Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Importance of Being Earnest (not about the play) (08/04/11)
TITLE: Keeping the Faith
By Rachel Stone
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She had spent many early mornings there. Praying for wisdom to help the young lives she had the privilege of influencing for the future. The good Lord must have saved the best for last. None had tried her patience as much as Earnest.
From the first day he transferred in, she knew he was the one to test her resolve to stay positive and believe the best of each student that came into her class. He caused a disturbance, she sent him into the hall, and by the time he was called back in, the arms of all the jackets on the rack were tied together.
Earnest spent more time in the principal’s office than the classroom those first few weeks, but Mrs. Foster’s persistent kindness and encouraging words in those small in-between moments were wearing down his resistance and the disruptions became fewer and fewer.
Soon she realized he was a struggling reader. After a while Earnest admitted they had moved around a lot with his father’s work. Then, that his mother had left when he was seven. Careful not to single him out she found ways to help him improve.
As the year progressed Earnest reading and behavior continued to improve. That was until this last week. It was as if he changed his mind and no longer wanted anything to do with school.
Mrs. Foster was not taken by surprise by the sudden outbursts and constant disruptions of the week, she had seen this before. She had gained Earnest trust, he was doing well, and now his time in her class room was over. He would have to move on and he wasn’t sure he could continue this uphill climb.
“Father, help me to reassure Earnest. Let him know that You, the greatest teacher, is with him always. Bless each one of these students.” She prayed silently, as the first of her pupils came in with their chatter and book bags.
Greeting each one at the door Rebecca Foster watched for Earnest. Just as she started to close the door, he pushed his way past her. Without reply to her welcome, he went to the back of the class, picked up a desk, turned it backward, and flopped into it.
Mrs. Foster walked calmly to the back, and spoke softly “If you do not get into your assigned seat I will have no choice but to call for the Principal. Then Mr. Brimley will have to escort you to his office and you will miss all the fun activities and prizes I have planned for today.”
“I don’t care!” Earnest shouted.
“Okay,” Mrs. Foster shrugged and began to walk toward the front. Earnest put out his leg, the toe of her foot caught it, and as she fell his eyes locked on hers in honest fear and regret.
Earnest father brought him to visit Mrs. Foster in the hospital. With eyes lowered and balloon in hand he attempted an apology, “I’m sorry your leg is broke…” he could no longer contain the tears. Earnest sobbed at her bedside. “Can you ever forgive me?”
“Earnest, I must forgive you, because I have been forgiven much more,” she said to him, and told him of Jesus’ love for them both.
Almost twenty years of retirement had passed quickly for Mrs. Foster. She had enjoyed her grandchildren, taken up gardening, and lived to the fullest. She was grateful to God for time and health. She had not been in the hospital even once since that last day of teaching.
Until today. Her Doctor told her she should go in to have her heart checked by a specialist. Maybe her time was up, she was thinking.
“Mrs. Foster? It is you!” Earnest shouted as he rushed into her room. He threw his arms around her shoulder, “I’ll be your heart doctor, and I’ll take very good care of it, just as you did mine, I promise.”
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