Wednesday, June 08, 2005

the Lord works in mysterious Ways

Elwood Blues is definitely right.

The answer to prayer is what can deter a faith or build it up stronger than one could have imagined. Metallica's lead man James Hetfield was denied an answer to prayer when his Christian Scientist mother died of a cancer, after the family requested no treatment because of the Christian Scientist's belief in God being the only healer, not medicine. This ultimately turned James away from God for good, and now enjoys phenomenal success, and therapy, as one of the greatest entertainers of all time. But here, I have the opposite situation developing; God has answered my prayers (he probably did so as well for James and his family, just not with the outcome they were expecting, more like a Job type of situation) and instead of rockstar fame, I'm probably going to have to endure no-body status.

I am going to become a historian. A biblical one in fact, but for now I'm just going to work on the major at Wayne State. See, it is a weird and long road that I have gone down in order to come to this FINAL decision, and final it is, with a lot of prayer and reluctant "all right, I'll keep on doing this even though I don't know what exactly it is I'm doing." But God knew, in fact he knows all, and then some.

I cant tell you where the actual beginning is, but I can certainly start at a key point. It was the beginning of the fall 2004 semester, and I had just come off a Purpose-Driven Life summer. My church went through it around March, but as a busy student of studying and playing video games, I had no time for this book. Plus I felt very suspicious about the whole thing, mainly because my whole church was getting geared up about some book that wasn't the Bible. Mind you, this was way before I had even heard the terms 'postmoderism' or 'the emerging church.' Instead, it was a gut feeling that I knew this was not something completely well with my spiritual growth. But eventually I began to read the book in the summer, and I started to enjoy it. It wasn't a step book that tried to explain that this is what you have to do, then this what is next, and then finally you get to see God! No, Rick Warren wrote a book that basically attempts to set a fire under all Christians, to be more complete in what God wants from us.

I did realize though how wrong the 40 days of purpose event was, and how completely absurd it is. To think, a life's journey where day by day we are attempting to become that much more Christ like, though at the end we will never fully accomplish that, only through death. It took me all summer to get only up to day 33, when eventually I had to put the thing down because I did not think I was accomplishing the first purpose, or the second one, or any of them! See, instead of flying by with the book in 40 days, one has to take time to digest it and to put it into action (kind of sounds like another book we all know about). The book did however accomplish it's purpose, which was to light a fire in me that had not been there before; I was driven.

So in the beginning of fall 2004, I wanted to join a Christian organization on campus. Finally the day arrived for all the organizations to have their exhibition's. One of the Christian organizations was passing out gift bags, big ones that were stuffed with cd's and books. This was the last thing I did before going to class, and I took the second to last bag. Inside the bag was Don Miller's "Blue Like Jazz" and this would be the first, maybe second event that changed me. I got hooked big time to the book. I loved that all that he did was describe himself, his life, and even though some people might find that to be annoying, I enjoyed it. It was an autobiography about a Christian, with events that made me say, "hey, thats happened to me, or is happening, I see now that I'm not the only one going through this in our modern day." The bible helps you out because it is a bunch of stories and autobiographies, but to picture them in modern day light is hard.

Then just before the semester ended, I had a change in heart about becoming a statistician, which I had just decided upon entering the fall semester, and so I decided to do something else. This was the next big event, as my only idea of something else was Geography. Perhaps this was because I had won the 5th grade Geography-Bee, and if so what a stupid sounding thing to base my career choice on. But as the title of this suggests, the Lord does things that we think are crazy, and "I wouldn't do that" or "What significance does this event have on my life." Obviously a big one.

After convincing me that the Geography department was going to go down the tubes, the head of the Urban Studies department at Wayne suggested that I look into urban studies. What the hell, it is sort of geography related, and I've already taken the intro course. But this is a co-major at Wayne, and so I realized that a double major type of a deal was going to have to happen. After one of the best talks I have ever received from a teacher, he left me to consider what I enjoy, and to choose that as my major. Never, and he meant never to choose it on the base of how much money that profession pays, because I mean look, the big 3 pay pretty well for assembly line jobs!

