I work with teen-agers. As fun as it can be sometimes, it does tend to fuel my faith in the belief of the world coming to an end…and soon. I find myself lamenting daily to Miranda as I grade essays the utter and complete calcification of the teen-age mind. Whatever Biblical knowledge they possess seems to rise no higher than what they have learned from either “Veggie-Tales” or “3-2-1- Penguins”. If you are unfamiliar with those references then consider yourself missing out on the great theological resources for today’s youth. There are days while I’m teaching Bible that I’m sure the zombie apocalypse has happened and they sit in my class.
However, just when I am about ready to give up the teen world to the idol worship of Youtube and Redbull, they will do something to remind me God is indeed at work even (or more so) in the teen-age heart. Just last week I witnessed this turn of events.
Sitting at my desk entering grades (very low ones) I was surprised when a student from the Junior tribe walked in and collapsed onto the couch in my office. He was in obvious emotional distress so we took some time to talk. After a bit another Junior peeked in and asked the distressed student, we’ll call him Mark, if he was O.K. They had noticed his leaving class and when he didn’t come back became a little worried and just wanted to check on him. I though that was really thoughtful on the student’s part. Mark said he was good and I told the student to tell the teacher I had Mark in my office. A couple minutes later another student showed up and asked Mark if he would like her to get his backpack and coat which he had left behind in the classroom. Mark said he would go back and get his stuff and the second student, after giving him a shoulder hug (this is boarding school, every hug needs to have room for Jesus) bounced back to class.
Mark and I talked a bit longer when the bell rang denoting the end of that class period and the start of the next. We talked 20 minutes into the next period when Mark said he felt a lot better and thought he should get to his next class. Opening the door to my office we found neatly placed outside Mark’s backpack, his coat, a note telling him not to worry the teacher of his next class would be informed that he was in my office and a York Peppermint Patty on top of it all. Whoever it was that did these things did not sign their name so the gifts were anonymous. A small thing to do. It made a huge impact on Mark. As he left my office the whole thing reminded me of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan for some reason. In thinking about it I find there are at least three truths of life you can find in Mark’s experience and this parable:
1. The people who can do extraordinary things are ordinary people–even teen-agers…with bad grades.
2. The littlest things in life can make the biggest difference.
3. You shouldn’t be giving till you can for fun and for free.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, two people passed by the beaten and bruised man; a priest and a Levite, both religious leaders. The only person who stopped to help was a simple, common man. Nothing special about him except he practiced the great commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We expect our religious leaders to be the ones out there being the good Samaritans, but in this story Jesus shows it’s the common, ordinary person, you and me, that are His hands.
Also, we don’t have to make great sacrifices or heroic efforts to show love to our neighbors, often those are easier to do than taking the time to bother with helping in the little things of life. But it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference. If we look around us, we will find opportunities everyday to be a “good Samaritan” to people around us.
Finally, the Samaritan left before the man could thank him. Before he woke up, the Samaritan provided for, not only his immediate needs but also for his possible future needs, and then left. Love is not selfish, and true actions of love are given without expectations of getting something in return. Never say, “I love you” just to hear someone say, “I love you too.”
So, I work with teen-agers. From time to time they show me that even in the sometimes tragic and all the time dramatic high school experience, it’s possible to have divine moments of Heaven here on earth, provided by you and I when we take the time to share the love God has given to us.