I have heard it said that the longest journey in life is from the head to the heart. Others say that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Yet another aphorism of our time is that beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing. All of these point to one reality-our knowledge and our response are not always in keeping with each other. We put asunder what God intended to remain joined together.


Solomon proved this centuries ago. He made a fascinating statement in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He relates all the areas in which he searched for meaning-pleasure, riches, power, fame, and everything else one could imagine. Through all of these forays into a search for fulfillment, he says, "My wisdom stayed with me" (Ecclesiastes 2:9). How is that possible, we ask, when his day-to-day life was a colossal mess? I understand him to mean that in the midst of his duplicity, his theoretical knowledge of right and wrong never left him. He knew how to discern. But he was volitionally weak and unable to resist the tug of attraction into wrong behavior.


I have shared the following story many times over the years. Those from parts of the world to whom this is foreign shake their heads in disbelief, wondering how this can even be theoretically plausible, let alone practically workable. But read the reasoning first and then I will try to explain.


I give you an example of my older brother, who lives in Toronto, Canada. The story dates back to the late 1960s. At that time he was a systems engineer with IBM. Since that time, he has gone on to do several very mentally impressive things in the world of computer software. In other words, he is mentally all right. He doesn't have any major problem as far as his IQ is concerned. I say that because you may begin to wonder as I tell his story.


When he was in his mid-twenties, my brother came to my father and said, "You know, Dad, I've always maintained even when we were in India that I'm only going to marry the girl you choose for me. I guess I am ready now. Would you please begin a search for a girl for me to marry?"


I really didn't believe he'd go through with it. We were living in Toronto, thousands of miles and a cultural planet away from the land of our birth. But this was his choice. He wanted my parents to help in "The Search." My father and mother said, "Fine. Tell us the kind of young woman you're looking for." He gave his "ideal partner" speech and proceeded to describe the kind of person he would choose to marry.


Thus began his quest and what I called our family entertainment hour every night around the table. My father wrote to his sister in India who was doing the ground work, and in response came numerous letters with suggestions, photographs, and information sheets ad nauseam. Oh! The jokes that would fly! The unsolicited advice from every member of the family was profuse.


He narrowed the "applicants" to a short list and, finally focusing on one person, began to correspond with her. Then they advanced to telephone conversations, but not many because that was "too expensive." One could tell that reality was closing in. Finally, believe it or not, they both felt this was it. The dates for the engagement and the marriage were set with these two never having met.