NLSW Reflection Day 2: YFBI3 min read

God always does the unexpected.

I never did very well in school, but I loved Science. In fact I received my best grades in Science—C’s. By the time I got to high school, I had a thorough dislike for the educational system as a whole. I went to Concordia University (then Junior College) Ann Arbor, encouraged by a good friend who was a couple years older than I because of the opportunity to play college athletics. He also assured me of the fact that we’d have a good time there. I’m not sure how I managed to get into the teacher training program, but I’m guessing it was because so many others I knew were in that program. From Ann Arbor, I went to Concordia (then Teacher’s College) Chicago in River Forest, Ill. When placement day came around, I opted out and went to work on the loading docks. I can assure you—the only time that came close to being enjoyable was for a week in the spring and fall, when the temperatures in the trailers are somewhat bearable.

One afternoon, the Michigan District Superintendent of Lutheran Schools, Mr. Donald Kell, gave me a call and said they needed teachers in the Detroit area. I assume they must have had an urgent need for teachers just for the fact that the superintendent called me; proof that God does the unexpected. Because those truck trailers were very hot in the summer of 1979, the change sounded good.

The rest is history. Today, many of my past educational experiences, from the love of Science, sports, to physical disagreements with other students (fighting) have been used by God through the past 37 years!

I am also quite convinced that my parents’ and grandparents’ prayer life was instrumental in the huge way most of my life has been spent in the classroom. When I went to family reunions, cousins would ask, “Hey, what do you do for a living nowadays?” When I answered “I’m a teacher,” hysterical laughter often burst out. But I have come to see that God always does the unexpected in people’s lives to make a difference in other lives. We are created for relationships—a relationship with Jesus first and foremost, and then with those around us. The greatest blessings in life are the relationships you share with brothers and sisters in Christ, spouse, kids, family, and the thousands of others that God has unexpectedly brought across your path.

For me, to see kids grow, not only physically and emotionally, but also spiritually; to witness to unbelieving parents; to interact with foreign exchange students, stubborn kids, students who have been diagnosed with varied learning disorders; and to see relationships established and nourished, are just part of the joy I experience walking into the classroom every day.

I’m not crazy about grading papers, but I love seeing students smile as they change and discover the gifts and talents that God has blessed them with, and seeing them grow into a stronger relationship with their Lord and Savior.

The blessing of serving this God who often comes through unexpected means, such as sending His Son to live, die and rise again that I might have a relationship with Him, is the greatest reason to spend every day in the classroom sharing what I have come to know as the Truth.

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About the Author

Stephen Zill (emeritus) used to teach General Science and Religion at Saginaw Valley Lutheran High School

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