The past week was very hard, for my class, for me, for the other teachers at school. The emotional and physical exhaustion of dealing with the discipline issues was fairly telling, and I was looking forward to the weekend to gather my thoughts, rest and reflect, and plan the week ahead for restoration and renewal with my students. It looks like the tough stands have borne some fruit, the class having flipped around since Monday this week, although I’m still processing whether I should have done some things differently.
However, I had no idea what was about to unfold even as I was counting the minutes to Saturday.
I was looking forward to some rest after lunch, and was just getting ready for a nap, when we heard a huge ruckus outside our flat, and going out brought my wife and me into the middle of what seemed to be a loud fight. There seemed to be an altercation going on between some of our building tenants and our watchman and his wife who was carrying her crying baby. To our disbelieving ears came the words,’They drove their car over my baby!’
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we had to quickly end the arguments, separate our watchman’s family and have them get ready to go to the hospital, and then organise and leave with the family for the hospital to get the child checked up for injuries. All that time, I remember thinking often that it was odd that there was no scratch on the child’s body, but the child clearly seemed to be in pain.
I don’t believe it was a coincidence that my friend Riyaz was just getting off duty at the hospital, and stayed and helped us through the whole check up process and paperwork. The child had a break in the right shin and one in the small bones of the left foot. No other injuries…and seeing again and again in my mind the vision of the car sweeping around the corner and running over the child’s legs, and no clue in the driver’s mind as to what had happened as no one was visible, the mother having left the baby for a few seconds to get some water, the miracle of the escape stuns me every time I think about it. Two days back, the orthopaedic surgeon set both legs in casts, and we will need to take the child back for a check up after 16 days. The child is looking better, laughing and pretty much the lively child he normally seems to be. What could have happened and what actually did is unbelievable.
For those of you who have been following this family’s story, will be familiar with their condition written in my post ‘The Day of Small Beginnings‘, with more details in subsequent posts, and how terrible this accident could be if the child doesn’t recover well.
However, that evening when I was reflecting over the day’s events while going through some old photos, my attention was caught by a photo of Hannah taken many years ago when we had visited a cottage industry fair which was conducting art and craft workshops, and I felt something important impress itself gently on my heart and mind.
Hannah is all concentration ‘making’ a clay pot along with the potter, sharing the same wheel and clay. However, in the second photo, it’s quite clear that it’s the potter who is in control, and the plan for the pot is his. I don’t believe she even noticed the potter getting more clay in the first photo. And It didn’t rob any magic for Hannah who was quite kicked to take the little pot home!
That’s so much like how God graciously works in, through, with and sometimes in spite of us! All it requires is our availability and willingness to engage with our situations, regardless of how powerless our actions may feel. God is certainly in control, and has been moving resources and events even without our noticing. He loves to work with weakness and failure, immaturity and lack of skill, as long as we have the humility to see our need for His presence, involvement, help and guidance; as long as we can see that we are really nothing without Him. He loves to teach us, empower us and see us fly. He is true to His word when He says, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ (1 Corinthians 12:9)
As I sat there in the dawning sky of this wondrous truth, letting its waves and billows of brightness wash over me, I saw with ever increasing clarity how this wonderful, deeply loving God had worked, and is continuing to work through the accident, bringing good after good out from it and lavishing everyone concerned with His grace. I saw how multiple tiny decisions made cumulated into life-saving acts.
If my wife had not gone out to see what was happening, I would, perhaps, not have gone out, and if we hadn’t broken up the argument, we would have missed Riyaz at the hospital and the process would have been much harder. If the young men in the car had not cooperated and listened to us so readily, everything would have been that much more difficult, as I didn’t have any money to pay for the treatment. If we hadn’t shifted house, we would never have met the watchman’s family, and if we had never got involved with them, the wife and child may have passed away beneath our very noses. If I hadn’t had empty classes, I would never have got involved with the Bridges’s Grade 8, and if I hadn’t watched ‘The Ron Clark Story’ (for the fifth time!) with other teachers some months ago, I would, perhaps, not have been ready to work through the discipline issues of the class. If my life had not been touched so profoundly by the great love of God in His Son Jesus, I would not have been alive today. Every day, I am convinced there are no coincidences.
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, both the occupants of the car and the watchman’s family have seen the grace of God at work. Whether they will follow through to the conclusion of such observation, is certainly another story, perhaps to be told at another time. Perhaps I will end up being the answer to my own prayers once again, or perhaps someone else will. It depends on who has made themselves available and who is willing to engage with what is presented before them, trusting that God is more than sufficient to do more than what we can imagine, through us.
To me, in both the crazily euphoric and obtusely difficult involvement with the Grade 8s, and the demanding, emotionally see-sawing involvement with our watchman’s family, it looks like salt scattered in lives and situations to preserve them and give them flavour, hope shone into despair and desperation, and the creation of spaces where people feel safe and valued enough to start emerging for who they are, to explore a brand new vista opening up. It demands a change in the way I view myself, circumstances, people and situations.
And it takes a great burden off my shoulders knowing that God is at work, labouring with and alongside me; that the clay I’m trying clumsily to shape is safe in the gentle, guiding hands of the Great Potter of our lives.