I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 (NIV)
Reggie was a beautiful little four-year-old – curly blonde hair and vibrant blue eyes—a real charmer. Happily, by the time he got to my class, I had a few years of teaching under my belt and was certified to work with “special” children.
In our first parent conference, Reggie’s caring parents asked if I’d be willing to work with the three psychologists who were overseeing Reggie’s developmental and behavioral issues. Of course, I wanted to do what I could to get this little guy on the right track.
At first, it was really easy. With small classes, my aide and I could keep an eye on Reggie, make notations on his chart every five minutes, and encourage him to participate appropriately. For a few weeks and with our guidance, he was a model student.
Then one day it happened. I was teaching, when suddenly Reggie exploded, shot out of his chair, and began jumping on tables and overturning empty chairs. I looked at my aide, and she immediately ushered the other students from the room while I softly talked to Reggie in an attempt to quiet him. Eventually, Reggie calmed down, and I was able to pull him onto my lap to talk.
“Reggie,” I said, “you’ve had so many good days. You’ve been doing so well. What happened?”
Without hesitation, Reggie responded, penitently, “Teacher, I ran out of nice.” Immediately, I understood.
The team and Reggie and I worked well together, and by year’s end there were no more outbursts, and he went on to become a lovely young man. But before then, he had other days when he “ran out of nice.”
I’ve done that. I’ve expended all my efforts trying to do what I knew I should (sometimes like Paul’s quandary in Romans 7) and failed. I’ve run out of nice. And then I remember that there really isn’t any good thing in my flawed humanity but only what Christ produces in and through me. So I have to make a U-turn and get back to the Source, the Source of nice, of goodness, of perfect love. And that Source never runs out.
Father, help me to stay focused on you and to live in you so that what comes out of me is your love, your kindness, your beauty. Remind me that I can do nothing without you, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN.