Shattered Glasses – A Fumbling Through the Bible Flashback
[Okay, so it isn’t morning! Long story… short answer: no excuse. Sorry, my friends. Please forgive. I don’t blog about 9/11 often — the images and thoughts are still incredibly raw — as much time as I’ve spent everywhere else and as little time as I’ve spent in the Big Apple, NYC still holds my heart deeply — today might be only the second time I’ve blogged about it — the first is here: http://fumblingtowardseternity.wordpress.com/2006/12/07/a-prayer-answered-with-sackcloth-and-ashes/ ]
“…’the problem of evil’ is not something we will ‘solve’ in the present world, and our primary task is not so much to give answers to impossible philosophical questions as to bring signs of God’s new world to birth on the basis of Jesus’ death and in the power of his Spirit, even in the midst of ‘the present evil age.'” – NT Wright, Evil and the Justice of God, 11
I got my first pair of eyeglasses around 1982. My teachers had discovered that I was aggravatingly bright, but couldn’t seem to understand what was on the board! Mom and Dad took me to Pearle Vision, and in an instant, my whole world was transformed! I really thought that all those fuzzy things were naturally fuzzy! Streetlights transfixed me with my new crystal-clear vision. I really can’t put into words the amazing feeling I had — I wonder if butterflies experience something like it when they first burst out of the cocoon?
Anyway, as you can probably guess from THAT story, I grew up during the Cold War (Google it, kids. It was a whole different world back then! ack – stop foreshadowing!) It was a snug, tidy world to live in, especially during the Reagan years. You knew who the bad guys were (“those Marxist commie basterds”, as we used to say), you knew where they were, and from those two things you could derive two really important truths:
- The bad guys weren’t here; and
- There was nothing you could do if they did decide to launch, so there’s no sense worrying about it.
That was life as a teenager in the 80’s. I got new glasses about the time The Wall fell, and things started to look more complex, but as the 80’s rolled into the 90’s, not much changed in how I looked at the world. I was a cadet at West Point, we’d just clobbered “the enemy” in Kuwait, and my dream was to lead a company/battalion/regiment of tanks in battle against “the enemy” — which we all figured would be Saddam again pretty soon after we all graduated — but hopefully before we made it to staff billets. What can I say? We were dumb kids — I was doubly-dumb because I quit West Point because of a girl! But that’s another tale for the Journey.
Where was I? Oh, right. 1993 – leaving West Point, leaving home again, getting off the Big Grey Dog in Nashville, meeting a most excellent girl (not THE most excellent girl, but A most excellent girl) and a most excellent gang of friends at Lipscomb University. You guys kept me off the streets — thanks for the “cup of cold water.”
- Baptized in 1994 – still wearing the same glasses.
- Goofing my way through not graduating from yet another institution of higher learning – still wearing the same glasses.
- Worked at Waffle House on Sidco Drive just down the road from Lipscomb for three years – still wearing the same glasses.
- Got married to THE most excellent girl – still wearing the same glasses.
- Left Nashville for Frankfort – still wearing the same glasses.
I was hanging on to them for dear life! I’d lived around lots and lots of different kinds of people, but in too many ways, I was still the scared little know-it-all who got fitted for that first pair of specs.
We’d been in Frankfort a little less than a year. I’d been working at Chili’s for most of that time, going to church at the tiny Myrtle Avenue congregation and beginning to pay attention to the man who would become my first Christian mentor, Joel Hestand. He’d tossed a little CS Lewis my way, a little Ketcherside, a little LaGard Smith, a little Olan Hicks, along with a heavy dose of Ascertaining Biblical Authority by Brother Deaver and Ivan-Stewart evangelistic coaching. My biggest problem, though, wasn’t going to be dealt with by those guys, but by some other guys.
My glasses got shattered when I woke up 8 years ago and saw what I thought was a fogged-in NYC skyline. When I realized it was not fog, but smoke and fire and collapsing buildings, the dam broke. I barely made it to work that morning, bawling through my entire 15-minute walk. We had almost no customers, so my trainee and I just stared at the TV. The guys that crashed those planes helped shatter my glasses.
It wasn’t until a little later that we heard the story that made “Let’s Roll” a sacred American phrase. Those guys helped shatter my glasses, too.
I started reading my Bible much differently. Tom Wright helped, with What Saint Paul Really Said (thank you, Bobby Valentine, for saving me from wasting my time with AN Wilson’s Paul book. I bet you don’t even remember that), and other introductions to a deeply incarnational theology that takes evil and grace and the power of the Holy Spirit with utter seriousness. What was I learning? Scripture says that:
- Creation is at war.
- The line between enemy and ally runs right through the middle of each of us — that was the whole problem of Israel.
- Individual people bonding together, trusting one another and pledging allegiance to something greater than themselves, can have a significant impact on the war we find ourselves in.
- Jesus Christ died to defeat the enemy of all Creation, and we who love Jesus will one day experience that victory!
But now, we’re at war, and like the good bishop said above, it’s not our job to solve it (as if it were some modernist math problem), but to lay down our lives to draw forth the life of the Resurrection into our world right-here-and-now.
There’s my flashback. I don’t know how well I’m staying true to what I’m learning (yes I do — very very poorly, but thanks be to Goid that there is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus!) What have you learned since that day? Does anything in my story ring true with yours? Share it with the Fumbling family.
Thanks for coming by, beloved Gentle Readers — stay tuned for more Fumbling Through the Bible tomorrow.
in HIS love,