'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
NOT OK WITH OLD PRAYER
About ten years ago I offered up this prayer: ďDear Lord, please let me remain alive and healthy and gainfully employed at least until my kids get through college. By then, I will have completed my main duties as a father, and if I croak at that point in time, well, Iím OK with that.Ē
While driving home from Ohio last month, after attending the college graduation ceremony of my youngest child, that old prayer came to mind. I realized my prayer indeed had been answered, which means God is good! I also realized the part where I said, ďIím OK with that,Ē is an concept with which I am no longer all that OK.
So I offered up another prayer: ďDear Lord, you know the ĎIím OK with croaking once my kids get through collegeí thing I mentioned a decade ago? Well, Iím pretty sure you didnít forget I said it, so Iím just wondering if itís too late to, um, to modify that request. You see, there might be some things coming up that I hadnít thought about. Some things where my kids might need me to be around. Things such as grad school, or weddings, or babysitting grandchildren, or if anyone needs to have the Infield Fly Rule explained. So if itís OK with you, I respectfully wish to rescind my ĎIím OK with thatí prayer, OK?Ē
I donít think Iím the only person who bargains with God. (Although I might be the only one who bombards God with repeated usage of the expression ďOK.Ē)
I wonder how often God hears sincere prayers that get modified later on? Iíve read about guys in combat who prayed, ďGod, if you get me out of this, Iíll join the seminary and become a priest,Ē but after surviving the battle, they forget all about their promise. I suspect God cuts them some slack and doesnít hold it against them, since having other people shoot at you is kind of stressful. (I donít know this from firsthand experience, as I try to stay out of Hartford at night, but Iím pretty sure itís true.)
I hope God cuts me some slack, too, since my original prayer was motivated by my intense love for my children and my sincere desire to put them through college. Now that they have college degrees, I realize my intense love for my children is matched only by my intense love of not being dead.
Some theologians say that God hears all prayer requests, but He only gives people what they truly need, not what they ask for. The idea is that we are generally way too short-sighted and selfish when we pray, and if all of our requests were granted, our lives would be ruined. When I consider some of the things Iíve prayed for over the years, I have to agree. I think this doctrine is found in the Book of the Prophet Jagger: ďYou canít always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you find you get what you need.Ē
But just to be safe, I have a new prayer: ďDear Lord, please let me remain alive and healthy and gainfully employed at least until my as yet unborn grandchildren get through collegeóor until the federal government has a balanced budget, whichever comes first. Not croaking anytime soon is something Iím definitely OK with. OK, Lord?Ē
There, that sounds OK to me, and it should keep me around for a while longeróunless my daily diet of donuts and bacon and Hostess Fruit Pies have any say in the matter.
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