Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Inspired To Make A Difference!

Matthew 25: 35-40 "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’"

Today I would like to share a life-changing story that I read years ago that inspires me even today. You may have already heard The Teddy Stallard Story, you may have even seen a movie about him. I pray that as you read this story today that your life is inspired by God to share Jesus and His Love in a fresh new way!

"Teddy Stallard certainly qualified as "one of the least." Disinterested in school. Musty, wrinkled clothes; hair never combed. One of those kids in school with a deadpan face, expressionless--sort of a glassy, unfocused stare. When Miss Thompson spoke to Teddy he always answered in monosyllables. Unattractive, unmotivated, and distant, he was just plain hard to like. Even though his teacher said she loved all in her class the same, down inside she wasn't being completely truthful.
Whenever she marked Teddy's papers, she got a certain perverse pleasure out of putting X's next to the wrong answers and when she put the F's at the top of the papers, she always did it with flair. She should have known better; she had Teddy's records and she knew more about him than she wanted to admit. The records read:
1st Grade Teddy shows promise with his work and attitude, but poor home situation.
2nd Grade Teddy could do better. Mother is seriously ill. He receives little help at home.
3rd Grade Teddy is a good boy but too serious. He is a slow learner. His mother died this year.
4th Grade Teddy is very slow, but well-behaved. His father shows no interest.

Christmas came and the boys and girls in Miss Thompson's class brought her Christmas presents. They piled their presents on her desk and crowded around to watch her open them. Among the presents there was one from Teddy Stallard. She was surprised that he had brought her a gift, but he had. Teddy's gift was wrapped in brown paper and was held together with Scotch tape. On the paper were 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 a bottle of cheap perfume.

The other boys and girls began to giggle and smirk over Teddy's gifts, but Miss Thompson at least had enough sense to silence them by immediately putting on the bracelet and putting some of the perfume on her wrist. Holding her wrist up for the other children to smell, she said, "Doesn't it smell lovely?" And the children, taking their cue from the teacher, readily agreed with "oo's" and "ah's."

At the end of the day, when school was over and the other children had left, Teddy lingered behind. He slowly came over to her desk and said softly, "Miss Thompson...Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother...and her bracelet looks real pretty on you, too. I'm glad you liked my presents." When Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and asked God to forgive her.

The next day when the children came to school, they were welcomed by a new teacher. Miss Thompson had become a different person. She was no longer just a teacher; she had become an agent of God. She was now a person committed to loving her children and doing things for them that would live on after. She helped all the children, but especially the slow ones, and especially Teddy Stallard. By the end of that school year, Teddy showed dramatic improvement. He had caught up with most of the students and was even ahead of some. She didn't hear from Teddy for a long time. Then one day, she received a not that read:

Dear Miss Thompson:
I wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating second in my class.
Love, Teddy Stallard

Four years later, another note came:

Dear Miss Thompson:
This just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it.
Love, Teddy Stallard

And four years later:

Dear Miss Thompson:
As of today, I am Theodore Stallard, M.D. How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know. I am getting married next month, the 27th to be exact. I want you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were alive. You are the only family i have now; Dad died last year.
Love, Teddy Stallard

Miss Thompson went to that wedding and sat where Teddy's mother would have sat. She deserved to sit there; she had done something for Teddy that he could never forget."

Who are the "Teddy's" in your life? The ones that may be forgotten or rejected by others. The ones that need hope and a bright future. The ones that need purpose. The ones that need to know that they are loved. The ones that need Jesus!

We can learn much by The Teddy Stallard Story as we are inspired to not let the Teddy's pass us by, we never know the difference we can make in someones life until we share Jesus and His unconditional love! You are Gifted2Go share Jesus with a Teddy Stallard, "one of the least," whom God can use your gifts to help someone become one of God's greats!!