Comfort Food for Thought … April 14, 2013

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envelopeIt arrived in a simple envelope with a return address from: Mike, PO Box 97, Kearney, NE, 68849. Inside were two one-dollar bills and a folded up piece of notebook paper. I unfolded it and read:

Dear Jonathan, I like your music. You seem to be real honest. So I don’t think you’ll lie to me. If you could take a moment and answer three questions for me, it would help me decide what I want to do next. Please just fill in the spaces on the letter and mail it back to me. I don’t have much money, but I gave you two dollars for your trouble.

Written on the paper were three questions with about an inch and a half of blank space  between each one.

Question 1: Is there really a God? And please don’t lie to me.

Question 2: If there is, does He care and how do you know?

Question 3: And if He cares, why does so much crap go on in the world?

I sat and stared at that piece of paper for a long time. I didn’t know what my friend, Mike, was deciding, but it sounded pretty important. And since he didn’t give me much room to elaborate, I figured I’d better make my answers really good and clear. So I began with the first one–is there a God?

“Mike, it’s more impossible for me to believe that where we have come to was achieved by accident than it is to believe that someone or some force set it in motion. I don’t like to be ignorant, but to me, it’s ignorant to think that the world became ‘accidentally’ magnificent, even if it took billions of years. So absent any rational explanation, I would rather believe in a Divine one.”

Question 2: Does He care?

“Not the way you and I want Him to. He has inserted comfort and joy into the workings of our earth. Comfort comes from other people giving a damn about each other and joy is achieved when we stop fighting against nature and the way things are and make our peace with it. So sometimes life seems cold because no one shows up to bring comfort and we fail to learn our lessons and seem abandoned of all joy. But when people do the right thing by loving each other and respecting the world around them, problems get solved.”

“Now–as to #3, why things get bad–God had one idea that you and I probably wouldn’t like very well. It’s called free will. He liked it so well that He built His whole universe around it. And even though faith, hope and love are always available, people often choose, with their own free will, to be angry, doubting and hateful. It sets in motion a slew of natural reactions that hurt a bunch of people. On top of that we disrespect nature and get in the way of progress.”

“Now I realize, Mike, that these don’t answer your questions quite the way you wanted me to, but the ‘comfort food for thought’ I give you is this: things in life are too beautiful to have been made in an ugly way. It’s up to us as people to bring the comfort. And joy comes when we learn the ways of life and stop fighting what truly works. And since free will is here to stay, we should spend our lives trying to teach one another to be more generous instead of closed up and cold.”

I read my answers over. At first I thought they were very inspirational, and then the words became more and more hollow and meaningless. So I quickly folded the note up, stuck it in an envelope, addressed it, put a stamp on it and mailed it off before I changed my mind.

Two years passed. The little note from Nebraska had completely slipped my mind.

Then one day I received a phone call from Kearney, Nebraska. The young man on the other end asked me if I would come there and share my talent. He said, “You probably don’t remember me, but my name is Mike. I’m a minister now.”

I paused and told him that I did remember. He said, “Much of what you wrote back to me didn’t make complete sense because I was ready to leave my faith and become an atheist. But then I realized that if I became an atheist, I wasn’t going to get a chance to be ‘comfort food for thought’ for anyone else. That seemed like a waste of time.”

By the way, I never got out to Kearney, Nebraska. I didn’t need to.

My little letter did all the talking … for me.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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