In the back of the used book was a note with the words "CT scan, suite 210." I can't help but imagine what was happening in the life of the person who held these pages before me. Was this forgotten bookmark an indication of a battle I know nothing about?
For you non-medical folks like myself, a CT scan is used to create detailed images of structures in the body. From damaged bones to extreme cancers, the CT scan is how we see what's going on inside.
Was this person potentially finding out life-changing news? Had they been diagnosed with something that would challenge everything within them? I can only imagine, but given the context of the book I bought, I do wonder...
The author writes in the introduction about a crossroads. At the time, they saw two alternatives: 1) continue practicing and promoting a version of Christianity they had deep reservations about, 2) leave ministry and perhaps the faith altogether.
As I sit here and wait for my oil to be changed, I see the previous owner of this book in the same lobby, reading this same book, potentially dealing with the same doubt, despair, longing, as the writer describes on these first pages.
I see someone who, despite tragic news and life-altering circumstances, is reaching for truth, searching for what's real, for hope. The pursuit, though painful and confusing, remains a priority. They don't want to give up.
The oil in the car still has to be changed, though. The kids still have to be picked up. The bills still must be paid. The Christmas party next weekend is still happening. And the cancer/sickness/disease/suffering continues.
One of my favorite parts of going to my Grandmother's house is seeing the photos, notes with quotes, and cards that have been selected and put on display. One in particular caught my attention the last time we were there.
"Faith in God's goodness keeps hope alive."
Strategically placed on a picture of pain in your life, this statement is loaded. I keep finding time and time again, pain is the doorway through which you enter into a level of communion with God that's so hard to find otherwise.
Was this book bought by someone on the precipice of giving up? Was the motivation for reading it an effort to hang on? Were they desperately looking for God's goodness?
Their heart speaks, "Surely, hopefully, God's goodness is real and present, even in this circumstance, even in the darkness."
I think that's the tradition we see woven through the history of this faith. Wrestling. Crossroads. Doubts. We think there are two alternatives: stay or leave. And then God, in the midst of it all shines light into our soul, and we see in a new way, through different eyes.
Personally, I hope I'm wrong about the back story I've inferred. I hope it was just to check a broken bone from a mild dirt bike wipeout while cruising the backwoods of their family's property. Either way, I'm thankful for an unexpected note to give me pause and perspective.