God stabbed my conscience that night and pinned me to the ground with a fiery bolt of lightning. He was calling me, but I had never dreamed he would or could call so insistently, nor so inconveniently. All through that sodden Long Island night he pursued me, joining thunder and flaming arrow to unnerve his retreating quarry.

When the fire fell I knew instinctively that the Great Archer had nailed me, as it were, to my own footsteps.

The Bible is not without a theology of thunder and lightning, one that differs notably from the familiar Donner und Blitzen of a gift-laden Saint Nicholas. It speaks, in truth, of God’s judgment. And that night, as I trembled in the storm, I knew unmistakably that the Eternal One was coding an urgent message to my soul.

This harrowing moment, this unexpected meeting with God, was no ordinary, soon-to-be-forgotten rendezvous. To be sure, it had a past as well as a future. But now the fire kindled in my heart refused to die; its light exposed memories that conscience could not deny. Across the years I had sparred often with the Invisible One. All the while I was still a pagan—a neo-Christian pagan, as it were—born into a presumably Christian home where mother was a Roman Catholic and father a Lutheran. At the age of twelve I was confirmed in the Christian faith—in fact, on two successive Sundays, though still very much a stranger to Jesus Christ, I was baptized and confirmed by the local Episcopal priest. I shed the Church in my mid-teens. In the course of my evacuation I had managed to pilfer a Bible from the pew racks, however, and as I opened it now and then upon retiring, one segment of that Book held a special fascination for me: its narratives of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. ...

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