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Day 13: Me and my big mouth

August 25, 2018


For the past days, I have been struggling to give you a word that would best describe our school campus this year.  If you’ve read my blogs through the summer and even into the early days of school classes, you know that we teachers have been both praying and actually witnessing a gradual change at GCA.  I don’t want to use any exaggerated or bombastic phrase, for nothing explosive has happened – rather, there is a sense of something spiritual going on here.  How best to describe it in a word?



I think I may have grasped it when I say expectancy.  

Yes, I think that’s it.  The staff feels it.  The students exhibit it.  Expectancy.

I believe Jesus Christ is moving in a way we cannot adequately describe.  I am not going to be overly analytical nor am I going to try to anticipate what the Savior has for us.  I am just saying that it seems as if the staff and student body is getting ready.  For what, I am not sure, but it seems like it will be good.  We are … well, expectant.

But yesterday hit me with the unexpected all day.

In the early morning before school, I looked up from my desk to see a grinning young adult standing next to the podium looking at me.  Tim had graduated years before and I often would wonder if he would pursue God’s leading or turn away to more self-centered pursuits;  with  Tim you’d never know.  His track record in high school was of falling and failing more than once.

I was delighted to hear of his interest in following Christ in his next career moves.  This is not to say that he gave his life to be a full-time preacher, but he showed a definite desire to walk with God in his decisions for the future.  A joyful surprise to me.

Then Tonya walked in between classes to talk with me.  I have worried about Tonya, a shy girl who has been struggling academically from our very first quizzes.  She was falling behind in grasping the doctrines and verses I was introducing to the class by seeming to lose interest in our subject matter.

I was wrong.

Tonya lowered her head and searched for the best words to say.  I perceived she was trying to find a way to talk about her previous quiz struggles, but she caught me off guard with her question:

“Can I ask you some more about what you taught about God in class?  I have always wondered about the timelessness of God – you know, that talk about God being eternal and creating time itself.  It’s been something I want to know more about…”

She had been listening.

As we talked I realized her approach to the class teaching.  She was listening and learning in a different way.  Her grasp of the concepts of God were as good as any student; she was just struggling to get them down properly in the quizzes.

The book of James reminds us to the unexpected:  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring

There was more:  a 9th grader walked in to my empty classroom as I was shuffling papers and turning off lights in order to head over to lunch.  I did not know his name.  I have never taught him before.

“Hey, there,” I said.  “Can I help you, sir?”

He smiled at me.  “Well, I just kind of wanted to come in here and meet you,” he said.  “Kind of wanted to ask you a few questions…”

That’s been consistent with the early weeks of school.  I can expect to see the unexpected.

Oh, but I’m not done.  The unexpected carried over into Friday night.  

I was taking my wife Jill and our daughter Julie over to our Friday night high school football game against King’s Academy. This looked to be a good match-up; the boys were fired up all week in this “grudge match” since King’s Academy had upset us last year.  The atmosphere for our first home game would be good, and I was racing our family over to the stadium so that we could get a good seat at kick-off.

Heading through Karns, I felt my glasses starting to slide down my nose, so I lifted them back up and pop – the left lens came out and bounced off my knee down to the floor mat.  Everything in my left eye went fuzzy.

Aaah,” I said to Jill.  “I’m totally out of focus in my left eye.  I think the screw still might be in the glasses.  Do you have the repair kit in your purse?”  Don’t laugh; she and I have both had numerous incidents with our specs, and we are always needing those tiny little screwdrivers and stuff.

“No, I left them at home,” she said.  “Look, I think there’s a Walgreen’s up ahead – they might have a kit we could buy.”

It must have looked hilarious if you saw me.  We wanted to get to the  game so I didn’t want to stop and change drivers.  I was squeezing my lens, holding it in place while I drove.  I looked like some vintage scientist thoughtfully pondering an answer from one of his chem students.  My right eye vision is fuzzy but sufficient, but my left eye is a mess, so I needed the lens in front of it. Julie was trying to stifle a laugh as the lens fell out a second time and I put down the frame and just held the left lens to my eye.  “You look like one of those men from Sherlock Holmes who wear a monocle.”

We pulled into Walgreens and hurriedly purchased the only screwdriver for glasses they had.  They weren’t the right size but it would have to do – we were already running behind time.  My vision was too blurry to see anything so small, so right there in the store, Jill and Julie bent over the counter, fighting to re-screw the frame back into place with an intensity that only a brain surgeon could understand.  The minutes flew by and they labored as intently as any cardiovascular surgical procedure.  I believe I heard Jill say something to Julie like “forceps” but I’m not sure.  I had to stand there and look at the fuzzy atmosphere of Walgreens through my blurred vision while the ladies repaired my specs.

“Here,” Jill said, breathing deeply.  “I think we have them fitted well enough for you to carefully put them on for tonight if you don’t get too hyper.”

We arrived late at the game and the GCA Rams were going at it hard and tough.  King’s Academy was getting a serious beat-down.  The place was packed, so after buying Jill a Ramburger and Julie a Ramdog, we sauntered over to the Student Section and met up with the packed masses of face-painted pupils.  They were crazed and loud.

“Hey, Dr. Zockoll,” yelled one of the cheerleaders.  “You finally got here.   You need to get ready to do what you promised.  Remember?”

I hesitated for a moment.  Oh, yeah… the pushups.  I nodded gamely.

She called to the packed section.  “Today in class, Dr. Zockoll promised to do push-ups after the touchdowns.  You know, one push-up for every point we score?”  Paul screamed joyously and nodded.  “Yeah, you gotta do it.  One for each point.”  I gave a thumbs-up as I climbed down to the sideline.  A promise is a promise…

… and then I looked up at the scoreboard.

Our boys had scored 56 points.


Me and my big mouth.  I balanced my carefully-repaired glasses on my nose and fell to my knees.

Led on by the chanting section who counted every push-up, I faced the turf and pounded out fifty-six push-ups.  I was exhausted, but I did it.

59-year-old guy does it.  Yesssss.

I rose to my knees and heard an explosive cheer near the end zone.  I couldn’t believe what I saw…

While I was finishing up my final push-up, the GCA defense had forced a fumble and recovered the football in the end zone.  By the time I stood up the extra point had been kicked by our team.  The students looked and cheered and pointed at me.

“Now you have to do 63 push-ups!”

You understand what that means?  I have to go back do zero and now start from the beginning and do sixty-three push-ups.

By the time I had completed that grueling journey to the chants and cheers of the crowd, I was silently praying that our team would fumble away every other attempt for the rest of the game.

Oh, they didn’t.  They scored again.

I was once again on my face in the football turf, starting at zero and now doing seventy push-ups.


I did them.


So if I have my math right, within one football quarter I did one hundred and eighty-nine push-ups.  And this was supposed to be a relaxing night of watching the teens play on the turf.

Later that night as I struggled to open the van door and lurch into the house, I realized that the Lord has a sense of humor in His reminder that we can never predict what the next day -or hour – may bring.

I would type more this morning but my arms are twitching uncontrollably.

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