Before I was conceived I knew absolutely nothing about God, anyone or thing else. From my conception to my birth I learned little. It is possible that I learned in the womb to recognize the voices of my father and mother. I may have practiced for future nursing by sucking my thumb in the womb. I likely had some genetic information in me that urged me to seek and accept my mother’s nipples.
Very soon after my birth I began to learn what to expect of others and what was expected of me. I learned to communicate my needs by crying and my contentment by cooing. In time I learned to eat with a baby spoon, learned to crawl and then to walk and talk. I was being socialized, acculturated to the arts, customs, and habits that characterized my particular home and community. Much of this socialization happened in the first weeks and years of my life. Finally, at age 10 I was trusted with the 22 caliber rifle and three bullets. I’ve related my introduction to gun culture in the previous post about “Me and My Gun.”
My introduction to a god culture began before age ten. I learned to pray by rote. When I was old enough my mother sat in her rocking chair with me on her lap while she read from Foster’s Bible Picture Story Book.” My Aunt Lizzie taught me in Sunday School, and my father led family worship at every breakfast and preached sermons at church. At age nine I accepted Jesus as my Savior and at age ten I was baptized and became a member of the Mennonite Church. The direction of my life was set. My God was the god given me by my home and church.
God and gun, how different. The gun given me at age 10 was made of wood and metal, made to wound and kill. I could lift its weight to my shoulder, aim, and fire it. English Sparrows flew, but sometimes one fell, killed by me. Jesus said that God, the father, was with the sparrow that fell. With the weight of gun in hand, I could see and lift the sparrow from the ground, but where was the god that Jesus spoke of?
All the years of my life I have lived for that God. But now, in the 86th year of my life, still being of sound mind, the Old Fool asks the questions he asked as a child. Who am I? Who made me, and the universe? Why? How? To what purpose was I born? My son in law, the hospice chaplain, says that these are end-of-life questions that are commonly asked by the aged. The Old Fool is not morbid. But he confesses that the curiosity of his childhood has intensified. The Old Fool now knows that he does not know, and he is content in not knowing.
Several months ago I was asked if God can be put in a test tube. I did not answer the question. But now the Old Fool answers. The omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God of the Old Fool’s youth and old age can not be confined to a test tube, cannot be tested, cannot be proven. Nor can the test tube be emptied of God, for the God of the Old Fool is every where, like the air he breathes.
That is the story of me and my God. But, you ask, “How do you know.” I must answer with the foolish wisdom of that Old Fool I love, “I do not know; I know nothing beyond death or about God, like before I was conceived. Since birth I can only wonder and believe, and I am content!”