There’s been a conspiracy underfoot amongst everything mechanical in my home for a year now. The siege began with gunshots in the middle of the night. I looked outside for the trouble but all was quiet. In the morning, while making breakfast, I launched a pancake mid-flip when the shots rang out again. Fully awake, I recognized they were coming through the chimney which sits over central command (the basement) in our house. I flew downstairs to investigate but could see no sign of foul play. The HVAC people came and found nothing either but the noise has come and gone ever since.
Meanwhile, the refrigerator decided to give out but only after the big screen aired its last picture show. The gas grill went up in flames claiming part of the deck. With that fire put out another repairman let me know the dishwasher couldn’t be fixed. I think the roofer was here that day along with the overhead garage door guys. The list goes on. Yesterday, when the bad news came that the furnace and water heater had to be replaced I just put on a sweater unfazed. It turns out the intermittent gunfire is the boiler warning me it’s about to blow but I didn’t lose my cool.
On my desk I now have a six inch deep file of warranties, receipts, and manuals from all the required repairs this year. While flipping through the file the phone rang and it was Luke’s first grade teacher. When I heard her voice out of habit I went to a quiet spot to discuss whatever the trouble might be.
This time, however, there was no problem. Mrs. Hollatz was calling to tell me what a treat it is to have Luke help in her class as a tutor/mentor. She said that her students look up to him because he works so well with them. She even praised his flexibility with handling last minute requests. Given his personality as a kid this has been a pleasant surprise to her. “Look how far he’s come”, she exclaimed. Tears welled up as I replied, “You made this possible.” With characteristic humility she answered, “I don’t know about that.”
I know though. I know that Mrs. Hollatz is one of the teachers in Luke’s life that’s been willing to go the distance with him. I also know she weathered the hardest year with him. Not alone but in partnership with Luke, her assistant, peers, and God. What was accomplished in nine months was miraculous and the proof of that is evident today. Luke, the student that struggled with every aspect of first grade, is mentoring kids and he’s a natural at it.
Mrs. Hollatz wasn’t only Luke’s teacher. She was mine. She taught me that we shouldn’t give up on people because God never does. Not once did she ever give me reason to worry. I worried because I was worn out and assumed she would wear out too. She didn’t and still hasn’t. Every student is a new relationship for her and she fosters the best one she can.
It’s easy in the world today to give up on people because they’re so darn frustrating. Like your appliances they grumble when things aren’t working and break down. You in turn do the same and the crazy cycle of a happy home, work life, and/or social life is disrupted. Conflict enters into the picture and most people’s lives are spent trying to avoid conflict. Countless relationships end because the tension becomes too great and we can’t bear the pain.
In our consumer-driven world we can easily treat relationships like we do stuff. When things break down we try to fix it but with no sign of improvement we give up and cut our losses. People aren’t things though. With people there’s always hope. There is no conflict man can endure that will not produce a blessing. Mrs. Hollatz knew this and hung in there while Luke put her to the test. The slightest thing would spark a conflict and working with Luke’s reactions was as puzzling as my furnace has been. You’d hear the shot but not know why there was a misfire.
Mrs. Hollatz didn’t flinch at those gunshots and doggedly pressed on. Luke changed, she changed, I changed, and all together we grew in the grace of God that made it possible. The Kingdom of God advanced too, because the fruit from weathering the conflict was love and compassion – a love and compassion that is being passed on to a whole new generation of students today through Luke.
Life doesn’t come with a warranty but God does guarantee us that His love and mercy will always endure. He’s in the repair business and works with broken things. If we could embrace the same challenges He is willing to embrace, our relationships could produce blessings that last a lifetime and beyond. Repairing man is worth that trouble.