And so a journey began. My journey began with a question. The question was everything.
This isn’t meant to be cryptic. Just honest. As in my last post a couple of weeks ago (sorry about that…turkey day and what not), I stated that I was starting fresh, reevaluating that which I was taught was truth, that which I had witnessed as truth, that which I was not seeing in my life. By the way…my Comp. 101 professor hated the words “that” and “which.” The last sentence of gratuitous over usage was for him.
Since our last encounter together, I have been doing some studying. I had an open and frank monologue with God. I used the word monologue on purpose. I didn’t hear anything back. I told him I was going to start over, from the beginning, and prove his truths in my life one way or the other. I am supposed to be a lighthouse, the city on a hill, a beacon of hope for those who have none. Without a valid belief in what I have represented (at times) to those in my past, I cannot in good conscience continue to do so.
So I have begun. Shortly before that conversation, November 16th to be exact, I was worshiping with my wife and daughter to some Jesus Culture (highly recommended for those who don’t know). I knew that something was seriously deficient in my relationship with God…and I call it that, a relationship. I don’t practice religion, although I felt I was starting to head in that direction, which is what bothered me. While I was writing (I keep a journal to myself, started it 295 days ago), I noted that I had serious faith shortage. I noted that I was in need of a paradigm shift. Somehow this led me down a “rabbit trail” to the apostle Paul.
Paul suffered a pretty traumatic experience on the road to Damascus. For those who don’t know the biblical story, the apostle Paul was on his way to Damascus with letters from the High Priest. These letters gave him “permission” to persecute/kill the Christians who had begun congregating there. And we wonder why people have trouble believing those who do things in the “name of God.” All that aside, Paul was on his way to Damascus when he was hit by bright flash of light. This light caused Paul, then Saul before the name change, to fall off his horse. While he was on the ground, a voice that identified itself as being Jesus, confronted Paul about his persecution tactics. This changed everything.
You see, Paul was what you would call a very well-educated man. He was born and grew up in Tarsus. Tarsus had a university that rivaled that of Athens and Rome. This had a trickle down effect on all the education standards for the entire city. Also, at the age of 12/13, his mother sent him to Gamaliel, a man whom to this day is regarded as one of the greatest teachers of the Jewish faith. His father was a Pharisee, which with Paul’s schooling, also made him a Pharisee. Pharisee’s were regarded as having the most stringent standards of their faith. In addition to all of this, Paul was a zealot. And zealots possess a passion beyond all others. Paul wasn’t just confronted by his actions on the road to Damascus. He was confronted with the potential of his entire life being a farce. If he was doing all this in the name of God, and God said he shouldn’t be doing it, then why was he?
Paul was in a place of questioning…questioning everything he had ever believed to be true. And he went to find answers. Sound familiar? You can see why all of this began to pique my interest. I felt as if I was reading my story. Right now.
So Paul did what another great man from his Jewish past had done (Elijah), he ran to the place where he knew God’s presence would reside. He went to Arabian wilderness in search of God on Mount Horeb. This was the birth place of the Ten Commandments, the burning bush experience of Moses, where God began to organize a people unto Himself. Most scholars believe Paul spent somewhere in the area of three years there. I haven’t found out why they all agree on this figure, so if you know, please enlighten me. Regardless, when Paul came back, by way of Damascus I might add, he was armed with revelation and knowledge by which two-thirds of the New Testament portion of the Bible was written. He went to where he knew he could find God’s presence, and he came back from God’s presence with answers.
So this is my starting place as well. I can tell you that over the last few weeks, I have spent more time in worship and prayer then I have previously. While my level of faith for results hasn’t necessarily improved, I do believe I am changing. It’s like driving back to your hometown and re-living all your memories from the past. It’s familiar, yet all together different.
Thus begins my “Arabian” experience. I’ll let you know when I’m back. Good thing we have technology today…it appears I can blog while I’m “there.”