Today I looked in the mirror and asked myself, who am I really?
Slightly over two years ago after coming back from studies in Melbourne, I felt God calling me into full time ministry and was lead into to a job in that category. It must have been a miracle because the year before, God told me to scrap all the plans I had and to trust that He would give me a job. I trusted, He provided. I truly believed that I knew what God was saying and believed that no matter what the circumstance, as long as I followed, things would be okay.
Now two years later, I’ve turned cynical. What should have been a gift was more like a curse to me. I doubted that I could hear God, that I could trust that He was telling me things. It was easier to believe that the visions I saw were just hallucinations, that all those times I was given specific words speak or actions to carry out were just coincidence. Such things were crazy talk. I just wanted to be a “normal person”. I just wanted to be left alone.
But God hardly gives up on anyone and out of habit, I’d continue asking trivial questions about my life and He continued answering them in a non-trivial manner. He is annoying like that sometimes, though there is nothing wrong with it.
So today, as if forgetting I wasn’t unhappy with God at all, I dared to ask who am I really? Was who I was two years ago even real? Can I really trust You?
Then God reminded me again, I am who I am, read My word. After enough dallying and enough prompting, I gave in and let God do something I haven’t done in a while. I let Him give me a very specific page of the bible. Just because He wanted to and because He can. I flipped the pages and found myself reading Exodus 35.
It started out feeling quite dry but as I got to the end, I suddenly found myself getting excited about the passage. I went back to earlier parts I merely glossed over and read again with more focus. I felt like I really learnt something worth getting hyped about. Fine, I don’t really want to take the time to write it out but it’s something worth noting down and maybe sharing it on a blog no one reads.
I opened my laptop, logged onto wordpress, clicked on the “write” tab. Suddenly I was taken back to my time in Melbourne. I remembered sitting on my bed with a similar bible (the original was given away), doing my bible readings, getting excited over simple things, just being in wonder and awe of whatever God had inspired me with that day. I wondered, why did I stop feeling this way?
Then it hit me, I had been too obsessed over whether or not what I had interpreted was right. I cried.
Don’t get me wrong. My church friends and colleagues are nice people. But when you’re in a job surrounded by seminary students and bible college graduates, and peers who are in-depth bible fanatics or preaching in service, you start to think you should put a bit more effort into researching what you read. Worse still, I was taking classes on the side for a licentiate in christian ministry studying not just books of the bible, but items under Christianity one might find only in the text book of a seminary student.
Reading the bible alone felt insufficient. There were so many things to consider – bible commentaries to give more depth, finding out the original greek or hebrew word because translations aren’t good enough, one day I’ll learn greek or hebrew and read the original text. I felt that whatever I knew was never good enough. I thought what I felt inspired about might be historically inaccurate. I was caught up in the nitty gritty.
Looking back, it was ridiculous. All of it. I tried too hard to fit into the culture was in and in the process traded my own culture, which was perfectly good in its own way. And I think that’s what God was trying to show me. That that version of me was the person I lost but thankfully, now found again.
I need to continue reading the bible believing that the extra fluff isn’t important, but having God is all I need to inspire me.