A young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.
People come together around stories about redemption. There’s something at our core that responds to one well-told, and thus we remain eager for more of them. Very soon my friend Tim Elhajj’s memoir, Dopefiend: A Father’s Journey from Addiction to Redemption, begins its (hopefully very successful) journey in the publishing marketplace. I’m so happy for him. It’s a good one.
I’m glad the world still has plenty of room for second chances given and accepted. People worry, and I don’t blame them, that Christianity is no longer a place (or maybe has never been) where an individual can start over on the trail toward being a real person. There is a sense in 21st Century America that folks who believe the Bible and who believe in God also believe strictly in the condemnation of those who don’t. Or who don’t see things their way. Though I think burning at the stake’s by far not the whole story of the faithful in Christ, it has sadly been one of their associated features.
As someone who desperately needed redemption a time or two, I have lived in communities of Christian faithful who’ve been remarkably accommodating of my questions and directional swerviges. In fact, until recently I had never experienced the sensation of a believer I respect warning me that I might be rejecting the Messiah by my change of practice. Having sensed this warning recently, I now live in a new space.
I need to emphasize that I didn’t go to the believer(s) to whom I’m referring asking for their blessing regarding the new venture of faith I am undertaking. It wasn't that they responded with a curse to someone asking for help. I went to them in a context of sharing where I’m at and of requesting their opinion(s), which I highly respect and will take into serious consideration. I didn’t ask for our meeting(s) feeling especially needy or vulnerable. In fact, mostly for about six months I’ve been in shock at my shift from a Protestant to an Eastern Orthodox view. And I recognize the possibility that I am to some degree rebelling against real and true truth. Whether or not my rebellion is plausibly true in this case is, I guess, the deeper question.
I hope I am paying attention. I must trust that God will forgive the wrong step, the mistake, if it’s there and will continue to guide, teach, and redeem me, as I have believed he has been doing all my life. The story of my days looks somewhat amazing at this stage of existence half a century long. Not that it’s anything in comparison to others’ stories. But it gives me a picture of the perseverance of God in love, in kindness. My part is to keep being interested in whatever God is teaching me, by whatever means he is using. I hope I am doing this deed, this work of the heart that I long to do.
I pray I am staying wide awake. Yet if I’m not, if I go to sleep and fall out the window, at least my error will be accomplished in the room of my heart that wants like nothing else to listen to, taste, see, smell, and experience the greatest news, the best story.