The Internet. Like most of the rest of you, I love it. I love the convenience of being able to receive almost-instant messages via e-mail anywhere in the world. I love the ability to research almost any subject with a few clicks of the mouse. When my wife had her heart surgery earlier this year, I read many articles about the procedure and watched a video of the same operation on YouTube. Because of the Internet, I became well-informed on what she would face. I love reading USA Today online and using www.biblegateway.com to look up Scripture verses. The Internet has become a part of my everyday life.
The Internet. I hate it. I’m not sure how we passed “cute” stories around in pre-Internet times, but it has become the primary vehicle for sharing information that serves no real purpose except to make us say “Aahhhhhhh” for about half a second. Everybody seems to be on the Internet these days. If you have at least two friends, one of them will send you something every day. I’ve never figured out where they get all this stuff. Sometimes it’s pictures of stupid things like a cat and a dog hugging (animal lovers: it’s the pictures I object to, not the pets) and sometimes it’s an inspirational story that’s actually worth reading.
One of my friends is the king of sending me . . . all kinds of stuff. His name is Dennis. Dennis is quite a guy: sharp-witted (at least half of the time), extremely caring and a good all-around person. If Disney ever wants to create a new larger-than-life character, they can find a good pattern in my friend Dennis. This week, one of his e-mails struck gold. The story he sent touched me deeply. Since I don’t have your e-mail address (and I’m not sure Dennis does, either) I thought I would send it to you by the way of the Baptist Messenger:
Come with me to a third-grade classroom where a 9-year-old boy sits at his desk. Suddenly, a puddle lies between his feet, and the front of his pants is wet. He fears his heart will stop; he cannot possibly imagine how this occurred. It’s never happened before, and he knows that when the other boys find out, he’ll never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they’ll never speak to him again as long as he lives. The boy puts his head down and prays, “Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five more minutes and I’m dead meat.”
He looks up from his prayer to see his teacher heading toward him. The look in her eyes says that he’s been discovered. As she walks toward him, a classmate named Susie is on her way, too, carrying a goldfish bowl filled with water. Inexplicably, Susie trips in front of the teacher and dumps the bowl of water in the boy’s lap. He pretends to be angry, all the while saying to himself, “Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!”
Rather than being the object of ridicule, the boy suddenly becomes the object of sympathy. His teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him a pair of gym shorts to wear while his pants dry out. The other children are all on their hands and knees, cleaning up the area around his desk. He savors the sympathy. But as life often has it, the ridicule that should have been his has now been transferred to someone else. Susie tries to help in the cleanup process, but the other kids tell her to get away. “Haven’t you done enough, you klutz?”
At the end of the day, as the students wait together for the bus, the boy finally walks over to Susie and whispers, “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?”
Susie whispers back, “I wet my pants once, too.”
Isn’t that what the Gospel is all about? The penalty of sin that should be ours was transferred to Jesus. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He took our place, He took our pain, He took our shame and nailed them to an old rugged cross. Because of the pain she had experienced in the past, Susie wanted to share her friend’s problem.
This story reminds me of that wonderful verse, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). In a world where so many families are hurting, why not start the New Year by carrying another’s burden? Why not intentionally be Jesus to someone else?
After all . . . everybody matters to God. Even little third-graders who wet their pants.
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827.