My dysfunctional family taught me much. I remember being aware of life at an early age and watching the drama of everyone’s life pass to and fro across the stage for which I had a front row seat and a back stage pass.
I had two things going for me at that time: I was an accident and I was the youngest in my family. Since I wasn’t supposed to exist and no one had anticipated or expected me when I finally did pop into existence I think people saw me as an afterthought. So I would get propped up against the couch with a sleeve of saltine crackers and a glass of milk and watch my family go back to what they were doing before I showed up.
People didn’t dream that behind those innocent blue eyes and large forehead was a little brain on overdrive. I recorded video and processed information faster than a mainframe. I was The Observer. But more than that I learned to analyze and formulate conclusions about certain human behaviors at an early age. By the time I made it to kindergarten I was an old man.
Now that I am an old man (57 –it was rude of you to ask), I am still The Observer. Of my family sure, but everyone and everything. Nothing is exempt. Even and especially myself. Maybe it’s explained by my Myers Briggs INTP profile.
So when I became a Christian at 46 The Observer was rendered speechless. This he didn’t see coming. He became unresponsive, stomped off and locked himself in a room, scribbled equations and scratched his head. It didn’t add up! Analyzing, formulating, reformulating: the conclusions never amounted to this. Insanity was the only explanation. I had lost my mind. He gave up after that, resigned to my fate, and followed me around (he’s attached; no choice) and rolled his eyes, chuffed, sighed and scoffed here and there when the opportunities arose.
A Change of Heart
But my heart had changed. Something new was inside, and it was growing. To those who knew me before my conversion I was softening, thawing out from the inside out. I had lost some of my edge. Oh, I was still a jerk, but underneath it all a deconstruction of my previous infrastructure was underway and a reconstruction was already in place and growing.
I was nineteen in 1976 when I was standing on the concrete sidewalk that divided the oceanfront homes from the white beach that bordered the ocean shore. The swell was only one or two feet high that day, too small for surfing, but I didn’t care as I lazily gazed out upon the shimmering surface of the water, seagulls crying, children screaming with delight as small waves chased their little feet back and forth at the water’s edge. Sandpipers seemed to skitter to and fro in the same game, chasing waves in retreat to the very edge of the waterline, then spinning suddenly on their heels to run the other way their tiny rapid stick legs ablur, themselves in retreat to the retaliatory counter attack of another oncoming wave.
A bicycle rider broke my reverie. I looked up and recognized a teacher from High School. He stopped, straddled his beach cruiser and greeted me. It was great to see him! But I observed something was different; he was not the same. The amusement in his eyes and the wry, irreverent smile that I remembered was no longer there. His youthful innocence was gone.
He then began to relate his story, without my asking, of a catastrophic event in his recent life that brought him to Jesus Christ. He explained that without Jesus he would be dead or in state worse than death. He made it clear that Jesus Christ was his Lord and Savior.
I didn’t have much to say about that. All I could think was this unlucky man had lost his mind, another casualty of The Christian Body Snatchers. Another zombie for Christ! I recoiled, intellectually if not physically. If it was catching I sure didn’t want to stand close to the carrier! If this previously normal and sober young man could lose his sanity, which one of us was next? I had better stay vigilant and on top of my game or I too could be overcome!
I don’t remember much about our parting, my head was spinning, but I’m sure I mumbled something incoherent or inappropriate as he pedaled away. No doubt I was a poor audience for his message. Or maybe not.
That Other Tool
What happened to this man? I know now. An Impact Event brought him to Christ. For some of us it’s necessary. It turned Peter around. It changed Saul to Paul. It convinced a doubting Thomas, a stubborn Moses and a recalcitrant Jonah. Sometimes the mind, the intellect needs to be taken out of the equation momentarily so God can show himself to our hearts. Once he’s “in”, the intellect can return to join the resurrected new man or woman in Christ. This is what happened to me, and perhaps to you too. The Observer and I are again united and working closely together on a new mission: evangelizing the Gospel of Reason to those whose minds are still willing to listen and able to voluntarily step aside to allow Christ access to their hearts. To those you or I can’t reach with Apologetics, and to those we do reach but whose minds have already attained megalomaniacal critical mass and promoted themselves to God, there is that other tool.