Saturday, October 31, 2015

Help is on the way

Marcia Moston

 I thought it was unfortunate I didn’t have a problem that day. Otherwise I might have thanked the voice in the self-checkout machine at the supermarket for her encouraging words. Maybe taken them as being prophetic.

Unlike the woman on my GPS who launches into a frantic litany of commands before having a robotical breakdown if I veer from her directions, the checkout machine voice remained calm and collected. 

“Help is on the way,” she said after twice telling me to please put the item in the bag. I had already put the item in bag, but had tried to rearrange things so the milk wouldn’t sit on top of the tomato, which I had unwittingly put in first, but you can’t disturb the weight once it’s on the scale, and so I waited for my help to arrive—a young girl with her key card that set things in order again.

“Help is on the way.” The voice played in my mind throughout the day, reminding me of times I desperately needed to hear those words.

Years ago, I was called in to sub for an 8th grade English class. At the end of the day, the principal called an emergency staff meeting and asked me to come also. The teacher I was subbing for had committed suicide. The principal wanted me to stay on until they could figure out a permanent plan. Back then schools, or at least this school, were not prepared for such emergencies and had no ready counselors to help the kids. But I wasn’t equipped either.

The next morning when the kids saw me sitting at the desk of their favorite teacher, they were angry. I became the focal point, the tangible place they could direct their confused sadness and grief. Although I understood, I too was floundering about how to carry on in such a tragic situation. The principal had told me to not let them make a shrine of memorial for her on the bulletin board as they wanted, because the school did not want to make it seem they condoned suicide. However no one told me what to do. And so the students acted out, defied anything I suggested, and let me know I was not their teacher.

By lunchtime the second day, the strain on us all reached the tipping point. I needed the school to help me. Holding onto tears, I marched down to the cafeteria where the principal was proctoring a lunch period. All I meant to do was ask for help, but once I opened my mouth, it all fell out. I stood in the middle of that lunchroom and told him how I needed help, how out of control the kids were, how I didn’t know what to do. Then I started crying and blurted out, as if in an attempt to excuse my breakdown, “And I just got my period.”

Well that did it. Help was on the way. Whether the counselors had already been enroute or not, I don’t know, but by that afternoon, they were there, as was a faculty member to help me with lesson plans until someone permanent took over. Life moved forward. I just wish that teacher had known how much her students loved her.

Help is on the way. Sometimes it may seem to take a while coming. And sometimes it takes an automated checkout machine to remind us. But all times, those who cling to Christ have this assurance

 God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble . . . The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.(Ps.46). Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

In the joy of the Lord,

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