Suzie Owens couldn’t help but cringe when she saw Peter Williams slowly trudging her way.
He had the befuddled look of a man who had been systematically beaten down by life and still hadn’t recovered from the ordeal. Sympathy swelled within Suzie but it wasn’t the man that made her pause. It was the boy he was dragging along.
Tommy the Terror.
The five year old had been kicked out of so many classrooms for his unruly behavior the Sunday school teachers practically winced at the sight of him. One quickly learned that Tommy was at his best when left alone.
His father signed Tommy in then exited, his shoulders lowered in defeat.
A few minutes later, the classroom began their praise and worship, kindergarten style, and Suzie noted that Tommy stood sullenly through it all, unmoved. When her fellow teacher arranged the children in a semi circle for the bible lesson, Tommy immediately set off in the direction of the toys. He pulled out a set of wooden blocks and began to form a pile.
“Nice house.” Suzie commented, sitting next to him.
“It’s a fort.” Tommy shot her an irritated glance. “To keep people out.”
“Then who will you play with?”
Tommy’s scowled. “I don’t need anyone.”
“What about your Mom and Dad?”
“Mommy left us and Daddy’s too sad to play. He just sits in his room and cries when he thinks I’m asleep.”
Suzie sat in silence. Children were so honest sometimes it caught her by surprise. “I’m sorry to hear that, Tommy.”
“Daddy says we’ll be okay.”
“Don’t be so hard on your Daddy, Tommy. Did you know that Jesus cried when things got really hard?”
Tommy stopped stacking to send her a curious look. “He did?”
“Yes, but the worst part was that Jesus was spanked for something he never did.”
“I always get spanked.” Tommy grumbled.
“Well, there is a price to pay for disobeying.”
“I try to be good, Sister Suzie, but nobody ever notices!”
She patted his hand. “God notices. He wants you to be good, Tommy. That’s why Jesus cried. He took the spanking we deserved so we wouldn’t get in trouble with God.”
“Jesus never took any of my spankings.” Tommy argued. “I felt every single one of them.”
“Jesus can help you to be good, if you let him.”
He added another block. “I’ve been awfully bad since mommy left.”
“Can you keep a secret, Tommy?”
Eyes wide as saucers, he nodded.
Suzie whispered in his ear. “We’ve all been bad.”
A soft smile curved his lips.
“That’s why we need help, Tommy. So we won’t be bad anymore. Maybe you need to ask God to bring his goodness into your home. Maybe then your daddy won’t cry anymore. God will give him peace.”
“Could…Could God bring Mommy back, too?”
“Anything is possible with God.”
“Mommy has been really bad lately. She could use a bit of God’s goodness too, I suppose.” Tommy shrugged. “Ok, Sister Suzie, let’s pray.”
Suzie led him through a simple prayer and afterward, Tommy beamed. “It works! I don’t want to be bad anymore!”
Ah, the faith of a child, Suzie marveled. “Always remember, Tommy, if you slip up, don’t worry. Ask Jesus to forgive you and he will.”
Tommy smiled, relieved. His dark blonde hair fell into his eyes but Suzie detected tears in the bright, blue orbs. “Sister Suzie, you’re the best teacher in the whole, wide world!”
The rest of the class went without a hitch.
Tommy was a model student, joining in the fun with newfound gusto. When his father returned, Tommy launched himself into his daddy’s arms.
“Daddy, Miss Suzie, says that God’s goodness is coming into our house. We prayed that you wouldn’t cry anymore.”
A blush spread across the man’s cheeks. “Uh..that’s good to know, son.”
“We even prayed for mommy to come home.” Tommy went on excitedly. “Our God is so good, Daddy, he can handle the bad.”
Tommy’s father swallowed hard and rubbed his son’s hair affectionately. “You’re right. Why don’t we play some baseball after church and let God take care of it then?”
Tommy looked at Suzie with eyes filled with absolute wonder. “Wow, God works awfully fast.”
Suzie laughed then tipped her head when Tommy’s father mouthed a heartfelt “thank you.” As father and son strode out of the room, hand in hand and lighter in step, Suzie reflected on God’s all encompassing goodness.
All in a day’s work.
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