God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch His breath. And He knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folks in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.
She sat on the back row in the small classroom at the school that one year ago was just a faith-filled dream. Her face seemed so familiar, like a story I had stepped into years before. Yet, hers was a new story – not of a life rescued from neglect or abuse, but of a future given wings.
It was a new world for her, the desks and construction paper and classmates. For years, her classroom had been corrugated metal and tarps in a place where vultures circled overhead and wisps of smoke rose from a mountain of refuse mixed with dirt that fell like sandpaper on weathered faces. There, little hands joined big hands to dig through the remainders of someone else’s life to find anything that could sustain hers. The back-breaking struggle of generations gone by rested on those who stooped low to find redemption in the waste.
Now, her redemption is found in school bells and books.
We passed out the simple sheets of paper and read the scripture, and she listened intently to every word. “God gives us strength. God promises He will always be there for us. What prayer do you have now for God?” She looked at me and smiled, her nine-year old eyes hinting to a life my life would never begin to comprehend. Along with the other students in her second-grade class, she took the pencil and concentrated as she wrote on the paper – every letter of each word still fresh and new and just a bit clumsy to her. Like the others, she rushed to the front of the classroom to show her work. The prayers written by the students on the pages were themselves answered prayers of those who stood in the Ravine and asked for God to make a way for a generation to be changed through the power of the Gospel and the gift of education. Everything about this school – from the building itself to the 114 students who are rewriting history every time they step through its doors – is an answer to prayer.
And on this day, her prayer was simple and profound.
“Thank you God and heal my family.”
Instructions were carefully given on how to transform the pieces of paper into airplanes. After each fold, she held her work up for me to see – her face glowing with pride. And when the final fold had been made, those nine-year old eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Her hands – the same hands that only months before were digging in the mire – now held high her creation. And she let that plane fly.
I long to see myself in her. We all need to see ourselves in her. To step away from the mire of the familiar and dig our hands fully into the life God has in store for us. To ignore the “way you’ve always been” and “just the way it is” and “God helps those who help themselves” lies and write a future that says “He is good and He is present and He is strong.” To be amazed with every creative moment He allows us to see. To be unafraid to rewrite history.
And we need to hold high His handiwork in us – and let that handiwork fly freely. Gosh, how we need to fly.
The Ravine School (Centro Educativo Cristiano Mi Especial Tesoro) is supported by Orphan Outreach. You can learn more about the school located in Chimaltenango, and sponsor the students there, by visiting orphanoutreach.org.