That’s how many I see--
for six years of their lives.
So I've taught 450 students in over twenty years of Christian school, and the question I ask myself is not, “Where has the time gone? I know that one.I’ve felt its passing in my bones and seen the years collapse into piles of crumpled calendar pages...
No. The question I ask myself is : Where have they gone? These students of mine: the ones I met as shy, fumbling, excited, energetic, irrepressible seventh-graders; the ones I watched , as year after year they listened, wide-eyed and earnest, while priceless light broke over their faces; the ones whose hands I guided, whose thoughts I helped shape, whose hearts I bombarded with the story of Christ. Over the years I prayed for them, drawing their names out of a box and holding them in my hand like so many fragile pots of pre-fired green ware. For six years they were my children too. Then they threw their graduation caps into the air and danced merrily out of my life, headed for fires or fields as the case may be. Where have they gone? What have they done? Have the hours I spent in their Christian Education mattered at all?
I stand in the hall at CBA and turn the pages of graduated classes—sometimes I’m smiling; sometimes I’m suddenly sober. They haven’t all remembered that above all ambitions on earth is the one great ambition—glorifying God. Some are floundering in a darkness of their own seeking and some are frail, but still searching for strength. They make me catch my breath and say: “Please God, Bring them Home.”
But there are others—so many others--who give me great joy.
They are light...in a world grown rapidly darker.
They are salt in a tasteless society.
They are the “city on a hill” and there is no way to measure what they bring to the Kingdom of God.
I read their blogs…and see women and men of faith—raising their children to be a generation of hope.
I listen to their songs as they create works of praise and sing them.
I see their pictures and read the scriptures they post on face book. I pray when they send out a cry for help.
They are scattered in location but united in purpose: They honor God. They are: doctors, soldiers, pharmacists and engineers. Some drive trucks or work on engines while others splice genes in molecular research. Some farm and weld; some paint, write books, teach, build houses. That doesn’t really matter. What matters is that they serve Christ.
In Peru, Swaziland, and Thailand; in rescue missions, and small town mission churches. On and on, I see their faces. They are deacons, and pastors, and pastors’ wives, church planters, Sunday school teachers, and worship leaders. They counsel inner city derelicts and kids at summer camp. They volunteer for disaster projects, run Bible schools, write literature.
For a handful of these…my years would have been worth it…for a multitude? I’m overwhelmed! If I could see them all I’d tell them, just like the Apostle to his precious Philippians:
You are my joy. You are my crown. I thank God because of you.
Philippians 4: 1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.