She was 18 years old, and had graduated from high school just three weeks ago. We stopped for a dinner of barbecue brisket, at Dinks in the Oklahoma town of Bartlesville. This town used to be one of the richest towns in the USA (oil money from the Bartlesville sandstone discovered in the early 1900’s). A pretty brown-haired lass, Amanda had a contagious smile. She was courteous in waiting on us. In the fall she would head for Oklahoma Baptist University to embark upon a nursing degree.
As we paid the bill, we noticed a tattoo behind her right ear. It was a thin gray rectangle bending back at 45 degrees. The words in the tattoo, which I had to lean forward to read, said Isaiah 58-11. I asked Amanda if she could quote the scripture, and with a genuine smile she did (see below). I was struck by the clarity of her life-support in God and her career choice, as well as the inner confidence. Then I gave Amanda a copy of my book Hiking Toward Heaven, and wished her well in her new college life.
Conclusion:Christianity is relevant to this 18-year old. More than relevant, Amanda has apparently dedicated her life to the Christ of the Bible. How does one come to this commitment at such a young age?
In striking contrast, on the same day I had lunch with a Ph. D. Thad was essentially retired after decades in corporate, but loved to philosophize, and was quite familiar with Christian teachings. When he offered a statement in Paneras Bakery that implied formal Christianity was not relevant to him or to the majority of people because it defies logic, I challenged him: “Are you sure?”
“What do you mean?” He looked me in the eye.
“Well it’s possible you may live only ten years longer”, I speculated. “And I bet you have not read the book Proof of Heaven”.
While Thad stroked his beard quizzically, I continued. “It’s a book about a near-death experience by a neurosurgeon, whose cortex was shut down by meningitis. He claims that, while in this state, his experience with a beautiful angelic being and with God is proof that heaven exists outside his own consciousness”.
“Well I find it hard to believe in a Christianity that has been responsible for so many abuses”, Thad insisted. “From the Spanish Inquisition to the modern-day abuses of children by priests”.
“While there exist a hundred reasons to criticize Christianity”, I acknowledged. “What is crucial is your response to the claims of Christ”.
“What do you mean?” Thad queried as he wrinkled his brow.
“I mean do you feel a bit empty and unfulfilled?” “I did until I was 26, when I got on my knees and asked Christ to come into my life, to fill the vacuum, and to provide insight and wisdom”.
Thad leaned back a little before responding. “If Christianity makes me feel better and wiser it is useful. Although I do not doubt the usefulness of the Christian teachings, I question whether one can be so sure and secure in this feeling of completeness”.
Conclusion: Formal Christianity appears to not be relevant to this highly intelligent scientist, although the teachings are. Years of research in science and engineering have changed his perception of God, and of salvation as a gift of Christ. How does one continue to resist the heaven of the Bible, at such a senior age when one might be relatively close to it in time?
The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……
“The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah chapter 58 v 11).
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