I marked the last question on my final exam, handed it to my teacher, and said “I’m done.” Three months ago I thought this day would never come. I was just a few weeks into Anatomy and Physiology, my first college class, and was beginning to think that taking it as my first class was crazy when everyone told me it was one of the hardest classes I would ever take. I felt like I was drowning in the unending sea of information that was thrown at us and I was supposed to somehow know it right away! I was also busy with stuff at home and working two part time jobs. My teacher Mr. O pushed each one of us to do perfect and didn’t seem pleased with any less. To make matters worse, he seemed to be grading everything stricter than a drill sergeant. Part way through I began to wonder if I would even finish the class with a passing grade. I wanted to just say forget it, it’s too hard and take back everything I would always say about young people doing hard things, but I couldn’t, and I determined I would do the best I could in that class, despite a hectic life that made studying harder.
About a third of the way into the class Mr. O became a bit more relaxed. He still pushed us to do nothing less than our best, but he made things fun and gave us hope that there was light at the end of the tunnel. I heard A&P had the highest drop out rate of any class, but I didn’t think about it much until students started dropping out of class like flies that had been caught when they weren’t prepared – our class went from 24 to 14. Mr. O said that he had finally got down to the people that were serious about giving the time required and investing in the class. Class began feeling not so crazy, and it became easier to stay on top of what I needed to learn even though it still was intense. I tried to do my absolute best every single day.
Mr. O made it very clear at the beginning of class that science and evolution explain everything about our existence. I knew that nothing I could say would open his heart, or the hearts of my classmates, but I knew that God’s love could. I started begging God to give me His love for my teacher and classmates. I began to genuinely care about them more than ever before. I didn’t mind one of my classmates texting me at midnight asking me to help her understand something she was having trouble with… I actually loved it whenever I got the chance to help them! I grew to care so much about each one of them and always felt awful when one of them got a bad score on a test. But most of all, from the bottom of my heart, I longed for each of them to come to know Jesus and the hope and peace He gives a person! I longed for chances to demonstrate God’s love to them!
Two days before finals I found myself in my room surrounded by papers, trying to study, when it started to sink in that I was only going to see these people I cared so much about one more time! Right in the middle of all my papers, notebooks, folders (and everything that’s not supposed to get wet), I started sobbing. How could I ever let them go? I just wanted to hang on to them, thinking somehow I could help them! But I had to trust God would work in their lives. I spent the rest of the evening praying for them and my teacher, begging God to draw them to Himself, until I had no more tears to cry fell asleep. I wondered how someone could care so much about people that were just classmates and only for a few months. It was like God spoke to me and said “That sting of sadness, love, and longing for them to have hope – that leaves you flopped across your bed begging for their souls – That is just a pin prick of the love I have for them, and how my heart aches and longs for them to accept the hope I can offer them.
I wrote my classmates letters sharing how much I appreciated them as a fellow classmate and how God had changed my life and given me hope. I put in the mini book One Second After You Die by Mark Cahill with each letter. I begged God to somehow use it in their lives. I had got Mr. O God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God By John Lennox, a book that touched some of his favorite subjects of life and evolution. I also wrote him a long letter thanking him for the wonderful teacher he was to me. But how do you find comfort in giving cards and books to people who’s souls you care so much about? You don’t. Yes, I’m glad they have the truth and I did what I was sure God wanted me to do. But when God gives you an unexplainable love and concern for people you can only do your part, then turn around and hand them back, leaving them in God’s hands!
As I handed my finals sheet back to my teacher, who I cared so very much about, I said “I can never thank you enough for everything and the awesome teacher you were!” I handed him the book and card tied together in yellow ribbon with the manliest bow I could tie. He smiled, then said “You are one of the most diligent determined students I’ve ever had, you worked hard and did well.” He paused almost as if to emphasize what he was about to say then said “I want you to know I have never felt so loved and appreciated by a class and I’m never going to forget you all. I’m very sad to see you go Joanna, but just know that whatever you decide to do you’ll do well, I have watched you closely in my class and there is something different about you! I wish you the best of luck and hope our paths cross again.” I said thank you and goodbye, and hurried to the door as fast as I could holding back a flood of emotions. That was all I needed to hope that somehow God had, and would, use me to touch his life! I managed to get out the classroom door before a flood of tears of gratitude came streaming down my cheeks… God had given him a taste of His love that I had begged Him for!
Even if I never go on to nursing school maybe the whole reason God had me take that specific class was to somehow let His love flow through me to my classmates and Mr. O who started out so hard but opened up so much over the semester! And if that was the only reason, every grueling hour of studying, every lab that I had to declare war on the stubborn microscope, everyday I crammed medical word into my head till it hurt, and everything I sacrificed to do it was completely worth it and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!