Friday, September 16, 2011

Life's a Tragedy, Man

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

It was cozy warm inside the Oak Street Bible Shop, but outside a cold wind was whipping the bare tree branches and the temperature was dropping. "Another gloomy day", said a customer as she carried her bag of books to the door. Joy gave her a sympathetic smile as she closed the door behind her.

"Actually, this is about perfect for me", said Glen, "except it isn't raining."

They all knew he wasn't kidding. Glen liked what most people
called "nasty" weather. Weather was a nice, safe, topic they could discuss and it was revealing as to their individual personalities too.

"I like it, just a little chilly, but with the sun shining, sweater weather", said Gary, with a smile. He had been known to drive his father's old convertible with the top down and the heater on.

"I like to bake in the sun", said Joy, who was always dreaming of her vacations to Florida. "Not that I get the chance to do it anymore, I'm too busy watching after my boy-crazy daughter. I don't dare shut my eyes and just relax".

"I prefer Spring to any other time", said Sue, very predictably. She was a romantic. She had a locket containing a photograph on a gold chain that hung from her neck. Sometimes, when you came into the room quietly, she would be looking at the picture by the light of the window. Then she would snap it shut and drop it into her blouse. No one had ever seen whose picture it was.

Glen continued, "I guess it depends on where you are from, I mean your ancestors. Mine are Northern European. I guess that's where I get it from".

"The guys who write all that tempestuous music and tragic literature," chided Gary.

"And the guys who don't seem to enjoy life very much," added
Sue. "People from the Mediterranean write beautiful operas and paint pictures of lovely women and happy people", she added.

"Awful to say it, maybe", Glen began earnestly, "but maybe the composers of the Faustian legends and the author of Hamlet are closer to the truth. The greatest works of art are tragedies".

Joy had been taking this all in, and you could see she was in agreement with Glen. She wore a thoughtful expression when she spoke. "It's just like in the Bible, you have the Book of Lamentations, the pessimism of Ecclesiastes. But there is no book of humor, no real humor in the Bible at all."

"Our Lord, was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief" , said Sue, quietly.

"Isaiah, chapter 53" added Gary, "The suffering servant".

"Yet aren't we called to be joyful, to reflect our happiness in Christ?, Isn't this a contradiction?" said Sue, genuinely troubled.

"I believe we are mixing two things", said Glen. The Bible is speaking of the nature of this fallen world and how it causes us sorrow, that is a natural response. But though the world is tragic because of how it ends, and that is what tragedy really means, how things end, we have joy because we look forward to another world, one that is a good and happy world"

"And never ends", said Joy.

"Yes," said Glen, "But I'm tired of hearing Christians in denial about the nature of this present world, the one we live in. These smiling idiots talking their damned happy talk."

Glen usually was pretty good with words, with concepts and ideas. But now he stood before us like a fighter who had been hit so many times he was stunned. He looked the part too, with his feet apart, as if for balance, he held his arms out and raised and lowered them as if hefting a weight. We all knew he was thinking about his wife, taken by cancer at a young age.

"Damn it, life's a tragedy, man, and only fools deny it. What else can you expect in a Devil's world? I mean, did Jesus smile when he saw where they buried Lazarus? No, Jesus wept, and I guess we can too".

This is the most emotion we had ever seen from Glen and we respected it because we respected him. Glen could be abrasive, but what he said was real, he did not kid, he did not pose.

We were in agreement with what Glen had just expressed. There was not one of us who did not bear the weight of sorrow or disappointment in our lives.

Joy, who could be so harsh at times, summed it up for us all. "You know, I want to confess something to all of you", she spoke slowly, "and I know you will understand me when I say this, but the hardest scripture in the whole Bible for me to understand is where Paul says,

'For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.' Romans 8:18.

"Just think of how wonderful that time will be to make us forget what it's like here and now!"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Is Abraham Alive?

But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Matt. 22:31-32

Glen was not a popular teacher, anyone who knows his story knows that. You could even say there were people who hated Glen and some called him a heretic.

But Glen was not deterred by these attacks, nor was he moved by praise. He often said to me, and anyone who would listen, “A good teacher does not convey a body of material, not as his main job, a book can do that. But what a teacher can do, that a book cannot do, is to reason with people, one at a time, and force them to think. A good teacher, forces people to think, quite often just to prove that he is wrong.”

