Blinding darkness (page 36-37)
IN MAY of 2000, as my mother lay dying, Betty & Company were certainly proving useless to me. Of course, I couldn’t see that this theoretical God was doing much of anything to comfort me, either. Here I was, with instant access to husband, family, friends and a houseful of adoring pets, and I’d never felt so utterly alone in my life.
The fact that such pain occurred at all had long been one of my more potent arguments against the existence of God – at least, my parents’ God. After all, He was supposed to be all-loving, wasn’t He? And all-powerful? Well, ‘splain that one, then: Why did He allow suffering in this world? How could He have taken my father away from my mother? And how could He even think about taking my mother away from me?
It would take me some years to learn, and comprehend, that there was a lot more to this God than love and power, and that His plans for us were a bit more complex than keeping us fat and happy.
But a few weeks later, I came across an observation that gives us at least a partial answer. I wish I could remember who made it, so I could give him or her credit; but then maybe it’s an idea almost as old as time itself:
We can only see the stars at night. They’re there during the day, when the sun bathes our world with light. But we can’t see them until the sun slips away, plunging us into darkness.
This idea went right over my head when I first encountered it.
But I get it now. Because it suggests that we can see the extent of God’s glory only when we’re going through dark times. That, in fact, the darker our nights, the brighter His glory shines.
People say that the Bible, which describes this God, is full of contradictions. I would eventually learn that this isn’t true, that there are, in fact, no contradictions that can’t be explained, just paradoxes that serve to confuse before they illuminate: To live, we must die. To be the most, we must be the least. To have all, we must give all away.
And to get our first real glimpse of His incredible love, some of us have to be lost in blinding darkness.
* * * * *
The evidence of age (page 110)
I was also surprised to find out that natural and human history appear to have begun abruptly just a few thousand years ago. For instance, the oldest tree in the world is a bristlecone pine that hasn’t even reached its 5,000th birthday. The earliest evidence of a written alphabet is estimated to be just 4,000 years old. And the oldest civilization in the world is thought to be less than 6,000 years old.
The more I learned, the more difficult it became to shrug these things off as coincidence.
Astounding as it seemed, it was beginning to look like, maybe, just possibly, the earth was not millions or billions of years old – that it might actually count its birthdays in the thousands.
If this turned out to be true, it would mean that
evolution was impossible.
Which would in turn mean that the only other possibility is true: There is an intelligent designer behind the universe.
Which would mean that there is, in fact, a God.
* * * * *
A hard heart (page 113)
She was gone before I had the chance to deliver the punch line: that this was probably why radiometric dating so often delivers erratic results, assigning vast ages to materials known to be young, and that evolutionists routinely discard dates that don't jive with their long-ages philosophy. As a result, it looks to us laymen like radiometric dating tells a mostly consistent story about an old, old earth.
Nor did I have a chance to thank Carla for lunch, and so far I haven't had another opportunity to do so in person. My e-mails to her go unanswered.
Not that it's a big deal. We were hardly close friends, and there's never really been a business relationship of any importance between us.
But to this day it makes me sad that someone committed to the evolutionary idea refuses to entertain any criticism of her theory.
* * * * *
Spiritual suicide (page 184)
THESE DAYS I think what surprises me most is that I lived for forty-seven years without understanding one simple principle:
It doesn't matter what I believe. What matters is truth.
We can perform good works all day, every day, for the rest of our lives.
We can meditate the years away, contemplating the oneness of all.
We can bust our brains trying to believe that matter is all an illusion and we don't really exist at all.
We can worship our beasts of choice till the cows come home.
But unless our thinking is based on truth, all such efforts are useless at best -- or, quite possibly, spiritual suicide.
* * * * *
Purifying silver (page 237)
"You said there were two things, didn't you, Helen?"
We both laughed: it was a rare visit when one of us didn't forget something important we'd wanted to share.
"And it's the best part," Helen said. "You will love this. The lady asked the silversmith how he knew that his silver was ready. And he said --" She looked at me with the giddiest expression on her face, as if she was about to deliver the greatest punch line of all time. "Do you know what he said, Kitty?"
I shook my head.
"He said, 'It's done when I can see my image reflected in the silver.'"
"I knew you'd love it. I do too."
* * * * *
Happily ever after (pages 252-253)
In March of 1993, with seven years left in her earthly journey, my mother wrote these words in her tattered journal:
I look forward to death, except for one reason only: How can I possibly live in a world, no matter how heavenly it may be, if my little agnostic Kitty is not there?
She had reason to worry, it turned out. She knew that God makes no special allowances for theistic fence-sitters who neither deny nor admit His existence -- that Jesus said in Matthew 12, "He who is not with Me is against Me."
She also knew that by rejecting Him, by refusing to even acknowledge my sin, I'd been cruising along the road not to heaven but to hell -- that He'd said, in Luke 13, "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
When I finally read these warnings myself, I wondered why no one had ever sounded the alarm for me. Had I been so unapproachable on the subject? Or had I simply refused to listen?
I'd clearly spent decades galloping down what Jesus called, in Matthew 7, the "broad ... way that leads to destruction."
And my mother knew it.
I wonder if she now knows that just weeks after He called her home, I took the advice Jesus gave in the same passage: "Enter by the narrow gate which leads to life."
And I wonder if she knows that I was telling the truth when I whispered to her that last day, "I'll see you there, Mom."
I suppose a truly loving daughter would hope that her mother is too immersed in heavenly joy to even give the folks back on earth a thought.
Not me. I hope she knows. And I hope she's as excited about our happily-ever-after reunion as I am.