“The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” –Proverbs 16:1, ESV
This morning was brilliant. Thursday’s are really nice because my only class of the day starts at two o’clock, so I have the entire morning free. I can dig into God’s word without having to pay attention to time or technology; I can just be alone with Him. This morning I was worried, about, like, everything. I was totally freaking out about my future, about how all of this is going to work out, about why I’m here and if I’m saying and doing the right things, about if I’m appearing hypocritical or so zealous that nobody wants anything to do with me. I was worried sick, literally.
I’m so thankful for my journal. I’m so thankful for writing. Without writing, I would be so lost. I mean, I would survive, but my life would be much more complicated. So I’m grateful that God gave us writing 😀 I wrote all of my worries out in my journal, just venting to God. I love the fact that I can tell Him everything and know that He’s listening to me, that He’s not just some cold deity that has no relational connections to His creation. I love the fact that He loves me, and I don’t think I would be sane without knowing that.
Charlene and I had lunch together today. She’s so awesome because I was being totally whiny and sassy and she just laughed and listened to me. She did her English homework, reading it to me to make sure it sounded right, while I tried to….wait for it….write a poem. For World Literature, I have to write a poem in iambic pentameter, and I’m sort of dying inside because I just can’t write poetry. But I will do my best and write as eloquently as I can manage, even if my poem is about a refrigerator.
Along with trying to write an impossible poem, I was reading Saving Leonardo by Nancy Pearcey. It’s a book all about “A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, & Meaning.” The basic argument is that secularism is actually damaging and enslaving Americans rather than freeing them. The beginning part of the book talks about knowing what’s out there, asking questions, and “testing everything and holding fast to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Some of the things discussed, like the number of Christians across the globe and the churches prospering right under the noses of dictating governments, were insanely encouraging. Pearcey talks about how it had been predicted that “the Third World would become modern and secular,” and that “as the colonial age ended, surely Christianity would die out while indigenous religions would revive.” But the exact opposite has happened. Christianity has exploded. Faith has been restored. Reading things like this reminds me that I’m not alone and that my situation is so much milder than the situations Christians across the seas are in. It reminds me how great and powerful the body of Christ is, and how much more great and powerful Christ Himself is when compared to the weak nature of the world.
I learned something else really encouraging today. I sometimes feel like I ALWAYS have to be super zealous and over the top with talking about God, rather than just talking about Him because I love Him. I don’t have to look for opportunities to talk about Him; if I just remember how much I love Him and how much He loves me, talking about Him will come naturally. The problem with being overly zealous is that you sometimes feel like you have to totally remove yourself from the world and not think about anything but spiritual things. But then we remember we’re human. I want to go back to Philippians 4:8. Paul talks about engaging in anything good, pure, honorable, just, etc. These things might include walking on the beach with a loved one, or reading a good book that betters your mind, or even enjoying a steaming cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter day. It’s okay to be human.
Today was the day my Writer’s Studio class would critique my spiritual allegory. I was really nervous about it and I really wasn’t sure what they were going to say. The first comment was about how the main character was basically given salvation. “Because she was so nasty and so anti-God, she doesn’t seem like she deserves salvation. I feel like she should have to work for that.” This comment made me smile, and I’ll tell you why. At the end of the critique, I would have a time to make comments or ask questions, and since my classmate made this comment, this meant I would be able to tell him the Truth.
The rest of the critique felt much like being in a Roman Colosseum. At first, when the first blow was inflicted, I wanted to go on the defensive and be hurt, but then I remembered that (as far as I knew) none of my classmates were Christians, so of course they wouldn’t totally understand the point of the story. Also, it was the first spiritual allegory I had ever written, and I’ll admit, as my classmates pointed out, the themes were kind of too obvious; it was a very bare skeleton of a story. Compared to House by Frank Peretti and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, my story was rather pathetic. I also, during the critique, remembered that it wasn’t about me; it was about what everyone else got out of it. Thankfully, only one classmate voiced not really getting all of the symbolism and the references, which was my biggest fear. I was very grateful for their suggestions, even if they kind of only focused on the things that needed to be fixed rather than on the strengths.
When I had my time to comment, I clarified a few things to my classmates, asked a few questions, and had a few laughs with everyone. Then I addressed the very first comment that had been made.
“You’re right. She didn’t deserve salvation. In fact, none of us do. Salvation is a gift of grace; it’s freely given. Grace is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.”
The classmate that had made the respectful comment, looked at me in what I think might’ve been either astonishment or happy understanding, I’m not entirely sure.
“Okay.” He said slowly. I really wanted to go on to explain the entire gospel, but everyone seemed to be ready to be done with class, and my professor began handing back graded assignments and dismissing everyone. But it’s okay 🙂 I’m just so glad that I was given that kind of opportunity. Me! That’s so cool 😀
When I arrived back at my dorm, I sat down and read all of the reviews of the story. While I was doing so, one of the girls in my class texted me, saying she and some of the other girls had been talking and they wanted to make sure I hadn’t been under the impression that I was or my beliefs were being attacked during the critique; they were just trying to help me grow as a writer and felt like studio had been a little harsh today.