The first time I heard him say that a good teacher forces people to think I questioned his use of the word “force”. “Isn’t that a little strong” I asked him. Wouldn’t it be better to say inspires them to think, or stimulates them to think?”

I still remember the look he gave me, he glared at me with his steely blue eyes. “If I had meant those things I would have said those things! There’s a lot of things I need in this life, but I don’t need anyone to tell me what I really meant or should have said. No, “force” is not too strong a word. You can inspire all day and stimulate too, but people don’t like to think! Don’t you get it? People are stumbling around in a hypnotic trance, they do their tasks very well, they give programmed answers to stock questions, but that is not thinking. That is like putting a coin in a gum machine and pulling the little handle. If the machine is stocked and you put in the right coin, you get your gum.”

The setting for this exchange was on a walk from the Oak Street Bible Shop to the house where Glen had his rented room. I had asked if he minded the company and he said I was welcome to walk along. “I do some of my best thinking while I walk” he told me.

People along his route were familiar with the sight of Glen walking rapidly, hands thrust into his pockets. He might wave a hand to return a greeting, but he kept moving forward. The only time he would stop is when one of the local dogs came out to meet him. Then his face would change from its customary far away look to his friendly smile as he focused on the eager upturned face of a dog waiting for a little pat and for the treat from the pocket of his field jacket. Today he had a Milk Bone for a little terrier, who caught it in mid air and whirled to run to its porch to enjoy it in leisure.

“That little fellow is conditioned to run to me as I come to its yard” he said, “and I guess you can say I am conditioned to give him his treat. Or, in this case, her treat. This works for both of us and that is the way it’s supposed to be. But it’s not supposed to be that way with people.”

Glen resumed his pace until we came to an intersection. We waited as a school bus full of children went by. “You see those little kids?” he looked at me. “Do you think anyone is inspiring them to think, or stimulating them to think?”

He was using my own words on me. I had to admit that no one was. They were, for the most part, being trained to answer standardized tests.

“Yes” he said with emphasis, “trained. You had Psychology 101, that’s just good old stimulus-response, right out of B.F. Skinner’s notebook, and the damned schools are little more than Skinner Boxes for the kids to be trained in.”

He slowed his pace and turned to look at me. “I doubt there is a lot that can be done to change that, people are so busy trying to make a living. They hardly know what goes on in the schools. But must our churches be like that too?"

Glen sensed my skepticism at this comment. “Think about it! Aren’t the people who teach and preach in the churches educated in Skinnerian schools?”

“And do people in churches and Sunday Schools give standardized answers like the kids in school do?” I asked.

Glen shook his head at my denseness. “You tell me! Are there many good Bereans in your church? Do people question what they hear? And I hate to say this” he added, “but are they even able to question?”

We had reached his house by now and we walked up the long drive to one of the big flower beds he tended. Looks awful doesn’t it” he said quietly. “I need to cut off those dead tops so things will be nice and neat next spring. My landlady used to like to do this, but it’s a little beyond her now. One of these times it will be beyond me too. I’ll be sleeping underground just like they are”. He pointed to the stems of some dormant oriental lilies. But they don’t know how long they are asleep, and neither will I.”

Conclusion: It was several months later when Glen invited me to one of his classes. He said he would try to demonstrate what he meant by a teacher’s main duty. This was years ago, but I remember that evening well and I still have my notes.

Glen had told his class that he wanted to go over material familiar to almost everyone “No surprises here” he said, “But maybe we could demonstrate how important it is to look at the Bible with fresh eyes.”

He walked to the blackboard and wrote:

Is Abraham alive?

Those familiar with Glen’s teaching sensed that this was more than the simple question it appeared to be. A man turned to his wife and said in a low voice “He’s not going to get me on this one.”

No one volunteered an answer, and Glen was prepared for this. He turned back to the blackboard, “Let me write down our alternatives” he said matter of factly, “for your consideration.”

1. Abraham is dead and his body is in the cave at Macpelah. He awaits his resurrection.

There was a stirring in the class as some demurred, thinking of what they considered the error of “ soul sleep”.

Glen waited for a reaction, then turned back to the board and wrote:
2. Abraham’s body is dead but his soul is in heaven.

