Have you ever asked yourself why?
Why am I here…?
In this town…
At this job…
At this point in my life…
Or, ever wondered when…?
When will I move forward?
Be more, do more, see more?
When will things change?
Then one day–consumed by papers, deadlines, schedules and plans, the clock is frowning down on me as I lean into the computer screen and try to decipher my own thinking about this afternoon’s class, I hear a knock on my door.
“Come in!” I yell without looking up and a timid girl slips in without a sound.
I glance up, “Yes?” I notice she has a strange look on her face so I stop what I’m doing and wait.
“Ms.–” there’s a distinct lilt in her voice. It’s musical even though her face is drawn and sad. “I haven’t heard from my family since yesterday and I just don’t know what to do.” She swings herself into the chair next to my desk the way I swing my tote bag down at the end of a long day, exhausted.
Whatever was planned for class that day will have to wait. I turn to face her, wondering what I should say. News reports of historic Category 5 hurricanes hitting defenseless Caribbean islands is all we’ve been hearing about lately. None of the news is good. All of the predictions are “devastating losses” of life and property. The fact that this girl has not heard from her family is a sign that, as expected, the storms have hit her home and knocked out power. There is no way to know if they are dead or alive. And here she is thousands of miles away trying to “do school” and go on, be positive and pray, but it has become more than she can bear. So she’s come here—to her English teacher’s office—a few minutes before class—and let the floodgates open.
I whisper a prayer to myself, but I realize I don’t need to say much. It is better for me to listen and be a sympathetic ear, to tell her it’s okay to cry and that I, indeed, understand how she feels. I, too, have family in the islands. This is a scary time. I also tell her not to feel guilty for being here “safe and sound” while they are down there in harm’s way. As a mother, I tell her, it would give me great comfort to know that at least one of my children is not in the midst of this storm and I’m sure her mother feels the same way.
Then she asks me to pray for her, and because we’re here, at a Christian school, it’s actually okay for us to do that! So we do, and I ask God to open our eyes the way he did Elisha’s servant when the enemies were surrounding them and it seemed their defeat was certain, so that we could see his army that surrounded the enemy, outnumbering them! In that moment we needed to be reminded and encouraged that He who is for us is greater than all that is against us.
She thanked me and left.
And wouldn’t you know it? After class she told me she received a call from home! There was some damage to her house, but her family was safe. I later heard from my family members as well. So, our story had a happy ending! But that’s actually not the end of the story…
I began by saying that I often ask myself “why am I here?” And I sometimes even sink into a pit of despair as I think about where I would like to be, but then I have experiences like this and I feel like Elisha’s servant looking out over the hills of Dothan–first feeling overwhelmed and defeated by the enemy of doubt and low self-esteem–and then dumbstruck by the reality that I am, after all, not left alone to face that enemy when he opens my eyes and allows me to see the vast host of God’s army standing behind them with chariots of fire. (2 Kings 6:17)
So, a few weeks later, I’m having another paper-filled, lesson-plan, meeting and worry-whirlwind kind of morning when there’s another knock on my door.
It’s the sweet Caribbean girl again! “Oh, I’m glad you’re here” she says. “I’ll be right back,” and a few minutes later she reappears carrying these…
“I just wanted to thank you for praying with me,” she says, and this time it was my turn to let the floodgates open.
I was the teacher, but that day my student taught me a lesson. So often my time and attention is spent looking elsewhere, but is my purpose right in front of me? How often am I distracted by what’s not while I continually ignore what is? Like Elisha’s servant, my eyes needed opening and the gorgeous blooms gave me an appropriate jolt.
Why am I here?
For moments like this.
What about you?
Daily Post: #enlighten