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Paul Measures His Brain

Quite a few years ago I was home alone one day surfing the web. It was a slow ride, though. Kind of like paddling upstream in a canoe. Back then I, like most people, just had a dial-up modem. But I had nothing better to do so I kept at it and I came across an online IQ test. I kept surfing and then I thought, maybe I should. So I tried to get back to it.

Which wasn’t easy. I finally found something similar and looked at it and it was an in-depth online IQ test from some reputable (as far as I knew) college that was looking for test subjects to get wide ranging data from participants for their study. Taking the test was free but if you wanted a print out and analysis of your score it would cost what they called a nominal fee.

Well, I thought, I was always telling myself how smart I was. Maybe it would be a good idea to have some proof. And I clicked on the start button and went and fixed some toast and coffee while I waited for the test to load up. Of course I knew that my siblings were actually smarter than me. Back when we were teenagers they were always on the honor roll and accomplishing great feats and understanding technology or watching or reading science fiction. I, on the other hand, liked to daydream or pretend I was a rock and roll musician or singer songwriter at least when I wasn’t watching the movie of the week on TV.

The IQ test was more in-depth and longer than I thought it would be. The questions were quite challenging and I had a limited amount of time to answer each one. But in between bites of toast and sips of coffee and daydreaming about what an impressive score I would have I managed to answer all the questions to the best of my ability. Finally I finished and breathlessly waited for their computer somewhere out there in the nether regions to calculate my score.

Of course when it was ready there were more questions to answer because the college staff needed more information to classify my IQ. Things like age and gender (there were only two back then) my ethnicity and a few personal things like how big was my nose and was I losing my hair? I’m not sure what all those questions had to do with my IQ but I finally got them all answered and the screen flashed my score. I have to say I was a little disappointed. Even though I scored reasonably well…sort of…I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. Maybe I’m like everyone else in that respect but I’ve never really asked anyone if they were as smart as they thought they were. Are you?

Under the score there was a button to click if I wanted to pay a fee and get a printout and with more information. I decided it probably wasn’t worth paying for and I wasn’t sure the test was all on the up and up. I made another slice of toast and refilled my coffee cup and surfed some more looking for more information on online IQ tests. Finally I came across another web site that compared and rated different online IQ tests. It seems the college’s test was one of the most reputable and reliable of all the online IQ tests.

Well I tried to go back and print out my score but the modem had a hiccup and I lost my connection. That seemed to happen a lot back then. After a few frustrating minutes and a quick walk taking the dog out I managed to get back to the start of the IQ test page but all my previous information was no longer available. I made a high-level management decision and took the test again. I think I was sweating at the end this time, even though it was cold day in late November. And I breathlessly awaited the judgment.

And there it was. The score was a little higher than before. I thought probably because I took it more seriously and worked harder the second time around. Then I thought, well I knew what kind of questions I’d be asked this time but although they were similar the questions weren’t exactly the same.

I carefully entered everything so they could email me with an evaluation and the score and I gave them my credit card numbers and clicked the send button. Then I waited again. Finally about an hour later after watching an old cowboy movie I checked and I had an email. And there in pixelated black and white I had proof that I was more or less just slightly less intelligent than I was always telling my wife. I read through the analysis and all the information describing my intellectual strengths and weaknesses and I noticed a disclaimer at the bottom of the page.

The results of this test in no way indicate one’s personal, financial, emotional or relational success or lack thereof in life.”

Hmm, I thought, I wonder why? What is the guarantee of success in one’s personal, financial, emotional or relational areas of life? Well after reading up on the whole thing a little more I realized that just because a computerized test thought I was just slightly above average, (Like Garrison Keillor used to say about Lake Woebegon, ‘…and all of the children are above average.’ It doesn’t really mean I am above average.

And like my grandmother used to tell me, “If you really want to accomplish something in life you have to work at it.” Of course she was just talking about my guitar playing ability. Then there was my Dad’s constant refrain, “If you don’t apply yourself more you’ll end up digging ditches for a living.” He usually said that after reading my report cards.

Then I got to thinking about all the things that can stop a person from being successful in life: Sometimes my grandson who was 3 at the time used to tell me he couldn’t pick up his toys because, he’d say, “I’m just too tired.” And my other grandson used to just say, “No thank you.”

Therefore I deduced they were no more successful at picking up toys than I was at keeping the garage clean and organized. And I’m pretty sure our IQ’s are similar. Although sometimes they point out to me what I’m doing wrong, especially when they’re catching fish and I’m not.

Then there was the time when I pompously pronounced to my college aged friends as we sat around, talking about life, back when I was college aged, “intelligence is the absence of the fear to think.”

I disagree…” the lone girl of our group answered me, “I’ve tried and tried to think and I just can’t… I blame my father.”

The conversation ended when the other friend suggested, “Let’s go for pizza!”

We were successful at getting our pizza but not always successful in our college careers. At least, I wasn’t.

Now when I look back at my life and and wonder just how I got to be where I am, for better or worse, I just quote to myself from Proverbs 20.24

A man’s steps are from the LORD, so how can anyone understand his own way?

Or Psalm 75.7

…it is God who judges; He brings down one and exalts another.

And then I finish up with 1 Samuel 2.7

The LORD sends poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts.

I began to reason, a high IQ score doesn’t really determine my success or lack thereof in life. Now as I sit and surf the web at my now blazing (comparatively) speed I just think to myself, I should not put my trust in my IQ or anything else. I should just put my trust in the Lord, whether I have a high IQ or not. Any kind of success will only come from Him.

Because, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;” is what it says in Proverbs 3.5

I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me. Psalms 13.6

Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1.21b