Now there was a response, some people shifted in their seats and relaxed. I knew it was not going to be so simple though. Glen was setting his trap.

Glen spoke in a genial and non-confrontational way. “I said there would be no surprises. And for most of you there won’t be any surprises. Everybody knows the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke chapter sixteen. It is so simple that no thinking is needed. We all know that Jesus said that Lazarus was carried to the bosom of Abraham in hell.” Some murmured at the reference of Abraham being in hell. “But let me hasten to add” Glen continued, “That Abraham was, at that time, in paradise, which is in hell, but was a refuge for the righteous.”

There was a relaxation now, as most of the class were in familiar territory. “Everyone also knows that Abraham is no longer in paradise though, right?” There were nods of silent agreement. “In fact paradise is empty, am I right?” Again there was a general assent.

“Paradise is empty because while the body of Jesus was in the tomb his soul descended into hell and he preached to those in hell and then led them up to heaven. Then his soul came back down to earth and re-entered his body in time to come out of the tomb at his resurrection. This was once called ‘the harrowing of hell’ and is still generally believed and taught. Everyone knows this and it is in many Bible notes and Bible commentaries. Everyone knows it.” The class sensed the irony in Glen’s voice. “Then he spoke again, “Everyone knows this, except me.”

This had been too much for a middle aged man of conservative demeanor. “How can you contradict the very words of Jesus?” he asked in exasperation.

Glen had hoped for this question and he responded. “First of all, the harrowing of hell doctrine I just enunciated is not composed of the very words of Jesus. True or false, it is a construct, some of this, some of that, joined together. The very conservative Old Scofield Bible contains this doctrine in its notes. But the very conservative New Scofield (Glen held up his Bible) says that scripture does not support it. And a no less worthy than John MacArthur’s Study Bible says the story of Lazarus and the rich man is a parable.”

This was too much for the old gentleman. He turned in his seat as if to rise and walk away.

“But wait” said Glen, “as unlikely as it may seem to you, you and I agree on a wonderful point you made. You asked me how can we refute the very words of Jesus. I wish to hold you to this as well.”

Glen walked to the podium and began to leaf through his Bible. “Please turn with me to Matthew chapter twelve and let us begin at verse thirty one.” Glen then began to lay the framework of his argument: Jesus in proving that there is to be a resurrection, used the example of Abraham, saying God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Matt.2 2:32 .

He looked across the class, hoping to reach them with this truth. “Did Jesus say that God is the God of the living because Abraham’s soul was alive, or because Abraham would some day be resurrected?

Jesus equates Abraham’s being alive with his future resurrection. Jesus was arguing there will be a resurrection some day. That is the source of Abraham’s life, a future resurrection, not a present immortal soul.”

He waited for questions. There were none and he thanked the class for their attention and began to gather up his papers.

Later I said to Glen, reluctantly, “I’m not sure you reached many of them, maybe no one at all.”

We walked towards his van. “I am not accountable to anyone but Jesus” he told me. Some day I will stand before His bema throne. I hope I will have done what I should do, not just what people wanted me to do.

Glen, I don’t know where you are now, but you were wrong and you were right. You did teach me a body of knowledge, though you said that was not your job. But more than anything you taught me to think.

Law or Grace?

It was years ago when I was having breakfast and reading Law or Grace? by M.R. DeHaan. The place was crowded and the only vacant chair was at my little table.

A waitress asked me,” Do you mind if this lady joins you?”

“Not at all”, I replied.

The lady was probably in her late sixties, with neat white hair. She was dressed in a powder blue skirt and jacket and a ruffled white blouse. Her little round hat had a veil, and she was wearing white gloves. This outfit was typical conservative dress for that time in Cincinnati, a town where formality was still the norm and casual familiarity was not.

I had only a few pages left to read and my book was soon finished. As I said, you didn't just start talking to people at that time and place. I can remember knowing such a lady for two years before we addressed one another by our first names. But a strong impulse came over me—Give her the book.

“Excuse me, ma’am”, I said, “but I've just finished reading this book by Dr. DeHaan, and I wonder if you would like it?”

She brightened up when I spoke to her and said, “Why thank you, my husband has had a heart attack and maybe he would like to read it. He's not allowed any activity for awhile and he's getting restless from being confined to bed.”

