A Fifth Grade school teacher, Miss Thompson. started each year by telling her students, “Boys and girls, I love you all the same. I have no favorites.” Miss Thompson wasn’t being completely truthful. A boy smaller than most of the other boys, Teddy, was difficult for Miss Thompson to like. Teddy’s hair was unkempt. His clothes had a bitter musty smell. Teddy was not only dirty he was unattractive. So when Miss Thompson corrected her student’s papers, she found herself taking a certain pleasure in marking Teddy’s answers wrong. She would place “F”on his papers with a certain flair and enthusiasm.
Then one day, she began to read Teddy’s records:
Kindergarten: ‘Teddy is a happy, outgoing boy and will have a great academic future.’
1st grade: ‘Teddy shows promise with his work and attitude but he has a pretty poor home life.’
2nd grade: `Teddy could do better. His mother is seriously ill. He receives little help.’
3rd grade: `Teddy is a good boy but seems too serious. He’s a slow learner. Teddy’s mother died this year.
4th grade: `Teddy is very slow, but well behaved. His father shows no interest.’
Christmas came and the students in Miss Thompson’s class brought her Christmas presents. They piled them high on her desk and among them was one from Teddy. His was the gift that was wrapped in a brown paper bag held together with some scotch tape. On the package was written the simple words, `For Miss Thompson from Teddy.’ When she opened Teddy’s present out fell a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing and half a bottle of cheap perfume. The other boys and girls began to laugh. Embarrassed for Teddy, Miss Thompson quickly put on the bracelet and put some perfume on her wrist and held it up for the boys and girls to smell. They took their cues from their teacher and they responded with the oohhs and aaahhs. `Doesn’t it smell lovely?’ The children agreed.
At the end of the day when school was over and all the children were leaving, Teddy lingered behind. He finally came over to Miss Thompson’s desk and said softly, `Miss Thompson, you smell just like my Mamma and her bracelet looks real pretty on you, too. I’m glad you like my present.’
When Teddy left that day, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and she asked God to forgive her for being so uncaring and self-centered. The next day a new teacher welcomed the children. Miss Thompson had become a different person. She was changed. She was transformed. She was no longer just a teacher. She had become an agent of God. She was now a person committed to loving children and doing things for them that would live on after her.
She didn’t hear from Teddy for years until she received this note. “Dear Miss Thompson, I wanted you to be the first to know I’m going to be graduating from High School second in my class. Love Teddy.”
Four years later she received another note, “Dear Miss Thompson. They just told me I’d be graduating first in my class at the university. It has not been easy. I wanted you to be the first to know. Love, Teddy.”
Four years later: “Dear Miss Thompson, as of today I am Theodore Stollard, M.D. How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know. I’m getting married next month, the 27th to be exact. Dad died last year. You’re the only family I have now. Love, Teddy.”
Miss Thompson went to that wedding and she sat where Teddy’s mother would have sat. She deserved to sit there, not because of what she did but because she allowed God’s grace to transform her. She was transformed simply because she chose to focus on others.
One of the things that gives me the most joy is that I get to be a part of a church that is able to not only love God in worship but focus on others and lovingly help them enter the Kingdom of God. This beautiful story, whether fact or fiction, wonderfully illustrates the power of a transformed life and what it means to a broken-hearted world.
There are “Teddys” all around us, people that just need a boost in life to help set them on a course of victory. Everything they need is found in Jesus Christ. But as Agents of God, we have the supreme honor of lovingly introducing them to our Savior.