The next time I started talking with Paul, it was a quiet Sunday afternoon. The temperature and humidity had dropped, and so had my edginess. I was ready to be more conversational with Paul.
He was sitting in the rocker, watching the finches eating seeds from the flowers outside my window.
“So, may we start talking about the fourteen-year gap again?” I said. “I’ll try to know better than to make assumptions about how you worked based on my own view of the world.”
Paul laughed. “But you know that’s not possible, right?”
I nodded. I really do know that I’m making assumptions about Paul all the time. We all do. We bring our own personality, our own biases, our own sense of what we would feel like in what Paul faced.
But Paul was human. And he reveals some emotion, some passion in his writing. So we can make some suggestions. And God, through Paul, is desiring us to understand Him. So we can think about the communication choice that were made to tell that story. Which often emerges through conversation.
“Are you done talking to yourself?” Paul said.
“I’ve got some questions that come to mind as I read through what we’ve known as Chapter 2 for the last few centuries. First, in most of the conversations I have, we use the word ‘later’ to refer to hours or days. You jump fourteen years. What were you doing for fourteen years?”
“Earlier you talked about Luke’s account of parts of my life. Just because I’m not telling you everything in the argument I’m making doesn’t mean that you can ignore what Luke says about going back to my family in Tarsus and then going to Antioch. Be willing to work to put the pieces together. That’s why you have the different accounts.”
“But they don’t line up,” I said. “Even the experts struggle with building your biography.”
“Just because you don’t know everything doesn’t mean you know nothing,” Paul said. “And perhaps, the something you have is all that God intended for you to know about me.”