My dad, Carroll, was a lovely man. He could be stern and hardnosed with my brothers and me, for sure, but, otherwise, he was a good dad to us, and kind, patient, and helpful with people at large.
He worked as an insurance agent for People’ Life Insurance for about 27 years in Hardy County of West Virginia. His selling and collecting agenda particularly included a long day spent in the communities of Baker, Lost River, Lost City, and Mathias, which are located along Route 259.
Close to Lost River was a little roadside restaurant operated by a lady named Ethel. Dad always ate supper there on those Thursdays. Several times Ethel asked Dad to do some repairs on some of her equipment after he finished eating. Dad was in no way a knowledgeable repairman, but he had enough success tinkering with Ethel’s repair needs that it earned from Ethel the accolade, “Mr. Branch, you are just about the smartest man I know.”
Once, Ethel’s freezer quit running. When Dad arrived, she asked Dad to look at it, which he agreed knowing that he knew nothing at all about the workings of a freezer. But, when he pulled it away from the wall, he saw that for whatever reason the freezer’s cord had become disconnect from the electrical socket.
Kneeling down, he pretended to be working on it. A couple of times he stood to wipe his brow with a napkin as though he was working up a big sweat. Ethel watched and waited anxiously. It was a big deal financially for her that the freezer had stopped working.
Finally, Dad reconnected the plug, and the freezer resumed freezing its contents. Dad pushed the freezer back into position. Ethel was elated. Dad’s repair capability was epic in her mind. Dad never told her, either, what the problem had been.
It certainly makes one feel good when we do things that cause people to think that we are smart. But, as far as being smart is concerned, the smartest Man I know is Jesus Christ. When you read about the Man in the Bible, you cannot help but be impressed with how smart He was.
He is the smartest Man I know because He knew the perfect moment to do the right thing. On the sea, He lay peacefully in the ship as the disciples became unplugged in fighting the winds and waves on their own until finally exasperated they yelled at Him, “Master, don’t you care that we perish?” Then, with perfect timing, He stood and calmed the disturbances of the elements of nature about them. He plugged the disciples into what having faith in Him could mean for the outcomes of life.
He is the smartest Man I know because He always knew how to deal with the superstitious perceptions of people. After all, people thought that when a person died the spirit hung around for three days. So, when Lazarus died, knowing that He was about to raise the man from the dead, the Lord waited four days before He showed up to plug people into the reality of His marvelous power over death.
He is the smartest Man I know because He knew the perfect places to be. He was at the well at the right moment to encounter the right person, who herself had become unplugged with the right way to live life. It was there that He plugged her into concept of the spiritual water that would ever satisfy her life.
He is the smartest Man I know because He knew the perfect time to say encouraging words. To a group of people evidently struggling with the necessities of life, the Lord said that if God knew how to feed the birds and to clothe the flowers of the field, how much more would God take care of them, for “your Father knows that you have need of these things.”
He is the smartest Man I know because He knew we needed a Savior who was perfect. He was smart enough not to commit sin. He was smart enough to know the importance of moral and spiritual purity. He knew what was at stake for the redemption of mankind. He was smart enough to plug us all into the need for a Savior who provides a great salvation.
As the smartest man I know, Jesus knows that people are not working well spiritually simply because they are unplugged to Him.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.