The King and I

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2022

“The King and I.”

Any reference to that play brings me back to the summer Mr. Jack Snowdy brought it to life on the stage at St. Peter School. Every child who wanted to be in the play was included, and I wanted to be in the play. Even though I was only an elementary student at the time, those songs were deeply embedded in my memory, for a mere mention of the play and I’m humming, “Shall We Dance.”

It was years later, when I was a teacher, that a lyric from another of the play’s songs began rolling over and over in my mind. “It’s a very ancient saying but a true and honest thought, that if you become a teacher by your pupils you’ll be taught.”

I was recently reminded of one such lesson I learned many years ago in a second-grade classroom. It went like this:

“Okay, clear off our desks, it’s time for the test.”

The students began to quickly put away their papers, crayons and books. All except one child. She put away her books, then piled little pieces of trash near the upper corner of her desk. The finishing touch was when she covered it with her tissue.  I stood near her, amazed by what I was watching. Did she really think that she would get away with that?

I instructed her to throw away the trash she had covered up, then I distributed the tests.

Between us, I can relate to her more than I’d like to admit. For I, too, would rather cover up my messes than deal with them. And I’d especially like to cover up my messes when the Teacher is walking by with a test for me. I want to pretend I’m ready when, in reality, I will never pass a test with mess on my desk.

Proverbs 28:13, “He who repents and forsakes his sin shall be forgiven.”  I find it easy to confess and repent of the sin when my Teacher convicts me of the mess in my life. But it takes discipline to forsake the same sin, get rid of it, and not return to it. However, both repentance and forsaking of sin can only be accomplished with the grace of God.

The Message version of that same verse reads, “You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.”

As a teacher, when I administered a test, I did not leave the room. And during the times of testing in my life, my Teacher is still close at hand, and always there to provide His grace.

My King and I.

 

Ronny Michel can be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.