The Gideons Gave Me Nightmares

Crucifix
Credit: Christopher Brown

The Gideons came to my 5th grade class and offered pocket-sized, red New Testaments to anyone who raised their hand. My hand shot up and an older man came down the aisle of desks to hand me my very own New Testament. It wasn’t a full Bible, but it was the closest thing I’d ever had to an adult Bible. My mom had occasionally read to us out of a Children’s Bible when we were growing up, but that just wasn’t the same thing.

When I got home from school, I sprawled out on the couch and started to read Matthew. I got through that pretty quickly and flipped the page to Mark. I quickly realized I was reading the same story. “Why on earth would the author tell the same story over again?” I thought.

I was getting bored, so I gave up on the Gospel of Mark.

While reading books, sometimes I’d sneak to the last chapter to see how the story ended. I figured I could just do the same thing with the Bible. So, I flipped back to Revelation. I wasn’t sure what it all meant, but I stuck with it right to the “Amen” at the end.

I woke up from a nightmare later that night. I don’t remember the dream, but it had something to do with being chased by a monster inspired by the beast of Revelation.

I guess that’s what I get for skipping to the end.

A friend once said, “We’re all driving down the highway. Some of us are looking just a few yards ahead as they drive. That’s dangerous because you can’t see if there’s a turn in the road up ahead. Most of us are looking several car lengths down the road, anticipating what’s coming up soon. But, dangit Kristy, you’re always looking at the mountains miles down the road instead!”

He was right. I’ve got my eye on the horizon as I cruise down the road and ignore the scenery whipping by my window. I’m always trying to skip to the end.

A couple of years ago, I sat down with a Lutheran pastor. I was complaining about how some Christians put so much emphasis on the torture and death of Jesus that they overshadow the resurrection. I wasn’t comfortable around crucifixes. I heard echoes from my years in Mennonite churches. “Jesus isn’t on our cross because we worship a risen savior.”

The pastor thought there needed to be a balance, but I disagreed. “I just want to focus on the good part,” I said.

She smiled at me and said, “But, we can’t get to Sunday without passing through Friday.”

We can’t get to Easter without passing through Lent.

We can’t skip ahead to wholeness without passing through our brokenness.

We can’t reach atonement without passing through repentance.

We can’t get to Revelation without passing through the gospels.

We can’t skip to the end.

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