Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Cafeteria Congregation

It's Tuesday, March 11, 2014.  The last time I preached in a church was in November of 2012.  To be honest, I've really missed speaking before crowds and encouraging them for their daily lives!

But I've been blessed with an awesome opportunity to teach in a middle school.  I love my new job.  It's a great chance to work with some wonderful people and help some great kids.  To put it lightly, I am truly thankful for my teaching job.

Anyway, I walked into the school cafeteria yesterday with my class.  As usual, there was a ton of kids sitting all over this huge room where they eat five days a week.  I stood there and watched as my students made their way through the lunch line and got their trays filled with food.

All of a sudden, it happened.  One of our school leaders, who was talking over a sound system to the big crowd of students, said "Mr. Richardson, would you like to come and share an inspirational thought with everyone?"  Have you ever had that dream where you walked into a classroom and was handed a test that you had not studied for?  That's how I felt.  As I nodded "Yes" and walked towards the microphone in front of all those kids, my mind froze.  I had no clue what I was going to say.  I totally drew a blank.  Then he handed me the microphone.  I thought for just a couple of seconds as I looked down at the floor.  Then the words came to me.

For about 60 seconds, I talked.  I told the gigantic crowd of middle school students that they were about to enter the second half of their day.  And I challenged them to give their teachers and their parents their best effort in everything they did the rest of the day.  Then I encouraged them to live in such a way that when they lay their heads down on their pillow at night, they could honestly say to themselves, "I gave my very best today!"

I didn't know if what I was saying was clicking with them or not.  They were stone silent while I was talking.  But when I wrapped up my thought for the day, and handed the gentleman his microphone back, the kids erupted into applause and cheers!  It was an amazing experience.  God had given me those words.  And those kids received what was said.  It was a cool moment that I can promise you I will never forget.  Ever.  

I walked out of the cafeteria overwhelmed with emotion.  Good emotion.  Something special was happening.

See, it seemed to me that God was telling me something.  In essence, God was saying, "David, I can use you right here in this middle school.  You don't have to be in a pulpit to serve Me.  Just use what I have given you right where you are.  Today, all those kids were your congregation.  Many of them never go to a church, but today they got to see and hear you being salt and light."

Life has ups, and life has downs.  We go through many twists, curves, and loops along the way.  But God is good, and He can use us anytime we want if we just will make ourselves available to him.

Yep, I do hope to preach again one day in a church.  But you know what?  I'm happy I get to serve God right here in this middle school.  It's a great place.  It's right where God wants me to be.  I like being a school teacher.  And I'll happily work with this cafeteria congregation any chance I get!

P.S.  To top if all off, I was told today that I will have plenty more opportunities to share a "Thought For The Day" in the cafeteria at lunch.  Wow!  What a cool chance to make a real difference.  My reply was simple:  "Yes, I'll be ready every day!"  And I will...

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