Others Devotional, volume 12
Reflections on Green Eggs & Ham by Larry Baker
Scripture: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-45
I asked Leah to be “HERE” and Demi to be “THERE.” Betty Lou volunteered to be the “FOX,” Jared was the “MOUSE,” while Carson was the “GOAT” and Tommie, the “TRAIN.” I was in a second grade classroom reading one of my all-time favorite books, Green Eggs and Ham. Whenever I read that book, I like to have audience participation. And the audience is always happy to oblige.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Dr. Seuss classic, Sam-I-Am is trying to convince the protagonist to eat green eggs and ham. The narrator of the story insists that he does not like green eggs and ham and continually refuses to eat them. He will not eat them in a box or with a fox; not in the rain or on a train; not in a boat or with a goat; not here, not there, not anywhere. So each of the second graders who secured a role in this drama had to know what their word rhymed with so they could shout their word at the appropriate time. When we got to “HERE” and “THERE” I just looked at Leah, then Demi, to cue them in.
I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-Am! I do not like them on a boat, I do not like them with a —–. I do not like them in the rain, I do not like them on a —–. Not in a box, not with a —-. Not in a house, not with a —-. I do not like them H—-, or TH—-. I do not like them ANYWHERE.
When we got to ANYWHERE, I allowed the whole to class say it. I have learned from years of experience that it’s best to make them whisper ANYWHERE. Otherwise, it gets louder and louder as the book progresses, and we become way too disruptive to the classroom next door.
At the end of the book (spoiler alert), Sam-I-Am wears down his friend and finally convinces him to try green eggs and ham.
You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say.
He tries them and, lo and behold, discovers that he likes green eggs and ham.
Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam-I-Am! I do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you! Thank you! Sam-I-Am!
I’ve been reflecting on this story since my second grade visit a couple weeks ago. I’ve been reflecting and doing a little soul-searching. This story is actually an accurate portrayal of my relationship with sushi. Except sushi and I have not yet reached the end of the book. I do not like sushi. I would not eat sushi here or there. I would not eat sushi ANYWHERE. I am also embarrassed to admit, I have never, ever tried sushi. I’m not interested. I am absolutely convinced I do not like it.
In the spirit of confession and transparency, I will admit that my refusal to try something like sushi is a character flaw. Rest assured, Central Valley Christian Schools will not benefit or suffer as a result of my narrow culinary preferences, but if I allow that character trait to seep into other areas of my life, the school I’m trying to lead runs the risk of becoming stagnant and mediocre. Thus, I promise to work hard at keeping an open mind to better ways of doing things. Because we’ve always done it that way should not ever be our rationale for any activity. If that was the way CVC operated, we’d still be having chapel in the gymnasium, we would not be using iPads and Chromebooks, and we wouldn’t have agriculture classes or FFA. We need to stay openminded on ways to improve.
In his Sermon on the Mount, at least a half-dozen times, Jesus begins with the words, “You have heard it said…,” and concludes with the words, “but I say to you…” as he turned the world’s thinking upside down. Jesus was definitely not a because-we’ve-always-done-it-that-way kind of person. Jesus came and taught us to love our enemies, to never seek revenge, to not turn away from the one who wants to borrow, and to provide a jacket to the one suing the shirt off our back. Others: It’s Not About Us – that is what Jesus lived and taught and that should not just be our theme for the year; it should be our theme for life.
Prayer: God of Creation, Redemption and Renewal – We pray for a vision of the way things ought to be and the courage to live and work toward that goal. In the name of Jesus, the One who turned things upsidedown, we pray. Amen
About the Author: Larry Baker is the superintendent of Central Valley Christian Schools. He enjoys reading, and in addition to Dr. Seuss, his favorite authors include David Baldacci, John Grisham and Vince Flynn.
Originally published on December 2, 2016.