“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Sunday, November 18, 2012

the text

the text
"I'm not sure you know just how important you were to me in high school. 
You are a big reason that I am working with high school kids at our church."

It feels like a different lifetime ago.  So long ago that I have to even wonder when it happened.  Almost 20 years ago?  Yes, it must be... because she graduated from high school in 1995.

We were part of a small church at that time in Maryland.  Small?  Well, is that the word for it?  A church plant.  We met in an elementary school and had to set up each Sunday morning and tear down after each service.  Everybody had multiple ministries.  Each member filled in multiple parts of the church body.  And for me?  I was the Senior High School Sunday School Teacher. 

And although there were times that the class had an influx of a student, it was usually just a class of one.  A class of her.  A class for her.  The pastor's oldest daughter.  We adored our pastor and his wife and, of course, their two daughters.  We were loved by them and loved them.  And I loved her.

A class of one.  Me and a teenager.  I was in my mid-twenties at the time.  And I felt the call to be her teacher.  To offer her a Sunday School class.  Curriculum?  Yup, I tried that.  But then sometimes it was just a cup of coffee and some conversation.

And I didn't feel worthy.  Wasn't even sure we connected on some days.  And it was during one of the most difficult seasons of my life.  A season full of poor choices.  A season of poor health.  And I knew I was not the one who should be teaching her during that time because I was a poor example.  Although she didn't know I was, I knew it.  And I thought I was betraying her by being her Sunday School teacher.  But her dad insisted that I was still a good example to her.  Still to be her teacher.

And about a year or so later Anthony and I move to Portland.  Leave.  We keep in touch with her parents for a while.  But distance brings distance.  And time brings time.

And a lifetime passes.   Yes, almost 20 years since I was her High School Sunday School teacher. 

We got to see each other in person yesterday.  A brief moment.  She and her parents went out of their way to see us.  We have been keeping in touch via Facebook and she has told me this before, but she sent me the text yesterday. 
 "I'm not sure you know just how important you were to me in high school. 
You are a big reason that I am working with high school kids at our church."
And this time when she told me... it brought up the memories.  The memories of my feelings of inadequacy.  The memories that I had served and tried even though at the time I didn't think I was making a difference.  I might have wanted to make a difference.  I just didn't know if I did. 

But for her to tell me, again.  For it to be important for her to tell me.  For it to mean something to her so much that she had to tell me, again.  For her to connect me with her current desire to minister to High Schoolers that she had to tell me.

She had to tell.  And I had to listen.  I had to listen and know that even during a time that I thought I was offering nothing, I was offering something.  Perhaps it was not as I thought it should be packaged.  Not what I thought it should look like.  But it was something.  And something meant everything to her.  It meant enough to her to remember and to tell me.  And to tell me, again.

And it encouraged me.
That even when we are weary
and uncertain
we can still plant a crop.

"So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. 
At the right time we will harvest a good crop 
if we don’t give up, or quit. 

Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, 
let us work for the benefit of all, 
starting with the people closest to us
 in the community of faith."

Galatians 6:9-10 MSG


Kathi Woodall said...

What an encouraging story, Sheri. Thank you for sharing it.

elaineolsen@live.com said...

"that even during a time that I thought I was offering nothing, I was offering something."

Good words; good story; good witness; good God!

This is a strong encouragement to me as we continue to minister in this small place.

I love you, friend.