Monday, June 1, 2009

A Worse/Best Moment of My Life

It began with a typical Sunday afternoon in 1959 when I was 12 years old.
We had company and the house was bustling with noisy children playing and adults talking - women's voices in concert with the men's.

At some point amid the fun and laughter, I suddenly froze with the sickening realization that I had forgotten about an essay that was due in the morning ! A character study from the book Treasure Island - an assignment that I had put off and now was facing the consequences of going to school with my homework not done!
I knew I couldn't do it after our company left because staying up past bedtime was not allowed.

So I did the only thing I could do . I got a sheet of paper and a pen and sat down at the kitchen table. Trying to ignore the noise and movement and interruptions around me .. I dashed off a character study of Long John Silver.

I didn't have time to polish it or edit it and I felt guilty handing it in the next day, knowing how little time I had spent on it.

On Tuesday I sat in my English class, waiting for our teacher Mr. Robert Robertson to come in. The minute he stepped through the door, the class hushed its chatter. We could see we were all in trouble. Instead of his usual smile, there was a set jaw and a very stern expression on our teacher's face.
He strode into the room and dropped a pile of papers on his desk - we recognized them immediately as our essays.
Without so much as a 'good morning' - he started in berating us for our lack of effort. He was a loved teacher and his keen disappointment in us was deeply felt!
After scolding us until we were all shrunk down into our seats, he paused and picked up the top paper. Without changing the tone of his voice he said, "Let me read you one of your essays!"

He began reading and to my utter humiliation -- it was MY paper he was reading.
I hardly heard the words I had so hastily written ... I wished the floor would open up and swallow me... I wished I was invisible... I wished I had never been born! I felt ill, my head was filled with ice - my emotions washed over me in sickening waves!

When finally he finished reading, he slapped the paper back down on his desk and exclaimed,
"Now, if ONE of you can write like THAT .. there is NO excuse for the REST OF YOU !!!!"

I could never put into words the emotion I felt then.... from utter humiliation to bewildered exaltation ??

It was a worst/best moment!

I was reminded yesterday of this childhood experience ..... and the teacher I loved, who taught me more about writing than any other!

and I thought ...................................

One day we are all going to be waiting in another 'class'. Waiting for our name to be called to stand before the Judge on the Great White Throne, knowing He is about to read our 'works' aloud for all to hear.
I know we will wait , full of trepidation, wishing that we had put more effort into our 'works of righteousness'. How we will wish that we could boast of great and mighty accomplishments!

Our hearts will faint within us when we see His glory and majesty ... and our hopes will be dashed in humiliation knowing the small offering we have to bring before Him. We will hang our heads in shame that we did not put more effort into our earthly walk... that we did not focus more on what was of eternal value - on what great things we could have accomplished for Him!

But I have a feeling ... That the things we did that seemed praise-worthy in the eyes of men - even the things that gave us a feeling of satisfaction or pride of accomplishment are not the things that will be praiseworthy in that Divine Courtroom.
I believe that it will be things that we did out of who we are, the things we said and did that we forgot as soon as the moment passed.
I think we will be astonished when God looks at us and says... "This , THIS, - is what I praise you for! THIS is what pleased me ! this is what made YOU a good and faithful servant!"

That moment truly will be the worst/best moment of our life!!

2Co 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."


Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

A wonderful illustration once again, Julie. I could easily put myself in your place...from the familiar Sunday afternoon social the thought of assignments due the next day. And how well I remember Long John Silver...and my stern English teacher who brought Treasure Island to life for our class.

Thanks for the reminder to be faithful servants!

Lovella said...

Julie. .that is a wonderful illustration. . .I was imagining exactly where you sat. . and wondered who was in the background. .it could have been me. . .although I would have been pretty new. .
I imagine you always knew how to put your thoughts down on paper. . .no one can really teach a person how to do that. . you either have it or you don't.

I do wonder what we will be most surprised about. . .upon sitting at the feet of our Lord and Saviour. . .it gives me such motivation to want to be like Him. .

Anonymous said...

You have told us a very good story; I could feel that same despair and embarrassment. And then such an analogy to the future. It is certainly food for thought. Thanks for sharing that, Julie. Dairymary

Candy said...

Such a neat illustration you gave us. It makes me think of the little things we do, maybe even on a daily basis, being as important as the big things we do. I got to take a field trip to see Treasure Island live at a theatre in Minneapolis/St. Paul while in fifth or sixth grade. That was big doings for a girl born and raised in northern Wisconsin!

Anneliese said...

Julie, thank you for yet another great illustration to help us remember what is important. Sometimes we really don't know what will have lasting impact. Your post is encouraging and thought provoking at the same time.

charlotte said...

oh i could just feel that sick humilation and guilt taht you described......all that worrying and were praised and not ridiculed....
it reminded me of how much guilt and shame i feel for not being good enough standing at the feet of Jesus and He saying to me....well done good and faithful servant......well at least i hope that is what he will say.

Demara said...

I can't remember much of my school experience with such clarity so I'm surprised you can remember it so well!!! Nicly written. :)

Anonymous said...

What a great post Julie! When my mom passed away and now again this past week as a dear friend passed away, I pondered my own entrance into heaven, meeting Jesus face to face. My prayer continues to be...make me more like you Jesus. Kathy

James Janzen said...

I can see myself in your place as well! But not with the same results. Mine would not have been read as the best, but as an example of lack of effort. Good lesson though. It is true that what man sees as having value is foolishness to God. Often things of utmost value in the moment can become meaningless a short time later. Only things for God will last.