God: Questions, Answers, and Perplexity

Why are there so many religions?

I don’t know… I guess you could say it’s like a game of telephone. People kept entering the circle, the message kept changing

What hard evidence is there that your God is the true God? And don’t just tell me to look outside at the friggen trees or into the eyes of a baby. And no circumstantial evidence, please.

Next to none.

Then why do you believe it?

Because it’s the truth.

How do you know it’s the truth?

I couldn’t easily explain why.

Answer this question: What happens to one-week old babies who die? And people who’ve never seen a Bible in their life?

I don’t know.

What do you mean you don’t know? Why are you being so indecisive?

Because I don’t have all the answers. It’s enough that God knows.

Then why should I believe you? Why should anyone believe in this?

You don’t have to believe me to believe in God.

Tell me this; who is God? What is this mysterious thing that you Christians call the trinity?

I can’t be sure, precisely.

Then what do you know? Let’s start there.

Okay. Well, I am sure that God created everything. I am sure that he sent his son to this earth so I could be forgiven. I am sure that Jesus rose on the third day. And if he didn’t rise, Christianity is dead. Jesus will give the Holy Spirit to whoever asks, this I believe. I know that we must die to ourselves and live to God; that eternal life exists. I know that my life hasn’t been the same since I started believing in all this. My faith is the only thing keeping me alive, and I am sure that it is not in vain.

Does that answer your question?

Probably not.

 

 

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The Heroism of Suffering

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Surprisingly, I have never been injured before, besides the usual boo-boos that I got while riding scooters and climbing stuff as a kid. I have been sick a good amount of times, but I suppose that is another post for another day. 

And yet, there are people everywhere who are suffering from injuries, handicaps, and disease. Many of these are the real-life heroes, the mild, optimistic, contented angels lying in hospital beds. They inadvertently teach other people important life lessons and/or make them feel like total jerks in comparison. 

I will be honest, I have had fantasies related to this. I have imagined the scenario of getting some kind of deadly illness or serious injury, only so I can lie on my deathbed and be a perfect saint about it. I know it’s pretty stupid of me, if not something else. Call me a coward, but sometimes I dream of being set free from the cares of this world and “peacing out” in a way that makes up for all the wrong I’ve done. And yes, it would be nice if people thought about me and missed me. Sometimes, it seems like death is the only way to achieve that. 

As a much less extreme, but still a good example, I met someone the other day who was on crutches. We were the only two who showed up to Bible study. We talked for a while and started to get along. Eventually, I sensed that it would be somewhat appropriate/hopefully-not-offensive to ask her how she got injured, since it was a recent thing from what I heard. She laughed and said that she “didn’t mind” and began relating this story about trampolines. She mentioned a sprain, but she also used the word “fun” several times in her explanation. 

Long afterwards, I realized something. “I think I forgot to pity her! Oh no, I don’t really remember expressing my pity!”

Of course, one lens through which to view this situation is just that I am a bad person. Okay, so you may have a point there. But there is another way. You see, she didn’t give me much opportunity to express my pity. She was talking about how fun it was a lot of the time. And since maybe I had expected something a little more serious, I found myself being glad that she didn’t break something. So yes, I could have interjected some more sympathy, but she didn’t give me much chance. Somehow, she changed the subject, turning it back to me. I think that a few breaths after we talked about her injury, she was sympathizing with my situation as a commuter (context: someone who drive or takes the bus to college) and inviting me to something. How did that even happen?

What she did is something that is not easy to do. What she did was pass up an opportunity to garner sympathy. And what’s more, she tried to help me out instead. That right there is Christian character. That is humility, resilience, kindness.

So there is a simple, everyday example that doesn’t involve melodrama. And it helps me to illustrate my point. You don’t have to be on your deathbed to be a saint. You don’t need to die to be appreciated and set free from the cares of this world. You just have to love God, live for God.

I hope that I can take a page from this girl’s book. I hope that I will pass up opportunities to garner sympathy. I too want to look in the face of life and say, “Are those all the lemons you got? Really man?” I want to undermine my own struggles to the point where people don’t even notice them. I don’t want to complain, but I want to lift up my cross and endure until the bittersweet end. 

