I must confess, after my first class with Billy, I prayed he would never come back.
From the moment the four-year-old “little emperor” marched into my small English classroom in northeast Asia, he and I were in an all-out battle for control. Billy was king of all he saw, and woe to the one who dared to challenge his authority.
When the rest of the class stood and sang “The Wheels on the Bus” with motions, Billy sat glued to his chair, arms crossed, scowling. When the children were practicing English dialogues with animal puppets, Billy snatched another child’s puppet, yelling that he wanted the lion, not the monkey. While the other kindergarten students obediently copied the words from the board – cat, bat, hat – Billy filled his paper with scrawling Chinese characters. I complimented him on his skill in writing Chinese, then gently asked him to please write the English words from the lesson. Billy turned on me, his eyes flashing. “I speak Chinese. Chinese is a very beautiful language. English is not a beautiful language.”
As the weeks and months went by, Billy consistently challenged every instruction, unfazed by every attempt at discipline. I had never seen so much animosity and anger in such a small package. Though I repeatedly asked our school administrators to remove Billy from my class, my requests went unheeded. Billy’s defiance escalated to a point of physical aggression – threatening to poke me in the eye with a pencil, spitting in my face, and even slapping me so hard my glasses flew across the room!
After almost every class with Billy, I would lock the door of the classroom, turn on a worship CD, put my head down on my desk, and cry. “Please, God, please don’t let him come back. I can’t take it anymore.”
I wonder how often the Father is tempted to give up on us completely. We can be pretty unlovable sometimes. We stubbornly insist on doing things our own way. We laugh when He corrects us, we mock His words, and we’ve even been known to slap Him and spit in His face. Does He ever wonder if we’re worth it? Does He lock the door at night, put His head in His arms, and cry over our stubbornness?
I wish I could say that Billy instantly changed, and that he became a sweet, polite, well-behaved boy. But then he would have been easy to love. Sacrificial love expects nothing in return. Even if the difficult people in our lives never change, can we love them as Christ loves us?
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”