I was once forward-deployed (to a location I’ll not disclose). I was sound asleep at two in the morning, when a scorpion crawled into my bed.
He stung me three times in the small of my back before I got him.
It took weeks before I was able to sleep with covers again. I would panic if the sheet settled against my leg or if a breeze stirred my hair. I slept curled up in the middle of the mattress, clutching my Bible in one hand and grasping my pillow with the other.
Call me childish, or call me a fool, but I believed holding the Bible would keep the scorpions away. When you’re in that state of mind, it’s easy to believe in God and miracles. In combat situations, men grasp the cross around their necks for similar reasons. Holding something tangible makes the story real. It gives flesh to an otherwise vacuous narrative.
I think that’s why Jesus came to Earth. So we could love someone with “skin on.” So we could grasp the hand of the Divine.
My favorite Bible story is when Peter walked on water. He lost both his faith and his footing and tumbled into the waves. But the Christ reached down and caught him! Imagine that moment, when the hand of God reaches down and grasps Peter. That one image is frozen in my mind and I think about it often. It’s a very powerful image.
Without that connection, there is no Christianity. Peter didn’t use science to walk on water. He didn’t figure out the nature of molecules. He wasn’t aware of atomic bonds or hydrogen. He didn’t reason himself onto those waves.
And when he fell, he didn’t climb out with a syllogism.
He was touched by God.
I know, I know — my Calvinist friends are thinking about covenants and soteriology and would ask me to add all sorts of caveats about the nature and scope of the Incarnation.
But when you’re unable to sleep because you’re afraid of what might crawl into bed with you — you don’t think about systematic theology. You hold your Bible close and pray for mercy.