It was a simple assignment. To be honest, I thought my students could use some no-brainer activity as we wound down toward the holidays. In their more academic classes, they were facing finals and end-semester projects, so I thought I could make life easier in the world of Spanish.
So there were 25 Spanish sentences about Christmas, and 15 of them were straight from the nativity story in the book of Luke.
Students pulled out markers. Folded red and green construction paper in half.
“Write one sentence on each page, and illustrate it,” I said.
I pulled up Piano Guys Christmas on Spotify, and we laughed and talked for a few days, while they wrote and colored.
On Wednesday, I sat down to grade their booklets, planning to give them a quick look through and then give a simple completion grade. A no-brainer for me, too.
Except the Crayola Marker art made me slow down. I found myself reading the simple Christmas story through the eyes of my students, and it became a worshipful experience that took me off guard.
You will call his name Jesus.
There was no room for them in the inn.
Mary gave birth to a son. (My favorite picture was a page colored in black, except for a rectangular sign in the middle that said, “Censored.” Well played.)
Some of the pictures were whimsical and made me laugh out loud. When we got to the verse about “Nothing is impossible for God,” I wish you could have seen the Avenger-style pictures the guys in my class created.
But one verse, one page made me pause for a few minutes. The verse read, “My soul glorifies the Lord.” There was no picture. Instead, my student had scattered words on the page: Kindness, love, peace, self-control.
The fruits of the Spirit? Is this how a soul makes the Lord look bigger to the world?
Very soon after grading those booklets, the day went south. The next hours were the kind where everything that can go wrong does –car trouble and hospital visits. The kind of day that leaves you waiting for the next shoe to drop.
But the Lord danced those Christmas books in my mind.
My soul glorifies the Lord.
Will my soul glorify the Lord? I thought. Will I allow the Spirit to bear fruit in me, on this day when every phone call means some kind of bad news?
My soul glorifies the Lord.
Crayola had no idea that their water color paints would be the perfect medium, to bring hope and instruction to a frazzled Montana girl. Stick figures paired with the best story.
“The Mighty One has done great things for me,” Mary sang. My students drew pictures of what they felt represented that truth. (I wonder what I would have drawn.)
And the Lord will do great things for you.
Look what the Mighty One did for me. Just before he allowed the day to get hard, he prepared my soul. He gave me Scripture and something beautiful and good to hold onto.
“You have no idea,” I told my students the next day. “You have no idea how God used your simple books to help me yesterday.”
So I tell you this good news: The Mighty One sees your day. He knows what is coming and what you need, and he will do great things for you.