McAbee: The truly big questions
Did you ever take a job you knew was way too big for you? They say this is how you know the position is right for you because it will make you stretch further, reach higher and go beyond any place you’ve been before.
Challenges like this force gentlemen to ask the very question every man must ask or risk withering in the hot sun. “Do I have what it takes to … run a business, be a good husband, citizen, mountain biker, whatever?”
For me, due in no small part to my impending nuptials, I am wondering whether or not I have what it takes to be a good dad. Now, to preserve the honor of my fiancee and to dispel any ugly rumors that may get started, she is not expecting. Rather, through very unfortunate circumstances, she is a widow with three children.
The oldest, Caroline, is a wonderful and bright pre-teen who just spent a week at Camp Timberline in Estes Park, a Christian camp where she spent the week playing soccer, learning songs and dances, climbing walls, poles and ropes courses, swimming and, apparently, pondering the deepest questions of the universe.
On the night she returned for camp while we walked the dog at sunset, she asked me how I knew God was real.
Theological differences aside, this is the sort of question a Christian wants from a non-believer in the hope that one might hit the evangelical grand slam of winning a convert. This is not the sort of question one expects to field from someone returning from church camp.
Nevertheless, this is the kind of question she should be asking. I was proud of her. Some answers aren’t given simply for a lack of asking the question.
My first instinct was to deflect the question with some humor.
A lady who lived next door to an atheist came out on her porch every morning and cried, “Praise the Lord!” – to which the neighbor would reply, “There is no God!”
This happened day after day until one day the lady began experiencing financial difficulties. She came out and said, “God, please help me. I need some groceries.” Again, the neighbor cried out, “There is no God!”
The next morning when the lady went outside, she found bags of groceries on her steps.
“Praise the Lord!” she said.
“Aha!” the neighbor said, “There is no God! I bought you the groceries.” The lady looked toward the sky and said, “Thank you God for providing for my needs and getting Satan to pay for it.”
Caroline is wise beyond her years, and I knew a joke or explaining Pascal’s wager to her would not suffice. Besides, where I grew up there is a saying: “Jews don’t recognize Jesus, Protestants don’t recognize the Pope, and Baptists don’t recognize each other in the liquor store.”
So, not wanting to be a hypocrite, I looked around at the sky that was turning fantastically orange and red above the mountains. She called me out though; she knew I was going to wax poetic about the beauty of everything … yada yada yada.
But both of our thoughts turned to the not-so-beautiful stuff in the world. After all, this kid’s dad died when she was 8 years old. Let’s not pretend here.
I started out with what I consider to be some pretty convincing historical arguments. She reminded me that she knows what she’s been taught. “How do you believe it?” she asked.
I related a few personal experiences that I have had in times of great peril, amidst terrible circumstances or in still, quiet moments. But, I added, don’t take my word for it. Shout your name into the wind and ask your question. You’ll get an answer. God won’t be offended. He can take it.
However, the conversation reminded me of how many blessings and or serendipitous experiences I have had on my journey, too many to relate, really, and none more satisfying than to have this young lady looking to me for guidance in such matters. What a gift.
It’s been 15,438 days since I was born. Each and every day the sun has risen in the east after setting in the west. Sooner or later I guess I just began to believe it.
Jeff McAbee lives in Breckenridge. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Jeff_McAbee.
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