I finished my coffee and wished the lady a nice day. I kept thinking about her husband. Was he one of the "work 'til you drop", type‑A personalities so common in that part of the country? Or maybe he had an even worse problem. Was he trying to win his salvation by an abundance of good works? That type of person was common also.

De Haan addressed this idea in his wonderful book. It is out of print by now, but you can still find used copies.

Just how do we get saved, and how do we stay saved? You would think these questions were answered long ago, and they were. But religion keeps messing with our minds, complicating things, so many people don't hear the simple message of the Bible. Then there is our fallen nature that says, with pride, I don't take anything for free, I work for everything I get.

When I was teaching I gave away books to people studying with me. Sometimes it was really hard to convince a person to accept one. It went against their grain. A man told me, “I've been out of work for six months and I can't give you anything.” I opened the cover and showed him the message stamped inside, ‘ Paid for by the great general fund in the sky.’ “It's already paid for, please take it, I would plead with them.”

But people want to pay their way. With books this is a minor problem, of course, and a little persistence will generally win a person over.

But when eternal salvation is the issue you sometimes just can't convey the message. Sometimes a person, even well‑ versed in the Bible, just can't see it. So many of us have been trained by the school of hard knocks that if something is offered as free, there has to be a catch somewhere.

Young Martin Luther tried to win favor with God by burdening himself, fasting, and creating needless suffering. He tortured himself with all types of burdens. He was, at that time, still a Catholic monk. An older man of the order saw how miss‑directed Martin's efforts were and, taking a chair in one hand, led him to a life‑sized crucifix. He had him sit in the chair facing this image of the suffering Christ. "Look at these wounds" he told him. Wasn't that a great lesson?

When people talk about "easy believerism", and say, “That's cheap salvation!” They are thinking of themselves and not about Jesus. It wasn't easy for him. He suffered not just to make it easy for us to be saved, but to make it possible for us to be saved. He suffered and was humiliated, and died for us.

Imagine that, if after a lengthy and agonizing birth, a baby could say, "That was so easy, Mother". She would say to him, "It was easy for you, son, but it was not easy for me".

A book of the New Testament was written to rebuke a group of people who had been taught that their salvation was a gift, and not won by any works on their part. But they turned away from the message of grace.

This book is the Epistle to the Galations. In it, Paul, writing to people who thought they must win salvation through the law of Moses, says; ...for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Gal. 2:16.

In another book, Paul tells us: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not of yourselves. It is the gift of God Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8,9.

Let us not boast, but let us "Look at these wounds".

Santa Died for Our Sins, and The Easter Bunny Was Raised for Our Justification

Early one afternoon I received a call from Glen’s landlady. I
was alarmed as she had never called before and there was the thought that something had happened to my old friend.

“Could you drop in on him and talk to him”, she asked, I’m really concerned about his health and his attitude. Something is bothering him and he won’t say what it is.”

Shortly after I was at the door and she opened it with a look of anxiety that alarmed me. “Before you go up, I just want to say that he needs to stay in bed. I think he is resting and then I hear him get up at any time of the day or night, moving around in his room.”

“Another thing, you know how he loves those grilled cheese sandwiches. Well, I made one for him yesterday and when I went up to get his dishes he hadn’t even finished it! Half of it was on his plate. He asked me if I would put it out for the birds to eat..”

“I told him I didn’t think birds would eat cheese but he asked me to put it out for them anyway.”

I turned to go up the steps and she added, “Oh, and please tell him that two starlings did eat that half of his sandwich.”

I walked up the stairs and down the hall to his room. The door was partly open and I could see Glen lying on his cot reading.
I knocked on the door and he spoke without looking up, “Come in, come in!” When he saw that it was me, he started to rise. I waved him down.

“I thought it was my landlady coming to check on me. She worries about me, bless her.”

I explained that she was concerned over his health and restlessness and so was I. He put his book aside and sat up in bed. He looked gaunt and strained. He had a stubble of gray whiskers on his usually clean shaven face.

“Guess it’s accurate to say I have been a little restless of late, but for good reason. I have reached the point where I feel compelled to say something about this holiday business.”

I remembered how he always said we are not to fret about the world and its follies, and told him so.

“You’re right, you’re right” he spoke with his old vigor, “Don’t think I’m turning into some kind of reformer. It’s just that I really hate to see the church mixing this holiday garbage in with our faith. That’s where I draw the line.”

