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The Restoring Power of Grace

Last night, I watched the power that grace can have on a person’s life.

I attended my high school’s basketball games…both of them (JV and Varsity).  It was Senior Night, and I wanted to honor my basketball son…the young man I taught three years ago and have been providing game day snacks for the past two years, and another young man I taught four years ago.  Both are amazing human beings…polite, hard workers, and great examples to their peers.

I had the added bonus of watching a current student of mine play in his first game this season.

This young man had previously been unable to play because he had been academically ineligible.  With the end of the first semester last week, new grade point averages were configured, and he’d fallen short by one point.

He asked me for grace…the chance to get the one point he needed to be able to play.

I’d said no.

At first.

After a chat with a fellow staff member…someone I respect immensely…and a bit of soul searching and praying, I decided to have the student redo a major assignment he’d blown off.

He floated into my classroom the next morning, and I was proud to put a more-than-passing grade on the completed work.

He’d earned his point with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears…pulled an all-nighter…probably a first for him.

Thus it was that I found myself watching as the game began; he was in the starting lineup.

His coach, who had never asked for any special favors, had visited my classroom yesterday morning before school started…thanked me for working with the student and for giving him another chance.  He’d told me that this student was an excellent athlete and would be a key player next year.

Let me tell you…watching this young man play was a humbling experience.  He scored between fifteen to twenty of the team’s points.  Our guys won the game…by a slim margin of five points, I think.  It was a nail-biter of a game.

After it was over, I told my student congratulations.

He hugged me…pure joy on his face.

He thanked me.

He told me he’d never let himself get in that situation again.

I then told the coach that he hadn’t been wrong about this young man.  The coach thanked me.

Honestly, this was less about me than this student of mine.  He took action when given the chance.

Had I not extended grace, he wouldn’t have learned the lesson of the assignment.

He also wouldn’t have learned a bigger life lesson…that laziness will bite you in the rear if you allow it to become a habit.

He might have given up on me, as a teacher.

I believe that I’ve laid some groundwork that will be key to his success in the next few months as we prepare for the state reading exam and, possibly, the last two years of his high school career.

I think I learned as much as he did.

I learned that although I can and should be wary of students who might try to manipulate me into getting what they want, there are exceptions to the case, and that I’ll never know until I take a chance on someone.

I was reminded that there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to handling students’ individual situations.  I tend to think in black and white.  The gray in the middle is hard for me to navigate through.

I learned that God will make His will known to me through the use of others and to be sensitive to those times.  Trust me.  It became very obvious by the end of the day that this was something I had to do.

I hope that this experience will one day point this young man to the saving grace that Jesus extended when He gave His life on the cross.  I am so grateful for that forgiveness…the chance to redo things in my own life.  It’s only right that I do the same for others as well.  In my humanness, I sometimes forget.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions.  I know myself and how quickly I tend to forget things.

However, a few evenings ago, I made an attempt to begin a list…

  • Drink 64oz of water every day
  • Give up my beloved Mt. Dew
  • Eat salads at least four times a week

All somewhat superficial sentiments, I’ll admit.

As I’ve read blogs this week, I’ve been challenged to go a little deeper.

And so I’ve been thinking…

And thinking…

And praying…

The word I’ve heard is FORGIVENESS.

I’m embarrassed.  I’ve had a problem in this area.  But I didn’t realize it until recently.

It’s easy to pay lip service and “forgive,” but when I allow ill feelings about a situation or person to continue to permeate my being, then I haven’t really forgiven.

So, I think that 2010 will be about digging through my past and forgiving old hurts.

It’s also going to be about learning how to instantly forgive.

Ouch.  This one is going to be hard.

I like to hold onto my hurt feelings and my angry indignation.

But that’s wrong.  I know it in my head, but bending my will to His is challenging as I continue to fight my human-ness.

Ultimately, though, I cannot call my self a follower of Christ if I do not learn how to forgive.

Jesus forgave ALL…even while dying on the cross for crimes He was not guilty of.

I told you I went deeper.

I pray that 2010 is a year of growth for all of us.

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