In the Bible, God comes to King Solomon in a dream and offers him whatever he wants. The mind explodes with possibilities: wealth, jewels, power, fame, and status all come quickly to mind.
If in Solomon’s position, knowing me, I’d probably snicker or take on the “doubting Thomas” role, suggesting that God’s offer had to be a joke. I would more than likely say something sarcastic like: “God asking me what I want? Yea right, when pigs fly.” I would assume it was a mixture of insomnia and a very active imagination.
If God did come to me in a dream and, miracle of all miracles, I got the message, I’m convinced that I would kick-off my very own version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” by asking for my very own, exotic island getaway. You know the type, a beautiful multibillion dollar compound that few if any people outside of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or Warren Buffet could dream about, let alone afford.
Money, money, money
Of course, I’d ask for a significant jump in my bank account, something comparable to the GDP for some small government. I’d ask for a new car too. How about a Lamborghini Veneno or Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita, both in the $4.8 million price range?
I’d ask for other things too, yachts, jets, and my very own skyscraper. You’ve heard of the Sears Tower, now called the Willis Tower in Chicago; of course, Trump Tower; and maybe even the Burj Khalifa, now the world’s tallest building in Dubai. How about the Brian Tower? Don’t you think it has a nice ring to it?
I’d want all the other trappings that come with fame and power too. I’m sure that I would ask for a long life and a quick drop in my weight, no matter that I’ve successfully managed to work-off a few extra unwanted pounds over the past couple of weeks. And, like anyone who has ever considered the “genie in a bottle” question, I’d probably find a way to ask for more wishes.
Coming to my senses
After an hour or so of thinking in detail about all the wonderful things that I could splurge on myself, the good sense that my mother instilled in me as a small child would slap me across the face and I would finally come to my senses. I would take a step back and then ask for world peace and an end to hunger, poverty and discrimination.
I would ask for other things too. I would ask for healing for the little old man in my parish church who waits for everyone in his aisle to leave before he gets up, because his walk has become little more than a shuffle. I would ask for guidance for a teenager I see on my street, who looks to be struggling, to figure out what to do with his life, and encouragement for the exhausted, young mother I see occasionally when I make my morning coffee run.
I can be pretty dense, but I would in time think of other’s needs.
A man among children
If you know the story, however, you know that King Solomon asked for none of the crazy things that I’ve just mentioned. Solomon asked not for himself, but for others. He asked for wisdom.
“Now, Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed David my father; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I, your servant, among the people you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil. For who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours.” (1 Kings 3: 7-9)
Solomon could have had it all. He could have asked for an easier life. He could have asked for all the riches of the world.
But he instead looked to help others.
God was of course pleased and said:
“Because you asked for this – you did not ask for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies — but you asked for discernment to know what is right—I now do as you request. I give you a heart so wise and discerning that there has never been anyone like you until now, nor after you will there be anyone to equal you.” (1 Kings 3: 11-12)
Where’s that leave me? The rest of us?
I’m not really sure. I just know that I’ve been thinking more about how I pray to God. Yes, I still want nice things and, yes, my mind veers quickly to the life’s pleasures.
But I have been thinking about my problems in a new light. Instead of using God as my very own personal ATM machine and asking God to make everything work out the way I want, I’ve instead been asking for “a discerning heart and mind” to handle whatever comes my way. Instead of asking for “things,” that can be frittered away like sand blowing across a breezy beach, I’ve asked God for patience, understanding, forgiveness and, most important, peace.
I must admit that it can be a smidge frightening to say “God, your will be done,” but I know that he won’t leave me stranded.