|“?If you do not obey the Lord, and if you |
rebel against his commands, his hand will
be against you, as it was against your fathers.”
|—1 Samuel 12:15|
In seventh grade, 1959, I had a very special homeroom teacher. She had taught junior high school science for 42 years. Yes, that means she first walked into a classroom in 1917, fresh out of a two-year teaching course in what was then call a “Normal School.” She was an excellent teacher. She had a world of experience. And, she had kept up with developments in both education and science.
But, for all intents and purposes, she looked like what I can best describe as “some old, ragged street person.” Now, this was a time before we even called homeless individuals “street people.” But, that is how she looked to her twelve-year-old students.
One of my classmates was utterly incorrigible. He had caused trouble in school from the time he entered Kindergarten. His behavior had not improved through the years. He did become sneakier in trying to hide his generally evil intentions. But, he was disruptive, annoying, and generally a pain to both teachers and his fellow students.
In homeroom, he started his day by doing something to disrupt the class. The very first day of school, he did something outrageous and the teacher did not react. He did something else outrageous the second day, and, again, the teacher did not react. He behaved the same way for the next three days of the week.
One of his fellow students asked him why he kept misbehaving when it did not seem to get a rise out of the teacher. His answer was instructive: “She’s such an old bat and she’s so blind she probably can’t even see what I’m doing. So, I’m gonna keep doing whatever I want to do!”
The next week, we all waited to see what this twelve-year-old thug would do next. Sure enough, he did something that in any other class would have gotten him suspended. The teacher didn’t even acknowledge that anything had happened. The next day, same thing—and, so it went for the remaining days of the second week of school.
The third week of seventh grade, the misbehaving student entered the classroom and before he even took his seat, started a ruckus. Again, the teacher didn’t seem to even notice. Second day of the third week brought another terrible action. It seemed as if he could do anything he wanted and the teacher would not even react. In fact, she wouldn’t even raise her eyes from whatever she was reading on her desk.
The fourth week of school began with an extraordinary tension in the homeroom. We all waited to see what new level of evil this “bad boy” anti-hero would bring to us. As he walked into the room, he sneered some comment in the direction of the teacher. To the shock and amazement of everyone, the teacher jumped up out of her chair, rushed to where the bad boy was standing, grabbed him firmly by the ear and led him screaming from the classroom, down the hall, to the Principal’s Office. His blood-curdling screams left us dazed and confused.
When the teacher returned to the classroom, she sat down quietly for a moment and then in a soft, but firm, voice addressed the rest of us in her homeroom. “I have watched carefully the behavior of Mr.—and she named the student—for the last three weeks. What he didn’t realize is that I had been forewarned of his behavior coming into this homeroom.
“You see, I had previously had his three brothers. And, they all behaved just as he did. They all come from a terrible family home situation. I tried to extend every possible opportunity to this young man to change his behavior. I thought perhaps he would tire of his foolishness and settle down. When he did not, I had no choice but to mete out the justice he had so richly earned.
“Let this be a lesson to all of you. Whenever in this life you think you are getting away with something, please remember what happened in your seventh grade homeroom. You may appear to get away with evil for a time, but there will always—always—come a day of judgment.”
Obviously, I have never forgotten this incident that happened all those 57 years ago. In our nation, founded on the great Judeo-Christian ethic, we have strayed far from God. As a society, we have sneered at Him every time we entered the homeroom of life. We would do well to heed the words of the Prophet Samuel—the last of the Hebrew Judges—as recorded in 1 Samuel 12:15:
If you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your fathers.
Contrary to what some Christians believe, God will not always look away from the evil our nation perpetrates. A Day of Judgment is coming.
So, in our own lives we do well to put aside our pet sins. Instead, we should be quick to confess our sins, quick to repent, quick to make restitution, and quick to receive God’s reconciliation that He gives us through His Son, Jesus.
We must never, ever, forget that a time of judgment awaits those who disobey God’s commands. That’s why, as His ambassadors, we have an awesome responsibility to make much of Jesus in every aspect of our lives.