It has been a bumpy ride for most of us who have been called by God to be His children in these last days. Most of us have been a part of a church, fellowship, or Christian organization that did not end well.
On our trek to the Celestial City, we stop at way stations until sometimes we are forced to move on to our next ordained experience. Through much anguish and tears we often leave the fellowship of Christian brethren. So many congregations have split and fractured, along with our own hearts, and we are left wondering why.
Why, God? Why did it end the way it did? Disillusioned and hurt some thirty years ago, my family and I stumbled into the next phase of our life. I could not understand how the Christian brother that had helped me find Christ and His deliverance from drug addition was the one who ran me off fourteen years later. My world was shattered and torn, and I wandered aimlessly, listlessly, not seeking succor from God at all.
After five years in which my wife Linda and I finished our Bachelor degrees and teaching certificates (for we knew we were called to be teachers), a kind of a spiritual renewal of sorts began in my heart.
Any of us who have gone through a rocky spiritual transition have horror stories, and I wince for all who endure these disillusioning changes. God is not forgetful, however, of our sufferings; He knows that betrayal by those you love is the sharpest knife. Of course, few of us know at the time that “all things are of God”—even the betrayal of His loved ones, us.
And yet our initial question persists: Why, God, did it have to end? Five years after the breakup, I started to get an answer to this question. It is God and what He’s doing in the earth, and it has not ended.
For me, that initial phase of spiritual boot camp had ended, but God was not through. Then, as a babe in Christ, I needed a drill instructor to prod and push me to serve God the way they thought He should be served.
No, His love for us was not expended. That good thing that He started in us all shall be performed with His help. He’s not finished; us trying to serve Him by constraint is.
Maybe that’s why it took me five years to start to put some things together. No one was prodding me anymore to seek God. The mentor, tutor and governor was gone. The words of the old song came to mind: “You gotta walk that lonesome valley. You gotta walk it by yourself. Nobody else can walk it for you. You gotta walk it by yourself” [chorus of “The Reverend Mr. Black” sung by the Kingston Trio].
It was up to me and God. Only now it was better because of the knowledge base we had been taught. And I was taught among many things, these two things: “If it is a plan of men, it will come to naught.” And, “Prove all things.” Don’t take anyone’s word for it. Prove it out in the word with two or three witnesses.
It had been five years of wandering (at least it wasn’t forty), and it was now time to reprove everything. I had to find out what went wrong at the “mission,” that way station that we served in for fourteen years as everyday missionaries during half of our twenties and most of our thirties.
So where does one start to pick up the spiritual pieces and examine every one of those pieces? I decided to begin my meditations at the beginning: God, His plan, and His purpose.
Be Still and Know that I Am God
That very winter night in January 1990 I laid out under the stars and marveled at Orion and Cassiopeia and the Little Dipper and witnessed the evening star bright in the west. And realized that every star was just where it was five years ago. They had all hung there like dazzling pinpoint paintings on the walls of heaven, immutable, constant, symbols of God Himself.
And my dog Zack, my faithful “chopped ’57 German Shepherd,” was there, seeing only me. He couldn’t appreciate and take in the stars in all their orderly glory. It wasn’t for him to know anything about the heavenly realms and who created them. That was my domain. His was to know and love me, and he was content to accompany me into the field and lay with me in the grass while I mused about the Creator and His creation.
And it was then that I realized the very special place in the creation that man has—the thing about us that makes us so special above all other beings on the face of the earth: man is the only creature specifically made to not only appreciate God, but also be like Him. I had known that, but hadn’t thought about it in years.
The utter simplicity of it. Lay down, look up, be still and know that I am God. Do not corrupt the simplicity of Christ.
The simplicity. “God is a Spirit,” and “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
And there I had found my starting point in reproving the teachings and doctrine of Christ. I would no longer blindly take the word of someone without proving it out first. His word speaks of a time that you would have no need that a man teach you, for the Spirit of truth shall be with you and dwell in you.
God is an invisible Spirit of love and those born out of this spiritual essence are spirit. I would now study the scriptures with no preconceived dogma, doctrine, or ideas. I would study it much like I did as an English major–reading the literary works as they are and telling it like it is without prejudice or preconceptions. I would dig deep and build it on the Rock, looking unto the eternal things and not the physical, temporary things. The quest in earnest had begun.