Luke and The Lost
The little first grade boy, pale and thin, was a force to be dealt with every single day of school. He was asked to leave another elementary school. He enrolled in our school. His parents moved away from their former neighborhood. Once we experienced what he was capable of doing, we knew why.
They tried one first grade teacher and then the next. No one could seem to deal with the angry fits of rage or sly mean actions he would inflict on his classmates. One day, he kicked his teacher and bit the arm of another one who were trying to bring him under control. The principal wanted to try one more time. He said, “Let’s try Mrs. Callaway’s first grade before we institutionalize him, away from public school.” Yep, that’s me. Susan Callaway’s first grade was forever changed when T came to our room to live for the rest of the year.
I wasn’t sure what would be the difference I could make then I remembered. I have the power of Jesus Christ and His praying church to help me. We went to prayer at church for this boy and his family who were distraught over his behavior. The parents began to trust me with their boy who they obviously loved. I discovered in conversation that they had used cocaine heavily before he was born. So, he was “coke baby” who was addicted, too. He had a much different beginning in life than most of the kids in my class. He didn’t “feel” or know right from wrong. He had no conscious because of what the drugs had done in him. He had to be approached and treated differently. The “soil” around this “tree” had to be prepared, fertilized with more love and second chances than I had ever given a child before him.
The first few weeks were tough but began to be fruitful. The wild look in his eyes began to soften. I convinced him that I loved him no matter what and taught him about forgiveness. (More than seventy times seventy!) When he slipped up one day, we sat on the back porch steps of the school and had yet another talk about what he did, why it was not appropriate and how forgiveness of himself and others was important to be a better person. I did something I had never done before. I tore up the documentation into little pieces and threw it down the steps. It is over. Forgiven, because he asked me. Forgotten because he was truly sorry. He was finally “getting it.”
By this time, I had talked to the parents about finding a church home with a great ministry to kids who could help him relate to groups outside of school. They said yes and followed through! This was an answer to prayer and helped the situation, too. I will never forget this boy. I wonder where he is and what he is doing today? But for that time, God showed taught me and declared His glory in the power of prayer, forgiveness, and the many opportunities He provides to come to Him, be saved and restored. I refused to give up on this boy because God never gave up on me.
I heard a quote from Louis Gigilo who reminds us, “If you’re telling yourself you don’t deserve a second chance from God, remind yourself you didn’t deserve the first one either.” But He died for us anyway. He died for our sin when we were still sinners, providing a way, THE only way, to turn to God and give it all to Him…all our sin, pride, boasting, greediness, prejudices, presumptions, judgement, meanness…all of it…and repent.
Jesus tells us about God in the story of the apple tree. Read and be grateful for second, third and fourth chances to grow in the love of God, through Jesus Christ, our Savior then Lord.
Sin is sin. The murderer in jail is no better than the liar at work. Repent.
“Unless you turn to God, you too will die.” –Jesus
Simple stuff. Bottom line.
Luke 13, The Message
Unless You Turn to God
13 1-5 About that time some people came up and told him about the Galileans Pilate had killed while they were at worship, mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar. Jesus responded, “Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die. And those eighteen in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.”
6-7 Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’
8-9 “The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.’”
Think about it…
“Let’s give it another year”, says our Advocate, Jesus Christ to God, our Father.
Dear Heavenly Father,
What thoughts of your love and forgiveness you have given us this morning! We repent of judging each other’s sins. We repent of pride and selfishness. We are no better or worse than any other sinner. Wash us clean. Root out all the dead, dark places with Your Light of Life abundant. Help us to live gratefully forgiven so others may know You, too. Cultivate the soil around our hearts so that we will produce the fruits of your love, joy and peace!
In Jesus Name, Amen