Finding the extraordinary in us

“The puzzle is why so many people live so badly. Not so wickedly, but so inanely. Not so cruelly, but so stupidly.”

So says Eugene Peterson, in his book Run with the Horses. Peterson says we fail to live the full life we were created for. We do this “because we are convinced that we are plain and ordinary.” Our lives, our friends, the neighborhood where we grew up, all seem “undramatic.” “We see no way to find significance in such settings.”

Peterson has captured the problem in the 2015 movie, McFarland, USA, the story of a below-average football coach named Jim White, played by Kevin Costner. White keeps getting fired from coaching jobs for losing his temper. The only place he can find work is as a high school PE teacher in the poor farm town of McFarland, California.

White is a coach with no hope in a town with no hope.

White’s students are Hispanic kids who work in the fields before and after school every day. Their families need their labor just to survive, so the idea that the kids could be part of an athletic team, or one day go to college, is an impossible dream.

Yet the people of McFarland welcome White and give him a chance. He in turn sees something in them they had never noticed in themselves. Somehow they redeem each other.

McFarland, USA helps remind us that God has put the extraordinary in each of us, and he delights when we discover it.

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