Saturday, September 26, 2009
so, finally part 3
Sorry it took so long, had a hard week in more ways than one.
So far all we have is a very weak cultural religion that was passed on by my family, and one experience. Not much to build a world view on there. But if you asked me back then if I believed in God, I would have said yes, and if I believed in Jesus I would have said yes. But if you asked if I cared, I would have said no. I think if anyone really tested me at this point, it all would have fallen apart, because it was based on very little.
So then my mother started going to a different kind of church. This church was what I call a popcorn pentecostal church. Because through out the service people just pop up, and "give their testimony". To be honest I thought it was all a bit weird, but Catholic church wasn't exactly normal, so...
I would go once and a while to make my mom happy. At this time I also started Portuguese bullfighting, which is pretty nuts as the picture shows. So I would ask for prayers as a superstitious kind of belief. Never really thought they did much, but they couldn't hurt right? Well I got smashed up pretty good lots of times, but never anything really serious, but didn't attribute that to the church or God at all.
Then, as often happens some very attractive girl showed up at church, and she had a really scratchy voice that I found very appealing as well (found out later she had vocal nodules from singing too much and that cleared up). Well, I decided to hang around a bit more, and try to hook up with said young lady. Eventually I decided I had done enough prep work and asked her out, and she said yes. She was from a sister church, and I didn't know her, or any of the others from her church, but when she invited me to go to a New Years eve party on our second date, at her sister's house.
Well, I had never been to a Christian New Years party, was expecting much boringness, and I wasn't disappointed at first. No alcohol, or other more potent party fuel, soft crappy Christian music, and a whole house full of Ned Flanders (before there was a Ned of course). But a strange thing happened as I hung around, these people seemed to have a very intense, and palpable love for each other that was more than I had seen before. Now remember, I was part of a group of men that actually risked our very lives for each other, so I understood close community, but this was different. And what was more, they seemed to welcome me into this family for no other reason, than I was there. I began to want to be more like those people.
Then at midnight, everyone got in a circle and took turns sharing what God had done in their lives the preceeding year. So about thirty individuals, one by one, declared first hand experience with their God. There were answered prayers, there were deep life lessons, there was comfort in the midst of tragedy. It was very moving. But combined with the community love, it was overwhelming to me. I also felt, as best as I can describe, this internal belief that I was made in my very core, for this. To live in love, and community. I felt an inner witness, that felt like a drawing voice (didn't hear anything, just trying to explain it). I wanted what these people had, and they sure believed it was God, and I was willing to make a leap.
I will point out, it was a leap of faith. There was external factors, and I believe they were, at least subjectively, compelling, but nothing approaching evidence. I took a dive based on faith, but I felt myself land into loving arms. I felt like I really met God at this point.