With anticipation like a cowboy astride a rodeo bull before the chute swings open, and yearning to achieve literary stardom, the writer presented himself to his computer keyboard, flexed his fingers and began typing:
“Wisdom begins in wonder. That was my daddy’s favorite expression whenever he encouraged me to think for myself. He did not originate the expression but he owned it. He was a curious man devoted to uncovering overlooked wonders in the Bible. Lucky me, I was the recipient of his maniacal sermonettes whenever he needed to unload some fascination he learned from his ever-present Bible. Much of what he tried to teach me was so profound that my young mind failed to grasp it, but I found out later in life it took root. The first lesson I vividly recall is that belief in God opens views into the seen and unseen realms. He said it was a first step for understanding God's doctrine of truth, meaning there are natural processes of science that explain God's decrees in the spiritual realm which manifest in the material realm. He explained that behind the good and the bad, there is always God; that nothing happens unless God allows it. He said God knows all and He knows all that is possible, and it explains why He allows good and bad to happen because in the end things will always work out according to His initial decree. He doesn't cause the good or the bad, He allows it because sometimes the consequences of a person's decisions will run things off the rails. He said that's when God steps in at extremely opportune moments to send blessings as course corrections to realign with what He has purposed. They arrive when you are doing good or they arrive when you are up to something bad. It was a tough lesson to learn, and over time I found that my old man had access to extraordinary wisdom. He taught it as the key to understanding the inviolate principles in the Holy Writ of God. He taught me to look for tenets addressed to me personally; to diligently query passages for why it pertains to me because everything in Scripture pertains to everyone. He emphasized that the Bible bristles with personal messages weaved into God's alchemic collection of dos, don'ts, ifs, wherefores, therefores, and why-nots directed at serious readers. He defined serious readers as students of the Bible titillated by the reach-out-and-touch-me nearness of our Creator. Daddy outclassed the conventional eggheads in my community. He stood head and shoulders above everyone as the brainiest one, the nerd of our block, ambassador to the neo-nerds at my school. Although people at church puzzled on how to relate to him, they still accorded him a modicum of respect due to his persistence in turning Wednesday night Bible study into discussions more suitable for seminary training, which the audience could not care less about. Pastor Hawkins was squeamish about calling on him, fearing that daddy would put his own characteristic spin on undisputed dogma, challenging him for in-depth metaphysical explanations which Pastor Hawkins was severely unqualified to deliver. Ordinary pew jockeys avoided him because they deemed him an eccentric man of God. Everyone distrusted his motives for seeking out the sensational in the Bible. He would ward off detractors by assuring them he was not a doubter, or faithless, or heretical, but a fan of the Word of God, and merely fascinated by God's obvious love for a fallen disobedient creation which He could have easily destroyed, but instead invited us to investigate every aspect of His divine nature and His incredible gifting of forgiveness, salvation, and redemption through the sacrificial blood of a sinless second Adam, which He provided.
Daddy embarrassed me sometimes. He could be brash and confrontational, loudly proclaiming the Bible as his supreme authority whenever Pastor Hawkins disagreed with him. He lauded the Bible's inherent supernatural causality as God's witness to Himself. For any skeptic, he pointed to the Bible as much more than sixty-six books written through roughly forty different individuals over approximately two-thousand years by one author, God's Holy Spirit. He said the Bible declared its own divine integrity in numerous passages; passages which authenticated every precept without negating any other teaching. Believe in predestination, he schooled, because God uses the Bible to convey targeted messages to His elect—every one of them who ever lived or shall live. Within the pages of the Bible, he stressed, nothing is random. Therefore, it is wise to concede the Bible's overall synergy; the whole greater than the sum of its parts, although each individual book stands alone as a treasure trove of symbolic and mystical information relevant to all generations. He devoted as much time as he could to studying Scripture, intent upon accumulating the kind of illuminations God reserves for curious minds.
I smile remembering daddy waxing rhapsodic over his esoteric knowledge of biblical content and rejoicing with consuming emotionalism over discovering astounding evidence of God utilizing natural wonders and unheard-of scientific principles to trigger miracles. He remarked that he would not be at all surprised if God amused Himself by watching mankind consistently bump against his meager understanding of physics, cosmology, supernaturalism and dubious prophecies which God choreographs to confirm His authentic messages and messengers to ancient and modern peoples collectively. He revered the Almighty as the ultimate physicist, designer, architect, engineer, mathematician, chemist and mystery writer. He emphasized that the Lord answers only to His own omnipotence and whim when blending the miraculous into our natural world while simultaneously impelling man to find a scientific model for it. Referring to life in general, he observed that man thinks he has a grasp on this reality we are immersed in, but we constantly discover that the wall of our limitations is but a bulwark against so much more buttressing the other side, and that is why we pray for understanding even though we will never catch up to what God knows...and expects. He often referred to Einstein's statement that science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind.
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