Sunday, January 25

#4 - heavy lifting

You receive an anonymous letter one day in the mail. The envelope is like none you have ever seen, very shiny and requiring a while to open (as it is not made of typical paper). The enclosed message informs you that you now possess a degree of superhuman strength. You have the ability to push, pull, or lift objects weighing several metric tons.

There's a catch, though. You will only be able to call upon this ability ten separate times in your life. After that, it's gone for good.

A few days later, while on a leisurely weekend drive through a local metropark, you come across a fallen tree lying in the roadside, blocking off both lanes. You exit your vehicle to inspect the large log (that appears to be well within your newfound lifting range). You are in no rush and can easily turn around and take a different route to your destination. However, as you walk back to your automobile, another lone motorist pulls up behind.

The driver, a middle-aged man, rolls down his window and the two of you strike up a brief, hurried conversation. It seems that he is on his way to his daughter's piano recital. He also knows the area and other possible routes, but based on the time, your present location, and where the recital is being held, taking a detour would assuredly result in him arriving late. After this becomes clear, the man begins drawing the discussion to a close so that he can at least make decent time.

The man's comments and manner imply that his already strained relationship with his wife and children would be further complicated by this lapse in punctuality. It is within your power to help this individual, but as the situation currently stands, he knows nothing of your ability and would have no reason to believe you could assist him in any way.

Do you lift the log?
Would your answer change if you were alone?


Wayne said...

I think I would. Blessings are meant to be used, not hoarded. Yes, since you only have a limited number of opportunities to use your superhuman strength (making each individual use very valuable), you are placed in a situation to have to ration its use. I think in this case generosity is warranted. If I were by myself, then I wouldn't use it. My inconvenience in finding a detour is not greater than the value of one of ten uses of superhuman strength.

Paul said...

In this case, if I had to make the call fast on a gut instince, I'd say no.

With only 10 opportunities to use this power, I'd like to be very judicous in how I use them.

We can use this new found power to advance some great causes. I have an idea that people would pay money to see a guy with an understated physique such as myself lift +/- 6,000 pounds! I'm imagining something along the lines of a live TV appearance at next year's super bowl halftime balancing an elephant on my head. With a good PR manager I'm sure we can raise enough funds to build and endow several schools/orphanages/health clinics out of the spectacle this super power would create.

Andrew said...

Hmm. I certainly wouldn't use my super-strength if it was only me.

I'm inclined to agree with Wayne - but only on the basis that God is arranging the situations where my super-strength could be used.

With only 10 uses available, then from a human perspective this particular situation would seem wasteful (although using my strength might be warranted just to prove to myself that it really works!), however if we instead take the view that God is lining up "good works for us to do" that take into account our unique abilities, then we should trust that the situations he provides are those where he wants us to use our gifts... even if they seem beneath us.

trese63 said...

Yeah, I think i'd lift the log. As for being judicial since you only have 10 chances to use it => I think that i often find myself "saving" things to be used at a later time due to scarcity, but then I never use them. If the opportunity presents itself, I think I'd try to go against my tendency to save/hoard things and take it. I like what Andrew said about making the assumption that God is in control of your circumstances. I wonder if I might go home and look up on the news to see how I could use my other 9 times to alleviate crises.

If I were alone, I'm not sure, depending how often people use the road. I'm not really in a rush to get anywhere, so that doesn't really matter. but a blocked road is kind of inconvenient. I think I might call the forest rangers to report it and then save my strength for later.

The other thing that I feel weird about is having him see my "super power." I'd rather do it anonymously, like super quickly when his back was turned. or have him promise not to tell.

Christine Yun said...

I think I would move the log also. Although my initial reaction would be to think that I could use my superhuman strength for only situations in which I would be saving the world, we don't know what every opportunity presented to us means. Moving the log for the man might be saving the world, his life, his marriage, or nothing at all. But if I could make someone's day easier, I'd do it. Whether I'd do if I was alone would depend on the street. Actually, no, I'd probably move it. Someone is going to be inconvenienced by it. No need to create excess work for someone else. Also, there's no guarantee I'll even live to use all 10, right? How tragic would it be if I passed up my 1 opportunity to use this gift.

Matt said...

I can definitely relate to the tendency to want to "save" things for a later time, so in this situation, though it might gnaw at me for a long time afterwards, I'd probably waffle for a bit and end up watching the guy drive away.

It would be difficult for me to make a quick decision like that when my own awareness of the super strength was still so young. And I would be nervous about having any witnesses at such an early stage. Where would that lead?

Now, if I were alone, I'd probably do it. I'd like to try and get a sense of my abilities without anyone else noticing. And as you all have pointed out, it would still help people who later wanted to use the road.

Sheila said...

I agree with the notion of not hoarding blessings. I think the thing people are thinking of here is maybe like the Parable of the Talents. But the thing about that parable is that everyone that invested the talents made more so that they could use them (presumably, so that they could continually bless others). In this sense, I guess I would ask myself whether investing my talents in this way would in turn give me the ability to bless more than this one guy and maybe his family. There's a chance it would, but it's not a sure bet and it's more likely that it will just keep his family temporarily satisfied with him. That's why I might not use my ability this one time.. maybe in hopes that I could use it for a greater purpose that would bless more people who could in turn have a greater chance to bless others.

When talking with Matt about this, I used the example of a small village with few resources where a tree is blocking the only source of water. If I lifted the tree and allowed them greater access to water, they could in turn bless many more people through their health and livelihood.

Then again, I agree with Christine's notion that we might no have ten chances to use this in our lifetime. That completely changes my willingness to move the tree. I think this is by far the hardest thoughtlab question yet!

Rob said...

yes I would move it. I really can't think of many times in my life where I would have needed to lift something extremely heavy without the help of others. So if I didn't lift it, what would I be saving this power? Maybe an even bigger tree that has fallen on some poor woman's lincoln town car. This may be my only chance to actually use my power for the good of another for the rest of my life. We have plenty of machines and other ways to move heavy things.

I would definitely use the power at least once to confront someone twice my size and promptly kick his ass.

Ry said...

If I only get ten uses, they'll be saved for life-and-death situations. If this guy has already strained his familial relationships that much, he should have planned better and left earlier. Besides, making it to one piano recital isn't going to solve his problem, and solving his problem for him with my newfound skill won't help him in the long run--he'll still be reliant on others to solve his problems for him. Teach the man to fish, so to speak.

Derek Timothy said...

This is a toughie.

If I could know for certain that this might be the guy's last straw, and that he was sincerely on his way to making things right (you know, like in a movie), I would be sorely tempted to move the tree for him. Probly make him close his eyes first, though.

Whether I did or not, however, I have an inclination of how I would use my 10 (or 9 remaining) lifts.

For my first, I think I might try to rig up a deal where I make a whole ton of money for doing it. Like a TV special, or a big bet, or something.

The purpose being to raise the funds to use the remaining lifts for good. I'd attempt to find out where 8 or 9 problems exist in the world, where there's something that needs lifted or moved that just can't be. Due to the population there being too poor to afford heavy machinery, or something like that.

I'd bank a bunch of the money, and use a bunch of it to pay for my traveling to the locations that can most benefit from my remaining lifts.