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That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (2 Chronicles 1:7)

Everybody thinks Solomon is so smart. God appears to him and tells him to ask for whatever he wants. So Solomon, ever the politician, orders up wisdom so he can be a good leader. Look what good that did for him. First, he collects 700 wives and 300 concubines. Sound like wisdom to you? Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. In spite of his divine wisdom, his wives lead him astray and he ends up worshiping other gods. I guess a roll in the hay is worth more than a head full of wisdom any day. Not only that, all his wisdom doesn’t help him keep the nation in one piece. As soon as the old boy kicks the bucket, the place splits like dry hair. No matter how wise or rich the dude was, Solomon ends up in the doofus hall of fame.

Now, if God appeared to me and said I could have anything I wanted, I sure as heck wouldn’t make the same mistake Solomon did. No lame wisdom for me. And you can forget about me asking for peace on earth or any hippie claptrap like that. I’ve given this some serious thought. I’ve run a number of options through the grid to see how they would turn out. I’ve balanced the positives against the negatives, looked for hidden implications that could work against me, checked for potential paradoxes, clarified definitions (ambiguity is the requester’s greatest enemy), evaluated outcomes, and assigned overall values. Once I had all that laid out, I eliminated problematic options, then assigned each of the rest to one of three categories: admirability, agreeability, or audacity. In some cases options fit into more than one category. Next I ranked the options within each category after which I faced the painstaking task of weighing the top three options in each category against the top three in the others. For example, an option ranked first in one category may have less weight than, say, the first two in another. Once the weights were assigned, it was finally possible to identify the best options.

Though the margins between the top three choices were extremely close (less than .5 percentage points separated them), there was an overall winner. However, stringent rules demanded that I submit the top candidate to one further test. Though I had determined this option was the best from my perspective, I hadn’t yet assessed it from God’s perspective. Since he would be the one granting the request, it seemed appropriate that I adopt his point of view. As you might guess, this was not all that difficult for me. I merely assigned to myself the qualities that give God the unfair advantage in nearly all situations; that is, I assumed hypothetical omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Judging my top option from that vantage point put it to the ultimate test. If it survived the furnace of infinite scrutiny, I could safely make the request to the Almighty, fearing neither divine displeasure nor unintended consequences. It was in the bag.

At long last I had identified the only thing that could safely be asked of God. The typical requests of fairy tales were decisively eliminated along with the morass-fraught petitions typical of weaker human reasoning and appetite. I would not fall prey to unseen implications or divine indignation. I could make my request without retraction or regret. I would not be another Solomon whose noble sense of the good led him into error. The verdict was in and I could now reply to God with utter confidence.

GOD: Ask for whatever you want me to give you.

ME: How about a little extra time?


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