It is April 14, 2003. No records of a cyclone or bomb hitting my area on this day exist. I was not facing anything that dramatic--just a classroom of college students and my lecture was not ready.
I can't recall why I wasn't ready for this particular lecture. Perhaps being a full-time mother, wife and university lecturer had something to do with it. Perhaps our evening devotion the night before was too extended, answering the serious questions our boys had. Maybe one was sick and I had to look after him. Or it's possible that several students came to my office with their burdens the day before and I listened and prayed with them, and so didn't have the time to prepare.
I knew I wasn't ready. So Plan B was to use a PowerPoint presentation, prepared by another lecturer. I felt that using them did not make my lectures good enough. But since I'm not ready that will have do today, I thought. Of course, I needed a data projector and a laptop for it. Not a problem, I could always use my husband's, in the office just next door.
I should have had the first period free but I supervised an exam for another lecturer. Although that didn't give me the time to properly prepare for that class, I was able to brush up on some facts. As I was glancing at the material, a few questions popped into my mind and I jotted them down.
I had the next two periods to teach and the fourth one was the class I dreaded that morning.
During the breaks between classes, I managed to type those questions and print them out. I like these questions. Maybe I'll use them during the class, I thought. Little did I know what was coming.
Eight minutes to the beginning of class, I find no laptop in my husband's office. Running to the IT office, they don't have one either. Running back to my office, I panic! What am I going to do? I am not ready to stand the whole 50 minutes in front of the class to give a talk on this subject. Maybe I should go home and get the laptop. I need at least 10 minutes for that. There is no time. I need the laptop here. I need it now. What am I going to do?
One minute to the beginning of class, I walk toward the classroom, offering a silent prayer.
I remembered having last year's notes in the folder that I was carrying. I needed time to look into them. As I was approaching the room, the rescue plan emerged. I would divide the class into groups. Each group would get one of those questions that popped into my mind earlier this morning. I would ask them to discuss those questions. That would give me some time to look at my notes.
As the groups delved into discussion, I glanced at last year's notes. I then wrote on the board a sequence of facts and names, which would help me go through the material. I would ask each group to share its discussion results with the rest of the class--but not straight away. It would be during the lecture, as it fitted with the material I was to cover.
Fifty minutes later, I walked out of that classroom with a smile on my face. I thought, That was the best lecture I have delivered so far! I also wondered, How is it possible that a sure disaster can be turned into a thorough success? Only God knows.
I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking to me about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24.
Daniela Schubert is a theology lecturer at Pacific Adventist University, near Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.