Do you ever wish you could do more for the Kingdom of God? That you could do more to help others? Do you long to feed every hungry mouth and clothe every needy child and meet every emotional need? And yet, that’s impossible for any one person. So we do what we can physically, and then we pray. We mustn’t ever, ever underestimate the power of interceding on another’s behalf - even if we never get to see the answer to our prayers. Thank you, Msgt. Butler, wherever you may be, for planting the gospel seeds in my life through your prayers. I will follow your example. And thank You to the One who always intercedes on our behalf.
The Boy With the Downcast Eyes
He stands, motionless, staring out of the back doors. I fervently hope he isn’t thinking about pushing them open; the emergency alarms would sound and the hallway would fill with curious students and teachers, and what would I do if he simply took off? But he just stands there, a lifelike statue with smooth, brown skin and hair that is an odd amalgamation of dreadlocks and ringlets. Maybe not so odd, I think. His very being seems to be juxtaposed; a waif and a world-hardened young man, though I imagine few see beyond the sagging pants and glassy eyes to the child locked within.
Eyes that won’t look at you.
Eyes cast downward.
Eyes that carry something deeper, more haunting, than a desire to walk out of class during the middle of a lesson.
But I see.
Because I recognize those eyes, I recognize that silence, and I long to reach this young man, the one I followed from the classroom.
I don’t know his story, except he’s been in trouble in the past. He rarely speaks, except to answer the math problems I give him. He has the appearance of a tough guy.
But I know those eyes.
And I know that something in me hurts for him. I want to tell him that today, this week, this year, is just a small blip in the whole of eternity and if he can just hang in there, there is hope. I want to tell him that broken insides can be fixed. I want to tell him that one day he’ll not only look people in the eye, but he’ll smile when he does it. I want to tell him about Jesus.
But I can’t.
I’m in a public school.
So I give him a few moments of silence, staring out the back doors with him, at the impossibly blue November sky.
Would you rather be out there? I ask him.
I am startled when he shakes his head, no.
Are you okay? A barely perceptible nod. Do you want to talk? I hope I’ll be surprised again, but this time when he shakes his head no it is what I had anticipated.
I quietly tell him that I understand more than he thinks, and that if he ever wants to talk, I am a good listener. A moment later, we return to the class, a potential disaster averted.
And I pray.
I pray for this young man with the downcast eyes.
I pray that I will indeed have the opportunity to hear his heart, and encourage him, and to share my love for Christ, that he, too, will surrender to the Healer.
I selfishly pray those things. That I might be a part of the process, that I might see the miracle.
But then my heart reminds me that I need to hold onto the faith that even if he never opens up to me, even if I never see his eyes raised heavenward, that God has placed him directly in my path for a reason. My prayers may merely be seeds; someone else will water, and someone else will have the joy of plucking, of harvesting, and that’s okay, because ultimately it is God who brings the miracles.
And tonight, as I pray for “Drake” I remember to give thanks for the man who some twenty-eight years ago began praying for a troubled young girl with downcast eyes and a sailor mouth and a penchant for drinking way too much and the paralyzed vocal chords of a child locked within.
Msgt. Butler has yet to see the answer to his prayers; he has never learned that the girl with the downcast eyes threw herself at the foot of the cross.
Just as I may never see the answer to my “Drake” prayers while on the earthly side of eternity. But I’ll keep on praying.
Happy Thanksgiving, precious readers! I don’t know about you, but I have much to be thankful for. Some things are tangible and visible, others are tucked away in the heart, miracles that can’t be weighed or measured or brought out to be displayed. The dearest, most precious gifts are a direct result of a life radically changed by Jesus, the One whom I am most grateful for. Thanks for stopping by. I always love hearing from you.
Grateful for this wonderful life,
Marie with a