Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Sometimes Kids Will Surprise You
Sometimes kids will surprise you. Just when you think that they are tired of you and wish anyone else would come to fill your shoes, they surprise you with an act of reassuring love.

I had a moment like that today. We have been rehearsing all week for this year's dinner theatre performance. The students have been giving 100% (okay more like 57% but we have been having a good time together). This is the beginning of a summer full of activity that follows one of the worst winters in my ministry. I am feeling disjointed as personal issues and increasing ministry demands are keeping me away from spending time with my students. I am at once looking forward to and dreading the three solid weeks of camp, mission trip and Bible School that will bind me to this group.

After rehearsal today some of the students just hung out with me. It was nice. I counseled one girl on grieving the death of her aunt. I showed a little extra affection to the one boy who has stuck it out in my Thursday discipleship group. I tried to cheer up a girl who is heartbroken that her best friend likes the same boy she does. I talked with a girl about her friend who got saved at camp last summer, who is not attending youth meetings anymore. I was feeling a certain sense of accomplishment as I did all of these things while typing the dinner theatre program.

Then it happened. One of the students came into the office and said he needed to talk to me in the fellowship hall. I knew immediately that something was up. As we started down the steps he pulled me away from the hallway that led to windows where I could see my house.

My first thought was, "oh no, they teepeed us!" I was certain that they didn't want to spoil that moment by me seeing it too early. Two students led me by the hands down the steps and to the fellowship hall door. They opened the door and led me into the dark meeting room. As we came around the corner, I noticed my wife being led into the room from another entrance in the same fashion. On the fellowship hall stage, the lights were dimly lit and there was a table with a lovely tablecloth, a candle, two place settings, and fancy chairs (stolen from the foyer of the church).

At the table stood one of our students with a dishtowel draped over his arm. "May I seat you Madame?" He asked my wife. He pulled out her seat and she sat down. He asked me the same and I sat as well. "Red or White?" He asked. My wife ordered white. I, still not knowing exactly what to expect ordered red.

Our "waiter" soon returned with a bowl of ice and two bottles of sparkling cider, chilling. As two of our girls filled our salad bowls, our waiter opened the cider and filled our glasses. My wife and I laughed in amazement of the pampering we were getting.

Dinner talk was a little awkward when every few moments someone would pop their head out of the kitchen door to see how we were reacting but it was worth it. We shared laughter and pride as the students brought us the main course, a hamburger for each of us from the nearest fast food restaurant. Mine without pickles, just the way I like it. The meal continued with canned peaches and concluded with hot apple pie ala mode.

I convinced my wife that we should dance in the soft light to the mellow praise and worship CD that was providing our background dinner music. As we started dancing the students filed into the rear of the fellowship hall and watched on with interest and smiling. When we finished our dance, I grabbed my wife and gave her a huge kiss as our students applauded from the shadows.

As we picked up the check for our meal, we found each scrumptious item listed on a well prepared napkin. Next to the total it said simply, "Happy Anniversary".
We had been married for a month and they remembered and showed us a little love.

As we walked away from our elegant dining experience, I could not help but be filled with pride. They are getting it. After a wonderful week of hard work and good times, they took time out to minister to me. They showed me a little of the Jesus we talk so much about. They were displaying love to a weary worker for the Lord. They refreshed me. I found myself wishing we could leave for camp right then, while their hearts were fresh from service and mine was refreshed by their love.

Unfortunately camp is still two weeks away, mission trip is four. However, when the going gets tough on those trips this year, I will do my best to remember this day. On this day that I saw Christ in the students whom are entrusted to me. On this day that I saw something in them that I want more in me. On this day their simple love and service renewed my heart. Sometimes they do surprise you. Those days may be few and far between but as I reflect on this near perfect day, I know they are worth the wait.

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