by Bobby Hinkle

I was born to Robert and Bonnie Hinkle in 1947 in a rural area some ten miles from Stratford, Oklahoma…the second of five children.

My four sisters and I spent most of our early school years split between various grade schools in Ada, Oklahoma—where Dad worked—and a two-room country school called Galey, located in a small rural community between Ada and Asher, Oklahoma. Galey School had two rooms…Grades 1 through 4 in “the little room” and Grades 5 through 8 in “the big room.”

I first became interested in writing at Galey School when the head teacher, M. R. Tucker, read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Grades 5 through 8. I recall being very impressed with, and wanted to emulate, the writer’s strong talent for characterization.

In 1963, my father’s employer, Thomas Concrete and Pipe Company, relocated to Oklahoma City and moved his family to Moore. I graduated from Moore High School two years later, in 1965, and joined the Air Force.

Aside from 6 months temporary duty in Okinawa, I spent my full Air Force term on a SAC base near Altus, Oklahoma. While stationed at Altus, I began dabbling in the written word as well as managing to stack up some college credits, taking extension classes at night. I’m not sure but what I was just bored with barracks life.

While at Altus, I married Julia Marie Cromwell, daughter of James Cromwell, who, at the time, was a fairly well known evangelist.

Upon my discharge from the military, Julia and I entered the ministry, spending several years evangelizing on the road, mostly in southern states. We even spent a few of those years propping up and taking down a 50’ x 70’ gospel tent. Tent evangelism! But that episode ended in the fall of 1970 when, after I set the tent on the banks of the Ohio River, a flood came and threatened to sweep us downstream. That was enough. I sold the tent, the chairs, the platform, and the truck to some poor sucker in Illinois and headed back to Oklahoma.

In 1971—when my daughter, Rinda, was around 2 years old—I took the pastor position in a small town in Oklahoma. Two major things happened during this period. Our second daughter, Kimberly, was born, and I received an epiphany that many years later would inspire my third novel, The Sabbatical.

Julia and I have been married 42 years. We have four children—Rinda, Kimberly, Jana, and Bobby—and four grandchildren. Julia and I now reside in Guthrie, Oklahoma. [My daughter Rinda Elliott is also a writer; you can visit her website: Rinda Elliott.]


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by Bobby Hinkle

My guide and I were walking a long, heavenly path when two male souls approached, walking in the opposite direction. One was tall and handsome, wearing a dark suit, white shirt, matching tie, a diamond tie pin, diamond cuff links, a diamond ring, and what appeared to be an expensive Rolex watch. His shoes were black, buffed to a gleam, and his hair was combed straight back, tight against his head, and greasy. In an aloof spirit he was in a rather heated argument with a short, rather pudgy male soul, wearing a white shirt and not tie, walking next to him. He bellowed out, “God is three persons in one,” and then he flipped feverishly through select pages of scriptures, stopping now and then, planting his finger on a text and demanding the other male soul look at it.

But the shorter soul kept his face pointed straight ahead, with a resolute, blustery expression.

It was only now when I noticed a woman walking behind them. She had not been easy to spot because she was quiet, timid, and peering up at the aloof one.

In response to the blustery Biblicist, the shorter soul, speaking in a softer voice, said, “The first saints baptized in the name of Jesus, and only in the name of Jesus. To them there was only one name whereby mankind could be saved. The Father is not that name. The Holy Ghost is not that name. Jesus is that name! And you say you have scripture to back up your position. Well, I have scripture to back up mine.”

The first now became enraged. “I’ve never known anyone more bullheaded. You’ll go straight to hell for believing that nonsense.”

Glancing again at the woman, I noticed her eyes now traveling sheepishly from one to the other.

Next, the short soul read a verse that seemed to lay a solid foundation for his doctrine and, after reading the verse, he jabbed a finger in the other’s chest and screamed, “See there, it’s in the Bible!” Jesus has three names, three expressions of his divine grace and work…period!”

“Hogwash! Your scriptural exegesis is off by a mile. God will surely turn His back on you for desecrating His Word with this ‘Jesus Only’ doctrine of yours.”

The woman seemed now to have had all she could take, and placed her hands over her ears.

I didn’t know much scripture, but the argument seemed meaningless to me, at least from my perspective. I wondered why these ideas were so important to them, and why the woman, so much oppressed by the argument, was hanging with them, both souls totally ignoring her. And what struck me most was their determination to promote secondary issues above consideration for this obviously troubled person behind them. What the woman seemed to need most was simple consideration and loving attention.

My guide had remained quiet during all this. I wondered why. If anybody could have helped these pour souls, he was the most capable, far as I was concerned. But he said nothing, only listened, and the argument threatened to go on endlessly.

“Who are these?” I finally asked the guide.

“There is only one,” he answered, with a grin.

“But I see three.”

“There is only the tall, aloof one. The woman is the image of his congregation on earth, conditioned to absolute submission, to never speak her mind, and to never think for herself. Until recently passing away he was her pastor. Since her pastor’s death, she has not been able to shake his influence.”

“Why is he ignoring her?”

“He doesn’t love her. She was necessary only to fulfill his driving desire for power and recognition, which could not have been satisfied without a following. Thus, for an undetermined period, and to his own detriment, he will continue to encourage her presence; and yet, her presence is a constant judgment against him.”

“Who is the shorter male soul?”

“He doesn’t exist either. He is the antithesis created by the pastor’s thesis; for a thesis always creates its own antithesis.”

“How very odd!” I commented, as I watched with great interest. “Why is the pastor walking on my path but in the opposite direction?”

“Because you started your journey on this path from a lower seat, while this fellow began his journey from a higher seat of extreme pride and lust for power. He must now descend, perhaps all the way to the lowest hell. However, what you are seeing here is not divine retribution. It is divine mercy. For, in due process, he will likely arrive at the proper state.”

“Which is?”

“Nothingness. It is only from a pure state of nothingness that he can begin channeling his indomitable spirit of firm resolve and stiff dedication toward the true work of God. But before that can happen, and because he is who he is, he must, for his own good, be debased. This is why you see him descending.”

Here my guide looked at me with concern on his face. “Just don’t feel proud, as if you are ahead of him on the path. Who knows but in ages to come he might be exalted to states far above yours, perhaps becoming the humblest of prophets on one of the vast earth globes in the universe of God. For this reason it is foolish to sit in judgment, for God is extremely patient, not only with you, but also with him.”

When the three souls were swallowed by a wall of darkness, I asked, “How long then must he be troubled by these two?”

“As long as he continues to encourage it.”




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