November 3, 2011
The Spelling Train
When I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV).
Friend to Friend
My hands were clammy. Beads of sweat formed on my brow. A familiar knot in the pit of my stomach threatened to push me toward the restroom, and my dry tongue began cleave to the roof of my mouth. It was 10:25 a.m. In just five more minutes the dreaded event would begin.
When I was in the first grade, the one academic exercise I feared more than any other was the spelling train. It was sheer torture—at least for me.
“Okay, students,” Mrs. March would say. “Everyone pick up your chairs and move them over to the chalk board. It’s time for the spelling train.”
Twenty first graders slipped their munchkin-sized chairs from their desks to form a semi-circle around our chief engineer. I always put mine at the end.
“Now remember the rules,” she explained. “I am going to hold up a flash card. If you read the word correctly, you get to go to the front of the train. If you miss it, you have to go to the caboose.”
She held up the cards one by one, and the class chugged along at a quick pace. Dog. Sally. Bob. Spot. Red. Blue. Mother. Stop. Run. Then it was my turn.
“Sharon, what is this word?”
Well, more often than not I had no idea. And when that happened, I would either guess wrong or sit in silence. I spent most of my time in the first grade spelling train in the caboose.
As the year progressed, I did move up into the passenger cars a few times, but usually I didn’t stay there long enough to keep the seat warm. There was one particular word that kept me from ever visiting the engine: T-h-e. So Mrs. March decided she was going to help me. For two weeks she made me wear a name tag that read “THE” plastered on my chest like the scarlet letter. I can still remember kids coming up to me on the playground, pointing at THE on my chest, and saying, “Hey, what’s that? Why are you wearing that? Is your name The? Are you stupid?”
Eventually I did learn how to spell the word t-h-e, but that’s not all I learned. I learned that I was stupid, not as smart as everybody else, and just not good enough. But you know what? That wasn’t true. Those were lies from the enemy. And it took many years for God to hold me by the hand and help me see myself as He sees me: a uniquely created, dearly loved, completely forgiven, and totally accepted child of God who is capable of doing everything He has called me to do by the power of the Holy Spirit.
That was more than forty years ago, and now I have found joy in stringing written words together. I’ve noticed that life has many unusual twists and turns when God is at the helm. He takes our greatest weaknesses and turns them into our grandest strengths. That’s what happens when we turn our lives over to Him—we get out of the caboose and get to ride up with the chief engineer to places we never imaged possible. When we are weak, then He is strong.
Where are you in the train of life right now? If you’re hiding in the back, listen closely and you just might hear God calling you up front where you belong.
Dear Heavenly Father, it’s amazing to think of all You have done in my life. You have taken my greatest weaknesses and turn them into my greatest strengths. When I am weak, through the power of the Holy Spirit I am strong. Thank You for working in me and through me. And help me never to believe the lies of the enemy that say “I’m not enough” again.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Additional Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 11:1–12:10
Can you think of one way God has taken one of your weaknesses and turn it into one of your strengths? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Let’s share on www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes.
More from the Girlfriends
Do you find yourself longing to hear God’s voice – not as a once-in-a-lifetime experience but on a daily basis? If so, Sharon’s new 15-Minute Devotional book, Listening to God Day-by-Day,will help you do just that. It is an expanded version of the smaller book, Extraordinary Moments with God. In it you will find 100 devotions to help you become a woman who detects God’s still small voice in all of life. This is a warm, fun, tender look at recognizing some of the wonderful and unexpected ways God reaches out to us in the middle of our busy day. For more on the topic of today’s devotion, see Sharon’s book, I’m Not Good Enough…and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves.
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