Adventuring in time with Doubting Thomas

Inside a Timeless Solarium:

Flight of the Imagination

By Gary Piper

 

Forethoughts: One of God’s greatest gifts given to me is my imagination. What you are about to read is my way of glorifying and thanking God for his generous gift. Many times authors use the giftedness of their imaginations for entertainment purposes and while you may get the impression I am following in their footprints I am not. When I first became aware of God’s gift of imagination in me I dedicated it and now re-dedicate it to glorifying him by telling Jesus’ story through fictional stories such as the one you are about to read now. If you think you cannot learn from fictional stories then I remind you of Jesus’ use of parables to teach people. Please join me as we step from the real world and into our imagination and learn not only about Jesus but ourselves as well.

You are no doubt wondering what a Timeless Solarium is while I am glad you asked because I was going to tell you anyway and hopefully using your imagination you’ll understand what it is and what it is used for.

First of all you need not ask me how it works because I haven’t the slightest notion how it works I only know it is powered by the melting together of the Holy Spirit and the Imagination. As you can see in the picture it looks like any other free standing solarium in fact that is what it was when I first built it. But a couple of nights after it was completed I was sitting in it under a star filled sky and I was thinking it would be great if it were possible to sit across from one of the bible characters and visit with them about their experiences. Suddenly from out of nowhere I small bluish white orb floated down and stopped about a foot above the roof and the next thing I knew it exploded in a blinding white light and suddenly I found myself sitting in a time portal open to the past.


Adventuring in Time with Doubting Thomas

You are no doubt wondering what a Timeless Solarium is while I am glad you asked because I was going to tell you anyway and hopefully using your imagination you’ll understand what it is and what it is used for.

First of all you need not ask me how it works because I haven’t the slightest notion how it works I only know it is powered by the melting together of the Holy Spirit and the Imagination. As you can see in the picture it looks like any other free standing solarium in fact that is what it was when I first built it. But a couple of nights after it was completed I was sitting in it under a star filled sky and I was thinking it would be great if it were possible to sit across from one of the bible characters and visit with them about their experiences. Suddenly from out of nowhere I small bluish white orb floated down and stopped about a foot above the roof and the next thing I knew it exploded in a blinding white light.

After a minute or so my eyes readjusted to the darkness I notice sitting across from me was an elderly man with a long white beard and piercing brown eyes. He was dressed in what looked like the way a man would dress back in the bible days. I’d call a robe of some sort or other. It was hard to judge how tall he was because he was sitting down but by looking at his bent legs I’d say he was over 6 foot tall. He never said a word but it looked like he was trying to figure out where he was and who I was. I know I sure was wondering who he was and what was going on.

All of a sudden the strange man’s voice shattered the silence startling me, “Wow! That was quite a journey. I was walking toward Jerusalem when suddenly I was surrounded by a brilliant flash of bluish white light and now I am sitting here. And stranger still I know what your name is you’re Crusty the Christian aren’t you?”

Things were moving way to fast for me and normally I probably would have been shock after all sitting alone, a brilliant flash of bluish white light, then a stranger from what appeared to be out of the past sitting across from me. But instead of being in shock I found much to my surprise completely captivated and completely at ease. “You’re Crusty the Christian, aren’t you?” he asked a second time.

Shaking my head in an effort to recapture myself, “Yes I am Crusty. And strange as it sounds I know who you are as well, you are Thomas the twin also called Didymus.” How did I know that I wondered? He didn’t introduce himself. He didn’t have a name tag. I’ve never seen a picture of him yet I knew who he was and just as surprising he knew who I was. Suddenly I remembered thinking about how neat it would be to be able to talk when some of the people who have captured my life from my bible studies. Was it possible that in some mysterious way my thoughts had somehow become a reality? Or was it possible I’d fallen asleep and was dreaming? Using my right hand I reached across my body and pinched my left arm and immediately felt the pinch but did not wake up.

Just as I was about to ask my mysterious yet familiar guest another voice broke the silence, “Welcome to a Timeless Solarium a place where the present and past become the future, a place where you can sit and bask in the Light and Warmth of my Son. Do not doubt. Do not question. Simply journey and drink of the life giving water of eternity.”

“Did you hear that voice?” I asked.

“Yes, I heard it several times when we were with Jesus,” he replied.

“You were with Jesus?”

“I thought you said you knew who I was?” Thomas asked.

“I do but do you realize how impossible this is? I mean this violates all the laws of time in fact it violates every law known to mankind period!”

