Countless African children needed the education to overcome the grip of poverty. Through countless donations of time and money, a neglected school building was restored for over three hundred African students. Even though the building lacked electricity and running water, energy surged through the air.
Marsha and her team quickly handed out supplies for the science project as her heart pounded in her chest. Her former six-figure job and high-powered career could not compare to the joy she felt starting a school for these forgotten children. Now on her seventh visit to Africa, she watched as beautiful brown faces smiled and busy hands began to build the first science experiment to test gravity:
The classic egg drop contest!
High school students inspected various supplies to try to create a way to protect their egg from experiencing the effect of gravity. Groups of students and teachers worked together in teams. They gathered, designed, and planned new innovations. With all the wonder whirling through the rooms, no one noticed two tiny hands swiping extra fabric. No one noticed as someone crawled under tables to collect needed parts and leftover pieces. Alone and without a team, someone took scraps home at night.
On the morning of the contest, older students danced and sang songs in Swahili style. Excitement escalated as the teachers constructed three difficult heights to test the eggs from a ladder. In the midst of the educational chaos, two feet stepped up to the plate to take a swing at the science project. At last, the unseen competitor became a known participant. A small hand reached out to tug tightly on Marsha’s pocket.
The voice cried, “Please, Please, Can I try? Can we drop mine? Please, Miss Marsha!”
Marsha looked down to see a little female face with large brown eyes staring intently at her. She knew all of the students well but this darling face was unfamiliar. Who was this, she wondered? The small voice and tugging persisted, “Miss Marsha, Miss Marsha, I neeeeeeed to do this! Please let me do this!”The woman with the red hair smiled deeply as she looked down at the little girl and said, “Oh my, it looks like we have a new competitor today!”
Clearly, the girl stood outmatched and outsmarted by high school teams with teachers. Still, the brown eyes would not stop starring and the hands would not stop tugging.“What class are you in?” Marsha asked with a questioning voice. The young girl said proudly, “Class Four. I’m 9 years old! I came to school this week for the first time.”The nameless girl wanted desperately to be a part of the learning process. Wasn’t it was this kind of girl that caused Marsha to leave her job and start a school in Africa?
Marsha noticed she was holding her own egg drop creation with pride. “Now where did you find all those supplies and how did you make that?”, Marsha questioned with a dramatic look of surprise. “ I just used all the things no one wanted and I did it by myself at home,” the little girl proudly reported. As Marsha marveled at the gritty persistence of this little girl she lovingly asked,“ What is your name?”
“Glory!” she replied, “I’m Glory! Without even taking a breath she launched, “Please let me do this? PLeeeeeeease can we try mine?” Marsha tried to hide the huge swell of compassion for this little girl as she put her hand on her hip, “ Well, I guess we could let you?” Glory bounced with excitement as the other volunteers noticed the little girl from fourth grade holding her own creation.
The African teacher smiled and welcomed her with a gentle voice, “ Okay Glory, you can compete in the competition but you will have to do the same heights as the older kids. You know it’s not going to be easy? “
Marsha and the volunteers gathered to watch the wins and losses. The competition began with the first and easiest height. As each team released their egg, you could hear the sound of gasping, followed by students shouting the results. Glory winced her face and squeezed her eyes closed as her egg was dropped from the first height.
Round one! Gasping with fear, she ran over to see the results. Cheers rang out as everyone’s egg survived the first test. The second drop launched from a higher level. Again, Glory held her hands over her eyes during the second drop.
Round two! She opened her eyes at the sound of the plop and ran to see the results. She gasped with delight as again, her egg survived. The older students were checking their own results as the last egg drop was announced. The third and final drop was on top of the tallest ladder in the classroom. For the final drop, Glory closed her eyes and held her breath. This one would be the hardest of all.
Round Three! Following the drop, she ran to see the results. Her mouth opened without words as she stared into a mess of eggshell and broken parts. Holding the remains, Glory burst into uncontrollable tears. Other kids cheered as a few winners were declared on the third and final round. Glory’s tears continued with sobs from a broken heart.
Marsha tried to console the tiny competitor but she would not stop crying. Volunteers tried to encourage little Glory with lots of big people thoughts. One lady said, “Glory, you took a risk. You had the courage to do something challenging. Another said, “Failures are just an opportunity to learn. Sometimes you can learn more when something fails than when something wins.” No adult words of wisdom could offer child-like comfort as Glory continued to cry profusely.
