Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Throw away your TV?

Without access to a TV I do a lot more reading these days. I read this great story about how we treat people. Hope it speaks to you like it spoke to me.

Teddy Stallard certainly qualified as the least of one of these. No interest in school. Musty, wrinkled clothes; hair never combed. One of those kids in school with a blank face, expressionless - sort of a glassy unfocused stare. When Miss Thompson spoke to Teddy he always answered in monosyllables. Unattractive, unmotivated and distant. Put simply, he was hard to like. Even though his teacher said she loved all in her class the same, down inside she wasn't being completely truthful.

Whenever she marked Teddy's papers, she got a certain perverse pleasure in putting crosses next to the wrong answers and when she put F's at the top of the papers, she always did it with a certain vigour. She should have known better; she had Teddy's reports and she knew more about him than she wanted to admit. The reports read:

Class 1: Teddy shows promise with his work and attitude, but poor home situation.

Class 2: Teddy could do better. Mother is seriously ill. He receives little help at home.

Class 3: Teddy is a good boy but too serious. He is a slow learner. His mother died this year.

Class 4: Teddy is very slow, but well-behaved. His father shows no interest.

Christmas came and the boys and girls in Miss Thompson's class brought her Christmas presents. They piled their presents on her desk and crowded around to watch her open them. Among the presents there was one from Teddy. She was surprised that he had bought her a gift, but he had. Teddy's gift was wrapped in brown paper and was held together with tape. On the paper were written the simple words:

                                             For Miss Thompson from Teddy

When she opened Teddy's present, out fell a gaudy rhinestone bracelet, with half the stones missing, and a bottle of cheap perfume.

The other boys and girls began to giggle and smirk, but Miss Thompson at least had enough sense to silence them by immediately putting on the bracelet and putting some of the perfume on her wrist. Holding her wrist up for the other children to smell, she said, "Doesn't it smell lovely?" And the children, taking their cue from the teacher, readily agreed with "oo's" and "ah's."

At the end of the day, when school was over and the other children had left, Teddy lingered behind. He slowly came over to her desk and said softly,

"Miss Thompson...Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother...and her bracelet looks really pretty on you too. I'm glad you like my presents." When Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and asked God to forgive her.

The next day when the children came to school, they were welcomed by a new teacher. Miss Thompson had become a different person. She was no longer just a teacher; she had become an agent of God. She was now a person committed to loving her children and doing things for them that would live on after her. She helped all the children, but especially the ones who struggled with their studies, and especially Teddy. By the end of the school year, Teddy showed dramatic improvement. He had caught up with most of the students and was even ahead of some.

She didn't hear from Teddy for a long time. Then one day, she received a note that read:

Dear Miss Thompson: I wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating as second in my class. Love Teddy

Four years later, another note came:

Dear Miss Thompson: They just told my that I will be graduating as the first in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. Love Teddy Stallard

And a few more years later:

Dear Miss Thompson: As of today, I am Theodore Stallard, a qualified doctor. How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know. I am getting married next month, the 27th to be exact. I wanted you to come and sit where my mother would have sat if she were alive. You are the only family I have now: Dad died last year. Love Teddy Stallard

Miss Thompson went to that wedding and sat where Teddy's mother would have sat. She deserved to sit there - she had done something for Teddy that he could never forget.

In the words of Jesus: ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25v40

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