I had a dear volunteer build me an index of most of the Tough Questions in backlog (150 from him, and I have another 100 on my hard drive). So much ahead, so many good questions, so many things to consider...
I find myself hesitating before the next question or two, after my experience of the last two or three...they were incredibly demanding, challenging, and draining...and I tend to make ANY question into a Gordian Knot somehow!
I face October, with potentially 67% of it spent away from home, and a demanding week ahead, so I despair of getting much done on the backlog of questions and unfinished projects over the next month. I am about ready to begin the next set of responses to James Still (on the literary dependence of the gospels and the whole Q-myth thing), and I need to answer some more theo-philo pieces on evil etc.
Due to newly-resurfaced health issues, I have to lose some more weight quickly,
and the hour-a-day cycling allows me reading time in the middle of the day
(when I am not traveling, of course). I am currently finishing up RMML
(for the synoptic problem), which interrupted OT:LIANE
(one of the best-written, balanced, non-polemical works I have seen on life in the ANE...
still influenced by the waning Documentary hypothesis and its dating schema though).
Travel also affords me reading time (although some of it is taken by work-reading and work-writing).
I have just returned from a 10-day trip which included time with my parents and family, and even time with old school mates. These trips are always difficult for me, since they stir up so much emotional history and remind me of so much unfinished business. I got to visit face-2-face with folk I have not seen in 20 or 30 years--serious followers of our Lord. I even saw an old high school classmate of mine, whom God picked up by the lapels and shook about a decade after high school. He is now a preacher of the good news of the Living and Loving Lord. I heard stories and histories of God's steady work in friends lives, with such beauty and yet severity. I sat face-2-face for hours and hours with one of the purest of hearts I have even known (even yet a sinner). I saw the faces of children who only were born because of God's redemptive work in their parents' lives (before they ever met). I was amazed at how extensive the work of God is; that others share this experience of His intense involvement in my life, in their own lives. I saw God's blessing on the lives and marriages and walks of some humble and servant-hearted people. The only sorta 'down-side' from being around such folks--my younger brothers, my aunt, these old friends of old school days--is that I always feel 'unclean' when I leave. Although I know better, their lives seem so committed, so sensitive to Him, so courageous, so obedient...and I have never "felt" that way, nor do I ever expect to 'feel' that way, this side of my exodus...
When I get this feeling now, I always remember a classroom situation that happened back in the early-70's. A student asked the godly professor about Philp 2.3b:
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. The student asked the obvious question: wouldn't it be dishonest to consider others better than yourself, if you were significantly 'farther along' in your Christian maturity than someone else?
The question is a good one (from a third-party standpoint), but the professor knew that it was a first-person issue. He explained that it was very easy for him to consider someone better than himself, simply because he knew more bad about himself than he could ever know about the other person! The fact that we all know our own mixed hearts, and that we know ONLY our own heart, means that the 'bad' we know about ourselves will ALWAYS be more that what we see on the outside of another person's life. It was a 1st-person issue; NOT an objective assessment of comparative value.
Some people suffer from rapid mood swings; I suffer from rapid morale swings. I am often discouraged by the little cracks and slivers of time I get to work on the Tank (especially when I consider the sweet, and heartfelt gratitude many express to me for the stuff I HAVE finished), and often elated by how God seems to 'multiply the cracks and slivers" sometimes. But right now my morale is neither up nor down--it is merely 'confused'. [I know I am biochemically depressed after the travel, but that is standard procedure; the chemicals grow back in a couple of days.] I am daunted by the projects I want to do next, and questioning the usefulness of some of these extended or multiple pieces I write. I muddle through. I stumble ahead, trusting. I see no progress, but I don't complain--I have been in such periods before, and for good reasons no doubt. Events seem to swirl around me, and thoughts fly through like swallows. Strange times in my life...
I have started attending Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto California. They let me teach (on and off) in one of their Sunday Schools, and they have placed the series in
RealAudio at their site [Note 2020: All of those lectures are now available in MP3 format at my site.
The people there are so generous with their acceptance, and several actually seek me out for company and fellowship.
God has also graced me with a beautiful friend, a gifted Barnabbas, a man of unhesitating encouragement and blood-washed laughter.
I celebrate this, but still so slowly...Strange times in my life...
I also suffer from rapid subject swings (smile).
I have been thinking intensely about our final judgment someday,
how each of us will be held accountable for how we treated other people.
I am increasingly realizing the awesome power of the unity/interconnectedness of the universe,
in that the tiniest goodness can change the course of history forever
(e.g. through the life of another), as can the tiniest act of
malice, selfish disdain, or trivialization.
Our acts DO have long and down-stream consequences,
regardless of the 'size' of the act or word today.
This is a powerful 'leverage opportunity' (as we would say in the executive world),
and one that I am not sure we appreciate fully as creatures of the immediate.
Once a thought becomes a word, or an intention becomes a deed,
these become ripples in the universe that spread outward from our lives.
I am beginning to suspect that the immensity and intensity of
some of the images of the afterlife may be reflective of this 'leverage'.
The damage done by a self-centered figure of power would extend far beyond his immediate circle of damage, as would the acts of kindness, benevolence, encouragement of servant-hearted, other-centered lovers of mercy. [This principle shows up in a number of teachings of Jesus, but that is a subject of a piece I am researching on the afterlife.]
Anyway, I hope to pick up the pace on my Tank work in November, and try to get further through the backlog of email and TQ's...
Glenn Miller, 9/29/97