“Let me show you something”, he threw off his blanket and sat up. He wore his khaki pants and a blue shirt with the tail hanging out. He reached out to put on some felt slippers. “She bought these for me. Afraid I would catch cold.” ‘If your going to be up and walking around all the time, put these on’ she told me, so I do.”

He tried to rise unsteadily and sank back down. I was alarmed to see how weak he was. He tried a second time then rose and walked to a table covered with papers. He turned on two pole lights and motioned me to a chair. “What do you think of this!” He placed a card with a cover of a Christianity Today magazine taped to it. The cover illustration showed Santa Claus, arms outstretched, tied to a cross with strings of Christmas tree lights. Santa’s head was bowed apparently in death. Glen pointed to the lights. “Look, they’re lit! Kind of a nice touch don’t you think.”

The bitter tone of his voice upset me, it was not his usual gentle manner of speech. Then, with a flourish, he placed an art poster atop the image of Santa. “This one really amazes me,” he said with enthusiasm. “You know those little shops that sell paraphanalia, pipes and stuff. I don’t know what you call them, but you know.” I nodded and he went on.

Well I saw one at the mall and was looking at a decal in its window. It turned out to be the rose window of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. I asked the young man behind the counter what it was for. He told me you meditate by looking at it. Its symmetry is supposed to sooth people with jangled up minds. I told him that must be a lot of people.

He and his customers looked kind of nervous. Guess they wondered what an old guy like me was doing in there. Then I started looking through a bunch of art prints they had in a rack. That’s where I found this.” He touched the drawing. It showed a traditional image of a tomb such as Christ had been buried in. The great stone door had been rolled away, and out of the opening hopped the Easter Bunny with a basket of eggs on his arm! It really hit me, these alternative culture people saw right through what we Christians tolerate without a thought! I was so happy to find this I bought it without delay.”

He placed the two illustrations side by side. “I was thinking, you’re a teacher, don’t you think I could use these two to illustrate just how off the mark we are when we mix paganism with the pure truth of the Bible?”

What could I say to my old friend? I was so sad to see his bitter spirit even though I knew from where it sprang.

Glen sensed my disapproval. After a long silence he spoke. “I’m over the edge aren’t I? I’m the one who always said, Don’t rage against error, just teach the truth so people can see it for themselves. Now I have turned from being a teacher to being a scold.”

There was an awkward silence, he had made the point I had wanted to say, and I was glad for that. I spoke after a time. “Your friend asked me to tell you that two starlings ate the sandwich half she set out for them.”

His eyes lit up. “Good for them.” I’m so glad they didn’t let it go to waste. Starlings will eat anything, bless them. He paused and then added, Roger Tory Petersen’s Field Guide says, they are the only black bird with a yellow beak, that’s how to tell them.”

He was silent for a time. “Do you think my mind is going?” he spoke with uncharacteristic anxiety.

“No, I don’t Glen,” I told him, “But I do think you are eaten up by your concern that the church prefers error to simple Bible truth. But I worry that you are trying to correct a condition that you know will occur no matter what we do. Your field is prophecy, you know what I mean.”

He reflected a moment before he spoke.

In the latter days some will depart from the faith.

How can I forget what that great man of the Word said? Guess you know I just wanted to do something to try to fight it.”

You told me many times, Glen. God does not call us to be successful, he calls us to be faithful.

He sat down on his little bed, took off his slippers and lay down. He covered himself with his blanket and looked up at me. “I am really glad you dropped by and heard me out. You’re right of course, we shouldn’t worry about stuff like I was, we should just do our job.”

I turned to leave. “Glen spoke once more, “Tell her next time she makes me a sandwich I’ll eat all of it.”

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Seven Years, or a Few Days?

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43

Anyone who knew Glen, knew he did not believe in what is sometimes called an “intermediate state”, between our present life and the resurrection.

More precisely, Glen did not believe we have immortal souls. “It is a recipe for being lonely, despised, and laughed at” he often said, referring to stating this “heretical” belief.

“I don’t see it in the scriptures, though there are a number of passages that can be interpreted that way”.

Of those at the Oak Street Bible Shop, Sue had come to believe like Glen. Gary sometimes agreed with Glen, but kept finding passages that seemed to prove all people are immortal in their “soulish” state.

