“Remember to read the first four chapters of The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas over the weekend…” I said to the boys as the bell went.
“I’ve read that book!” Samuel exclaimed as other boys sighed.
I turned and looked at him. I had not finished my instruction, and over the past few weeks I had been insistent upon students waiting until there was silence before they spoke. Samuel struggled generally with the concept.
Today was no exception.
He proceeded to tell me all about the book, about the Holocaust, about the symbolism in the boy in the striped pyjamas and why they were striped. The thing was, as my eyes grew wider, and colour rose in my cheeks, as my brow furrowed deeper and deeper, Samuel spoke louder and louder, until he was yelling at the top of his lungs, and red-faced himself -there was a fire in Samuel’s eyes as he yelled at a million miles per hour - facts, numbers, dates, adjectives… I could not take it any longer.
I picked up my glass drink bottle and I thought about banging it on the desk because it would be louder than slapping it, and I lifted it up about as high as my shoulder, but thought better of slamming it down. Instead I yelled.
“WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU YELLING AT ME!?”
Samuel was silent, bewildered even, and stared at me, taken aback. The rest of the class sat there silently too. Remember, the bell had already rung.
To the heart
“You guys are free to go to lunch,” I said “but you! You are going to stay behind.” Feeling uncomfortable in the silence, as if by it I was somehow being blamed for the whole event, I continued, still in a stern voice. “Why do you always talk over the top of me Samuel? Doesn’t anyone at home listen to you or something?”
“No they don’t” he said.
And with those words, an arrow to the heart, I had finished reprimanding the boy.
What did he mean, ‘no they don’t’?
That wasn’t okay.
He’s a boy. He deserves someone listening to him. No wonder he was so determined to be heard in class!
I thought about Samuel all the way home on the train that afternoon and it occurred to me, there is a lesson in it for all of us. You see, there’s a very real enemy to the things of God who, if he got his way, would have us silenced as well, as if by some unjustified standard we weren’t qualified to speak, but it’s important that we do speak. Just like Samuel, where the resistance is strongest, we ought to speak louder, to declare with boldness what is on the inside of us, the truth we know so well.
Recently I have noticed the world is getting louder on certain issues. As Christians we ought to speak up, respectfully, humbly, tactfully, but loud enough for people to hear, because the world is certainly loud.
Has the enemy robbed you of your testimony? Silenced you into condemnation and shame?
You have a story and it’s not just for you.
That thing that happened a year ago, that you feel bad about, that thing you overcame, left behind, rose above – the enemy’s brought it back, hasn’t he? He’s waving it around in front of your face so that every time you feel like opening your mouth and telling of God’s faithfulness, you think twice, because he wants to keep you silent.
21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[a]your evil behavior.22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians chapter 1 verses 21-23 NIV
You see, the enemy has nothing on you. Ever since you began believing in God you were covered by his perfect plan. Don’t be put off by the charade. Your story is important. Your voice is important. You deserve to speak.
You must speak.
David Luschwitz is a teacher in South Western Sydney. He will take up a new teaching position in regional New South Wales in July and looks forward to a new challenge.
To read more of David's writing and to hear his story head to www.davidluschwitz.com
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David's previous articles can be found at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/david-luschwitz.html