Stacy Ackerson and her sister Holly exchanged looks the way teenagers do and telepathed the message, “Boring!” as their mom, Barb, continued her musing.
“The world is a confusing place now, but it wasn’t when I was a child. In the middle of the Bible Belt, every one I knew went to church or knew they should go to church. Every morning at school, the teachers read a verse from the Bible and then said a short prayer. You had to be soft in the head not to figure out someone always saw what you did and it was either God, the teacher or another student. “That’s why we had so few discipline problems then, and we were already used to being watched when all the technology came about.”
“We never felt poor because every Sunday we took our pennies to Sunday School and put them in the offering plate to be given for mission work. In our minds, helping others meant we had plenty.” The girls just nodded. It wasn’t unusual for their mom to give them mini-life lessons while they traveled.
“By the time I started my teaching career in public school, it was a whole new ballgame. Teachers were hardly allowed to mention the Bible in class, and we definitely didn’t read from it each morning. The text books had also changed. None of the stories had clear value lessons. The character’s actions seemed to depend on the situation. I look for opportunities to witness but finding them is hard.”
The girls listened politely because they really were good kids. They also knew their mom lived her faith and believed God had called her to be a teacher.
“Girls, today a student told me she had never been to a church. That explained a lot, actually.”
Barb’s heart ached for her students and she prayed for wisdom and opportunities to tell them about Jesus who loved them so. The opportunities came. Today, after a lesson on figurative language, Jordon Compton handed in his assignment.
Jordan wasn’t always a model student, but for what ever reason, he liked Barb’s English class and maintained a high B average. He and two other students often came by after school to visit.
One day Jordan said, “You’re different Mrs. Ackerson. You don’t get mad and you don’t say mean things to us. Why?”
“Well, I guess because in a book I like to read it says to treat other people the way you want to be treated. I try to do that.”
“What’s the book?” Jordan asked.
“It’s my favorite book, Jordan, the Bible.”
That had been several months ago. The students kept coming and asking questions. Barb continued to pray and hope what she said planted seeds in their hearts. Barb often wondered if Jordan really understood what they were talking about. When she read his assignment, she knew God had opened Jordan’s heart. He wrote:
“How can I know just who You are?
My heart is like granite, and
my mind is soft as tar.
I want to know You,
Please, show me the way.”
Softly, I heard Him say:
Soft rain on hard earth
A hard helmet on a soft head
Hard chocolate on soft ice cream
Hard discipline on soft character
Hard muscle from soft fat
A soft cushion on a hard chair
A soft baby in a hard world
I am the Way,
By Jordon Compton
Barb asked Jordan if she could keep a copy of his poem. With a pleased, shy smile, he said yes. She put it in her Treasure Box where she had other treasures collected over her years of teaching. When she showed John the poem he said, “I think the kid knows Him.”
“That’s my prayer,” was all she said.
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