As the celebration continued, Marsha knelt down on her knees beside of little Glory. Marsha remembered her own risk she took to leave a secure job, to start a school without any pay or a fancy title to mark her life. She lowered her head to look directly into the eyes of little Glory as she said,“Glory, you are a leader for your age. You didn’t give up hope to participate. You took a risk and that’s what leaders do. “
As Glory looked back into Marsha’s eyes, something miraculous happened. Faith flashed for a millisecond in Glory’s eyes. She believed Marsha’s words as the tears quieted and Glory slowly wiped her nose with her hand. As backpacks swung over shoulders, children poured out of the doors and left the schoolyard area. Alone with her head hung low, Glory walked out the gate of the school. She dragged her backpack on the dusty trail as she silently processed the day.
The next morning, the warm sun sparkled softly through the deep brush and dark leafy trees. Marsha got up early and waited at the gate of the school for Glory to return. In the distance, she saw a familiar figure bouncing rhythmically toward the schoolyard. Swinging her arms as she skipped happily through the gate, Glory smiled at Marsha.
Surprised by her change, Marsha called out a question, “ Glory, did you tell your Mom about how sad you were when your egg broke? Glory stopped dead in her tracks to reply, “Yes I did Miss Marsha! But I told her that it was all OK because I learned that I am “the” leader, Miss Marsha! “Glory turned her smiling face towards the schoolyard as she continued skipping back to class. Marsha chuckled to herself, as she realized Glory’s transformation. She changed her words from
“a” leader to
“ the” leader of the whole contest…
When Marsha returned to the states, she called me to tell me the story. When I asked her the little girl’s name and she told me her name was “glory” I knew immediately that this was a little creative message from God. I’m always aware of words and signs and symbols in my day that are almost crying out to be noticed by God. Are you? This story could have been easily missed but I knew by the impact it made in Marsha’s heart that it was worth exploring. As she and I talked through the experience, I asked her if I could write the story and take a stab at creating a God message through a new lens of scripture. She agreed to let me take a shot.
Lord, give me the eyes to see your message in this story. Within a few minutes, I knew God’s message I could pull from this story in a creative way. As I listened to the silent whisper of the Holy Spirit, I began to rewrite the story as if Glory’s story was a painting a picture, a personification of God’s glory during Easter. Glory is defined as high renown or honor won by notable achievements. See if you can follow this meaning I found.
God’s glory made an appearance in an unexpected way
Though often unnoticed, God’s glory moved in and around us.
God’s glory gathered up the left-over parts and pieces of our lives, crawled unseen on the floor of our frail humanity, chose the things no one wanted, to work into something worthy, something to be proudly displayed with honor.
God’s glory stood alone, without a team or a teacher, against those who considered themselves far more qualified, equipped and better suited to win in life. Still, Glory took a turn.
God’s glory wasn’t easy, half-hearted, or a sidelined spectator but a wholehearted, risk-taking, full participant-
Because of our sin, God’s glory endured a competition with guaranteed failure, knowing full well, the brutal fall ahead:
Round one: He was beaten
Round two: He was whipped
Round three: He was crushed
All of hell declared themselves the winners, while God’s glory hung on a cross
The shell of his heart was shattered and his love poured out. Those at the cross that day watched in horror and then walked away defeated into the darkness.
Oh yes, God’s glory cried out with uncontrollable tears…
In a tomb for three days, God’s glory wrapped around a lifeless, broken body, protecting it from decay.
God’s glory was unstoppable, uncontainable, and all-powerful – His soul stormed the gates of hell, took the keys, and disarmed the devil himself.
Flammable, like a soul on fire, God’s power raised Him from the dead, breathing life.
Easter morning, glory returned, resurrected with rejoicing and celebration.
For indeed, God’s glory was the leader, in Jesus, defying the gravity of death, and securing the hope of eternity to all who would believe.
God’s glory now calls us to become flammable with the flames of faith, telling us to get back up as the one who will not be held down or held back by defeat.
God’s glory wins in the morning of every day, until the last breath we breathe-
And one final day, because of the one declared the leader,Jesus, we will be seeing Glory in an eternal kingdom where we will skip through the gates and live forever.
I pray this story touches your heart in a creative way this Easter. If any part of this speaks to you, I would love to know. Maybe you have a story too!
Blessings this Easter 2021- Tracey