[Eds. note: This post summarizes how I grew more emotionally and spiritually independent, and how I began developing my own Frame of mind, and stand on my own.]
Part 1 of this story is covered in a previous post, A Spiritual Death (December 8, 2009)
The Goad to Growth
I went through a lengthy time when God was silent. My Bible study and Church attendance, as well as my social life, was dry and fruitless, and all I had left to do was to pray. So I prayed and prayed, and prayed some more. Some days, I would pray more than five hours a day. I’m telling you, I prayed my @$$ off! Still, God continued to be totally silent. I felt anxious, condemned, and extremely alone, and I didn’t understand why.
A lot of Christians told me that I had to “pull myself together”, and they were basically assuming that I had a load of sin in my life, but their advice only made me confused, because I had always been an extremely straight-laced individual. I could not understand God’s silence.
One day, I was talking with my Dad on the phone, and he told me I was just like Job, the Biblical character. That struck me as being true. After that, my mind frequently had dramatic thoughts of God and Satan setting me up, shooting dice, and gambling on my life.
I always believed that being a Christian was all about having a relationship with God, but that relationship seemed to be gone. The idea of me being the subject of a cosmic bet, made me question my value to God. I didn’t really know if I could trust God or not. It was really impossible for me to understand all that God was doing during that time, and that He had a reason for His reticence.
At that time, it was a small comfort to notice that Mortimer and Reginald did the same thing to Eddie Murphy in the movie, “Trading Places” (1983), and since then, I have considered this film to represent a type of Job. A relevant excerpt from this movie appears below. [Warning: Racist language.]
But over time, I gradually began to notice that I could find emotional inspiration and spiritual nourishment in other ways.
- I spent a lot of time hiking and camping. I also enjoyed traveling through beautiful, rural areas on motorcycle. I found nature to be a powerful source of God’s comfort and provision.
- Manual labor, art and music are very good sources of spiritual rest and refinement.
- Eating delicious and nutritious food and drinks taught me how to exercise thankfulness.
- I kept company with many foreigners who had very different, yet plausible, and sometimes very humorous viewpoints, which gave me a lot of inspiration.
- By God’s grace, I was able to pursue a career among honest men who enjoyed their work and who shared the joy of their accomplishments with me.
- I was blessed with a scientific, analytical mind, and whenever I learned about a certain scientific phenomenon, I would intuitively interpret it to be a spiritual metaphor that paralleled events in my own life. (For an example, see this post.) Over time, I have come to firmly believe that the physical world is a reflection, or representation, of the spiritual world. This has taught me a great number of spiritual principles about life, which I had never gathered from all my years of Bible study.
- A Pastor, who was giving me council, recommended that I should do an independent and informal study of psychology, sociology and the Meyers-Briggs Personality Theory. I asked him why, and he said, “Because no one knows who you are!” I’ve studied these materials diligently since then, and I have found them to be vastly helpful in in understanding my own behaviors, forming my own self-concept, building Frame, expanding my teaching skills, and maintaining social connections.
- Eds. addition (November 5, 2017): Over the past year, I have spent a little time each day reading Red Pill blogs from the Manosphere. The knowledge I have gained there has confirmed many of my seemingly incredulous conjectures regarding women and relationships, and has added to my insight. It has also increased my respect for other men, and my expression of appreciation for women. All which have produced a surge in my confidence, and the polishing of my Game.
- I also began to read a lot of books by Christian authors, and their testimonies underscored my confidence in God and gave me fresh insight about God’s ways with men, and His purposes for my life. [Eds. note (November 5, 2017): Because of the rise of “Churchianity”, and the confluence of Organized Christianity and Feminism in recent years, I’ve had to become more selective about which Christian sources I read.]
I believe these things have brought the power of God into my life, and have instilled a reverence for spiritual rest. Notably, all of these activities are conducive either to true worship, or to Christian service.
After several years, I learned how to get myself spiritually fed with no Bible at all! A lot of people refuse to believe me on this, but it’s true. I think perhaps it was possible for me, partly because I was already well-versed in scripture, as a result of my growing up in a Baptist Church.
My lessons in prayer began first. With my life in a shambles, and getting nothing out of the Bible, I turned to prayer as my only lifeline to God.
At first, my prayers were just the typical prayers of thanksgiving and requests for general blessings, but during my last year in college, I began to notice God answering my prayers in immediate, dramatic ways, which often resulted in events I would not have expected from God.
For example, there was a girl in our campus fellowship who was extremely naïve and trite, so much so, that she irritated many of us to our wits end. One evening, I became so angry about her Mickey-Mouse-like behavior, that I prayed, quite passionately, for her to “grow up” and to “start taking life seriously”.
The very next day, her grandfather passed away, with whom she was very close. It struck me quite hard that this might have been an answer to my prayer, and I felt a little guilty for inadvertently “causing” her grandfather’s death. I was also scared to the bone, as I realized the lengths God might go to, in answering our prayers.
Sure enough, within two weeks, this girl became a mature woman, and I became a more deeply conscientious prayer-warrior.
Since then, my experiences with prayer have grown to be more powerful and more personal. I’ve learned that the essence of prayer is in achieving an alignment between God’s thoughts, and my own thoughts. Now I have come to believe that all the other aspects of prayer, such as confession, adoration, thanksgiving, supplication, answered requests, passion, purpose, the outpouring of the Spirit, etc. are all byproducts of one’s alignment with the will of God in prayer. (If one is praying on behalf of another, then this process of alignment is called “intercession”. Oswald Chambers makes several points about intercession, in his December 13th entry.)
My lessons in worship came about more gradually, and didn’t intensify until several years later.
I thought I knew what worship was, since I grew up in Church, but it was limited to the idea of standing in the “worship service” and singing traditional hymns. Sudden movements and loud noises, like clapping, were not allowed, as they were “disruptive to the worship service”!
