March 7, 2005
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend, 

      It's an old story, told by speakers in the midst of a talk, to convince his/her listeners of the nature of "tomorrow."

     Seems a man was walking on the beach, alone (you know already that it's bogus; men don't walk on the beach ...alone!) and he comes upon an old container, washed up by the tide. He picks it up and rubs the sand off the outside ... and out pops a Barbara Eden look-alike ("Who played the genie in a weekly sitcom in the 60's?"). She appeared tired; she told the man that her last captor had extracted two wishes before his yacht was hit by a wave and he dropped the lamp overboard. Now, here she was with just one wish left, unclaimed. "What'll it be, Mister?" she asked him, as she prepared to close-up the magic shop.

     He thought a minute, and came up with a man's answer. "I want the third section of my hometown newspaper ... dated 30 days from today." Poof: Genie was gone ... and a folded newspaper lay on the beach. Clever response; in that section were both the horse racing results from the day before ... and the stock market standings from the prior day. Given a month to get ready, he'd be busy: use that home equity line of credit to get a boatload of instant cash, check the current Wall Street Journal against the end-of-month reports to find the breakout companies that would make him rich ... and plan that last day at the track, bettin' to "win" on the horses that would break the tape. What a plan!

     As he cruised through his ticket to a brighter tomorrow, he landed on the page between Sports and Business; the obituaries stood out as they never had before. There, on the top of the roster, was a name he recognized: his. "Prime of his life," the subtext said. "Massive heart attack" were the words without passion. It would be great to have some of tomorrow's news today ... but, do you really want all of it?

     Today, tomorrow, yesterday; those are such earthbound concepts. They relate - exclusively - to the rotation speed of our host planet. We anchor our perspective of time in the RPM's of Earth ... and plan our lives around the spin-rate.

     I'm livin' in that curiosity, right now. Writing from Tasmania, an island off the southeastern corner of Australia ... and over the international dateline from "home." What time is it, here? As I tried to explain to Cheri last night, it's five hours earlier here ... but, tomorrow. The "five hours earlier" part is pretty easy (I do North and South America frequently enough; that's typical). But ... "tomorrow?" That's where the mind gets off the track. How can it be tomorrow ... when it's still today?

     Little kids and dogs don't do "later." Their only consciousness connection is "now." Delay tactics don't work with toddlers or terriers; if they want to do something with you, forget scheduling something for sometime later in the week. Their theme song is playing: "It's Now or Never ..." Their planet ain't spinnin'...

     God has the same problem with us, I think. We "big people" are just a little more sophisticated than our kids: we have yesterday, today, tomorrow down pretty well, but this "outside the constraints of time" stuff makes our brains hurt. God - who dwells in Eternity, where nothing "spins" to control the clock - talks about things in the present tense ... even though they aren't in our present view, in what we call "real time." Is it any less real, when it isn't happening in the current spin? If I can exist five hours earlier ... tomorrow, why can't God be precisely connected with things outside our current time capsule?

     When He pushed truth through the pens of the writers of the Scriptures, one-third of their writings were prophetic (disclosing future events, before they happened). Why would God give us heads-up info on not-yet current events? "I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe." (Jesus, quoted in John 14:29)

     God isn't looking to make us rich by stock buys and race bets; his intention in prophetic disclosure is very simple: he wants to use the prophetic one-third to convince us concerning the redemptive two-thirds. The God who knows tomorrow, yesterday ... wants us to join him in Eternity, the day before our name shows up in the obituary in our local paper. Hallelujah, what a Savior ...

Bob Shank

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