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Category Archives: What I believe

Testimony

It happened about 30 years ago.  It was a Saturday and I was planning my suicide the following Monday.  The only way it would work, I decided, would be if I stabbed myself in front of the altar.  While I died, I would beg God for forgiveness.

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St. Peter Claver Church was the church my family attended and where I planned to commit suicide. Above the altar is a giant cross, and it was to this that I planned to beg mercy from.

What drove me to this moment was the pursuit of peace.  I craved it but couldn’t find it.  Everything was meaningless to me from a very early age.  I could not sense hope in life and I longed for death.  I tried to find peace in many places: mindset, pithy quotes, being perfect, relationships, drinking, pleasures, friends-and although those could lift my spirits for a moment, I always found myself crashing into a well of despair.

My road to suicide was accelerated by a hallucination I had three times my 15th summer.   Each time it started as a bad high.  Demons in my head taunted and screamed at me, sucking me down into an unknown spiral and I tried to claw myself out of their grasp.  At the moment I was being pulled under and the fight was over, the entire hallucination would break up, literally end, and there before me, in my mind’s eye was Jesus.  He stood there with a dignified power I couldn’t understand but which I welcomed amidst the chaos.   With His hands open to me and in an authoritative yet loving voice, He said,   “Child, in me you will find peace.”  Each time He said it three times and then vanished from my ‘sight’. Like I said, I had that same (almost identical) experience three times that summer.

This altered the way I had been thinking.  I had looked for the key I was missing but I did not think the missing key was God.  I went to church.  I believed in God.  I could not understand how God could be missing.    I believed He was big, powerful and perfect.  I also admitted I was not, and hindered by sin.  I understood sin.  I suffered from guilt continuously.  Painfully perfectionist, I felt every perceived failure intensely.  Due to the hallucinations, I thought the key was to live life as Jesus wanted me to, sin free.  I set out to do exactly that.

I failed miserably.  I could not live failure-free.  Despite being sensitive to anything that could upset my peace (failure of any sort), I couldn’t help myself.  I kept doing things that heaped guilt on me and pushed peace far away.

That is how I came to plan my suicide.  I rationalized it this way:  ‘Jesus died because of sin so that must mean I have to die because of sin.  If I die confessing every foul thing in me, perhaps He will forgive me and free me, and let me exist in peace.’  It was a gamble, but at this point in my life, I was desperate enough to roll the dice.

Well, you know that something happened because I am not dead.  When I went to school that Monday morning I was called into a room and within an hour I was put into a drug and alcohol rehab program.  I owe that to my best friend at the time.  She saved my life and probably still does not know that.

Getting substance-free, I thought would be my salvation as it was a major contributor to what I recognized as sin.  For two more years I tried to live sin free.  I tried to be perfect.  I tried to be anything but miserable.  Despite my efforts, hopelessness and lack of meaning once again had me fantasizing my death.  This time it was even more severe.  The reason I used substances was to escape the realities I sensed.  Now I was trying to live with my escape hatch closed and the realities I wanted to hide from still remained alive and active.

I went to college and my first semester I ran into a new Christian.  He had written and hand-drawn tracts and distributed them to a row of mailboxes.  To make a long story short, (and skip telling a wonderful miracle), I received one of them and we became friends.  He gave me my first Bible.

I read it carefully and continually.  I always had it with me. I even slept with it.  I believed as I read and the gates were flung open.  I don’t know how else to explain it except to say that something finally clicked.  An incredible, indescribable peace washed over me and KEPT washing over me, every single day.  I could see.  All of a sudden, I could see.  Jesus paid the penalty of my sin so that I could live in peace with Him.   My peace was not dependent on the perfection or meaning I could create but on the perfection He is and the meaning He gives.  The missing key, that life is found in God, not in a good life that merely acknowledged Him, was found.   The call on my heart was strong not to only assent to the fact that He died and rose again on my behalf to make peace possible, but to follow Him and give up everything to do so.

I wish that I could keep your attention long enough to tell you of all the ways I have experienced God step into my reality and lift me out of it , experiences I have had that leave no shadow of doubt in my mind that He is real and active and powerful…and relevant.  I will forego that now but leave you with this.

Since I became a Christian I, like every other human being, have had many painful things to endure.  There have been defeats, failures and dreams dashed.   Horrible life events, crushing disappointments and fierce battles with loneliness and confusion that are simply not fun to walk through.  But I can attest to this.  The peace He promised me never left me.  It has remained even while I walk through fog, pain or sorrow.  It has remained when the mundane and average life I lead whispers hopelessness and meaningless in my ear.  My peace is not based on my circumstances anymore, nor my success or popularity.  It is rooted in my life with God.

So dear reader, if you do not know peace, I offer to you what I have found.  The Prince of Peace.  Repent and Believe…..and He will give you peace.

For those who know this God already, I pray my story further confirms in your heart how marvelous He is.

 

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in What I believe

 

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Organic Jesus

In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul says that he would preach nothing but Christ crucified.  The ThinkerAs ambassadors of Christ ourselves, we should also be proclaiming nothing but his message.  Christ, and Christ alone, is our message to those around us.

The wisdom of the world though speaks loudly to how we can have a good life, become beautiful people or obtain what we are looking for and it offers up a different suggestion, something different from Christ, for how to get it.  Many times the suggestions make sense….but it directs people to something other than God.  When Christians add this wisdom to the gospel and then start talking about it when they sit and stand, they in effect become evangelists for the wisdom of the world.  They are constantly telling others about “Christ and…”

For example, many of my Christian friends are caught up in things related to health and/or politics.  Perhaps you have friends like this too.  Much of what they share is what they have become passionate about and they bring Christ in alongside to prove their position.  They have become evangelists for “Christ and….”

In matters of justice, we do need to stand up for the defenseless, absolutely.  The gospel is all about justice and we are to act justly as His ambassadors.  It would be unjust to ignore the helpless.  Likewise, sharing common sense nuggets that we have learned should be passed along if it will help someone, BUT, and this is a big but, that is not the gospel and it is NOT our message.  Neither is general knowledge or opinions on things such as the government, our diet, or how marriage should be nurtured.  Go ahead and share them if you are so inclined, but they are NOT the message of Christ.

If people think first of your extra cause before they think of Christ when they think of you, you have probably started to become an evangelist for “Christ and…”

Christ and no chemicals in your diet.

Christ and a happy, intimate marriage.

Christ and a just government.

Christ and a healthy body.

Christ and the top ten common sense things to avoid.

Christ and the top ten common sense things to do.

Christ and

The ‘ands’ may be good things.  They usually are things that we seek after because we are fearful or just want them.  The ‘ands’ are usually something Christ never promised or talked about at length.  He never promised a just government, a healthy body, wonderful relations with others, success or a happy life….here.  They may or may not be fine to pursue but by becoming evangelists for ‘Christ and’ our message becomes: “be saved from your sins, AND live a healthy life.”  or something akin to this.  See the danger?

“I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  1 Cor. 2:2

For me, I make it my resolve as Paul did, that I will have no other agenda.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2014 in Discernment, What I believe

 

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What I Believe

I wanted to share with you what I believe and yet I cringed at posting a Nicene Creed of some sort. Bullet points have their place but seldom in real life. I find it therapeutic, especially if I am wading in confusion, to stop and declare what I know. It is seldom done more powerfully than in song.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in What I believe

 

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