After I went away to college, and specifically when I attended an Apostolic church a few times with a housemate, my concept of worship was expanded. Apostolics believe that you’re not really worshiping UNLESS you are shouting, clapping and passionately jumping around the sanctuary with a smile on your face!
I also attended a Catholic Church with another friend, and I saw that they didn’t sing or clap at all. They worshipped God by getting on their knees, bowing their heads, confessing sins, and in general, respecting the detailed order of the time-honored, traditional liturgy.
However, upon attending the Mennonite Church with another friend, I noticed that they had a very different idea of worship. They all sat in a large circle, signifying equality, and they didn’t have any music or order of service at all. Instead, they each took turns standing up, and they all told the others, one-by-one, a summary of their own spiritual state and what God had done for them that week. This order of service was very interesting to me, because they let all the children run around the room and play during their worship, and no one paid any attention to them, even though they were very noisy sometimes. When I asked someone why they let all the children run around during the worship, it was evident that they believed the children were worshipping too, in their own way. I was so humbled to learn this.
Moreover, from all my experiences of visiting more than a dozen, vastly different denominations, I formed a new concept of worship. Worship is any kind of activity that taps into the power of God, and brings rest, renewal and restoration to the person worshipping.
But even after revising my concept of worship, I had still not learned how to worship God personally. But as my energy and willpower gradually expired from the many trials and disappointments of life, I was forced to discover worship as a new source of refreshment. It was difficult, because I did not really know how to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit in my own way, and find myself being made complete in God. It took a lot of conscious thought, and years of experimentation before I discovered my own brand of worship. But I’ve found that worship has a lot to do with opening the heart, living in the NOW, reaching towards hope, and pursuing a love for others and a passion for life.
I urge others to discover and develop their own style of worship with these things in mind.
Attaining the Goal
Learning the disciplines of prayer and worship were not easy either. But they were very powerful things. Looking back, I see that my habits of prayer and worship were the channels by which God restored me. In fact, these were the most crucial disciplines that I was forced to discover from God’s silence.
Over many years, my faith was slowly rebuilt, but my new faith was totally and uniquely my own, given to me by God, and it is not at all like what had been handed down to me from my parents and teachers.
Of course, it was not easy. Each day was filled with confusion and carnage on the spiritual battlefield. People did not particularly enjoy being around me. A lot of my “Christian” friends avoided or rejected me.
Through all these events, I never gave up the idea that I was a Christian, although many others did, in their perceptions of me. I just reasoned to myself that I was a Christian who was short on faith, as if that were only a small part of it.
But looking back, I can clearly see that this was a time when I stopped emulating the Christian culture around me, and started to form, test and trust my own independent system of beliefs. So, of course it was messy.
My scientific metaphor for this process is an electrical transformer, in which electricity is transformed into magnetism, and back into electricity, usually at a much higher voltage. Notably, the phase-change is described with imaginary numbers (i.e. i = √-1), which are complete nonsense to the natural mind. I felt that my spiritual life had undergone a similar “transformation”.
Now, I have the opinion that this transformation is what truly makes one a Christian, even more so than the magnitude of faith, or whatever specific points of doctrine one might hold. It is a relationship with God, as I had always believed, but I had to give up all my previous notions about it, even some that were true, before I could be “converted into magnetism”, and own it from the heart.
I think this is the real trick that we all must identify in our own lives, before we can become spiritual champions with the risen Lord.
Looking back on my early life, I can see what some of my problems were. Growing up with regular teaching of God’s truth taught me to trust authority and to be a “good citizen”, but I was unable to develop any faith or confidence, as long as I was just following what other people told me. Now I know, that to build one’s confidence (faith), one must take the risk of making one’s own, independent decisions about a matter, take responsibility for the outcome, and work with the results until it becomes satisfactory to one’s self. Of course, it is impossible to do so, without facing the limitations of one’s self and trusting God with the outcome, rather than taking the easy way out, through entertainment or other sorts of distractions.
Actually, I think it may have been somewhat easier for me to “find God” personally, if I had NOT grown up in the Church, because then I would have had to open my heart and learn God’s truths through my daily experiences, instead of merely “conforming to the rules”, which is very spiritually deadening. As such, my faith would have been uniquely mine, and my “death” would have been more progressive and natural, instead of “all at once” when I left home to go to college, which had the consequence of leaving me spiritually crippled during the best years of my youth. Nevertheless, I feel I have learned those vital lessons that God would have every believer to know.
[Eds. note (May 31, 2018): Up until today, I had thought that the conclusion (in boldface font) contained in the last paragraph above was merely my own conjecture. But Wintery Knight’s testimony in his post, How I Retained My Christian Faith, Sobriety And Chastity On A University Campus (May 30, 2018), affirms this same conclusion.]
More recently, I have begun to experience this process of death and resurrection in other areas of my own life. But this time, I’m cognizant of the process, and so it is much easier to endure, while “looking towards the hope of my calling, reaching forward to obtain that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”.
I do believe that my own spiritual life and experiences are extraordinarily unique. God typically uses other people and His Word, to speak to people, as their lives are being transformed “from glory to glory”. So, I strongly suggest that others continue their daily reading of God’s Word, for as long as God speaks to you there. The written Word will convince you of His truths and realign your thought processes, as you regularly read the Bible.
Simultaneously, develop regular habits of prayer and worship. The Spirit of God, Who knows the mind of God towards you, will always be in the process of helping you understand what God is doing in your life.
I do believe that God seeks to manifest His death and resurrection in the various areas of the believers life, but I think the typical experience of a Christian is not like the long years of God’s silence in my own life, as Job experienced. God will let you know what He is doing in your life when and if you need to know.