Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why Am I Surprised?

You'd think I won the lottery. Or maybe I received a huge raise or an all-expense paid two-week vacation because of how darned giddy I am right now. I've pumped my fist with an ecstatic "YES!" and just completed a happy dance in the kitchen. 

I'm ecstatic, friends, because I have seen God answer a prayer as clear as day, and it happened in my dining room while I was eating chicken spaghetti with a small group of friends. To those who see miracles every day, you can roll your eyes all you like. But my heart is pumping as if I've been in a spin class for an hour, and I haven't even had any caffeine ... at least for the past 6 hours.

Many of you know for the last two years I have taught at one of the lowest-performing, highest-poverty level schools in our city, in our district. I have never seen needy defined as much as I did on a daily basis. My students were starving -- physically, mentally and emotionally and academically. 

I adopted the "starfish" philosophy and called in my friends and my church to recognize this tiny school, hidden behind the broken down cars and the dilapidated fences in East Fort Worth. For two years, I told sob stories to those more fortunate in hopes that my school and the students within its walls would be recognized as a place in DIRE need of help. 

Then one week this summer, a light poured out like a pitcher over a small community where survival skills are key. Christ Chapel Bible Church decided to take their successful Kids Camp (VBS) to the 'hood. For a week, church members and children took their fears, their Bibles and their hearts to recreate a happy, joyful, fun place where they could learn about Christ and be loved in a safe place. One guess which neighborhood they visited. 

So tonight, several couples in our Bible study came to our house to meet after a summer hiatus. We all caught up, dined, talked about kids and relayed busy schedules to one another. Then one of the women began to tell me about the week she and her family spent serving God in Stop Six. Where I taught. With my sweet, needy babies. They ALL showed up! As I began to roll call my students' names one by one, my friend would say, "Yes, she was there" or "Yes, he comes every week."

Wait ... every week?

The Kids Camp didn't end after one week. Nope. A small group of volunteers at Christ Chapel have committed themselves to an hour a week, taking these kids out of the constant chaos where they search for peace. They giggle, they sing, they touch Bibles. They eat as much pizza as they want. 

My heart was floating up out of my chest and into my throat as my friend showed me pictures of my babies (that's what teachers call their students, FYI). Tears brimmed for at least a half hour as the couple told me of one student who now comes to church with them and has even been to their home. They even have a nickname for her. That's what you do for people you love.

One more thing. The woman told me that every week at church, my former student asks, "When am I going to see her?" 

She's asking for me. A student who gave me grief, made me question my ability to teach, took every ounce of my attention, love and energy every day. A student who was the subject of my "you won't believe what happened today" stories I vented to friends. And she still was asking for me. 

I don't know why I'm surprised. God answers prayers all the time. Some of them right away, others in ways we don't expect and mostly not in our time frame. But this one opened up like the curtains on stage of a Broadway musical. I am giving Him a standing ovation. 

IN CASE YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN ONE, LOOK NOW. This is, by definition, an answered prayer. All God's people say Amen.