Twenty-two minutes. For most working adults, that would classify as a mid-morning break. Or maybe an afternoon break where you can catch a quick rest before regrouping to close out the day. Maybe even be a timeout to talk with a coworker, customer, or even your spouse. For a teacher...it’s called lunch. And that is after you spend the first seven of those twenty-two minutes making sure your students get their food and get seated without a tragedy evolving. Then you get your food, get settled down, have a seat to begin to eat...a cool twelve minutes remain. Then you have to get up and do it all over again. No rest for the weary.
Life as a teacher can be draining. Especially in the month of May. And especially if you teach middle school. Sometimes you have to find small victories each day. That twelve minutes is sacred. The other day, I needed some peace and quiet. I wanted to spend that twelve minutes on my own. A much needed break from the chaos.
Instead of sitting down at the table, I stood at the front of the cafeteria by myself. The ice cream man came in. He was filling the cooler. Our kids love ice cream. They are much more excited about his entry than mine. He starts to unload the ice cream. Box after box. Cut the box. Empty the box. Break down the box. Discard the box. Next box...
In that moment of noticing what he was doing, God brought me out of my self-centeredness. I realized, his best friend was that cardboard box. He picked up the box, delivered the box, cut the box, emptied the box, broke down the box, discarded the box...next box. His work life was about the box...and he makes a lot less money than I do to get to the next box. All of a sudden, that twelve minute lunch didn’t seem so bad. I talk to people all day long, and most days, I am glad they are children.
We are so different. Ken is black. I am white. Ken drives a truck. I teach school. Ken works in solitude. I work in craziness. I don’t have anything to say to Ken…right? The Spirit of God nudged me. And again. And one more time. Finally, I was obedient.
I made way over to the cooler. “Hey man. My name is Adam. What is yours?” He replies, “Ken. Nice to meet you Adam.” I said to Ken, “Can I join you?” He looks at me like I am crazy. I repeat, “Let me join you.” He says, “Cool!” I spend the next twelve minutes helping Ken unload ice cream and just sharing about our lives. Ken has a family. A wife of 22 years and two kids he is working to put through college. Ken has a huge heart. He loves his family...they are his motivation to work every day. Ken has dreams. He wants to give his children the best chance he can at a future. Hey...sounds like me and Ken aren’t so different after all.
I asked Ken, “Are you a follower of Jesus?”
He replies, “I couldn’t live any other way!”
“Amen!” I reply.
“Hey man, thanks for helping me out!” he says.
“No sweat, dude. I enjoyed it.”
This is one of those moments...God’s moments. I walk away saying, “Thank you, Lord. I needed that twelve minutes.” In all my years as a teacher, I never thought there would be a blessing for me driving the ice cream truck.