I am still alive, in case you were wondering (which you probably weren’t) but I have been busy cramming for midterms and the like. To say that I haven’t contemplated death in the past week would be a bit of a lie.
Personal problems came along, and boy, did they get the better of me. Worry, guilt, and depression robbed me of all my joy, all my sanity. I simply didn’t want to go on anymore. I could see nothing to look forward to in the future. I wondered whom my circumstances were benefitting. They don’t appear to be benefitting me, and I didn’t see how they are benefitting God either. Why does God want me to be persecuted? (actually, I’m not exaggerating that much. I am being persecuted a little).
The answers didn’t come in a prolific dream like I’d been hoping. But I am learning. Like in a fantasy movie or a video game where the path expands before you just at the rate you are walking, so life is gradually starting to make sense. I just wish it would make sense at a more comfortable pace.
First, a Bible study at school that I was finally able to attend. We read a little pamphlet called “the key to prayer.” I was skeptical. After all, I am even skeptical about parts of the Bible at times. Why wouldn’t I be skeptical about a pamphlet that seems very biased? I didn’t like how the title seemed to imply that there was some kind of magical formula to prayer. But I did get a lot out of the discussion. I realized once again that God isn’t a fairy godmother. It’s not like that cartoon show the “Fairly Odd Parents” where you can just wish for whatever ridiculous thing your foolish heart desires and it would just appear before you with a poof. Because, like in the show, we wouldn’t wish for the right things. We would all wish for silly things that wouldn’t help us one bit, things that would probably just make our lives worse. Prayer is “wishing” for what God wishes for. It is aligning our spirits with His, as my friends reminded me in the meeting. Therefore, we should pray for God’s will. And if what we want is what God wants, then we will get what we want, just like Matthew 7 says.
Then, on Friday morning, I arrived at school a little early. The parking lot was so oddly peaceful that I decided to hang out there. I opened the pamphlet for next week’s meeting called “The Burden of Prayer.” It’s not what it sounds like. I didn’t finish the pamphlet, but I did glean from it some information about “spiritual burdens.” They are simply nudges from God which direct you towards the building up of the kingdom. They are burdens. I have felt them before, and like the pamphlet says, you know it when you have a burden. When I was in high school, I had a burden to speak in chapel (I went to a Christian school and that was our weekly school-wide meeting). I myself didn’t want to do it at all. Getting up in front of all my judgmental peers to share something personal? No thanks. Eventually, it did happen, but it wasn’t nearly as intimidating or uncomfortable as I thought it would be. I also wonder if it did anything for God, but I guess that’s not for me to know.
Once I learned what a burden was, it seemed like they were everywhere. And I got a new burden, clear as day. I was walking to class, and again I saw some men sitting by a cardboard box labeled “Religion is FOR the weak.” The first time I saw this, I was sure that they were just an atheist group. But then I got to thinking, “well if that’s the case, then why is the word ‘for’ emphasized and not ‘weak?'” With the pamphlet in mind, I knew that I needed to talk to these people. So I got my Subway sandwich, and as I sat there eating, I thought of questions and argmuments. Then I rolled up my 2/3 eaten bag of chips and went over there excitedly. They were talking about something which sounded spiritual, but I couldn’t tell exactly what they meant by it. Then, seeing me standing there, they asked me if I was afraid of death. And I said, no, because I believe in eternal life. And the man started telling me basic Christian doctrines. I wasn’t sure what he meant by this. Was he mocking me? Was he just saying out loud what he thought I was thinking, but not explicitly saying? So I asked him if he was being sarcastic. And he said no! And the other guy, a very tall black guy with dreds named Peace, gave me, a complete stranger, a very good natured and sincere hug that I will never forget. So I thought that maybe I was going to have to witness to these atheists, but instead they were believers witnessing to me. And I stood there awkwardly (I hate standing for long periods of time, especially when I’m holding things) and I listened and talked to them. Jesus isfor the weak. He came for the sick, not the healthy (Mark 2:17). He came for people like me who can barely carry on a normal conversation without stumbling and stuttering. He came for people who don’t have it together, who don’t know why they’re living, but want to figure out. He came for His glory, but He also came for our benefit. He wants us to feel loved again!