A friend of mine occasionally uses that as his Facebook status, and pops in a photo like the one on the left as his profile pic.
He uses these references to the 1980 comedy classic film, The Blues Brothers as a fun way to notify his friends and followers that he’s taking a three-day hiatus from social media, while he volunteers at a Christian retreat weekend hosted by the Calgary Cursillo Movement.
And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I’ve done the same a couple of times, and will probably do so again.
It’s a great reference, to be sure. The phrase instantly conjures images of hilarious scenes from the film, where Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) engage in all sorts of ridiculous, dangerous and audacious shenanigans – giving no thought to safety, prudence or the law. In their minds, there’s no need for doubt or caution; they know they can’t fail – because they’re on a mission from God.
Watch this YouTube montage to see what I mean:
Now, I wouldn’t advise that anyone model their behavior after Jake and Elwood’s in this film, but I think their outlook just might be bang-on.
What if we approached every task that comes our way – whether it feels meaningful or mundane, whether it’s a piece of cake or a real tough cookie – as if it were a mission from God?
- I really don’t feel like doing this, but I’m on a mission from God, and He deserves my best – so I’ll step up and give it my all.
- I don’t think I have the strength to do this, but I’m on a mission from God, so He’ll give me what I need to get it done, and done well.
- I have no real idea of how to do this, but I’m on a mission from God, so if He wants me to succeed, he’ll gift me with what I need. And if He wants me to fail and learn something from the experience, that failure will do more good in me than a success that wasn’t His idea.
Wouldn’t we grow more? Wouldn’t we come to know more? Wouldn’t we get more done? Wouldn’t we have more fun?
A few years ago, I wrote about Harry Potter’s experience with the liquid luck potion Felix Felicis, noting that after he drank this potion, he became bolder, more confident and seemed to be enjoying himself much more than usual, despite the fact the stakes he was gambling were staggeringly high.
Sounds a little like Jake and Elwood, doesn’t it?
But what might also be worth mentioning is that before Harry drank the potion, he pretended to spike his pal Ron’s morning pumpkin juice with it – to help calm Ron’s game-day jitters before an important Quidditch match. Ron didn’t actually drink any of the potion, but he thought he had – and that belief gave him the confidence he needed to have a spectacular debut as the Gryffindor keeper.
Now, I know, it’s only a movie. But there’s a nugget of wisdom in that story, isn’t there?
Even if you’re skeptical about the notion of God anointing and equipping us specifically for every chore that comes our way, what if we ‘tricked’ ourselves into treating every task – big or small, secular or sacred – like it’s a special assignment from God?
Whether you’re a pastor preparing a sermon or a bag boy packing a customer’s groceries for them, treat it like a mission from God. Whether you’ve landed an interview for your dream job or your boss asked you to file a foot-high stack of reports, you’re on a mission from God. Whether you’re talking to your kid about the birds and bees or just making him a sandwich, you’re on a mission from God.
But, Baldy, some of those jobs are just too trivial. I couldn’t possibly talk myself into believing they came from God. I’m just not that good a salesman.
Sure you are, reader. You sell yourself on things all the time. Go out to eat, and you sell yourself on ordering dessert when you’re already full. At the mall, you sell yourself on one more pair of shoes. On a new car you don’t need. On vacations you can’t afford. On relationships you know aren’t good for you.
You’re a super self-salesman, reader. Why not try using your superpowers for good for a change. And here’s your sales pitch:
You’re right that a lot of these jobs are too small for God’s radar screen … in and of themselves. But maybe – just maybe – these microscopic missions fit inside, and contribute to, the job(s) God created you to do. Or maybe these little, pedantic chores will help prepare you for your next mission from God, in ways you won’t understand until after the mission has been successfully completed – if even then.
And at worst, maybe sometimes the mission actually will be all in your head, and you’ll just be fooling yourself. But what you rather be – a happy optimist who thinks every laundry load is a divine vocation, or a miserable realist who’s certain his life is meaningless? And which delusion is worse – the one that risks saying too many things matter to God, or too few?
And while we’re talking about things being ‘all in your head’, and also still on the subject of Harry Potter, I need to once again point out my favorite quote from Harry’s schoolmaster, Albus Dumbledore:
Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Peace be with you.