In the summer before my senior year in high school, a friend of mine brought her Bible out and we read it together on the grass strip in front of her house. That was the first time I had read a Bible.
After that, I got a Bible and read it quite a lot. I read through the New Testament. I prayed and talked to Jesus.
One night, as I lay in bed, I imagined Jesus under the pine tree that overhung into our yard. He was sitting on a piece of the gate that had fallen apart and my Dad had put out there. He said, “Well, I’m back, but I’m not sure what I need to do next.”
In college I took a Comparative Religions class as an elective. The Professor, Dr. Clark, invited me to his office to talk one time. He said he had been a minister but went on to become a professor. I told him I had read the New Testament but the part where Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…”* seemed out of character, and I said, “I don’t think He ever said that.”
Dr. Clark reviewed the historical sequence of The Gospels and said that John, where the quote came from, was unlike the other Gospels in the style of Jesus’ speech and it was also written much later than the other three. “Historically, Jesus probably never did say those words.” he explained.
There is a group of pine trees at the top of the hill, about a half-block from our house. Sometimes I go up there and stand next to one of the trunks. I listen to the wind rushing through the needles. I look at the view. Jesus is there with me.
*John 14:6 New International Version (NIV)
— Charles T.