Friday, May 20, 2011

It's the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)- Toya
(Michael Stipe was doing his good rappin' in this song by REM.  Why didn't THIS song get a remix?) 

All this joking about the end of the world today has got me thinking about what it is that I really believe and my journey as someone who follows/loves/is constantly in awe of Jesus Christ.  I hope that this whole Judgment Day on May 21 foolishness does not have people everywhere thinking that this is a fair display of the Christian faith (By the way this is what my pastor back home in New Jersey has to say about it.  Doesn't he look like John Travolta? I love him!).  Much like the Westboro Baptist Church, what they are spittin' goes completely against what the bible says concerning Christ's return. Even JESUS said He won't know so you are going to tell me that some number crunching false prophet has one up on Jesus? I think not. 

I remember when I first heard about the Rapture.  I was about 7 years old. I grew up in a Christian home where gospel music was played on the regular, especially during housecleaning which is why I get the itch to listen to The Winans while doing housework.  There was this live album that my mom used to play by Milton Brunson & The Thompson Community Singers.  The first song that would come on was "It's Gonna Rain".  This song literally scared the hell out of me.

Those sopranos? The build up of this song?!?!? I was seven and was thinking "What one earth is this song talking about?"  It was scarier than Vincent Price at the end of "Thriller"!  I asked my mother and she began to share with me about Jesus coming back for those that have accepted Him and want to be with Him forever.  She told me that if that was the desire of my heart to pray and I would be with Him.  It was then that I prayed to receive my fire insurance.  Oh yes, I don't know too many church kids that didn't stay up reading Revelations one night or saw A Thief in the Night during youth group that did not want their Get Out of Hell Free card immediately thereafter.  And while I believe the entire bible to be true, a relationship with God (or anyone for that matter)  that is based on fear is not the easiest to stay in.

You couldn't stop me from witnessing to people about Jesus coming back as a kid.  I was doing it at the mall, I was at school, I was even at church.  I became a little fire and brimstone evangelist.  My favorite target market? Smokers.  Oh I just knew that people that smoked were going to hell.  How could they do that to their bodies knowingly?  They MUST be lost!  I would walk up on people in the mall (yes this was that long ago that people could smoke in public malls) and tell them that Jesus loved them, didn't want them to smoke but did want them to be with Him when it was time to go.  My mom had to come get me on numerous occasions.  I was always to willing to talk to strangers and many times she would fear for my safety.  I'm sure my zeal was only tolerated because I was 7, I was small, cute and meant well.  

However as I got older my relationship with God started to change.  I went away to college and didn't do a lot of the things like drinking and being promiscuous that some of my friends did because of my upbringing.  While I am grateful for my upbringing  that taught me to not commit the "big sins", I was missing a huge part of the puzzle.  There was little stuff in my life that God wanted to deal with; my insecurities, my self loathing, my clinical depression, my lack of self esteem.  I was missing the love aspect of why I was taught that Christ came in the first place.  Around the time I was making the decision to drop out of college due to these issues that I was struggling with, I remember being home for the weekend at my hometown church.  My pastor was talking to those that were wanting to accept Jesus as their savior and I got to thinking.  I was 19 years old and I had to ask myself did I really believe any of this at all.  Was I a Christian because I was brought up this way or was this really really me?  The decision I made was this: Jesus right now I choose you.  Now show me what that looks like.  I choose you now but I need to see how to walk this out for myself.  That opened a whole new world for me.    It went from something I felt I had to do to something that in my heart I was pursuing to know for real.  At times I have found that some things I was brought up to believe were not at all true.There have been times that I have been so angry with God about things that have happened since then.  I had a friend who was murdered and it made me think of The Matrix.  I chose the red pill. I couldn't go back. And I was pissed that there were things that God allowed to happen.  This above anything else is how I know that God is real.  You can't be that mad at someone that does not exist.

Every time I see people go to the altar at church to invite Jesus to be the Lord of their lives I pray that they realize what they are getting into.  I liken it to marriage even though I am not married.  You can't possibly know on the front end all that comes with it from the good times to the hard times.  There is indeed a honeymoon period where you so love that person and everything they do just seems awesome. But then things don't go your way and you wonder what you signed up for.  It doesn't make the person you promised your life to any less real.  This is why I wonder about people that say there is no God but they are so angry! I don't believe in aliens but I don't have a whole marketing campaign about it. I just can't be bothered so I'm not.  Why be so angry about something that you are convinced doesn't exist?

It's been a long road that has been full of questions.  I don't regret either of my decisions: the one at seven to assure that I would be with Jesus whenever He comes back or the one I made later in life to actually get to know and love Him based on a need that has nothing to do with fear. Out of all the loves that I have pursued, it's only Jesus' love that pursues me back.  I don't always get it but this song by Paramore reminds me that my walk with the Lord is worth the mystery.

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