God Knows What We Need

June, 16, 2011 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV

Years ago, when I was a Library Media Specialist, I had trouble holding on to a class set of pencils. No matter what I did, several pencils disappeared each day. It was an inconvenience whenever a new class arrived, to have to go searching for more pencils. Since I used them for my students in second through fifth grade, I decided to invest in a set of red pencils with the words “Media Center” embossed on each pencil. 

Shortly after purchasing these pencils, which were supposed to solve my problem, an irate teacher came to my office door between classes, with a child in tow. In her hand she had one of my red pencils. With her other hand she was pulling the offending child into my presence. The teacher said: “Carly has something she wants to say to you.” Between sobs, the child said: “I’m sorry I took your pencil.” 

I took a deep breath and examined the situation, praying for guidance. Clearly the child had already received a verbal beating from her teacher. Her eyes were downcast, and tears streaked her face. I asked myself, “What does this child need from me right now?” 

I took another deep breath and asked: “Carly, Do you know why I have these pencils?” Carly shook her head in the negative. “I have these pencils so that each of you will have something to write with when you come to the Media Center.” 

As an afterthought, I asked: “Do you have a pencil?” Carly shook her head again in the negative. 

Then, I reached in my desk and pulled out several pencils. “Here, take one of these. Next time you need a pencil, just ask me.” 

She left and I never mentioned the incident again. 
That summer, I saw Carly. She was with her grandmother, and she waved at me through the chain-link fence of the Baptist Student Center. In the Fall, when Carly was in third grade, she came to the Media Center, all smiles. I said something like; “You sure do look happy.” 

Then she whispered, as if the words she had to say were too sacred to be said aloud: “Mizz Redding, this summer, I got saved.” Then she gave me a hug. 

I will never forget this experience, because I know this is how God has often dealt with my sin. Before he deals with me, He asks: “What does this child need?” 

Dearest Heavenly Father, 
You are a God of mercy and compassion. Thank you for allowing us to come to you when we sin. Thank you for the many times that you have not given me the punishment that I deserved. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus, who came to free us from the torment of guilt and shame. Give us the confidence to come to you when we are in need of healing and forgiveness.

In the name of Jesus, who bore our sins that we might be forgiven, 

Carmen (GA)