Lemme tell you about third grade – it was rough, y’all. To begin with, my teacher (let’s call her “Mrs. F.”) was terrifying. She was a very “large” woman. Think Miss Wormwood of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Fortunately (for me- not her) she had recurring shingles that year so was gone an awful lot.
I also got braces that year. Top and bottom. And headgear that I had to wear to school. Every day. One morning the back bracket broke. I went to Mrs. F.’s desk to ask to call my mom and she engulfed me in a full body hug in front of the whole class. I’m still scarred from that moment.
Add to this that I wasn’t very bright that year. I got my first and only C. It was in third grade science. To this day, I am not a fan. I know we need science, and it is important, but I’m convinced the fact that the lights come on when I flip the switch is just a little magic trick I do every day.
One of my classmates broke his leg in third grade. This was long before the Americans with Disabilities Act, so there was no way for him to navigate the two flights of stairs to the lunchroom in the basement. Because of this, we each took turns eating lunch with him in the classroom. When it was my turn, he threw all of his peas into my milk carton. Ungrateful little stinker!
I also had my first crush in third grade. Tall, dark, and handsome. And let me tell you, he was digging my head gear. Or not. Sigh.
The worst part of third grade was math. One of our assignments that year was to write the numbers from 1 to 10,000. Torture. That assignment alone has given math the bad name that it has to this day. Disclaimer – thanks to Mrs. F.’s shingles, she didn’t realize that I never finished that assignment.
Are you getting the picture? I was small. Insignificant. Lowly. Not really worth much except to my parents. Oh, and to God. Let me tell you what he did for me that year.
Another traumatic part of math was doing our homework. We were divided into two groups, and by some miracle, I was in the top one. Every day, our group went last. We were not allowed to take our homework home. We had to do it the next day during the first group’s math time. I can still remember looking at the clock at 10 am and being scared to death that I wouldn’t get my homework done in the 20 minutes we were allotted to do it. That’s the first time I ever remember praying. I asked God every day to help me get my math done on time so I wouldn’t get into trouble. And guess what? I got my math done every day.
God cared about that small, insignificant, lowly third grader. To an outsider, third grade looked like a wasted year. But not in God’s economy. He planted great seeds of faith in my heart that year. He confirmed many parts of His character to me. This was the basis of the rock-solid belief in my heart that God cares about and is involved in every single part of my life.
Did you know God loves you with an everlasting love? Did you know He rejoices over you with singing? Did you know He has plans for your life? Did you know that He knew you when you were in your mother’s womb? Did you know that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for you?
Do you ever feel like God doesn’t know or care about what is going on in your life? Like you are small? Lowly? Insignificant? Well, I can assure you that if I mattered to him when I was in third grade math, then you, precious woman reading this, are priceless to Him.
In the Old Testament, Joel 2: 25 says “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten…’ God has done that for me. Math was rough in junior high, too. But something clicked in high school. It became easy. I even majored in it in college. I am now a math teacher, and hopefully do a little bit better job than Mrs. F.
What a great God we have. Do you know Him? He longs to know you. Maybe you do know Him. Either way, I challenge you to look back at your life to try to find those times when He showed Himself real to you.
If you have a story to share, I’d love to hear it. Maybe we could even meet for coffee, or for lunch sometime and you could tell me all about it. Just please, don’t throw your peas in my milk!