Honey Jars and 18-Wheelers

Life is made of several defining moments, but often the definition is blurry though real. Primarily, in 2001 I looked beyond the stars and asked for forgiveness. I didn’t hear or see anything, but Jesus has been with me since that night. I’ve returned to the home where my mother was murdered and heard the resident describe something she didn’t see. More than once I have stood with my head tilted to the left and my right eyebrow raised, unable to process what I knew had just happened. Last year saw two more events get added to the stranger things note on my computer… and I’ll never get an explanation in this life for the fall October night in 2005 at Ryobi… And tonight I type another line in my note: Honey Jars, 18-wheelers, and an email to Dale Allison.

But between the night Jesus met me and this night, none of the unanswerable events of life have caused me to question the reality of what I believe. The boring days, the days with news headlines and emails, the days of humdrum work or a numb mind that is thinking about things not worth thinking about… that’s where the devil likes to keep us.

But those few mind-exploding paradigm-breaking events of life, the ones that cause thousands of questions and thousands of non-answers… they don’t hurt my faith one bit. They help it. Strangely, they bolster it. How God uses unexplainable circumstances of life to strengthen my conviction in the truthfulness of the 1200 thin pages in a leather cover next to me, I have no idea. But he does. So in addition to thanking God for answered prayers (as the saying goes), we might ought to remember to also thank him for the unanswered paradoxes of all that’s seen and unseen.

So Christian, if no matter how hard you try you feel not-at-home in this world, if you feel like you have few to talk to and fewer who understand, then I’m guessing some of your best conversation partners are not in your contacts—they’re on your shelf. If so, then let me introduce you to another one that you can meet here.

For one thing, this outlandish experience, all by itself, tells me that there is more on earth than my science teachers imagined. The world must be far odder than we regularly take it to be.

Another lesson I come away with is that I cannot be closed-minded about the incredible stories that so many others often tell. To behold the impossible with one’s own eyes inexorably raises the odds that others have beheld it, too. Of course, for a historian such as myself, this opens Pandora’s box. But I did not open the box. I just happened by when the lid popped off. And I cannot put it back on without lying to myself.1

  1. Dale C. Allison Jr., Encountering Mystery: Religious Experience in a Secular Age (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2022), 167–168.

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