On a recent Sunday we discussed Psalm 88, 89, and 22 -- known as Psalms of Lament -- in Sunday School. We talked about Proverbs 14:10, how each life has its joys and sorrows. I reminded the class that James 1:2 says we should "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,".
I've got to quit teaching about troubles -- God thought I was talking about my shopping list! I usually leave home about 7:00 a.m. to be at school by eight. I was up late Sunday night and forgot to set the alarm clock. Instead of waking at 6:00 I didn't wake up until my sister called at 7:05. I jumped out of bed!
As I was shaving I thought "I can probably make it on time if I drive a little faster than normal." Then I looked out the window and saw the fog, oh no! I skipped breakfast, filled my coffee mug, and hurried out the door. Not only was it foggy, but the car was covered with ice. Since this is sunny California I no longer keep an ice-scraper in the car so I waited a couple more minutes while the car warmed up enough to melt the ice on the windows.
I pulled into the parking lot at 7:54, just in time. Since this was the first day of classes for the semester I had to look up which classroom my first class was in. Another few seconds to find the needed information, and then I rushed across campus to the classroom building. It was 7:58 when I got the classroom. I wasn't late but I would probably have to sit in the most uncomfortable seat in the place (that's why I always like to get to class early).
I pulled the door open and rushed in. Hey no problem! All the seats are empty. I looked at my watch again, yes it was Monday the 6th, at 8:00 a.m. Since there had been terrible flooding over the past several days I thought maybe the class had been canceled for the day because the instructor was unable to attend. I looked at the doors to the classroom, and the bulletin boards and chalkboards; there was no notice of a cancellation or a move to a different classroom. I sat down and waited.
By 8:10 I was still the only person there. I got out my schedule and checked, yes it said classroom 102. I waited some more. I walked over to the administration building to see if the instructor was in his office (no). I couldn't find the instructor, or the class. I stood in line to pick up my financial aid check, at least the trip to school wasn't a total loss.
Then I thought "I wonder if I went to the wrong classroom?" I had already checked twice but I looked again and I discovered the problem - I had written down the wrong number. I should have gone to classroom 203, not 102! I hurried back to the classroom building and up the stairs. Finally I tried to sneak into the classroom almost half an hour late.
Of course the only seats available were right in the front of the room. It is hard for someone my size to slip in inconspicuously. A few minutes later the instructor finished the section of the lecture he was engaged in when I came in. He asked for my name, and he checked it against his list. I was sure glad that I had registered early because the class was full, there were several people on the waiting list. When he found my name on the list he told me I could not take this class - you must have completed at least 56 units of college coursework to be eligible, and I had only 43.
I was stunned. I sat in silence for a few minutes as I evaluated my options. Finally I gathered my things together and walked out of the classroom. I decided to protest the policy. I asked the secretary in the instructor's department how to petition for an exception to the policy. She said it is just not done. I couldn't give up yet, I need that class, so I decided to wait until the instructor finished the class and speak to him about it. I waited, and waited some more.
I gave up and drove over to the corps. At least there I could find a cup of coffee and a sympathetic ear. The coffee was there, but all the ears were pretty busy -- something about a flood or something. By this time the only emergency I was concerned about was my registration problem. I sat down with my class schedule to see if there was some way to resolve my problem. I flipped the pages back and forth, it looked hopeless. That class was the only one I needed which was offered this term. But wait! There is one other class in the schedule which I need. I called to change my registration, but the other class was full and they were not even offering a wait-list for it. Then as I searched through the class schedule I noticed that the instructor of the class I had originally registered for had another class immediately following the first one. It finished at 12:00, and it was now 11:55.
I hurried back to the car and drove immediately to the college. I arrived at his office about 12:10 and he was not there. I waited. Finally I started down the hall to leave, and met the instructor on his way to his office. I asked for a few minutes of his time. He was very gracious, and carefully explained the policy about admission to the class and how it was just not possible unless I had the required number of units. I complained, he explained; I grumbled, he said "I hope you can understand...". I said "Yes, I can understand, but I certainly don't like it."
The next day was also trying, but at least I was able to squeeze myself into the second-choice class, and then stand in line to buy my parking pass, and then stand in line to turn in my registration forms, and then stand in line to buy my textbooks. It is a good thing that I am a patient person.
Finally, it was all settled. I could relax a bit. Now I could think a bit. "Consider it pure joy..." the scripture said. God, I'm not sure I can handle any more pure joy right now, have you got any other kind?
© Copyright 1996 - James Card - Permission is granted for non-commercial use of all original material.
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