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Posted: April 23, 2011 7:08 p.m.

Harwell: You can't make this stuff up

Settle back friends, ‘cause I'm about to tell you a story that may leave you slack-jawed and dumbfounded.

You've heard incredible tales before, I'm sure. But over the course of my decades in the public schools of Georgia, I've witnessed things which ordinary people find hard to believe could actually happen - let alone accept that they actually DID happen.

Similarly, during 14 years in airport operations, I've seen things occur at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport which those from everyday walks of life find nearly impossible to believe.

These kinds of things prove that truth is often stranger than fiction. Or, in more contemporary vernacular, they at least need this disclaimer: "You just can't make stuff like this up!"

For example, I once broke a paddle on a kid's fanny in 1974, back when teachers could still paddle unruly children. And one day a high school girl got angry when I wouldn't let her leave class early for lunch, and she pulled a pistol on me! Then there was the day when, instead of asking to go to the restroom, a middle school boy relieved himself in the corner of the classroom!

You can't make stuff like this up!

During my tenure at the world's busiest airport, I learned to never think that I'd seen it all; the moment I started thinking that way something even weirder would occur. For instance, I recall a Doberman Pinscher, accidentally frozen to death in an unpressurized cargo compartment, circling endlessly on a baggage carousel in a menacing stance as he awaited his owners. And then there was the night a lady flew from Tampa to Atlanta with a 10-foot Boa Constrictor wrapped around her torso under her blouse!

I'm telling you, you can't make stuff like this up!

These stories from my school and airport days are completely true, and I have many more which make for great camaraderie when enjoying a good cigar and, perhaps, a favorite libation.

But all of these stories pale in comparison to what I'm about to tell you. So incredible is this tale that I will simply tell it, and you can then decide if you believe it.

Today's story starts out something like 3,000 or so years ago. Prophets in the Middle East wrote down in books, actually recorded in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible - also known as the Torah, or Hebrew Bible - that one day God would send a Messiah to save humankind from sin and death.

Along about 2,000 years ago, so the story goes, the Holy Spirit of the one, true God conceived within a young virgin named Mary a child - known as Jesus Christ, or Jesus of Nazareth.

The New Testament of the Holy Bible continues with the story. In books written by common, ordinary men from everyday walks of life, it chronicles how Jesus Christ fulfilled every prophecy which had been written down by those ancients thousands of years before. In this New Testament are accounts of amazing miracles performed by Jesus Christ, such as giving sight to a man who had been born blind. One tale relates how Jesus actually brought a dead man back to life, a man called Lazarus, who had been dead and buried for days!

You may think that I'm about done now. But the most amazing part is yet to come! You can't make this stuff up!

It turns out that after healing the sick, curing the lame, restoring sight to the blind, feeding the hungry and raising the dead, Jesus Christ of Nazareth was crucified by those in authority. Instead of embracing Jesus for having fulfilled all the prophecies, Christ was put to death for blasphemy. They hung him on a cross.

At the time, the Roman Empire pretty much ruled the civilized world. The region's ruling Governor, Pontius Pilate, wanted the affair closed. Christ's tomb was sealed, with Roman soldiers - warriors tasked with defending 10 square yards on a battlefield - on guard.

The plot thickens.

On the day now celebrated as Easter Sunday, friends of Jesus visited the tomb. They found the guards asleep. The stone had been rolled away from the entrance. Subsequently, the risen Jesus Christ appeared to his disciples on multiple, documented occasions.

The 17th century French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, argued persuasively; therefore, that Christianity is the only true religion. Christ, Pascal states, was prophesied thousands of years before. He fulfilled those prophecies, then rose from the dead to serve as the propitiation for mankind's sins.

So there you have it, friend. As for me, I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I ask you to join me in that faith. If you haven't made your mind up yet, please understand that truth is often stranger than fiction.

You can't make stuff like this up!

Nat Harwell is a Covington resident. His column appears Sundays.

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