"Why didn't you tie that bag up securely? Now we have a mess." His little chubby cheeks looked scarlet and everyone looked at him. Some jumped to the floor and began crawling around with him retrieving the marbles, and I waited.
Then I sensed the Lord asking me why I responded to Jimmy this way. Had Sean or Travis, two of my other students, done the same thing, I would have been more patient and used a softer tone of voice. But it was Jimmy.
What had he ever done that caused me to see him with a more critical spirit? He was overweight, messy and not a very good student. But I had other children to whom that same description could apply and I responded to them with more grace and more charity. For a reason I could not explain, I had never found Jimmy likeable and it was apparent in how I treated him.
"I want you to know that this was the first year Jimmy loved school. You are the first teacher who has really cared about him and he knows it. He really loves you and your class."
It has been nearly 40 years since that day. And even now I find myself getting weepy at the thought of how I treated that little boy until the Lord confronted me with my sin. It was God who loved Jimmy through me. I don't recall by name most of the students I have had over the years. But I remember Jimmy. I wish I knew what became of him. For he changed me and showed me the heart of the Father.
Sadly, it is a lesson I continue to have to learn. There are other Jimmys in my life, those whom I view more critically and contemptuously than I do others. God continues to confront me and I continue to yield. And I expect that there are probably people to whom I am a Jimmy. Jesus came for all the Jimmys in the world. For while we were yet sinners, He died for us. For our sins, for our contempt for others and even for when we lose our marbles...all over the floor.
Judy Furnish is a wife, mother and a grandmother of seven. She has taught public school, home-schooled, and currently teaches history and journalism at Covenant Life School in Gaithersburg, Maryland. (She is also WOW manager Gail Purath's sister.)