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NRSV

 

 

 

 

photo credit: irishcentral.com

 

 

He Who Exalts Himself….

Matthew 23:12

New King James Version (NKJV)

And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

I feel that all my life, I never found a healthy balance when it comes to the way I view myself. It seems that I’m always either tearing myself down to the point where I’m so worthless I might as well be dead, or building myself up to the point where I become some kind of genius who is going to change the world. I suppose I’m just too creative and insane for any kind of moderation in my life.

Yet right now, I know that I real need to humble myself, and do it fast, before God has to do it for me in a painful way. I would rather have it done in a less painful way, thank you very much. No earth-shatttering traumatic events please.

You see, pretty soon, God willing, I will be submitting my play to a competition at the university. Four plays will be selected to be produced. And now I’m going to just have to keep reminding myself that there’s very little chance that I’ll win. Why should I win? I’m not the only person with a modicum of writing talent. Sheesaloo, there’s probably dozens of creative-dorky types just like me submitting to this competition. And do I even want to win? What if my play gets turned into some kind of God-bashing, all-Christians-are-idiots deal? It wouldn’t be hard for them to go that direction. After all, I did write a play about hypocrisy and deceit, sprinkled with a very subtle pinch of good ole fashioned redemption. So it isn’t very preachy, but it could become the opposite of preachy with a little help.

Why should my play get produced? And why would they want to glorify God?

Why should my novels get published? They’re not even that good. Who am I, that I need to be published?

And so, for now at least, Underground Voices remains, in the underground. 

 

Cliches That Are True #1: Pride Comes Before the Fall

I may not seem like a very prideful person, and in some ways, I’m not. Certainly I’m often less than comfortable in public, mostly because I’m afraid of being judged. I don’t have the best posture either, but I do have more than a fair share of insecurities. And self-loathing is no foreign concept. Yet, somehow, I still make room for pride in my heart.

People always wonder why I make comments that are considered negative, defeatist, or just excessively modest when it comes to my prospects for achievement. It may be that I have low self esteem, but that’s not reason. The reason is that “confidence” generally backfires on me, while modesty pays. I think this is God’s little way of chiseling down my pride. Don’t believe me?

It’s the year of our Lord, 2013 and we’re in an abandoned terminal turned war zone, bunkering down in some kind of cubicle-like room with one door. I’m crouched all the way down with my MPSK machine gun and my buddy is on the other side of the room. We’re waiting for another Russian to get caught in our deadly crossfire, but we have no takers. Slowly, I peek outside. There’s no one. I run out, ready to get upstairs and claim victory. It’s all over, I think, we’ve done it! That wasn’t so bad! But then I hear a voice. Something isn’t right. I retreat, and we see a buttload of them streaming down the stairs with riot shields. We weren’t expecting that, we didn’t set any claymores. So we get slaughtered.

Me and my friend toss our controllers. We really thought we were finally going to get that third star on Call of Duty.

I’m a senior in high school and I think I’m all that just because I have straight A’s and was involved in theater. I strut around in my khaki pants and maroon polo shirt, more than reasonably sure that I will get picked student of the month one time. But month after month passes. The other kids get it, kids that are more deserving than me, with scores of hours of community service, sports achievements, better grades and attitudes than me, and everything else. Fine, whatever. They deserve it. Then, the last month arrives. I know I didn’t get it, but the hope is still there because I haven’t seen the picture yet of the winner on the bulletin board. I walked up from the parking lot and opened the doors. There was her face, not my face, the face of the victor. Fast forward to graduation. Not only did I not get that award, but I got no awards that the school wasn’t required to give me. If only I didn’t have such a rotten, repulsive personality, and my parents had been more willing to drive me around to do community service, I think to myself.

Who’s confident now?

Of course, I have many other instances of this in my life, but I don’t want to bore you anymore. The point is that pride has never done me any good, but humility has, and I know that God wants me to be humble. Though it may seem very much implied by my words, I don’t think confidence is always bad. If you can be confident in yourself and in God without getting too carried away, then I commend you. But I myself, never found that happy medium. So for now, I’ll keep ragging on myself, and thanking God for bothering with me in the first place.