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Good Friday
faith
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After Chad, I found my prayers had changed. The primary focus of them involved me asking for guidance through life. That I would be led and given strength to do things which would be pleasing to God. That I would be a person who pleased him. That he would lead and guide me. I told him about my issues with trying to hear his voice and I admitted I was unwilling to try all that faith that I was hearing him again. I told him that I would follow him wherever he led me. He just had to make it crystal clear. Or guide my steps so I followed his path. All that was easy for a God who was invested in my personal well being. This was a daily prayer. Often times my prayers would include other things, many personal. Often times just the strength to get through another day. But always, I asked for his will in my life.

In 2008, I encountered the concept of what RPGs were for real. After reading the Darths ‘n Droids comic, I became completely enamored with the idea of playing this game. However, I knew no one who played and had no idea of how to get involved. After finding a website that allowed gamers and gaming groups to find one another I found the most I could do was fill out a profile and leave it in God’s hands.

After that I forgot about that little act and life continued as though it had never happened. My pastor spoke to us about the importance of fasting and I decided that my spiritual life needed something. It had been nearly two years since chad and my relationship with God was showing some of the tatters of the period of dryness. I still prayed, often read the bible and I decided to add fasting to my ritual. I seriously debated doing a 40 day fast, but I wasn’t certain I was called to it. 40 day fasts can be dangerous, especially for active people, and I believed that a person needed to be called by God to it for the true benefits of it. In my case, it was more of a cry out to God and an act of obedience.

I decided to have a 3 day water fast (only drinking water, and eating no food or juice). Towards the end of the second day, I realized that there was no way my body would permit this thing (I understand most people do not fast while continuing to ride a rigorous 25 miles a day). So I switched to a juice fast. I figured God was OK with that, since I had not heard any guiding to a water fast. I was just trying to do things 200% as I usually do. However, I did decide  that fasting was a good thing for me to participate in. So I started 24 hour water fasts. One a week. I planned it for a time when no one would find out. There was the story in the bible about the showy Pharisees who did things to be seen doing things. I did not want to be like them. Jesus criticized them.

I continued the fasting for 4-5 months. Towards the end of this, I encountered a series of bicycle disasters which ended up with me having two broken bicycles and no transportation. Luckily one of the bikes was easily fixed by the shop, but the other one had to stay there while they kept harassing Bonager for parts. It was over a month and I was stressed out and annoyed and there came an email into my inbox. It was from a man with an unusual name. He invited me to a game and due to the issues with my bike I had to decline that Friday. However, I got information for the following Friday and made plans.

It was around this time that I decided it was time to stop fasting. It was becoming a routine and I was worried that would negatively affect its purpose. I never stopped praying, though. Lead and guide me and Your Will be done in my life. Always and forever….

Happily, my bike was finally returned to me. I had a $200 brand new wheel that I did not have to pay for. It was given to me in return for my patience and having to wait over a month for a part that was obviously not coming. A gift from God, surely.

And it was perfect timing to use it to go to my first gaming night.

Perhaps I should have run when I saw the website. But I had promised myself that I would give it a chance. When I left my name on the website I agreed with myself that if someone actually contacted me, I would give it a chance. I would play a game.

So, I made a character. And I showed up. It was Friday the 13th.  And I fell in love. I had all the symptoms of love at first sight. I couldn’t think about anything else. I talked my family’s ears off about the wonderful first time. The story. The awesomeness of it all.

There was no doubt in my mind that this was made for me. This was one of the best gifts God had given me. And I dove in head first.

Through this, I began to form friendships in a sense that I never had before. It probably was the fact that I spent at least 5 hours every week in concentrated interaction with the same people, but it was something new and marvelous.

It was playing pretend… with other people.

I loved what happened so much, I tried to immortalize it in a podcast.

As I waded into the deep end I encountered other people. People who were fiercely anti-religion.

