The year I believe was 1965 and the place was the Fireman’s Fair in Long Branch, New Jersey. The fairgrounds were located near the beach, behind the West End Firehouse on a few acres of land where a tiny strip mall now sits. I was probably about 7 years old. I recall the noise and excitement amid the dozens of extravagantly lit, red and white striped tents that sheltered food stands, clackity carnival wheels, and other assorted games of chance. To my silent displeasure dad ignored most of the canvas commotion; we went to the fair for the rides and maybe, if we were good, a cotton candy – in my family we rarely questioned my father’s decisions. However on this occasion, as we walked past a ring-toss game and the gigantic stuffed animals, I chanced it and asked dad if I could give it a try.
Dad, I know, but I can do it. Please?”
Mom stood by nervously knowing precisely where this exchange was headed as dad repeated his veto, but I knew dad was wrong this time and so again I rolled the dice.
What happened next was pretty ugly, even by 1960 standards, but incredibly dad yielded and plopped down the quarter (I believe) for the bucket of twenty or so, small, red rubber rings. Grabbing the first, I confidently tossed it towards the cases of empty Coke bottles, absolutely positive I would get a ringer on the first throw.
Twenty more times that stupid ring bounced in every conceivable direction except the one that would have won me a prize. I couldn’t believe it. Surely after twenty attempts, one should have accidently fallen into place. Too embarrassed to look at dad, I stared in total astonishment at the bottles just shaking my crew-cutted, seven year-old, little head.
Dad tried to spare me this indignity the best way he could, but I was relentless. While I accepted the fact that he was more knowledgeable, I believed given an opportunity, I would succeed; I would master what my wise father could not. Alone, I could find satisfaction. Dad lovingly warned and I selfishly ignored.
Our Father Lovingly Warns
In the end this was Solomon’s assessment:
Using Solomon as the ultimate example, God graciously warns the rest of us that if the wisest and richest man who ever lived; the best of the best (aside from Jesus) couldn’t do it, neither can we.
We know these things to be true, but yet there seems to linger inside every one of us the notion that given the chance, we could do it better than Solomon or Trump or Gates. God is saying without any equivocation, no we cannot. Without Jesus Christ, no human being can ever be complete or entirely satisfied. Solomon, the poster-boy of worldly achievement tried and failed and in the end he hated it all.
Do I think I can do better than Solomon?
Do I think I can do better than Jesus?
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