How am I doing?

I feel better these days. I haven’t had to play music to get out of bed in a long time. I’m missing less classes. My mind doesn’t feel foggy. I think that this is how normal feels. It’s comforting to have some sort of certainty about myself. When I skip classes now, it’s because I don’t want to go. I don’t know if that will ever change. It used to be that I attended my classes as a matter of principle. It also used to be that I barely paid attention. I’d like to think that things really are getting better.

In the meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out more puzzling things. I read books and watch TV shows and the pervasiveness of Homosexuality worries me. One way to convince people of something is to make it seem normal. Present it as a matter of course, with no defense or condemnation, so that it becomes a constant presence in their mind and they stop to see something wrong with it. Even knowing that doesn’t keep you from falling for it. But why? Why should the world be so twisted? I have often likened it to being told that it is perfectly fine for people to eat with their feet and walk with their hands. It rankles me, having that presented as fine when it’s so obviously not. Why doesn’t the world make sense? I need a mantra, I think, to bring myself back in times like this.

God exists. I know that because the universe was made by someone. I know it because he answers my prayers. Whenever I doubt that, I’ll do the logic and keep the records to remind myself. I know that I have sinned against God and I can only rely on his mercy. I know there was a man named Jesus, whose words are trustworthy and that he promises mercy to those who receive him. I hope in him to the exclusion of all else because I can’t find mercy anywhere. This God is my father, my friend and my king. So I can trust him with myself. I’m safe with him.

And I know one other thing: the whole world is definitely mad.

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Reading Note – 1 Kings 21 – Naboth’s Vineyard

Ahab wanted to buy Naboth’s vineyard, but Naboth didn’t want to sell it. So, Ahab went home sulking and wouldn’t eat. His wife, Jezebel, when she learned the reason for her husband’s condition sent letters to the leader is Naboth’s town. Her instruction was: Get two people to falsely accuse Naboth of cursing God and the king. Then convict him and stone him to death. After this was carried out, she told her husband he was free to take Naboth’s vineyard. While he was reposessing the vineyard, he was found by Elijah, the prophet of God with this message:

This is what the Lord says: ‘Have you not murdered a man and seized his property? In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours! I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’ And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’ Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.”

  • Even though Jezebel ordered the murder of Naboth, God blamed Ahab. It is a similar principle as when David planned to have Uriah killed by the enemy in battle. Ahab might not have killed Naboth himself, but he lent his approval to his wife’s actions. He was supposed to be the leader of the people, and he gave power to a queen who led them to murder. If he had not made her queen and supported her actions up till this point, she would not have done as she had. And after the murder, he went to help himself to the spoils.
  • It seems God’s policy with evil is this: Don’t support it. Don’t even look like you approve of it. Don’t stand by and watch it happen. Don’t partake of whatever comes from it. In fact, stay as far as you can from it.
  • Jeroboam and Baasha were two kings I’ve previously written about who did evil like Ahab and received a similar punishment.

Ahab’s response to this was impressive. He tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted – the picture of contrition itself. So God had mercy on him and told him that while the curse would still play out, it would happen after his death. I suppose that was a good thing.

  • It’s never too late to repent. Even if you have the sin of an entire country on your hands, God will forgive you.

How am I doing?

I think I’m bitter. No, that’s not a typo; I really do think so. I’ve felt better in the last few days. I’ve even begun to hope that I might be able to get off my medications in the spring. But when I talk to God there’s still that unspoken accusation at the back of my mind. I think “Sure, things are better now. But I’m still angry with you”. I just read an article by someone who is also going through tough times, and he ended with:

“Instead, in the midst of pain and hurt, I am actively expecting God to do something.  I don’t know what.  I don’t know when.  But I am expecting the God of resurrection to heal us.  I am expecting God to restore us.  I am expecting him to redeem this situation.  I am expecting him to do this and so I will be actively looking and waiting for him to do something.”

I thought: “don’t hold your breath”. For as long as I can remember, I’ve never dealt with any tough situation by expecting God to do something about it. Once I understood that he wouldn’t keep me from suffering, I found that if you don’t expect him to end it, you’re less disappointed if he doesn’t. I’ve never understood the role of faith in this. Faith, for me, is believing that regardless of what he sends me, God has my best interests at heart, that even if he leads me through the valley of the shadow of death as the psalm says he will be leading me. He won’t leave me to fend for myself. I might not like the terrain, but I’ve accepted that he chooses the road. I can either follow him, or go out on my own. The idea that he’s going to change directions, or that he’ll eventually lead me out of it is unfounded. I don’t let myself think it, because if I do, and he doesn’t do what I expect him to do, I’ll start to wonder if he exists. (Rightly so, of course, because there doesn’t exist a god in the universe who takes orders from me). Yet, sometimes, people talk about faith as if it means God has any intention of leading us out of the valley sometime in this life. He might, and I hope so, but I don’t expect it.

That must be the source of my anger, I think. Because if God won’t lead us out of the valley, it’s because he wants us there for some reason and my mind can’t handle that. So I’m angry that he wants me there. I don’t know his reasons, and he’s God so they must be good reasons, but it’s hard to agree with his choices when you don’t know those reasons. You just follow along and simmer quietly and you keep simmering until you get over it somehow. It’s a stupid reaction because (a) you know you’re wrong and God is always right and (b) Being angry with him probably counts as rebellion on some level but you can’t help how you feel. My technique is “Of course I’ll follow you, but I’ll let you know the whole time that I don’t like this even a little bit”.

