Testing the waters
I don't know how it all began. I remember how I have always told my brother I have no time for anything else but work, work, work. And work I did...there was no end to it. And then I thought maybe if I try to take some time it will do me good, clear my head. That was three years ago - I'd go to Misa de Gallo with no petition in mind. The following year I did the same for nine days before Christmas. And next year again.
And then I did the unthinkable. I started to join what we call Alpha in the Neighborhood - some kind of a review course on the basics of what we believe in. It has a funny tagline: "is there more to life than this?" Listening takes a great deal of effort for someone who wants to do all the talking somewhere else. It was not disappointing but it was not satisfying. Was it a waste of time? No, of course not. The fact that it was not satisfying was the point of it. It's not Alpha for lack of other cool terms to use. It was the beginning.
And so the months wore on and life has to go on as it should. Again I got caught in the nitty gritty of everyday living. It was like I have re-learned something.and but I didn't know its application.
Then came one big setback - when I found myself facing new versions of old problems. In the past, I would simply get angry with the world and become even more miserable. This time I questioned what I re-learned from Alpha, felt miserable and got angry with God. It's like I got re-acquainted with a dear friend from the past, and now seeing this friend in a different light my expectations are bigger, the risk to be disappointed greater. If there's anything in Alpha that struck me most, it was the course about Jesus.
A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. - (C.S. Lewis)I have to make a choice: to let go or accept Him. It's the all-important question when dealing with the problems of pain or suffering or with life's craziest problems (not to solve them but to understand them). So I looked further, listened more, explored everything I could find. If Alpha was the beginning of the second part of my life, now I'm in the middle of this part. I am amazed at how truly lazy and deluded I have been not to see this. I can't plead ignorance because I had 15+ years of Christian education. It's true, knowledge is not enough..."it is only through the heart that one can see clearly."
I knew it was reason that I sought. Why did I have to listen to apologists, theologians and read the Bible and so much more? Do I need proof? Do I need to see that everything falls into place? Yes, I wanted proof but the proof that I need is the proof from my heart.
"The heart has its reasons, which Reason does not know. We feel it in a thousand things. It is the heart which feels God, and not Reason. This, then, is perfect faith: God felt in the heart." - (Blaise Pascal)And by listening, I felt the intimacy I have never felt before.Words fail miserably to describe it. The Father glorified by the Son and the Holy Spirit makes it possible for my mind to wrap around this mystery. A mystery that makes everything easier to accept and understand.
What this is all about
It's both a struggle and a delight to be writing about this. It's crazy to think I'd be worthy to see Jesus' hem or his feet -- but seeing it, I am. It's even crazier to find joy when life is at its most difficult part - bills to pay, work to do, pains to deal with, say sorry to those I have wronged.
However, why do I feel so unworthy yet loved at the same time?
So alone but alone with Him?
So helpless but so hopeful?
So silly but wise?
Of course, God doesn't take our troubles away or make life painless. We must reap what we sow and He watches us with love. There's more to life than our problems and our pain ---- there's God. Always and for real.