A friend of mine shared the following story with me last week in a devotional. I am not sure from where the story came, how it originated, or if it’s even true. Nevertheless, I thought the moral of the story was very touching. I was moved by it and and just wanted to share it with you.
Jeremy Forrester was born with a twisted body and slow mind. At the age of 12 he was still in the second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Miss Miller, often became exasperated with him as he would squirm in his chair, drool, and make strange grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just irritated his teacher.
One day Miss Miller called Jeremy’s parents in for a consultation. As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Miss Miller said to them, “Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems. Why, there is a five year gap between his age and that of the other students”
Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke, “Miss Miller,” he said, “there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock fro Jeremy if we had to take him out of his school. We know he really likes it here.”
Miss Miller sat for a long time after they left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn’t fair for to keep him in her class. She had 18 other students to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste anymore time trying?
As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. Here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family, she thought. Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy. From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares. Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. “I love you, Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to here. The other students snickered and Miss Millers face turned red. She stammered, Wh-why that’s very nice, Jeremy. N-now please, take your seat.
Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Miss Miller told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each one of the children a large plastic egg, “Now,” she said to them, ” I want you to take your eggs home and bring them back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Miss Miller,” the children responded enthusiastically, all except for Jeremy. He listened intently; his eyes never left her face and he did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what Miss Miller said about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them.
That evening, Miss Miller’s kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited for an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.
The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs.
In the first egg was a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row raised her hand and said, “That’s my egg, Miss Miller.”
The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Miss Miller held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and transforms into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that’s new life, too.” Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “That one is mine, Miss Miller.”
Finally, when Miss Miller opened Jeremy’s egg, she gasped. It was empty. She thought to herself that he most not have understood the assignment. If only she had not forgotten to call his parents.
Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another. Suddenly, Jeremy spoke up. Miss Miller, aren’t you going to ask me about my egg?” Flustered, Miss Miller replied, “But Jeremy, your egg is empty.” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too.”
When she could speak again, Miss Miller asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?” “Oh, yes,” Jeremy said, “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up.” The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the playground, Miss Miller wept as the cold inside her melted completely away.
Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who came to pay their respects at the funeral were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.
Grace and peace.
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