June 6, 2005
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank


Dear Marketplace Friend, 

      Last week, we attended Sunday-morning church across the county from home ... undercover. I'd be speaking there seven days later (like, yesterday!); Cheri and I took advantage of the "day off" so I could show up incognito and get a sense of the culture ...

      Busted! While moving through the lobby after the service, I heard an unfamiliar voice utter a long-lost name; I turned my head to see a middle-aged man who was a friend of mine in high school (how did he get so old?). I knew it was him ... because only someone who knew me then would know that nickname ...

      Nicknames are like gum on your shoe: usually, you pick 'em up unexpectedly, and they have to wear-off to get rid of them ... or, you just ditch the shoes and leave 'em behind.

      In junior high, it was worse. In my adolescent adjustment era, my quick reaction time commingled with my sarcastic wit and desire to make people snicker. Result? I gained a school-yard nickname: Smartface. (Not quite true: the second syllable was a body-part, but the one chosen by the junior high naming committee could not be circulated here). I never grew out of the attitude, but - fortunately - I grew away from the name.

      Some people choose their own nickname ... and then make it legal. Marilyn vos Savant must have done that; no way she could have stumbled on her moniker. As a child, she was IQ tested ... and scored 228 (the highest number ever, according to Guinness ... and Marilyn). Now, she's the Smartest Person in the World (she's trademarked that one!). What would a person named vos Savant (that's French for "your sage") do for a job? Simple: write a weekly column in PARADE magazine ... answering write-in questions. Think "Dear Abby" with a slide rule. Last week, she took the week off ... and instead of offering answers, she just ran a column of questions that no one could really answer. Examples?

      "Can sour cream go bad? If so, how can you tell? Please answer soon, because I have an unopened container in the back of my refrigerator with an expiration date of April 1996." Here's another: "What is the purpose of earlobes besides hanging things on?" Two points off for grammar. Another: "When I am walking my dog - considering he has twice as many legs as I do - is he getting twice as much exercise as I am, or half as much?" Does it matter? More: "How does an ant know that he should venture up my truck tire, across the axle, through the engine and into the interior ... where I left my donut?" Sounds like one for Jeff Foxworthy, to me. One last one: "Could leap year be switched from February 29 to June 31? It would give us an extra day of summer and one less day of winter." Here's your sign ...

      Here's my theory: When you have access to a really smart person, it makes you want to ask dumb questions. Proof? Marilyn vos Savant ... and, even more: the now-resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.

      At his last meeting, before returning to heaven, he huddled with his 11 remaining disciples for a final sendoff. They're about to live the rest of life without the physical presence of the one they now knew to be the Creator, Incarnate. Absolute Wisdom in skin. The Insight of the Ages, in human form. What would you ask, if you had the chance? Any question you want: what'll it be?

      "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). After three years of hearing, over and over again about his Kingdom ... which is "... not of this world." (John 18:36) they still thought there might be a plum political position for them - as "insiders" - just around the corner.

      We can't be too hard on these guys; we ponder the same thoughts. Hey, God: when is our payoff for doing what you've asked us to do? Can't I expect to benefit - sometime soon, hopefully - for doing the right stuff, the way you wanted me to? Great questions ... for self-concerned humans.

      He was swift and clear in his response: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses ..." (Acts 1:8). He had no office with power for them; instead, he would send the Spirit of power. Instead of a position, they were given a platform: on the basis of their relationship with him, they had a personal story that would change the world!

      Marilyn may answer curiosities; they would answer life's biggest question: how to get to heaven!

Bob Shank


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