Now (Part II)

This entry was posted by on Saturday, 3 December, 2005 at

(Go to Part I)

That was it. I was done. I went home and lay on the floor, out of a sheer lack of anything better to do. My church group was going to be having a Thanksgiving potluck that night. I did not want to go. Could I really do that? Just not go? Don’t call anyone, or say anything, but just don’t show up? Not tonight, not ever again? Sure I could. Why not?

What then should I do now? Just go to school, study electrical engineering? I think I stopped caring about that the day after I got here. I did not want to do anything. I did not want to move. “Go for a walk,” said a voice in my head. Whatever. Stupid voices. “You’ll feel better, I promise.” I did not want to go for a walk. I did not even want to get up off the floor. “You’ll feel better, I promise.” Forget it. “I promise.” Awfully authoritative for an inner monologue. “I promise.” Fine. Fine, I’ll do it.

I went for a walk. I wandered through Prospect Park, a place that holds many memories from many different stages of my life. Leaving the park, a right turn would have taken me home. A left turn would have lead in the direction of the house where I grew up. I went left. I had heard at one point that a crazy rich lady had been doing a nonstop series of outlandish remodels. When I got there, the house was an unnatural shade of green, and the enclosed porch had been un-enclosed. That was all I could tell from the front of the house. The yard, however, was totally unrecognizable.

I walked back to where I am staying now, down side streets. I passed quaint houses, people working in their yards or putting up holiday decorations. There were leaves strewn all over the ground, as if Fall actually occurred in Southern California.

What can I say, I felt better, just as promised. I went to the Thanksgiving gathering at my church.

But one walk does not the world change. There was still the darkness, there was still the doubt. I was still unsure of where I would be spending the next Sunday.

Tuesday night I could not sleep at all. I do not remember much of what was going through my head, but suffice it to say that it is usually not pleasant thoughts that keep me awake at night.

You can pick up free newspapers in the student center at my school. I never have, because newspapers just do not interest me. I arrived at school early Wednesday morning, and I wandered through the student center, as it is more or less on the way to my class. I passed by the newspaper rack and a headline in USA Today caught my attention. It happened to be something about the FCC changing regulations, which interested me because I have actually done a paper and a couple of speeches on somewhat related topics. I picked up the paper and had time to read it before my first class.

I have a half an hour break in between classes. Occasionally I would get a muffin or something else to eat, or maybe check my email. Most days I just end up sitting in the hallway waiting for the previous class to let out. Intending to do just that, I walked all the way to the door of that building, still carrying the newspaper. But I changed my mind and turned around. I decided instead to just sit on one of the nearby benches and read my paper.

Two guys approached me as I was sitting there. They did not know me, but I immediately recognized them as staff from Campus Crusade for Christ. Apparently, I gave them a look that spooked them a bit, as I have been known to do. All it meant was, “I know exactly who you are and what you are going to say, and it’s nothing I haven’t heard before.” Undaunted, they asked if they could have seven to ten minutes of my time to share the “Four Spiritual Laws.”

I have definitely heard of the Four Spiritual Laws. I am also sure that I must have read them or heard them at some point, and even if I had not, I could not imagine that it would be substantially different to the kind of things that I did read and hear. But no one has ever actually “shared” them with me, and I had time to kill, so I agreed.

They sat down, and one of them went through a booklet with me. As I suspected, it was nothing new to me, and as they asked questions, I gave them the answers I thought they wanted to hear. I think the inconsistency between my answers and my attitude may have confused them. Then, quite uncharacteristic for me in these situations, I decided to be truly honest. I told them that I had been going to church for two and a half years, and that I was currently 11 months of the way through a “Bible in a Year” program. “I can sit here all day and and give you the ‘right’ answers. That doesn’t mean I believe it.” And then we were off and running. I ended up being rather substantially late for my next class, but that did not bother me.

I do not want to read too much into this, of course. This is America, after all. There are people out evangelizing every single day. There may very well be people evangelizing even on that campus every single day. These particular guys probably do this weekly, if not more often. I just happened to be the one they picked that particular day.

Yet, I think about how I only happened to be there at all because I broke my routine that day. I just happened to pick up that newspaper, which I have never done before. Even so, I very nearly went about my day in the usual fashion, but suddenly changed my mind at the last minute to sit outside instead of inside in the hallway. Even if there are people evangelizing every day at my school, I have been there for over a year and it had not happened to me. Not until today, after I essentially dared God to do something to stop me from leaving. I find that interesting. I find that very interesting.

In other timely coincidences, that very evening, the Round Earth Society was hosting a screening of “The God Who Wasn’t There,” a documentary made by a proclaimed “Fundamentalist-Christian-turned-atheist.” It was definitely worth seeing. As you might expect, there was an awful lot of gratuitous mockery of Christians and their beliefs, but it did raise some valid questions.

I am tired of pretending, tired of going through the motions, tired of hiding. I am not afraid of questions. So how about it then? Am I ready NOW?

For even the youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;


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