Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Reversal Of Fortune

I've always had a fondness for the natural order of things to be turned around. Like many, I root for the underdog almost every time when I don't have a team in the game. My favorite part of summer Bible camp was always Backwards Day when we got up and had a campfire and ate breakfast before going to sleep. (I've always wished we would try that at least once at school!) Several weeks ago, we had our annual Stanford Testing for middle and high school, a barometer of where our students rank nationally in a number of academic areas. I was assigned to proctor one of my two eighth grade Bible classes for the approximate eight hours of evaluations. They were amazing and if you've ever monitored testing, you know kids gets restless and squirmy. Not this bunch! I was so impressed I promised them a reward when we returned from Spring Break. And I'm a man of my word!

Yesterday was our first day back from vacation and true to my vow, I had something planned for that second period bunch of 8th graders- a drawing for a $10 gift card! Lisa Berglund, our incredible manager of the Wildcat Store, came in and explained the options for the winner;  Barnes and Noble, Starbucks, etc or  it could be used for merchandise in the Wildcat Store. Lisa drew from the box containing every youngster's name and drew out........Madison! But instead of elation, Miss Madison was chagrined. You see, we did a backwards drawing where you win if your name never gets called. Madison pulled the next name as I announced, and the loser is! When your name was drawn, you pulled out the next until we were down to only two, Stephen, who is from China, and Kaleb, sometimes known as Vanilla Ice because of the way he combs his hair. And the prize went to, by NEVER having his name called, was ..........Kaleb! What's interesting is that as we began the contest, I asked Kaleb who he thought would win and if he was right, everybody would get a bonus point on our next exam, Test # 6. He picked himself and in that case, his classmates won as well. Mr. Ice announced he was going to take a card from Chipotle's. It was a good morning to be Kaleb.

You know what's funny? Under normal circumstances, Madison would have been the winner and Kaleb the loser. But change the rules and the boundaries and the expectations, everything changes! We just finished studying Jesus' parable of the two men at prayer in my Gospels classes. If you remember, Jesus tells a story how a Pharisee, revered in Israel, prayed publicly in the temple concurrently with a hated tax collector. The Pharisee basically prayed  by bragging about himself while the publican's seven word plea was simply, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Jesus closed His teaching shocking the crowd by proclaiming the tax collector was justified before God and not the religious pillar of the community, throwing in the humble will be exalted and vice versa. I tell my students, it's like a famous preacher and a prostitute both praying and the Lord listens to the harlot and not the minister! Jesus flipped the script in so many ways. Rich and poor, adults and children, servants and leaders, first and last. Kind of like Madison and Kaleb, except there is no evidence the tax collector liked Mexican food. We still struggle today, I think, with earthly perceptions versus our Father's standards. I want to grab myself a prominent seat sometimes when Jesus taught in Luke 17 that we should look  at ourselves as unworthy servants. In our drawing, everyone stood to start the process and sat as they were eliminated. We want recognition but Kaleb survived by no one speaking his name. That's a good lesson for me.

Applicable quote of the day:
Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at steve@hawleybooks.com

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