The Story that is My Life

My life as it has been and as it continues to unfold is a story. One story made up of many stories. One complex, yet simple story. One sometimes messy, but so beautiful story. One story that I wonder if it might be interesting to be told.

This blog is my attempt to put part, or parts, of that story into words, pictures, or whatever form my mind can wrap itself around or create from within myself to express what it is like to be the one inside Cindy's Story. This is an exploration on my part and on yours in reading, and seeing, and maybe even hearing. It is not necessarily chronological. It might not always make sense, but it is my expression. It is me.

You are invited to see how my story unfolds.....

Monday, April 16, 2012

When the Bottom Falls Out in Northern Ireland

Here are a few journal entries from my time at Bible college in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  These entries were made at a time when the questions that were constantly being raised by being in another culture and by being in a college setting where everything is questioned so you will search for answers, rather than the American college setting where the answers are taught to you directly, caused me to spiral into confusion and uncertainty about the truth of God and Jesus.
_____________________

November 11, 1998

Last week I was at the bottom of my "happiness curve" (as the principal of the college would term it). My mind was in turmoil. My body ached. I was constantly fatigued, My soul wallowed in self pity, the struggle against it, and the need to be loved. I have been reading and rereading Hebrews 12 the last few weeks and have found it to be a great source of encouragement.  
A study of the first verse brought more understanding and has given me reason to keep going in the life of faith.

Hebrews 12: 1-3 says:
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
There are many things which I do not know now, and that which I think I know is continually causing confusion; but others have gone before me in the faith and have found God's approval, and they had less revealed truth than I do now.  It can be done, but I must remember how this is to be done: keeping my eyes on Jesus, who himself started and will finish my faith.

November 18, 1998

I haven't wanted to write for a while.  Too much confusion in my mind.  I feel like I am doubting everything I hear now because I am discovering that much of what I have openly accepted has not been entirely true.  But this is making me go mad.  I don't want to be full of doubt.  I want to trust God, but how do I do that if all of understanding of words and concepts has been jumbled.  It is as if all my bits of knowledge about faith, prayer, Christian relationships, holy living, evangelism, church life, daily responsible living, important virtues, etc... that I had filed into certain boxes of understanding have all had the bottom fall out from under them causing them to be dumped out together on the floor.  Someone starts to talk to me about a topic, such as prayer, and I frantically search through the jumbled mess looking for the understanding I once thought I had filed in a box, but I don't recognize it anywhere.  I am frustrated because I know I had it once, and I thought I took good care of it.  So I have decided to try to reorganize my jumbled understanding, but this requires a lot of me.  I must question what I hear so I have a description of what I am looking for.

The other day my friend told me that I think too much, that I want to "put everything in it's wee box", but that some things cannot be put in a box.  He says that I just need to trust God and remember what is important.  I agree with that, but I cannot do that at the expense of my mind.  I use my mind to decide what to believe and how that belief is implemented in my life in big spiritual matters and in each small decision I have to make.  If I come to a conviction that what I use to determine my thoughts, ideas, convictions, and actions is wrong, then what do I do?  How do I know if it is true unless I check every angle for faults?  How can I take even one step forward if I have to examine every pebble in the road to make sure I'm going the right way? Surely I must, or I could be deceived again.

I am so tired...

November 29, 1998

I've given up.
I can't do it.
I can't find the answers. (Truth?)
I can't feel the joy. (Hope?)
I can't rest in peace. (Trust?)

God Almighty,

I am totally helpless, crushed beneath your hand.  I can no longer take even one step on my own.  I am confused.  I am angry. I am afraid.

But, they say that Jesus is the truth, that in him they find joy, and in him they find peace.

Jesus, I am pleading with you to be that for me.  Please do not hide your face from me any longer.  Why do you wait so long?  I feel as if I would die, and still you do not come.  You have humiliated me and destroyed my understanding, and still you do not come.  

Please be all that I need.  Do not wait.
___________________

I remember the day that I wrote this last entry.  I was so distraught that I shut myself in my room, and was not going to come out until I had an answer from God.  I missed all my classes that day, and didn't go to any meals.  I was on the floor crying in desperation. 

At the time, I was in a philosophy of religion class.  We had been going through the various proofs of the existence of God.  In doing this, we found that the proofs, when argued logically and philosophically, do not definitively prove the existence of God.  In the end, ultimately, it is faith that provides the foundation for belief in God and the ability to have ultimate happiness.  This caused me problems.  I had always believed because I could prove what was true.  Finding out that there was room for argument in my beliefs in God and Jesus caused me to question everything I knew to be true up to that point.  A new question of faith came to me.  Did I have the faith to continue to believe even if my belief could be argued against?

I knew that I didn't have that faith.  I tried to create that faith in myself, but I couldn't do it.  So, that day as I was on the floor in my college dorm room, I cried out to God, telling him that if he truly existed that he would have to give me the faith that I needed.  

With my eyes closed and my face bowed to the floor, I said, "Jesus, you'll have to give me the faith.  I don't have it." 

Then something happened that had never happened to me before, and has not happened since.  I heard an audible voice say to me, "I WILL DO IT."

Suddenly, I felt such a relief wash over me.  I didn't have to try to have faith, Jesus said he would do it.  He would give me the faith.  And at the very moment, at last, I had faith that he would.  That small seed of faith produced in me in the next moment a sigh that saw the struggle in me leave and brought with it a quietness in my soul that was God's peace.  
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.  (Ephesians 2:8-9)
I knew this was true.