Thomas flashed me a quick smile, “Did you miss what the Father said, Crusty?”

I had heard but I guess I’d still not adjusted myself to the rapidly changing moment by moment events that were happening in spite of their impossibility. Feeling a little embarrassed I answered, “I guess my brain and my ears were miles apart.” Almost instantly I felt guilty after all God speaks to me and I can’t even remember what he said. How many times has that happened I wondered?

“Don’t feel guilty Crusty you are the first one who missed something the Father said the twelve of us time after time missed what Jesus said to us. I remember each time he’d remind us he’d always flash us a quick smile which made us feel a little better. The Father said, ‘Welcome to a Timeless Solarium a place where the present and past become the future, a place where you can sit and bask in the Light and Warmth of my Son. Do not doubt. Do not question. Simply journey and drink of the life giving water of eternity.’ Are you ready to begin our journey?” Thomas asked.

“Do not doubt, do not question do you know how hard that is for me to do. Think about it, Thomas you’re walking on a road thousands of miles from here a couple thousand years ago and suddenly you’re sitting with me in August of 2011. And I’m sitting enjoying a beautiful summer evening when suddenly God speaks to me and I’m sitting talking with one of Jesus’ disciples.”

Turning my gaze from the floor to my strange visitor who I knew to be Thomas I could see that he was reaching deep within himself. “I do know where you are coming from Crusty. I was in the garden the night Jesus was arrested. While I ran away that night terrified I was next I never ran far and I watched from a distance Jesus die on the cross. I watched them carry him to the tomb. I watched the soldiers roll a huge stone in front. I knew he was dead!”

He paused and wiped the tears from his eye then after regaining his composure continued. “After watching that stone fall into place my guilt overwhelmed me and I went into hiding. Later I heard Judas hung himself and I remember thanking myself my guilt wasn’t didn’t have that hold on me. He paused again, “You know the rest of the story of how Jesus showed himself. And ever since that day I have been labeled as a doubter. So you see, Crusty I do understand what you’re saying but I also know as impossible as it was for Jesus to be alive when I saw the scars when I felt the scars I knew the truth. I don’t know how to convey to you the truth of what is happening to both of us all I can say is look around you and do not doubt do not question simply look, hear, speak, and believe.”

I wanted to say that I still had my suspicions but as I looked around as incredible as it was something deep inside told me to dump my lack of faith and trust what I knew in my heart to be true. Suddenly I remembered the man in the bible asking Jesus to help his unbelief. “Thomas, can I ask you a question?” I finally managed to say.

“That’s why I’m here,” he answered.

“One of the reasons you were my hero was because you doubted Jesus had really reason and you wanted absolute proof. I guess that is where I am right now. Show me some proof and I’ll believe all this is real, that I really am talking to the genuine Thomas disciple of Jesus.”

“Crusty before you go to far,” he interrupted me, “you need to hear my side of the story. While I was labeled a doubter it really wasn’t the way it sounds. As far as I was concerned I had a good reason and it wasn’t because I doubted at all.”

While he was talking I was rehearsing the 20th chapter of John that told about Jesus appearing first to the disciples then 8 days later he made an impromptu visit again to the upper room and surprised Thomas. In my mind I could see Jesus standing in the middle of the room extending both arms toward Thomas. Suddenly I realized it wasn’t in my minds eye but somehow the solarium had become the upper room and now I was an eyewitness.

Thomas’ voice interrupted my thoughts and I was back in the solarium again, “I wasn’t in the room the first time the Master made an appearance unfortunately I was still off by my self nursing my wounded ego and having a personal pity-party. But about a week later I gathered up the courage swallowed my pride and returned to the upper room where we’d share the last supper with Jesus. I thought when I walked in the room I’d be greeted with a room filled with sorrow and fear but instead there was a spirit of celebration. ‘He’s alive, Thomas. Just as he said he’d arise in three days he was here Thomas so you don’t need to feel guilty.’ Suddenly that was the moment Jesus appeared and I am sure you know the rest of the story.”

I did know the rest of the story but Thomas hadn’t really answered my question. “I do know how the bible records the scene but with all due respect you didn’t answer my question.”

“I was wondering if you were going to just accept what you read or whether you’d want to know the side you didn’t read about. First of all without hearing my side Doubting Thomas would be the correct name for me. But I did not really doubt Peter and the other disciples but I wanted my own testimony. I wanted to tell people I was an eyewitness to Jesus’ resurrection that I was not depending on the testimony of others. It wasn’t about me at all I did not need to see proof of Jesus to stroke my ego I wanted to be able to say I saw and I felt for myself. Does that help you understand me a little better?”

