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Get Your Game Face On

February 3, 2014

1aWe watched the Super Bowl after the evening church service in a delightfully energetic room.  We had anticipated a small gathering – about eight guys around the television, a small group.  However, word got around, and before the second quarter got underway almost forty folks filled the room, shouting at the screen between bites of buffalo wings, Cuban rice, and pork sandwiches.

Tim shook his head.  “Those players are relentless.  They got their game face on.”  He turned to me.  “You don’t see that every day.”

Game face?  I laughed.  It reminded me of my New Testament Survey class. Lani in particular…

Lani was one of the most gentle girls I had ever met.  She politely introduced herself at the beginning of the school year and settled herself quietly while the rest of the students chatted and yelled as they filed into the classroom. After smiling and nodding to a few of her close friends, Lani buried herself in a book until the bell rang.  Although she wasn’t mousy, she was an introvert.  She gave every appearance of meekness and reserve as I introduced the course and got into the study on Matthew.

As is my habit, I threw in some important points in apologetics as we moved through the class hour.

That’s when I got The Stare.

Lani’s Stare.

I first noticed it out of the corner of my eye as I was pointing at the Sermon on the Mount notes on the screen.  I glanced over and saw the laser-like focus on each word.

Lani’s hand was taking notes at lightning speed.  I was surprised that the pen wasn’t on fire.

I moved into some points about apologetics.  Lani’s hand flew up.  “So you’re saying that Olbers’ Paradox is one of the most definitive arguments against an eternal universe?”

In a few minutes her hand was up again.  “In researching the Koran and the Bible side-by-side, how would you compare Allah and Jehovah?”

After I had walked through the answer, she was asking yet another question: “What would you consider to be some of the most important attributes of God?”

This went on week after week.

By Thanksgiving break Lani had two notebooks full of handwritten notes.  She approached me in the empty classroom as I was packing up for the holidays.

“I want to thank you for putting up with all of my questions,” she said shyly.

“Lani, I wish I had fifty more students like you,” I replied.  “I love it when students want to go to the next level of learning.  I am intrigued, though, at your aggressiveness.  You really go after the Bible doctrines with a bulld0g-like ferocity.”

She nodded.  “There’s a really good reason.  You see, I go home every Fall Break holiday to a family reunion in Chicago.  There are dozens and dozens of relatives there, and my parents and I are the only ones who are not followers of Islam.  Every year since I can remember, Dr. Zockoll,  the gathering breaks out into an argument about Islam and Christianity. It often goes way beyond a debate.   My uncles will go right after my mom and dad, and there’s a lot of shouting.  Lately they don’t just settle on my parents.  The last two years they’ve been zeroing in on me.” She looked at me with The Stare.  “I want to be ready this year.”  She held up her two notebooks.  “I’m pretty sure I’m up to the task.”

True enough, all through the Thanksgiving holiday Lani and her folks faced the relatives who were ready to debate.

Much to their surprise, Lani came prepared.

…I remembered how Lani sat through each class, locked in on each day’s lesson in the Bible.  Those Super Bowl guys had nothing on Lani’s game face.

And believe me, Lani’s not the only one.

Yes, Tim, I do see that game face every school day.  There are students who give me The Stare each class period. 

It keeps me on my toes.

It makes my day.


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