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Friday, August 23, 2019

Climax: Love 30, Part 3

Part 3 of 4 of the climax. It will come later in the book, but I had to write it now in order to build everything around it.
Jasmine is stunned by Davie’s choice of words, ‘thinking at odds,' the very phrase her family used to berate her.  Just like his response to her Noah question, he seems to be hinting to her that what she’s been ashamed of, she should instead be proud of.  Further, she had never known Davie had been born in India.  He was getting more interesting moment by moment.  Jubilant he had offered her a ride, Jasmine sent up a thank you prayer that God had helped her forget to gas up her car.  How did she get so lucky to have him all to herself for those two fifteen minute drives to and from Glendale and TGIFs? 
The last to leave the party, Davie and Jasmine picked up the cake, cards, and the group gift package: three sets each of tennis balls, replacement grips, and, most notably, the natural gut tennis strings Davie loves.  It was Jasmine’s idea to have the group pool funds together for three sets of each, one for each decade of Davie’s life, with the tennis strings as the highlight.  Natural gut’s not cheap, but a youth pastor’s salary is, so Jasmine knew Davie couldn’t get afford this luxury too much.
            “Did you let Pam know you’d be late?” Jasmine feels a pang in her heart as she speaks the name of Davie’s wife.  “Yeah, I texted her and she replied to have fun, so she’s cool with it.”
Once in Davie’s car, Jasmine wonders if she can ask another, related forbidden question she learned never to ask in Sunday school.  By now, she’s almost convinced he, like her, is a closet progressive and, today, he revealed he’s also been “thinking at odds.”  Why not take the plunge and ask him the big question?  Jasmine takes a deep breath.  Davie looks at her, smiles, raises his up his eyebrows twice, and asks, “What’s on your mind?”
“Here’s what I really want to know,” Jasmine begins, slowly.
“Go on.”
“OK here goes.  Why do we worship a God who drowns the world?”
Davie smiles and winks at Jasmine.  “Your heart fits better with Abraham.” Jasmine gives Davie a curious look.  “And Moses.” Go on.  You’ve got my attention.  “And even Jacob.”  I’m listening.
“OK,” Davie says, “Let’s start with Abraham.  God wants to destroy the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Every man, woman, and child.  God’s ticked.  They’ve been wicked, perverse, evil, disgusting.  God wants them all gone.  He tells Abraham.”  Jasmine nods, entranced.  Little does Davie know he has just brought up another of her favorite stories – another one she almost got in trouble for.
“Abraham thinks God’s gone over the top.  He even tells him so.  ‘Far be it from you to do such a thing!’ he cries out to God.  He starts to bargain with God.  Would God spare the cities if fifty good men could be found?  God agrees and said He’d spare the cities.  Abraham takes it down to forty, thirty, twenty, and then Abraham really gets bold and asks if God would spare the cities if even ten good men could be found.  God agrees.  Abraham wins.”
Still quiet, Jasmine nods.  Davie continues.  “Then there’s Moses.  Remember it was God who had called Moses to free His people.  Moses: an old man with a bad temper and poor speech.  Moses thinks God is crazy for sending him to free the Hebrew people from the hand of the Egyptian King, but Moses does what God asks.  He fights with Pharaoh, he performs miracles before Pharaoh, and he leads the people on a very dangerous journey out of Egypt.  After crossing the Red Sea, escaping Egypt, wandering through the desert, and going hungry and thirsty, the people were grumbling.  They’d had enough.  Where was this supposed ‘Promised Land’ and when would they finally arrive?  To them, this was one promise broken.  Then Moses goes up a mountain and doesn’t come back.  At least not soon enough for the Israelites.  Now they’re really mad.  So they carve out a calf from their gold.  This makes God mad, so God tells Moses He’ll destroy them.  Moses, himself fed up with the people he’s been commissioned to lead, nevertheless appeals on their behalf to God.  Once again, God relents.”
Jasmine smiles.  She’s getting more captivated by Davie with each statement. She can hear the pastor in his voice, but he’s not like any pastor she’s grown up with. 
Davie flicks his turn signal into the Glendale  parking lot.   “And Jacob?” Jasmine asks.
“Now Jacob’s different,” Davie says, with suspense in his voice.  He seems to want to keep Jasmine glued to the conversation.  Will they keep talking in his car for a while?  “He doesn’t bargain with God on behalf of anyone else.  He just doesn’t let up with God until he gets what he wants.”  Jasmine nods.  “The story of Jacob’s encounter with God is truly mysterious, and to some, the most mysterious encounter in the Bible.”
Davie pulls next to Jasmine’s car, then whispers, “Actually, the Bible is filled with mysterious encounters; it’s loaded with them, but people don’t see them.  I think there are many encounters more mysterious than this one with Jacob, but since most people don’t see those ones, this is the encounter that many consider to be the most mysterious.”
            I’m listening.  Go on.  “Jacob’s on this journey.  He’s alone – again.  When Jacob is alone, something mysterious is likely to happen.  The last time Jacob had been alone, he came to a spot the Bible calls ‘a certain place.’  I think that phrase, ‘a certain place’ is a clue.  It’s purposefully ambiguous, but also a hint: this is a special place with special energy.  God doesn’t come to just any place, only certain ones.  That’s where Jacob had his dream of the ladder.
            “Now Jacob is alone again in another ambiguous, mysterious place,  and he encounters what the Bible says is a ‘man,’ and he wrestles this man.  All night long he wrestles him.  Apparently, he loses because when they’re done, Jacob is limping, but Jacob considers it a victory, because he doesn’t die.  The whole story is weird.  Ordinary wrestling matches don’t last more than a few minutes – maybe ten minutes for an extra long one.  But this one lasts all night long.  And Jacob is happy that he did not die.  Whoever this man is who Jacob wrestled is no ordinary man.  That’s the mystery part.  Who is this ‘man’?  If this ‘man’ were just a man, then why, after Jacob wrestled him, would he have called him ‘God’?”
            “Yeah, curious.”
            “I find Jacob’s wrestling match both mysterious and a sign that Jacob is a true biblical hero.”
            “OK, I’m following you.  How does he differ from Noah?”
            “He doesn’t give in.  Can you imagine an all-night-long wrestling match?”
            Jasmine shakes her head. 
“You think you might give up sometime around 2 am?” 
Jasmine nods. 
“How about 3 am?  4 am? 5 am?  When do you think Noah would have given in?” 
“Right away.”
Jasmine smiles.  Now she’s really entranced by this athletic, thoughtful youth pastor who thinks at odds like she does.
            “So you think if Noah had tried to wrestle God or bargain with Him, God might not have flooded the whole planet?”
            “Maybe not.”
            “OK,” Jasmine nods, thinking it through.  “I still don’t like Noah.  But at least that makes God look a little better.” 
Davie grins.  At the expense of Noah, he’s made a small victory for God. 
“But for many Noah is still considered a hero,” Davie continues, “because they remain in the spiritual evolution of obedience.  Some people catch early in life the essence of what is good, learn obedience quickly, and can move onto lessons of love.  You’re one of them.  But those people can sometimes annoy the people who have to learn obedience.”
Jasmine is marveling.  Does he ever get her and her life story.  Why had they not met before they were both married?
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