As God would have it, I was already studying apologetics. I probably was supposed to be a Christian in their midst, a conduit of God’s love. A tool in God’s hands.

Still I prayed. And I was confident.

With time, my confidence began to shake. I remember telling my mom that it was so frustrating that Christian Schools and Sundays Schools don’t teach critical thinking. What I was really saying, is “They tell us all this is out there and it is true and we should believe it, but they don’t prepare us to go up against the really good questions out there.”

And I couldn’t find the preparation. Not among the apologists. And if they, the ones on the forefront had no evidence…

I faltered.

I begged.

I prayed.

I wept.

I prayed.

And I conceded. Here. There. Areas where I had nothing to stand on.

 

For three months, I lived in an ambiguous world where I solidly separated faith from science and evidence. Faith didn’t need evidence. It was something you had. Because you had a “relationship.” In that place of decision, I admitted to my non-christian friends my struggle and to a certain extent the liberalness of my religion. I didn’t bring it up with my family, though I argued a few points with them. I still prayed. Lead and guide me. After all,  You are a personal God, right?

I was completely fascinated by chance and chaos at the time. I had two very strong examples of how chance makes things “happen in such a way that there had to be God’s hand in it.”

The first was finances. Work had cut our wages again. And my hours. I decided that I could not afford to tithe anymore. Not at all.

So I stopped. I have the records, only one payment made that year.

And through a friend, coworker and atheist, I had enough things restored in my job to allow for me to continue paying bills. Had I continued tithing, this would have been seen as a powerful proof of God actually rewarding me for tithing. (which is the only place in the bible where God says to test him.) So this reversal was completely intriguing to me. I pointed it out cheerfully to may atheist friends. They smiled and nodded, but I don’t think they really understood how significant this was.

Once upon a time, in college, when I had no money, I gave between 30 and 50% of my paycheck to god. I tithed on student loans… I only stopped the giving because of a “give to get” sermon and the ensuing pettiness it started in me. I had finally resumed my efforts a year and a half earlier because of a desire to be obedient.

Now… I was being “rewarded” for stopping tithing. And I knew I would have claimed it was because I had tithed had I not determinedly stopped a month earlier.

Really?

 

The second incident happened in a LARP. In a game. I was literally an agent of chaos. I didn’t know what anyone else was doing. You can find my write-up in my archives. But my chaos brought about a story-book like ending.

Really?

 

You mean… Things just happen? On their own?

 

And with time, I found myself struggling again. This time, it was because of humans. I rode my bike up south mountain. It was Thursday and the sun was shining and the weather delightful. I laid out on a cement slab, shielded my eyes and watched the pale blue sky.

And I thought. I realized that nothing held me back.

No one held me back. Because I was completely alone. No one in my head. No one around my head. Me. My bike. The stillness of a mountaintop.

It was a shock to me. Because it wasn’t a choice. I had always been told it was a choice. That it was an act of rebellion. That it was the choice to sin. Anyone who didn’t believe in God chose not to. They knew better. But I finally did know better. And with that came the complete lack of choice. I just didn’t believe. Not at all.

Instead, it was the realization that despite everything, I didn’t believe anyone was listening. He was gone because he had never been there. I realized that I hadn’t been talking to him for the last few weeks because my mind had let him go.

I had spent years begging him to lead and guide me and he had. He had led me to the place where he was no more. I followed him faithfully. And I had led myself to freedom.

When I came down from the mountain that day, I knew something else. I knew I was in love. With humans.

 

The next day was Good Friday.

 

 


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Congratulations.

Welcome to your godhood.

Use it with care.*

<grin>

[* Humans are so fragile and easily bruised. Although, I do admit, they do taste nice lightly fried in sesame oil, with a little chili and basil.]


When we work, or socialize, or go to church or school or a function, we try to be what our society expects of us. We struggle to be what we are supposed to be.

When we play, we don't have to do it for anyone else. We can be who we actually are.

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