Saturday, April 18, 2015

Living Out Matthew 5:6

I'm not sure when I learned her name but she is the kind of youngster who impresses you quickly. Every afternoon when the final bell rings, I stand at the confluence of our upstairs hallway as an adult presence when many of our middle and high school kids are wanting to make a fast exit. It's a chance for me to interact with our kids, both returners and transfers. She was not shy and it didn't take long to learn after a few fist bumps that her name is Cristina, and she is a new student in the freshmen class. She invariably has a huge smile on her face and she addresses me and other men as Sir. (I have not ascertained if the same applies to my female counterparts but I expect it does.) Typically, I ask about her day and she always has positive feedback. One day, in early December, we went through our post school day routine and she asked me my plans for the night. I replied that I was returning to WCS for the annual Christmas band concert. She told me she wasn't aware there was such an event and she inquired if students were allowed to attend. Of course! She told me she would try to although privately I doubted she would be able to make it due to the snarl of Houston traffic after sundown. And yet, she and her mother were there! Cristina introduced me to mom and it was obvious that English was her second language and a bit of a struggle. It was equally obvious that she was extremely proud of her daughter and joyful that she is at WCS! Fast forward to this past Tuesday evening and our Spring band concert. Guess who was in the crowd once more? Cristina and her mom! I told her she ought to join our band next year and she told me is thinking about it. She plays guitar and piano, not typical concert band instruments, but our directors, Michael and Linda Smith, are masters at taking our kids abilities and turning their collective talents into an awesome assemblage of musical skill. I think Cristian would fit right in.

That first paragraph was just an introduction. What I really wanted to talk about happened yesterday. Friday is a Bible test day at WCS, along with Wednesdays, and my three Gospels sections all took Test # 8 yesterday. The material covered in this exam was the death of John the Baptist, the feeding of the 5000 and the feeding of the 4000, and Jesus and briefly Peter walking on water. My test days coincide with SACT days. SACT is a twenty-five minute mini period between 2nd and third periods. It is set aside for club meetings and tutoring or taking a short break if you have nothing scheduled. On test days, I offer a voluntary review session in my room in which I cover the material on the exam. (Some days without announcing I even bring food!) As we began, Wendy, who is a junior, walked in and who should come with her but Cristina, who will not be in my class for two more years. I told her she was more than welcome to listen and of course, she smiled. As we reviewed, I noticed Cristina was writing something in a notebook. I asked what she was working on and to my astonishment, she told me SHE WAS TAKING NOTES! To say I was taken back was an understatement. There was no academic advantage for Cristina to be there and especially to put pen to paper..... and yet she did. When the bell rang, she thanked me and told me she had learned a good deal. I hope she comes again.

In all the years I have taught, this was a first. Not all the kids come- there would not be room if they all showed up- but truthfully, many of the kids don't need the extra help. Some who need the help don't come because they are hungry and they can buy snacks in the cafeteria and I absolutely understand that. But I also sense that Cristina coming and writing down  Biblical points suggests a different kind of appetite. In the Beatitudes in His most famous sermon, Jesus taught in Matthew 5:6 that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. Sometimes I fear I lack the hungering and thirsting of years gone by. Remember the line in Oh For A Closer Walk With God?
"Where is the blessedness I knew
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul refreshing view
Of Jesus and His word?"

Fortunately, sometimes the Lord sends us excellent examples disguised as teenagers. I took note of the one taking notes. I pray I take the lesson to heart.

Applicable quote of the day:
“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.' Not only do the followers of Jesus renounce their rights, they renounce their own righteousness too. They get no praise for their achievements or sacrifices. They cannot have righteousness except by hungering and thirsting for it (this applies equally to their own righteousness and to the righteousness of God on Earth), always they look forward to the future righteousness of God, but they cannot establish it for themselves. Those who follow Jesus grow hungry and thirsty on the way.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (from The Cost Of Discipleship)

Luke 18:1
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