside the campus.  Please pray for them.  They’ve been getting steeped in the faith and in the teachings of the Bible, but this is so much more important.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

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One Comment
  1. Thank you! Loved readying your post today, as I too, have been getting back to feeling a bit better after fighting the flu this season. You posts keep me motivated knowing God is always there, whether in spirit or in our student’s ‘welcome backs’ 🙂 Praying you get back to ‘normal’ soon! 🙂

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