“It does but can you help me understand one more part of the story?” I asked.

“You’re going to ask me to explain what Jesus meant when he told me that people who believed without proof would be blessed more am I right?”

“That’s right I was. It seems to me that Jesus was chastising you for not believing the rest of the disciples. But at the same time I can understand what Jesus was saying because believing is a matter of faith. And it seems to me you thought you needed to go beyond faith.”

I could tell he was searching for an answer. “It would seem as if you were right but again there’s another side to what Jesus was saying. While it is important to believe in the testimony of others it is equally important that we develop our own testimony.”

“That’s what you did right?”

“You’re right that is exactly what I did. But those who believe in the testimony of others will be more blessed because that would be the foundation they could not only begin building their own life on but also have it fall back on when theirs faltered. Does that help?” Thomas asked.

“Well in a way it does but that isn’t the way the bible reads.”

“Wait a minute Crusty. If you take a close look at Jesus’ response following my need to see for myself you’ll notice he asked a question he did not accuse me of anything.”

Not taking his word for it I quickly turned to the 20th chapter of John and a minute or so later, “Say you’re right Jesus said to you, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me?’ So he really didn’t accuse you.”

“No he didn’t accuse me but instead he was making an example out of. Call it a living parable if you’d like to. He was always using us as a focal point. My favorite was when he rebuked Peter implying that Satan had overtaken him. Let me start over what I was trying to say earlier. The real lesson Jesus was implying using me as an example concerned the entire life of a believer. While a believer who accepts Jesus on the testimony of others is more blessed than one who will not believe until Jesus suddenly appears in front of him. But like me at some point each believer needs to develop their own testimony if they are to meet the challenges they’ll face. Does that help?”

Immediately I began thinking about all the people who go to church who study and read the bible whose relationship with Jesus is based not on their experience with Jesus but depend on the experience of other. “Thomas I don’t know how much you know about the times in which I live and you may not understand what I am about to tell you I hope you will because it will give you some understanding about why Jesus used you as an example. We live now in a fast food drive up window culture. We order our food into a voice system drive up to the window and minute’s later drive off with our food. Unfortunately there are those who think they can have a relationship with Jesus the same way. Are you with me so far?”

“I do understand, Crusty we didn’t have drive through food places and all that stuff but we did have people who wanted a relationship with Jesus but did not want to work for it.”

“How did you and your fellow disciples deal with those people who didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus?” I asked.

“It was hard for us because at times we were so busy defending not only the faith but ourselves as well that many of them fell away because of the peer pressure they were under.”

“You know Thomas, when I listen to you the circumstances between your day and mine are quite different there are similarities. Believers now days do not live in fear at least in the United States for their lives but the peer pressure they face is just as powerful and just as widespread. And those of us who are doing all we can to help people develop their own relationship with Jesus are facing almost insurmountable odds.”

As we talked I began to sense our time together was coming to an end. But I’d gotten comfortable with him and deep inside I did not want the experience to end there were so many questions I wanted to ask him. “Crusty, I feel our time together is coming to an end. I sense there are a lot of things still on your mind. But I have it on good authority that this is only the beginning. Before I go are we okay on my experience in the upper room?

I did have a better understanding of Thomas’ side of the story and I was getting a better grasp on why some believers fall away and why some of the churches are slowly dying. “I can really see why a personal relationship with Jesus is so important and I can also see why it is important for us to make the bible more than just a book full of old stories.”

“Our paths will cross again, Crusty and when they do how about we talk about a night of terror on in a killer storm at sea?”

“Thomas?”

“Yes Crusty.”

“Do you think I’ll ever get a visit from Jesus?”

“I don’t have an answer for you, Crusty. I wish I did.

“That’s okay Thomas. As unreal as it started out I’ve really been blest by you being so frank with me.”

Just as he was about to answer me he disappeared leaving me sitting alone in what was once just a plain ordinary solarium. After several minutes I decided to get up and go back in the house and tell my wife about my experience. And much to my surprise she believed me and it is through her encouragement I tell my story.

 

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About Crusty the Christian

I am a Christian writer. I write Devotionals and I write Christian fictional stories of Jesus Christ. My books can be found on www.lulu.com/gpiper.
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