Saving Grace

by Gayleen Gardner

“Welcome to detention.”

I couldn’t believe Mrs. Vermillion was saying those words... to me! For the first time in my life, I got in trouble at school. And now my punishment was during the all-school ice cream party!

“Today is a bad day to be stuck in detention,” Mrs. Vermillion said. “So here’s what we’re going to do. Instead of reading for 30 minutes as usual, I’ll let you go early if the entire room can stay quiet for 30 seconds.”

Thirty seconds, I thought. That’s great! I’m sure we can stay quiet for 30 seconds!

I looked around at my fellow rule-breakers.

“OK,” Mrs. V said. “We’ll start now.”

I watched the clock tick... 23, 24, 25.

“We did it!” Sam yelled.

“What?” Mrs. V asked.

“That was 30 seconds.”

“Sorry, Sam. That was 25 seconds. We’ll have to start over.”

Again, the clock ticked toward our goal... 17, 18, 19.

“I’ll be right there,” Claire shouted to a friend in the hall. “Save me a place!”

“NO,” the whole room groaned.

“We’ll start again,” Mrs. V said.

Suddenly, I heard music.

“Hello?” Mrs. Vermillion answered her phone. “Yes, I’m still in detention. I’ll call you back. Sorry, class, let’s start again.”

“What?” Sam said. “You have to be quiet, too?”

“Those are the rules,” Mrs. V said. “The whole room.”

“We’re doomed!” Claire said.


Just as Mrs. V started the timer again, the door opened. Our principal, Mr. Grace, walked in.

“You’re missing all the fun I planned for you,” he said. “The ice cream is melting and the hot fudge is getting cold.”

“We’re trying our best,” Sam said.

“Can’t you just let us go?” Claire asked.

“Sorry,” Mr. Grace said. “Even I can’t break the rules. And each of you broke a rule that landed you here. Am I right?”

I looked at the floor. He was right.

“But I have a solution,” he said. “I’ll stay here and take the punishment in your place.”

“Huh?” Sam said.

“I’ll serve your detention for you,” Mr. Grace explained.

“But you didn’t do anything to deserve this,” I said.

“Exactly. That’s why it’s my gift to you,” Mr. Grace said.

“Seriously?” Sam said. “Let’s go!”

We all grabbed our backpacks and headed for the door. I turned to hug Mr. Grace.

“Thank you. Thank you for taking my place.”


Does Principal Grace remind you of anyone? Jesus paid the price for all of our wrongdoings when He died on the Cross. But then He rose from the dead, so we could have a relationship with God.

Have you ever prayed to accept Jesus’ gift of forgiveness? Start by saying something like this:

“Dear Jesus, I believe You love me so much that You died so my sins could be forgiven. Please come into my life. Thank You for taking my place. Help me to obey and follow You. Amen.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr. magazine. Copyright © 2016 by Gayleen Gardner. Illustration © Andotwin.