While I had seen that my peers weren’t attacking me, I really appreciated their wanting to be sure I hadn’t taken their criticism the wrong way. It was really awesome 🙂
Okay, now I’ll address the fact that tonight was indeed my first New York City Halloween experience. Honestly, because I had Bible Study, I didn’t really experience Halloween, but I did get to observe it as I walked to the subway and to Sam and Maria’s house. It reminded me of all of my trick-or-treating experiences back in my small town, and I realized how similar Halloween in the city was to Halloween in the sticks. It was just a bunch of kids and their parents (along with a large number of “crazy” teenagers :D) going around and getting candy from gentle souls who represent every innocent tradition left in the world. There are just a lot more lights, people, and policemen in the city than in the sticks 🙂 but, ya know.
I stepped down into the station and the one guy in my Critical Thinking & Writing class was standing there. I wouldn’t say this guy was necessarily my friend, but I certainly appreciate his insight and acquaintance, even if he is rather skeptical and argumentative.
“Hi Hunter!” He greeted me.
I asked him where he was going and he asked where I was going. My Bible was in the crook of my arm, so it was obvious that I was going to some kind of “religious” thang, but I was suddenly tempted to deny the fact that I was going to Bible study.
What if he thinks I’m totally hypocritical for some reason? What if he thinks I’m over zealous? What if he starts a theological argument with me right here in the station?
After about the second round of thoughts that passed through my mind during that millisecond, I realized Satan was totally messing with me. I had to wonder why he was trying to stop me.
“I’m headed to Bible Study.” I said with a defiant smile.
“Oh cool. Hey, I have a question for you.”
Oh no…here it comes!
“Did you, like, grow up in the church? Like, in a Christian home? Have you been religious all your life?” He asked. I stood there like an idiot for a second or two before finally answering.
“Yeah, kind of.”
“Oh okay. Do you think that reading the Bible often helps you know more about it, like, understand it more?” I nodded.
He then went on to describe the Bible as a literary masterpiece, as “a really good book.” He thought it was amazing that there was a book that could never get boring. I confirmed that you could open it and always find something new; even when you read the same thing over again, it always looks different. I told him it made even more sense and was even more wonderful when you realized it was all true. He almost started talking about theology, but a woman came over and asked to borrow his cellphone. We parted, saying that we should have a deep, theological discussion some time, me saying I would love to talk to him about stuff like that. I swiped myself through the gate.
Before I knew it, he was calling my name from the emergency door. He asked me to open it so he could go through because he didn’t have any money on his metro card. I didn’t want to do something illegal, so I just let him use my card. When he swiped himself through, he had a bewildered look on his face, like he couldn’t believe I had just let him use my card.
“I’ll have to give you some consideration for the Bible now, because that was an unbelievably nice thing to do.”
We parted for the second time, to different sides of the track, and just as he came down onto his platform, his train pulled up. He yelled my name in a very high-pitched fashion to catch my attention. Before getting on the train, he pointed to me and made a halo over his head, as if he were calling me an angel. It was weird, but I was glad to have helped him. Who knows; maybe that one thing I did, that one conversation we had will plant a seed in his head, so some other Christian he encounters can help it grow a little more 🙂
On the subway, there were babies in fluffy rabbit costumes, adults dressed as specters and ghouls alike. One girl was a zombie, and her makeup was so realistic that it made me want to throw up. I was really amazed at her costume but totally repulsed by it at the same time. I’m really not sure if I’ve ever had that feeling before.
Bible Study tonight was great. It was so nice to be surrounded by so many awesome Christians, so many different personalities. I love digging around in God’s word with them; they offer perspectives that I might not have even considered in my own studies, and seeing certain passages through numerous pairs of eyes really helps me grow. Because it was Halloween, Maria had made all sorts of delicious things jam-packed with sugar and carbohydrates, but it was so worth eating all of it. I tried something new; it was guava paste on cheddar cheese on a Ritz cracker. I know it might sound strange, but it was actually really yummy 😀
After Bible Study, a group of us stood outside talking about Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Narnia, the Bible, social media, politics…wow, everything. It was a total geek-fest. We almost got into talking about Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z. Yeah, it was that nerdy.
Anyway, God totally won today…I mean, He ultimately wins in the end, and no matter what Satan tries to do, God will always defeat him. Good will always triumph over evil; I have no doubt. God is just so cool. Today could’ve been just a plain ol’ Thursday, as plain and ol’ as Thursdays could possibly get, but He came in and turned it upside down and totally blew my mind.
I won’t lie; I’m still kind of worried about the future and about my family and about life in general. But fighting that worry is an understanding that God’s not going to let me down; He’s going to take care of me, even though I have such small faith and even smaller trust in Him on some days. He’s never, ever failed me. I’ve failed myself plenty of times, and I’ve failed Him even more than I’ve failed myself…but God has never failed me.
So why should He start now?
“I’ve read the last page of the Bible; it’s all going to turn out all right.” —Billy Graham