Joy hated for the subject to come up. She knew in her heart we cannot die. She had believed it as a devout Catholic and when she became a Baptist retained this belief. From childhood she knew we are immortal and never wavered in this belief.

Except for the Watchtower people, or Jehovah’s Witnesses, as she called them, no one of a regular church denomination had ever challenged the doctrine of intrinsic immortality.

Then, years ago, along came Glen Brock. “I know the passages people refer to”, he said, and they can seem quite convincing. But, please note one fact. No passage says we are presently immortal, or have immortal souls. It is always by interpretation and never by a direct statement.”

Sue, upon hearing this quoted a proverb, “We easily believe, what we earnestly hope for.” She had a way of bringing such things up from who knows where.

“No one wants to believe we die, or that our loved ones are dead instead of in heaven” she would say.

It had been a while since the subject of death had come up. Joy was content that it be so. The whole subject disturbed her. Deep inside she feared Glen was right, but would never admit this, even to herself.

A few months ago, I was present when the subject was reopened. Gary, always testing everyone and everything, “Like a good Berean”, he would say, decided to challenge Glen the next time he came to the store.

Glen rang the little bell above the door and entered with a smile, saying nothing. Sue felt sorry that he was walking into what she thought of as a trap.

Glen sensed something, “So what’s on everyone’s mind?”, he inquired pleasantly.

Joy wished she was not there, she wished each person could hold their own beliefs and just leave it at that.

Gary spoke, “Glen you know I am pretty well convinced as you are that when we die, we die. I have heard you refute a number of attempts to interpret scriptures that seem to say we have immortal souls. I was very impressed when you talked about Lazarus and the rich man, though I don’t remember your quote at the time...”

Glen rose to the subject,”How about looking at the other Lazarus? is what I said. Compare the story Jesus told to unbelievers, with the narrative of Mary, Martha, and Jesus in John, chapter eleven.”

“I remember now” , Gary smiled as he recalled it. “You said two opposite points of view emerge when we compare the two passages.”

Joy had no idea where this was headed and decided to remain silent. Sue was intrigued with how Glen argued, so patiently, waiting for his listeners to see for themselves.

Glen waited, sensing that more was in view than a reminiscence of a long past discussion.

Gary spoke respectfully, “What I see no way out of, and I have tried, is the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to remember him.”

Glen answered in the same spirit, “You have brought up the hardest scripture I know of to reconcile with the idea that when we die, we die, and are asleep in Christ until He wakes us.”

I have heard a number of people struggle with this passage, only to be laughed at by traditional teachers. Donald Barnhouse mocked a man who said it means Jesus told the thief that day.”

I heard a cassette where in a sneering voice he said “ I’m not telling you Monday, I’m not telling you Tuesday, I’m telling you today!”

Joy broke her silence. “It must mean that Jesus and the thief went to Paradise in their immortal souls. You don’t believe in that descent, but it explains everything doesn’t it?”

Glen anticipated this argument, he had heard it for decades. “There is another interpretation that no one mentions” he relied. It is much simpler than the harrowing of hell idea, and is presented early in the Bible and very literally too.”

Joy, Gary, and Sue remained silent. They had no idea what Glen was referring to. He had never spoken of it that they could remember.

“Let me ask you all a question. There are two lengths of time concerning the same incident in Genesis. Glen began to recite from memory:

"And Jacob served seven years for Rachael; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.” Genesis 29:20

Glen saw frowns and looks of non-comprehension. He continued, “Concerning the length of time Jacob served for Rachael, how long did he serve?

“Seven years” said Joy, adamantly.

Gary, cautiously, “But to him it was as a few days.”

Sue spoke with a dreamy expression, “For the love he had to her”.

Glen waited as they all considered this idea. “Which was it” he asked “Seven years, or a few days? Our human experience does not always conform to the calender. Almost two thousand years have passed since the believing thief died, but asleep, the time means nothing to him.

If there is no intermediate state while we sleep, how much time passes for us?” From death to our awakening, how much time has passed?”

“Ever wonder why the story of Jacob and Rachel contains this seeming contradiction?”

Glen looked puzzled, “Do I have an order to pick up? I forgot what I came for.”

“I think I know” said Sue.