I have been for the larger part of my life an academic: Linear logic, reasoned arguments, proofs and syllogisms. Believe it or not, in high school I once considered being a math teacher, but that was largely because I had no clue what I wanted to do and people were asking if I would be retiring in Arizona or just snowbirding it from November to March.
On a side note, I think the first class of Junior year in high school should be entirely about contriving a 'future plans' story to tell to adults, complete with fake acceptance letter from various colleges. Or maybe high school students should just start asking adults exactly what they plan on doing exactly two years from right now. But I digress.
I was not only linear in my thinking, but judgmental. I used my limited and distorted view of scripture and God to smash people over the head. My mother tells me that at one point as a child I kept telling my little brother that he was going to hell, though she never told me I was wrong. In high school then again in Bible College I talked theology with people on a regular basis, viewing opposing viewpoints as a target and my massive New King James study Bible as a .50 cal rifle of spiritual justice with a 50 power adjustable scope. I could pick off a sinner from a thousand yards.
In the past couple weeks I've been handling that massive NKJV again, but I think with a different heart. Instead of looking for ammunition tucked in its pages, I'm reading stories about real people with real lives and real issues that are strikingly familiar. I see poetry, narrative, even God's heart for broken and unloved people like Hagar and Leah, revealing a special part of Himself to people who are second choices and ugly sisters.
As I work through the book of the world's fumbled beginnings I find my faith in its words strengthened because it tells me the truth about human existence, even for the so called giants of faith, it tells me the truth about myself.
From the sinful start humanity has simply been finding ways to separate himself from the rest of humanity: Cain and Abel, the line of Seth and the line of Cain, Noah and Ham, Abraham and Abimelech, Abraham and Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac, Isaac and a different Abimelech, Isaac and his sons, Jacob and Esau, Jacob and Laban, Leah and Rachel..... the list goes on. Genesis is a rarely interrupted story of separation that reads like and episode of the Jerry Springer show.
The irony is that I have used the book of Genesis, the book of separation, as a means to separate myself from others. And so I'm joined into the story I'm reading, looking to the promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, hoping I too can find redemption.