Wouldn't want to live in Bible times. As the parent of a small child, I would prefer not to participate in any civilisation before the invention of baby wipes. I would also resent the lack of career options in those days. Go to a job fair in the Bronze Age, and it was basically one booth for sheep herding and one booth for making pottery. If you wanted to break into show business, you were out of luck.
But there's one thing about Old Testament times that I envy. They had a Urim and a Thummim. These were stones that revealed the will of God when the Israelites were faced with a tough decision. The high priest might ask God if they should go out and fight the Philistines or if everyone should just hide in their basements.
Then either the Urim or the Thummim would glow, and the priest would have an answer.
Wouldn't you like a Thummim of your own? Then you would know whether or not to marry that person with a suspicious number of tattoos.
Or you could get help deciding if you should move to a new town.
Whether or not to move is always a tough call.
Once you've found a good dentist and know which department store cashier will cut you the most slack on returns, you don't want to start over.
We all agonise over some tough decisions. I'm thinking back to my wife's year-long struggle over whether she should wear her hair with bangs or without.
My own challenge is spaghetti sauce.
I get stalled in front of the store display, trying to evaluate the ingredients, the prices, and the little pictures of stout Italians. Does Brand Power have a “Best Buy” suggestion? I wonder. One of the jars of sauce will contribute more to my quality of life than any of the others. But which one is it? Does it have mushrooms or not? These are the questions that haunt me.
To have a Thummim would mean never being stuck in these valleys of indecision. When the checkout girl asks if I want paper or plastic, I would no longer have to say, “Give me a minute.”
You may be a long way away, but I can still hear some of you slamming this magazine shut because you think I'm trivialising God.
Well, excuse me, but the Bible doesn't mention any minimums for getting divine input. God doesn't say, “Don't bother Me unless you're experiencing internal bleeding.” “In all your ways acknowledge him,” says Proverbs 16, “and he will make your paths straight.” If I truly believe that I'm worshipping the all-knowing God of the universe, shouldn't I get His advice? For every choice there is to make—eggshell or semigloss?— only He knows what's best.
Now, I often hear people say, “God wants you to make your own decisions. That's why He gave you a brain.”
My response is, “No, He gave Stephen Hawking a brain. I'm not sure exactly what He gave me, but nobody wants me on their team when we're playing Trivial Pursuit.” So I wish God would make all my decisions. Unless we're talking about snacks. I don't need any help making decisions about snacks, because I know exactly what I want, which is usually something fried and covered in cheesy powder the colour of traffic cones.
Which brings us to one possible reason God hasn't provided us with glowing stones. It's not that He refuses to give us direction. It's just that we often get too stubborn to listen. There's no point in giving us a Urim and Thummim when we already have rocks in our head.