It’s crest and trough, up and down, summer, then winter with only the tiniest sliver of fall in-between. Each time I think the valley might be ending, we hit another trough. I think the troughs might be getting less deep, but it’s hard to tell. I’m blind, you see, so for all I know we’re going in circles. But still, he’s my friend so I can forgive him – right up till I break. Some people break, you know, although I don’t see how. Perhaps they get so hurt and so angry that they start hating God. I can’t see how it could be their fault, but I hope that never happens to me.

Dear God, I asked you to be my friend years ago. I want us to remain friends. Please don’t take me so far that I can’t love you any more.

 

Reading Note – 1 Kings 18 & 19 – The God Who Answers by Fire, He is God

  • In response to Israel’s disobedience, God gave them three years of famine. Perhaps that was to soften them because after three years of famine, they readily agreed to Elijah’s contest. The contest was simple: they would prepare animal sacrifices, but not set fire to them. Then they would call on their gods – the prophets of Baal would call on Baal and Elijah would call on the Lord. Whichever God set fire to his sacrifice is the real God.
  • Elijah had no problem with ridicule. After the prophets of Baal had called to their god for hours to no avail, he began taunting them.   “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”
  • Eventually, Elijah prayed to his God and he answered by fire. So, the Israelites acknowledged him as God and executed all the prophets of Baal. Then God gave them rain. I would say that was a pretty successful plan.

The Gentle Whisper

  • When Queen Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah because he had killed the prophets of Baal, Elijah ran away and in a sudden fit of depression, asked God to kill him.
  • Instead, God told him to stand on top of Mount Horeb and wait for him.
  • “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (19: 11, 12)
  • God didn’t speak to Elijah through the fire or the earthquake or any other show of power. Instead, he did it through a “gentle whisper”. I’ve hear a lot of sermons about this, but I don’t think anyone really knows why God did what he did. When he appeared to the Israelites in a cloud and fire, it was to make a point – to teach them to fear and obey him. Elijah did not need that lesson, but he might have needed to know the less terrifying side of God; the one that’s more like a parent who understands our fears and weaknesses.

How am I doing?

I haven’t written in a while because I can’t find the motivation. That seems to be true with everything. I’m winning small victories, but only because I keep fighting. I’ve been to church several Sundays in a row now. It’s easy: I just tell myself “I’m dragging your butt to church so throw your best tantrum”. And it works. Like every other technique, the energy only lasts for a short time. Usually, I’m out of energy by the time the worship service is over and going to Sunday school is a battle I sometimes lose. Today, it lasted longer than normal. I got to Sunday school, helped a bit and ate lots of cake. But the moment I sat down, the motivation was gone. I thought: “you guys might want to start this thing before I run away”. I was out of there faster than you could say “boo!”

In the way of comic relief, there’s this poor guy on facebook who met me a few years back in Nigeria and thinks he loves me. I would block him but I feel sorry for him. I’ve tried my best to explain to him that he’ll just have to get over it (because I won’t be back in Nigeria for a long time – if ever) but he seems to have succumbed to that mental illness that afflicts humans and makes them subject themselves to emotional torture.

My mom called a while ago and told me that God told her that I’ll no longer need counselling. She’s just waiting for him to keep the promise. I humored her. To the best of my knowledge, she’s never been wrong about those things, but I know better than to hope. God will do what he will do in his own time. She’s been skittish around me lately. She told me one day that I’ve changed. No kidding. I haven’t been the same since the summer of 2012. I have a lot less tolerance for anything. When she calls and talks about things I could care less about I used to let her talk and just grunt my agreement, but now I either change the topic or tell her to change the topic. She worries about upsetting me now, but in truth the only thing I don’t want it to talk about bad news. I’m depressed enough as it is. I don’t want to hurt her, so I’ve given her a list of topics to never broach. As long as she keeps to that, we’ll both be happy.

I’d write more but it takes energy to make myself do it and I don’t want to spend any more.

Who says you have to like church?

Yesterday, I said to myself:
“Self, you’re going to church tomorrow. It makes you feel terrible, but there’s no law that you have to like it. You don’t like lots of things that are good for you and skipping church is one good way to end up on the wrong side of Christianity. So, you’ll go to church if you have to crawl there. You’ll be miserable every minute of it, but you’ll go.”

Myself protested, but it lost the protest. I’ve indulged it enough. So, I went to church today. It wasn’t that bad. Once I resigned myself to being miserable, I actually enjoyed it. Of course, I wanted to run home and crawl under my blanket, but boo-hoo. I learned a lot of new things which I might write about when my headache goes away.

Midweek Praise: All Things Bright and Beautiful

    • Refrain:
      All things bright and beautiful,
      All creatures great and small,
      All things wise and wonderful:
      The Lord God made them all.
  1. Each little flow’r that opens,
    Each little bird that sings,
    He made their glowing colors,
    He made their tiny wings.
  2. The purple-headed mountains,
    The river running by,
    The sunset and the morning
    That brightens up the sky.
  3. The cold wind in the winter,
    The pleasant summer sun,
    The ripe fruits in the garden,
    He made them every one.
  4. The tall trees in the greenwood,
    The meadows where we play,
    The rushes by the water,
    To gather every day.
  5. He gave us eyes to see them,
    And lips that we might tell
    How great is God Almighty,
    Who has made all things well.