And so I began the winter semester, and a new year, as a history major and an urban studies co-major. History took a while to figure out, but it was the first thing that jumped into my mind. It was hard to choose because I thought "what can you do with a history major other than become a history teacher." I half to admit I'm still at that point, but I know God will direct me otherwise. Anyway, the winter went by, and I ended up acing every class, except history. I got a c. A c-.

The next thing that has happened is the same thing that has happened between semesters or during the summer so far in my college career; I begin to question what I'm doing. This time I had some great support. I had just recently purchased Don's next book "Searching for God Knows What," along with a scientific God book and a great philosophical book comparing Freud to C.S. Lewis. And immediately these began spinning my compass around. I didn't purchase a good urban studies book, I purchased books that would help me better understand God. Urban planner's have lives to, but I'd rather learn about the Civil War, or about the Greek's and their society, or even biblical histories. And so I have been praying to God for the past three or so days now about what decision I should make; drop urban studies and do something (I still don't know what) with history, or keep urban studies and just go with the flow.

God has provided the answer. I was searching, and you know what, God knew what (nice play on words). I woke up this morning to go for a relaxing bike ride to Metro Beach and to read some of Don's book. When I woke up at 7:15, there were rain clouds all around and coming our way. I did not want any part in a bike ride where I might half to dodge rain drops, so I have had my fifth or so failed first bike ride of the summer (I really enjoy biking I might add). I woke up later instead then, and I had a long, unproductive morning. I sat on the couch and watched Sports Center until it played through, then took a shower. In the shower I prayed to God again, asking, and pondering, what my choice should be for my major. This is a pretty big choice, I mean I better get it right now or else suffer through 20 more years of school. Out of the shower and then only an hour away from having to leave for school.

And than it happened. I made the decision to go out in the backyard and at least, since it had now turned bright and sunny with puffy white clouds, to read some of Don's book. I left off ending chapter three, where he talked about how poetry is so ramped through the bible and that that was the desired method to write like back then, because it would reveal God much better than in boring bold faced bulleted steps.

Chapter four began as I sat on my dad's lawn chair, and I could not even finish the first paragraph.

In summary, I had been soul searching the past summer, received a book from an organization that to this day I'm still trying to figure out who they were to either thank them or join them, I became a history urban studies guy, only to feud that and now take a couple requirement classes this summer while I try to figure out to urban study it or not.

But that was the summary, because the conclusion is now. The first paragraph of chapter 4 entitled "Naked" is what helped sttle the score. Don told about how he had gone to Yosemite around the time of taking a Moses study class, which was brought up in the previous chapter. It was a purely transitional paragraph, with its only intention of getting to discussion about Yosemite and the Garden of Eden. His comment about this park is what startled me, as he said that this place is the most beautiful in all of America to him, and that in our busy urban landscape we tend to only focus on buildings, fast food places and what not. Bam! Right in my face! It truly knocked me out.

I had wanted to go for a bike ride, because I find the ride so peaceful and tranquil, especially when I finally arrive on the point of the beach, all surrounded by water, watching boats and taking in God's creation. That's what Mr. Miller was describing. He than had to, but he didn't have to, describe the contrast, our urban environment. The literal translation (like the many people who take the bible as a literal translation) would be hard to swallow as the thing to tell me "Urban Studies and planning is a horrible thing and no godly person peruses that career." No, the fact that that was the example is just coincidental. It did however reinforce the message that God was giving me. "Do the thing that you truly enjoy, historical studies, and hey, you can even mix in me if you want and get into biblical history." How amazing. How out of no where. No wait, I should have been expecting it because it is God we are talking about. Through Miller's experience and obsevation I was able to experience a revelation. God wants me to talk about him, spread his message (and knowledge, as in history) and not to focus my career toward something that I will only have time to study Him scholarly in my free time (and all you professionals out their know all about free time!).

I want to learn about God, I want to tell people about him in every point of view as I can so they can relate to Him, and I want to do something with my life that I will purely enjoy. Yes, I still like the topic of urban studies, but I did not realize that the two classes I have taken so far had been all about the history of urban studies! The literate mind that I posses is something that I have trapped inside because I did not know how to be or what to be. I now know, and I should have realized this a long time ago and not hide it.

I still wish though that I could find that organization, but I see that God places events in our lives sometimes just to plant a seed. Now it has just started to grow!

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