Throughout my educational career, I fought a pretty bad case of test anxiety. While in general I love problem solving, I hate tests. Go figure.
Remembering my own struggles and wary of inflicting them on you, I have a couple of riddles for you. If it helps, think of these questions as problem solving rather than as a formal test.
Problem Number One:
Imagine you are driving a city bus. At the beginning of the shift, there are 10 passengers onboard. At the first stop, 3 passengers get off and 8 more get on. At the second stop, 2 get off and 7 get on. At the third stop, 6 disembark and only 4 get on. At the next stop – the airport – 14 get off while 19 push to find seats. The next stop is the bus terminal where everybody must exit.
Now, assuming you’re good at paying attention and are quick with addition and subtraction, here’s your question: what is the name of the bus driver?
Problem Numero Two:
There are 14 frogs on a log. Life is good for the frogs. Oh, there are the usual amphibian tensions and disputes, but they love their log, they love their community, and they get along reasonably well. Now let’s say 3 frogs up and decide to jump off the log.
Again, assuming you’ve paid attention and are somewhat adept at simple subtraction this time around, here’s the question: how many frogs are there on the log?
In the first problem, you might have been ready with the answer “23,” which appears to be the number of people remaining on the bus when it reaches the terminal. As it turns out, though, that wasn’t the question.
And for the second problem, if you’re quick, you might want to say 11 frogs remain on the log after 3 of the 14 decide to jump off. But look closer, and further examination will show you that “deciding to jump” is not the same as actually jumping. So really, 14 frogs remain on the log, at least for the time being.
As we move into the future, the questions faced by this congregation might be similar to the first of our riddles: we are so good at looking for a solution to a problem that we sometimes miss the real questions being asked.
Like the second riddle, we’ll need to remember that deciding to do something is not the same as actually doing it: just because we’ve made a decision doesn’t mean we don’t still have real work to do.
See you in church,