Sit with me; have some tea, it’s Jasmine, of course. I’m sorry there is no chocolate. It’s my own fault; I took every piece of cocoa joy to work and left it there. What was I thinking? Here I am bereft with nothing to offer you but fruits and vegetables…perhaps an egg on toast?
But look at the day! We can surely enjoy that: the blue sky and sapphire waters, the wind blowing loudly through the trees, the emerald grasses. Wasn’t it funny to have that quick rain pass through, so heavy and dark? Now the sun is back…well, actually, the sun never left. Such a good picture of what I want to talk to you about.
I want to tell you that suffering truly is something to rejoice in. Can you imagine circumstances that once brought fear and pain now bring laughter and wonder?
It was my fourth route, kindergarten to sixth grade, about 50 children. It had been a good day, my prayers for peace and safety on the bus had been answered all afternoon. Suddenly, I felt that peace leave. The children were out of control, fighting, grabbing, yelling, playing. A quick question to The One that never leaves me or forsakes me, “What are you doing, Lord? What’s going on?”
I raised my voice to a loud roar to gain control and ordered an especially aggressive student to the front of the bus. Defiance stood immovable. Crying ensued from a little one giving Defiance her chance to accuse. She pointed her finger at me, “Look what you did! You made her cry!”
Somehow, the wheels on the bus went round and round. In that child size world yet another allusion to Defiance began to provoke a crowd of bullies. He would take no bullying as he began preaching, tattling and walking up the aisle while I drove. The noisy chaos led me to miss a turn. Fifty children erupted in screams, standing in their seats. “You missed the stop! You missed our turn!” The youngest children were afraid.
Praying, “Lord, Help Me!” I re-routed my bus to get back on course. At the next stop I asked for the name of Defiance. “You have no right to ask for my name! I’m the one being picked on! Everyone is against me! You are against me!” He pointed his 12 year-old finger in my face as he began to sob and lament. A crowd of parents gathered: the judge's spotlight pointed with shaking heads, raised eyebrows, and for all to hear, the shouts of “Johnny punched me!” “Susy pulled my hair!” “Bus driver, Bus driver, Bus driver!”
Finally, all delivered safely, I headed back to base. The superintendent and his assistant were waiting.. A parent had called in to complain that the bus driver yelled at her daughter and squeezed her arm hard as she was yanked to another seat. Through the phone the mother pointed her finger at me. There were witnesses, a crowd of children saying "Yeah, and THEN the bus driver...!"
My superiors and I went through the entire scenario. My own secret thoughts were condemning. I knew that I was stressed by the chaos, that I was angry and equally unmoved against Defiance. I knew my loud commanding voice, and my "you better or else!!" look on my face. By the end of our interview, I felt the heavy weight of my guilt. We went to view the security tape fully expecting to see the evidence of the Wicked Witch of the West yelling and abusing a young child.
May I hit the pause button?
Throughout this whole experience my soul was conversing with my Lord. "Why, Lord? Why have you left me? I had peace before, but not now. This hurts! I'm scared! I can't do this!" Could I trust God who gave me peace one minute and withdrew it the next? So wishy-washy! Lies interjected, "You didn't think he'd take care of ALL your needs did you?" Then, a still small voice, "Will you trust me?" I did not defend myself, I told the truth, then we walked in to view the tape.
Considering my internal struggle, I was shocked to find that I looked completely calm, that I did not touch a single child and in fact I was smiling kindly to several. WOW. How was that possible? Yet there was the evidence of my innocence. An internal struggle is not sin, is not guilt.
My tiny suffering that afternoon was an opportunity to see how condemnation works. I had almost believed that I had hurt a child. I was ready to take on condemnation that did not belong to me because the arguments were strong and confident.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1
Isn't that a great testimony? I am redeemed! The case was strong against me, but I am innocent, for eternity, NOT because of a videotape, but by the Blood of Jesus! It covers me, it pays the price, it is enough.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
My Camellia Tree is in bloom!