The little bell above the door of the Oak Street Bible Shop failed to ring as Glen entered on this bright morning. Instead, it kind of clanked with a pitiful dull sound.
Glen looked up to see what was the trouble. “”Morning” he said as he examined the bell above his head.
“Oh, Glen” said Joy, “would you mind looking at our bell? It seems to be coming loose. I’d try to tighten it up but Dave keeps all our tools in the trunk of the car.”
“Sure” said Glen as he reached into his pocket for his trusty multi-tool and knife.”
Joy turned to Gary, “Would you mind bringing up the step stool from the basement?”
Glen carefully selected a screwdriver bit from his pocket tool kit, swung it out and locked it into place, just as Gary came up the steps with the little ladder. Glen placed it in front of the door and stepped up to look for the loose screw in the bracket that held the bell in place.
Sue stepped to the door and slid the bolt in place. “Just in case somebody tries to open the door while you’re up there” she said.
“Good idea, Sue” said Glen, “I appreciate it”. The loose screw was soon snugged down and Glen started to close up his tool. “Can I see it?” Sue asked. Glen handed it to her and unbolted the door. “Last thing Jeanie gave to me” he said. “Never without it. Nice to have so many tools in one place.”
“Neato!” said Sue, “It even has a little pair of scissors.”
“Like a whole tool kit in a nutshell” said Gary.
“Thanks, Glen” said Joy. There is fresh coffee if you’d like some.”
“Believe I will” he said. Glen stepped into the back room and poured himself a cup of coffee. He sat looking out the back window at the birds at the feeder. For some reason he did a lot of thinking whenever he was watching the birds. He was quiet for a time, musing.
“Nut shell” he said. “You know how they say, if you were a castaway on some deserted island, what tool would you want to have?” No one said anything, waiting for him to continue.
“What if you could only have one part of the Bible” Glen said. “Guess everyone has a favorite verse or chapter.” Glen sipped his coffee as he watched a chickadee dart in a take a seed before a blue jay could threaten him.
“You’ve heard of the Gospel in a nutshell” he said. “If you could put the Gospel into just a few words, that would be it.”
“I’ve heard the term,” Sue said, “but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the verses.”
“Oh, Sure” said Joy, “It’s in 1 Corinthians chapter 15.”
“What verses?” asked Sue.
Gary had turned to 1 Corinthians 15 in his Scofield.
“Depends, I guess” said Glen, “how many verses you want to include. First eight verses for sure, that’s the Gospel.”
“I’ve seen people underline verses three and four” said Joy, “that’s really in a nutshell.”
Gary read; For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: I Cor. 15:3,4
“That is the essentials alright” said Glen. “It’s all about Christ and what he did for us. Old McGee used to say, “You notice, friends, how you are I weren’t there. This happened long before we were even born.”It’s all about His work, not our work.”
“Amen to that,” said Gary.
“As for me,”said Glen, “I’d like to include verses one through eleven, but verses three and four are the heart of it all, I agree. Sometimes we need to search out a number of scriptures and place them together like good workmen. But other times you need it to be real simple, and above all, the whole idea expressed in one place.”
“ An old airline pilot told me a story once about how he got lost on a commercial flight. They were flying visual and lost sight of the ground. They were doing time hacks and everything, this was before the days of GPS. He was confused. He told the stewardess, that’s what they were called in those days, “Go back and get one of those packets out of the passenger seats. She brought him this little folder that said something like “You are now flying over beautiful Lake Louise”, stuff like that. That’s how he finally got his bearings!” They all laughed at that one.
“But”, said Glen, “sometimes we do need to get our bearings with something plain and simple in the Bible too. First Corinthians fifteen is a powerful chapter, full of doctrine, but verses three and four are simple and direct. What is left out can be as important as what is included, at times.”
“We had a bayonet instructor at Fort Knox, who ran us through the gamut of moves right out of the book. Parry right, parry left, long thrust, short thrust, vertical butt strokes and so on. The he said, “And if this don’t do the job, just reach inside your field jacket, whip out your pet .38 and blast his ass”. Glen put his hand over his mouth.”Sorry,” he said, “but that’s how he said it.” Everyone enjoyed Glen’s recollections, still so vivid they made him forget himself and where he was.
“ I guess what I’m saying is sometimes we get too complicated in our doctrines, we forget the basic ideas and get all confused. You take all this soul stuff, flying around here and there, leaving us, coming back to us...”
Joy shifted on her stool, about to speak. Glen held up his hand”Now, wait Joy, I respect people who don’t believe like I do, even though I think they’re wrong..”
“You had to say that, didn’t you?” said Joy with a wry expression.
“Wouldn’t be honest not to” said Glen” But what if there was a place in the Bible that showed in action, not in doctrine, what will take place when we die and are resurrected?”
“You mean Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha?” asked Gary.
“That’s a wonderful story” said Glen, “I love it, full of doctrine, but not in a nut shell.
"No, what I’m referring to is the two witnesses of Revelation, chapter eleven.
Glen took out his pocket Testament and leaned towards the window for light.
“Revelation eleven verse seven and eight” he said “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city which y is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Rev. 11:7,8. Now Im going to skip to verses eleven and twelve,
And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. Rev.11:11,12
“There it is,” said Glen, “I believe that is the most basic statement you can find in the Bible of life, death and resurrection, by the Spirit of life from God.”
“Keep on” said Joy, “You almost have me persuaded.”
Gary, who agreed with Glen, just smiled. Glen put away his Testament and watched the birds at the feeder again. Sue walked over to him.
“You know those little scissors you have?” she said. “Would you cut this thread off for me?”
Glen took out his multi-tool and swung out the scissors. Sue pulled a thread from her sleeve tight so he could cut it.
“Looks like a store bought blouse” he said, “Nice, but not like you make.”
“That’s right, she said, “I’m like you, I don’t leave any loose threads hanging.”