That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:1-3
So, a long time ago, I sort of wrote a book for someone else. His name went on the cover and he did all the fancy book tours and talked on Oprah and Geraldo and CNN. But really I didn’t care because I learned a lot about memory and false memory and how the mind works. And how really retelling stories erases the old tape, and all that remains is the retold and thus reality can shift over time.
And we all know that we sift what we see and hear through our preconceptions. Take the political debates. Please. Are we almost done yet? But before the debater even has time to take a second breath, pundits of all persuasions are ripping into the text that we all saw and heard and retelling it, sweaty lip by furrowed brow, to fit their plotline.
So what makes John’s story any different?
It sort of makes me think of Alan’s recent political shift. Well, he says he did not move one iota, but that everyone else scooted over. But really he was pretty set. All about personal and fiscal responsibility, hard work, standing up for the individual, particularly the ones with no voice and all against mindless bureaucracies taking over the world inch by inch, form by form, file by file.
But then he started looking at what he knew. What he knew really well, like education. Like illegal immigrants. And listening and watching. And the stories didn’t fit- the way things were and had always been were suddenly were blown open and he started seeing and hearing with a new perspective. And was free to listen to both sides of the stories now, because the ball had started rolling. At a small level. Obviously politics, well, we are talking about very broken man-made systems stumbling along with lots of power and money and craziness. But we are talking about a paradigm shift. Which is not the way people work. We like to make decisions and stick by them. It makes everything simpler. Avoids controversy.
Now one thing that Paul knew was Jewish law. Every jot and tittle, every discussion point and every applied implication. He had a plan and he was on the road to somewhere. Damascus. And suddenly with one bolt of light he gained a new perspective. So he had to take three years out of his life and sort through things again, wiggle the boards that built his platform and pull out the rotten planks.
Peter and John were fishermen. And they absolutely knew their business. And life had a sweet rhythm, up early, notice the sky and the wind because weather was paramount, and where to drop the nets, this was their field of expertise. Until one day this guy shows up and tells them to toss the nets on the other side of the boat. And um, somehow the winds and the waves obeyed Him. No way. That doesn’t happen. And trees shriveled up overnight. And fish coughed up tax money. Over and over again. Three years of smashing down old stories of how things are, until there was not one single preconception left standing.
People who know me, even those who love me, will pretty much agree that my very most annoying habit is interrupting. I stop listening, start thinking about the next thing, and finish sentences for whoever is speaking. That’s really ugly. Unpleasant. And foolish. Yeah, yeah, I know.
And John is saying here, “I thought I knew. But I was wrong. Life is not the same old same old. And I have seen. I have touched. He has reclined against my chest. This real. I waited and listened to the whole story.”
May I too wait. With a closed mouth. And an open heart. So I may know the Truth and be set free. That my joy may be complete.