Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TEACH (11/29/18)
TITLE: How Clean Is Your Desk?
By Mariane Holbrook
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The door opened and the principal, Dr. Clark Gage, strode in, with a warm smile on his face.
He greeted the class, then motioned the teacher to a corner where they whispered, the students straining to hear their conversation.
Finally, Mrs. Adams turned toward the class and said, "Dr. Gage has an announcement to make. I think you're going to like this."
Dr. Gage moved to sit on the corner of the teacher's desk to make the students feel relaxed in his presence. A highly revered and respected man, he had their attention immediately.
"Boys and girls," he said, "I visit several classes every month to show my support and see how things are going. I've noticed that in many classrooms, students have very untidy desks, with crumpled papers sticking out, pencils on the floor or paper airplanes folded and ready to torpedo across the room to hit some unsuspecting girl in the back of her head."
The students laughed spontaneously, then sheepishly peeked inside their desks for crumpled papers, desperately hoping they weren't among the school-age miscreants.
Dr. Gage laughed with them and said, "Don't worry. I'm not going to inspect your desks today. Besides, I'd probably find they're in perfect order so it would be a waste of time."
The students looked at each other and laughed again, though suppressed guilt was splashed over their young faces.
"I'd like to try an experiment and I'll need your cooperation," Dr. Gage continued. "I'll give $100 to the student who has the most tidy desk the next time I visit your room. No, I'm not kidding.The catch is, you won't know when I'm coming. It could be tomorrow, next week or any time this year. But I WILL return and one of you will be $100 richer. Yours is the only classroom involved in this experiment so give it your best shot, ok?"
Wide-eyed and in disbelief, the students applauded, cheered and pounded on their desks with excitement. This would be a breeze, an easy way to earn $100.
After Dr. Gage left, Mrs. Adams allowed the class to talk among themselves for a few minutes about the experiment.
"You all can forget about it. I'm a shoo-in," one of the hefty, lazier students bragged.
"I've already got the money spent," said another.
"My desk is the cleanest one in the room, except for the chewed-up gum under my seat," laughed a boy in the back."
For the first week, the desks were immaculate. By the second week, one or two said it wasn't worth it and by the third week, students started complaining about Dr. Gage, insisting he never would return; this was just a gimmick, hardly worth the bother.
By the fourth week, no one talked about it at all. Desks returned to their normal state of untidiness and disarray. Everyone forgot about the promise.
Except for one girl.
Rachel still kept her desk in perfect order. She believed Dr. Gage and was determined to be ready no matter when he returned. Nothing could deter her and she didn't argue with the other students about it.
After two months, Dr. Gage appeared at the classroom door one morning, waving a crisp $100 bill in his hand.
The students gasped and began feverishly cleaning out their desks, hiding chewing gum wrappers in their pockets, stuffing crumpled papers under their shirts.
"No, students," Dr. Gage called out firmly but with a smile. "I'm sorry but it's too late to clean up now. Please stand by your seats while Mrs. Adams and I inspect all the desks and find the best-kept one."
It was a terrible time as one after another, the desks were rejected. The students blamed each other, they blamed the teacher for not reminding them, they blamed the principal for making them wait so long.
Rachel was declared the winner.
"Boys and girls," the principal said softly, "this is how it will be when Jesus returns. We don't know the day nor the hour but if our lives are always kept free from sin, we will always be ready for Him. Let your hearts be like the well-kept desk of Rachel. She never stopped looking, never tired of waiting and made sure she was always ready.”
Even so, come Lord Jesus.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24:36)
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