It only ever happened once, as far as I know. Me, being responsible for completely exasperating a teacher in high school — which is one of the reasons I’ve never forgotten it. After all, I was one of the good kids — in a class actually full of them.
Our honors history teacher was a bombastic man with sharp, sarcastic sense of humor, which I found hilarious. I could see the twinkle in his eye and the grin under the big mustache. Most of my classmates, however, who had cultural reasons for needing nothing less than an A+ on their report cards, found him terrifying.
We’d been learning about the Puritans who first came to America in the 1600s, and how John Winthrop and the others saw this country as a “City on a Hill”… they knew they had the opportunity to create something that would be a shining example to the nations of the world. We read a paragraph from somebody’s diary (I don’t remember whose) in which the man was talking about feeding his chickens, and how as he fed them, he thought about how God provides for each one of us daily what we need.
Mr. Sullivan wanted to know what struck us about this particular passage. To his obvious dismay, he was met with blank stares and total silence. Didn’t we see anything peculiar about it? We all buried our heads in our books, as he repeated the question.
He called on a few of my friends, who turned red and shook their heads and refused to say a word — having been humiliated by his retorts on previous occasions. And then he asked me.
As I said, I wasn’t afraid of him and I knew he liked me — and he was getting desperate for a response — so I gave it a try. But I had nothing. When I finished rambling about the Puritans breeding a particular type of chicken or something equally ridiculous, Mr. Sullivan exploded.
Incredulous, he screamed at the entire class: “A man is out feeding his chickens AND IT MAKES HIM THINK ABOUT GAWWD? He starts QUOTING BIBLE VERSES? Doesn’t that STRIKE YOU AS ODD? Doesn’t that show you these people were VERY RELIGIOUS?”
Then he laughed — and the class laughed (a little tentatively) with him, feeling silly for not getting the answer and relieved the drama was over. I laughed — and I’m still laughing — because I was a bright kid, but I would never in a million years have come up with the answer he was looking for.
Because thinking about God while you’re feeding your chickens — or doing the dishes or the laundry or driving your car or… whatever… just isn’t strange or unusual to me. It’s probably not all that strange or unusual to you either.
For those of us who love Jesus, everywhere we go, in everything we do, everything we see or hear, we have opportunities to connect with Him. To think and reflect on His timeless, eternal truths. God is constantly calling to us, reminding us of His presence, drawing our hearts and our thoughts toward Him — if we’ll let Him. If we’ll listen.
Sometimes I even hear Him speak through Disney / Pixar movies. (I wonder what Mr. Sullivan would make of that!)
Today as I fast and pray in preparation for tomorrow’s National Day of Prayer, I keep thinking — believe it or not — of the wise words of Edna Mode in The Incredibles. If you haven’t seen the movie, or it’s been a while, Edna is a fashion designer (modeled after real-life Academy Award-winning movie costume designer Edith Head) who creates costumes for superheroes.
When a whole family of superheroes (Dad, Mom, and kids) come out of hiding to save the world and each other, Edna designs new, updated costumes for them. The parents have suggestions — but they’re thinking of the old days — and in response, Edna has two great lines:
1) “I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.” Which in our context, I interpret to mean: No sense bemoaning what’s gone, what’s lost, what could have or should have been, glorifying or romanticizing the past and dreading the future while ignoring the present. There’s no “taking our country back” — there’s only taking the Kingdom of God forward, advancing the Gospel, being found faithful doing the work WE’VE been called to do, with all our might, in this very hour, for such a time as this!
2) “No capes!” Just for fun, there’s a video clip below that explains why Edna’s so anti-cape. But in a nutshell, capes are the things that trip us up or entangle us and keep us from moving forward. Sometimes they’re obviously sins — heart idols, bad habits, poor choices, behaviors that don’t honor God, others, or ourselves. Other times they’re good things that become bad, when they keep us from the best.
The first step is to ask God to show you the capes in your prayer closet (or around your shoulders). But don’t stop there… like I sometimes do. Ask Him to show you what to do about them — how to strategically dispose of them — and to give you the will and the strength and the determination to do it.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” Hebrews 12:1-3
As God’s people we need to lead the way in letting go of the all things that hold us back, all the things that hinder us, so our hands are free — free to help others and free to hold on to Him, as He holds on to us.
One by one, each of us experiencing personal renewal and revival, all of us together — we can be a part of something extraordinary — and we may see Jesus shine through this City on a Hill.
Edna Mode on the dangers of capes:
Click on the links for more information and resources (including free prayer guides and downloadable graphics for sharing on social media) on the National Day of Prayer ~ videos, banners, and other resources here.