In the 2012 version of The Avengers, there is a scene where Clint Barton (a.k.a. Hawkeye) wakes up in restraints after having been under the influence of Loki leading him to fight against Natasha Romanov (Black Widow). She is in the room when he becomes aware that Loki no longer has control of him. Part of their conversation follows:
Hawkeye: “Why am I back? How did you get him out of my head?”
Black Widow: “Cognitive Recalibration.” (long pause) She continues, “I hit you really hard in the head.”
That reminds me of a fable about a farmer who claimed to have a mule that would obey his first command. Mules are famously stubborn so there is no surprise that the town folk and other farmers doubted his claim. To prove himself right and the others wrong, he asked them to come to the farm the next morning to see a demonstration.
Sure enough, as the sun broke through the next morning a crowd gathered. The farmer having finished breakfast sauntered into the pen where the mule was munching on hay ignoring the gathered crowd. The mule stood still and kept eating as the farmer placed the harness on him. The farmer then bent down and picked up a 2×4 and whacked the mule on the side of the head. The mule looked up and the farmer commanded, “Go the the field where the plow is.” The mule immediately obeyed.
The crowd was in a tizzy. Someone shouted, “You cheated, he didn’t simply obey you, you hit him.”
“He did obey me,” replied the farmer. “I just had to get his attention first!”
Sometimes we all need “cognitive recalibration.” Hopefully we can adjust our attitude and actions without needing someone to hit us in the head. But maybe we do need someone to get our attention.
An Attitude Adjustment
Luke records how God had to get the attention of Saul of Tarsus. God did not use a 2×4 or a hard hit to the head, but he had to get Saul’s attention and recalibrate his attitude. God used a bright light and the voice of Jesus. “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:1-4).
Now that God had Saul’s attention, Saul listened and his attitude toward Jesus changed.
- He adjusted his view of Jesus – Acts 9:5; Acts 22:10
- He adjusted his plans. He was set to persecute those that followed Jesus. Instead he follows Jesus himself. Acts 22:3-5; Acts 9:15
- He adjusted his speech. Once he denied Jesus as the Christ. Now he gladly proclaimed Jesus as the resurrected Christ. Acts 9:20-22
I don’t know how God is trying or will try to get your attention. Maybe He is using this past year of the pandemic to get your attention (I am not claiming to know that God planned or sent it, but I know He can use it). Maybe there is someone who is in your life right now and they are encouraging you to be a better person for God or to get to know God better. Maybe some situation has you flat on your back looking up. While you are there, look up at God and allow His Grace to help you change.
Paul tells us, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14).
Let us refocus our heart and mind on Christ and His Kingdom.