A doctor tells a patient that she has three months to live. She asks, "Is there anything I can do?" He replies, "Yes, marry a tax accountant." She is surprised: "How will that cure me?" The doctor says, "It won't, but it will make those three months seem like an eternity."
My apologies to tax accountants, but income tax deadline time is just ahead-so here's my second annual pre-April 15 joke column. Apologies also to computer newcomers, one of whom was recently using a long password: "MickeyMinniePluto-HueyLouieDeweyDonaldGoofy-Boston." He chose that because it had to be at least eight characters long and include at least one capital.
Speaking of capitals, four friends in Washington, D.C., assembled on a sunny day on the Mall to discuss big questions and then vote on which answer was right. Three of them were atheists. The fourth, Chris, grew weary of being outvoted each time. He appealed to God: "Lord, please give a sign that You exist." Suddenly a bolt of lightning hit the Washington Monument. "See!" Chris said, but the three atheists insisted that natural causes could explain the occurrence. So Chris prayed again. This time the earth shook and a voice from above boomed, "HE'S RIGHT!" Chris triumphantly said, "Now do you get it?" One of the atheists shrugged: "Now it's three to two."
On a lesser note, a teenager with very long hair asked his dad about financing a motorcycle for him. The father said, "Let's make a deal: Improve your grades, read the Bible regularly, get a haircut, and then we'll work something out." The son studied diligently for the next month and then again asked his dad, who replied, "I'm proud of you, but you still haven't cut your hair." The son responded, "As I've been reading Scripture I noticed that Samson had long hair and lots of other Bible heroes did as well." The father replied, "Did you notice they walked everywhere they went?"
Reading the Bible is crucial, of course, but if we make it a mere ritual and don't apply what we learn we're like the couple told by a salesman, "This vacuum cleaner will cut your work in half." They reply, "Terrific! Give us two of them." We may have as little understanding of what God calls us to do as had the drunk in front of a judge who said, "You've been brought here for drinking." The drunk replied, "OK, let's get started."
We like to make our own rules, as did another drunk at a roof party who fell off but stopped his descent after 10 feet by grabbing onto a ledge. He grew weaker and pleaded, "Will someone up there throw me a rope?" Suddenly a bright light shone above and a voice thundered, "I, the Lord, am here. Let go of the ledge and I will save you." The drunk thought for a moment, then yelled, "Is anyone else up there?" How often are we like that?
We like to think we're in control, somewhat like the Minnesotan who taught his son how to swirl one of the Homer Hankies that Twins fans love. The son waved his when a light-hitting player came up-and struck out. Then, with a slugger at the plate, the dad waved his: Home run. "See," the father smiled, "that's how you wave a Hankie."
Happily, God's sovereignty goes far beyond that of the doctor who told a patient, "You'll live to be 80." The patient replied, "I am 80." The doctor's response: "See! What did I tell you?" (It was probably that same doctor who told a man complaining of a ringing in his ears, "Don't answer.")
I've now left the wilds of New York City to move into a North Carolina home where wildlife may come into my backyard, so I like the story of a Manhattan boy who asked his country cousin, "Is it true that a bear won't eat you if you carry a flashlight?" The experienced cousin replied, "Depends on how fast you carry it." And I leave you with one other caution: Don't be like the insomniac, dyslexic agnostic who lay awake all night wondering if there's a dog.