Evangelist Lee Stoneking once said, “Doing the work of God is dangerous – not doing it is more dangerous!” This was the quote I saw on Facebook this week within about one minute of doing something very dangerous for God. I took it as a confirmation that I had done the right thing, but I was still a little nervous about the fallout. See, I had put myself at personal risk to speak to someone about Jesus in a setting that, let’s just say, isn’t always receptive. I did it because I knew it was the right thing to do. Plus, lately, I have been feeling more and more like time is short but eternity is long. It’s time for us to get serious about our purpose where God has placed us for such a time as this.
A Thinly Veiled Threat of Harm
The story starts with an email from a student. I’m a twelfth grade English teacher in a public high school. With the COVID 19 situation, schools are now giving students a choice. They can attend school in-person or online, either synchronously, or asynchronously. With so many choices, there are lots of opportunities for students to lose their way if they don’t already have strong work habits and a stable home environment. The email in question came from a girl whom I will call Tanya. She emailed to say that she was sorry that her assignments were late, but she was depressed. She couldn’t seem to make herself do work when she “didn’t even know if she would be around for graduation.”
Of course, I took this as an indirect threat of suicide and contacted the school’s social worker immediately. The social worker called home and talked to her and her father. She determined that she wasn’t at risk for self-harm at this time, but she suggested that I write back to her and encourage her. I didn’t have to think long at all about what I wanted to write. About a year ago, I had published the blog, “Suicide, a Teen, and a Priest on a Plane.” It was my own testimony of a time when God sent someone to encourage me when I had been having similar suicidal ideations as a teenager. But there were a few problems with sending my student my blog.
The Devil’s Whispers
“First of all,” the Enemy started, “you don’t even know this girl. What if she flips out, and she and her parents send your email to your principal. Teachers can’t go around proselytizing, you know!” The risk of sending a blog that glorified Jesus didn’t stop with the Jesus part. It was also personal. If she took it the wrong way and did some research, she could find out all kinds of things about my past from my blogs. While my ugly parts make for good lessons in blogs, they would be a disaster as fodder for student gossip.
Finally, I worried that my actual mention of the word “suicide” might push her closer to some sort of edge just by virtue of using the word. But as worried as I was about all those things, none of them would compare to how I would feel if my testimony could have helped her but I had held it back for mostly selfish reasons.
My Story Is Her Story
So, my story went that when I was about 16 years old, I used to listen to music and do a lot of creative writing. I would write some very dark things as a way to process my world,. Sometimes during those times, thoughts of suicide would come into my mind. I confessed those thoughts to a man in a collar on a plane one time. His comment back to me gave me great hope that I carried with me through the rest of my childhood and beyond. He said, “You must be pretty important to God’s plan for Satan to work so hard to get rid of you.” Now anytime I hear about someone who has these same thoughts, I share this idea with them to encourage them just like the man encouraged me.
Within just a few minutes, Tanya emailed me back. She said that she, too, used to like to listen to music and write poetry. Not only that, but she always wears a bracelet on her right wrist with the words “God has a plan.” She said my story was a “Wow moment” for her. It made her feel like she had worth and encouraged her and strengthened her belief that God has a plan for her life.
As for me, I was amazed how God had orchestrated the situation. I pray every morning as I walk into school that God will see me as one of His “people in the city,” much like Acts 18:10. If God has something He wants done at my school, I ask that He will consider me for the job. I was so grateful and praised God that He didn’t let fear get the best of me. He allowed me to do what He had placed me there to do, and my love for Him surged once again at His great mercy.
Time is Short
This school year is different for so many reasons, and I have already made some choices that I never would have made in previous years. I have been bolder with my testimony (as an example for an assignment), and I have spoken more about concepts of forgiveness and serving others as tie-ins to my lessons. The world is changing fast, and it’s obvious that we are getting closer to some very big end-time events. Things that seemed important yesterday mean very little in light of what is coming. Time and energy must be allocated to the things that matter most in light of eternity. Plus, the opportunities we have today may not be there tomorrow. Like cramming for a test, we have to grab them while we can.
In fact, just this week, an older video from Joanie Stahl’s Field Notes popped up on my YouTube app as a suggestion. It was from 2018, but it fit perfectly with what I have been feeling lately. It’s called “Loss of Christian Liberty and the Fall of America,” It underlines the idea that time is short, and we must work while it is day.
For Such a Time as This
Little in our world is business as usual anymore. It’s time to push the boundaries closer to the edges where society says we should stay with our beliefs. Sending my testimony to a student was scary, but God has me where I am for His purposes. He gave me the strength to face my fears, and He will do the same for you. Think about the place God has you right now. Consider the ways you can shine your light into the dark corners of your sphere of influence. Like Esther, we have all been placed where we are for such a time as this. May we all be ready and willing to do dangerous things God may call us to do.
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