The other day, after returning from a particularly long day at work (school), I sat down at my computer to check my e-mail. What I found was an e-mail from a parent of one of our more difficult students. The letter informed us that this was Hannah’s last day of school; they would now be homeschooling her. They no longer wanted to waste our time as teachers. The mom then went on to write that what was most upsetting to her was that her daughter would no longer go through confirmation class and get confirmed in the Lutheran faith. Her daughter did not believe in God and did not want to join the church. This is a girl who we as a teaching group have struggled with, but we always reminded each other that she may not be passing her classes, but at least she is hearing the Gospel. After reading this devastating message from the mother, my sinful self immediately thought, “Well, we really did waste our time.” It was followed immediately by a deep sense of grief and sadness. I was crushed, and started crying.
My family was at the table having dinner, so I began to tell my husband why I was upset as my two and four year old children were listening. My four year old asked me, “Mom, why doesn’t she believe in God? Will she go to hell?” Initially, I started kicking myself for not waiting until my kids had gone to bed to talk about the issue, and considered trying to change the subject. But it quickly turned into a learning experience for me! My four year old understood exactly why I was so sad. If Hannah truly doesn’t believe, then she will go to hell, and that makes me sad, and Christ sad as well. There’s no use in hiding it from my kids. The two of them showed me so much love and concern because they didn’t like to see their mommy crying. It was a beautiful moment.
As I continued to grieve and process the information I was reminded of two verses that are especially important to me as a teacher and a mother. There are times when I feel like a complete failure because the kids don’t seem to “get it!” At these times I find comfort in the words of Isaiah 55: 10-11:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
And the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 3: 6-7:
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
The pressure is lifted. By being a part in sharing the Gospel with Hannah, I was used as God wanted me to be. But I cannot be Hannah’s savior. Through the Spirit and other people that God will send, I have hope that Heather will one day cling to that Savior, Jesus!
Prayer: Gracious Heavenly Father, Please forgive me when I try to take over the roll of savior. Thank you for your Word and your Spirit that give us the tools we need as your workers. Father, I plead with you to send workers into Hannah’s life and the lives of all students, that they may accept your love and forgiveness. In Jesus’s name, Amen.