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Merry Christmas from a Mean Sweet Teacher

By Dr. Skip Myers

web posted December 7, 2007
COLUMNIST – Ask any fourth grader at my school and they would have told you she was someone to avoid and fear. She walked the halls with a purposeful stride as her sixth grade class sheepishly followed in a perfect line. Ms. Wall’s salt and pepper hair in a tight bun, her black-rimmed glasses magnifying her steely eyes paved a wide birth and I truly believed the walls would part in fear just to let her pass. It was rumored that you should start praying in the fourth grade that the Lord would be merciful and let you avoid getting her in the sixth grade. So believe me when I tell you my fourth grade and fifth grade year was spent getting real close to the Lord. I made every deal imaginable with the Lord.

Two years passed rather quickly and I entered the elementary school as a sixth grader ready to be the “big dog.”  They posted the room assignments on the wall by grade and I arrogantly paraded my “sixth-grade self” passed the masses of lowly children. I just knew God has heard my prayers. I passed several friends whose hollow-eyed stares of terror told me they had gotten “The Wall.” The teachers were listed in alphabetical order and I started looking. I got through the first half of the alphabet and still could not find my name. Panic filled my being as I got to the last list and still had not found my room assignment. Ms. Wall was the only teacher left and there it was—my name! Life as I knew just ended.

Finding my name on the list was bad enough but walking into her class was agony. She sat behind her desk with her head down buried in a book. All we heard was, “As you come into MY class sit down, be quiet, and begin filling out the information sheet on your desk.”  The rest is history. Well, actually math. That’s what Ms. Wall taught. She turned out to greatest teacher I ever had. She cared more, taught me more, and expected more out of me than any other teacher I ever had. Her sense of humor was magical and her love obvious. She demanded and expected the best out of her classes and I found it a joy to give her just that.

Merry Christmas!  It’s odd what we fear. We fear based on reputation apart from personal experience. We take the opinions of others and make them truth. Over the next three weeks we are going to look at one of the greatest proclamations in the Bible. It is the one the angel made to the shepherds the night Jesus was born. It begins with a simple statement to calm the shepherds’ reaction, “Do not be afraid.” (Luke 2:10)

You see, the shepherds were encountering something spiritual and naturally they assumed the proper reaction was one of fear. They had heard all about God--just like I had heard all about Ms. Wall. They assumed and believed without personal experience. They believed the rumors that God was a judging, condemning God. So naturally if He was sending a message to a bunch of lowly shepherds, it had to be one of doom and gloom. But instead of words of condemnation and fear, the shepherds heard, “For behold I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.”

Imagine that! God had something good to say and He wanted to include them before anyone else. What a sense of relief and joy they must have felt when the angel said these words. God had good news for all the people. And at that moment their opinion of God changed because they had experienced Him. They were confronted with something spiritual and it wasn’t condemning but uplifting. It wasn’t judgmental but inclusive. God was reaching out to touch this world with a hand of love and He wanted them to know it. I cannot imagine the rush of relief and joy that swept across these simple shepherds that night. I do know one thing and I truly believe--it changed their lives forever.

As you enter into this Christmas season, examine your opinion of God and then put it next to the Good News of Jesus. Is your opinion accurate? Does it hold true in light of what God has actually done through Jesus? If not, then let your opinion be changed because you open your life and experience the love of God that was proclaimed on a hillside to a bunch of shepherds. Experience changes us. Merry Christmas from me and Ms. Wall.

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