Email. Tuesday, May 1, 2007.
...The thing is, all the events got entangled in my own struggle to find my faith... I called myself a Christian, yet ... it did not influence my life at all ... My conscience was convicting me and it needed to have time alone to work. I needed to find the truth that I assumed I knew on my own without God. So much hypocrisy!
...I don't know where I am going, but I know where I came from...
In the summer of 2005, I returned from Japan. I was depressed - I missed Japan a lot. Also, I had a lot of Zen on my mind. I spent the summer writing stories and keeping an online record of my thoughts. An incident weighed heavily on me at that time. Someone in Japan had asked me how important I rate my faith on a scale of 1-5...and I lied. During that time, I began to question my faith in God. I realized that when people talked about Jesus, I felt uncomfortable, even defensive. Also, I never read my Bible and I didn't even know much of what was in it. I never read Job or Isaiah or Ephesians. I knew it was wrong but I didn't know how to change it. I felt that I knew the basics of the Bible from church and was thus 'OK' but also felt very intimidated by it. I had never really understood when people called it "living and active".
This continued for three seasons. During this time, I translated a book from Japanese (with the help of my professor), read the whole Tale of Genji, wrote a Noh play, and learned a Noh chant called Yuya. I also wrote poetry and a final paper on an ancient Japanese musician. I did not pay much attention to the anxieties of the summer since I didn't have the time. Not until spring.
One day, a few months before graduation, I watched Indiana Jones. After doing so, I grew suddenly curious to read about the Ark, the Temple, and the Kings. So I dug out my Bible and read I and II Kings. Next, I began to flip through Psalms and read about how to pray. I had forgotten how. Since the time in high school when I spent a whole year praying for someone who was dead, I had forgotten how to pray for the living.
I graduated that spring on a windy day with threatening rain clouds. Then I worked as a librarian intern that summer. I did editing work on a Digital photographs collection.
In the fall, I began graduate school. I had plans to join the local radio club and learn telegraphy, but they are on the far end of campus and meet at an inconvenient time. Also in the fall, my church began to go through the Bible one book at a time, starting with Genesis. I had fun reading about the ancient men and women of faith. When we hit the end of Exodus into Leviticus, I got really interested in the garments of the High Priest and especially his breastplate of 12 stones. I did a lot of research into it and printed many lists.
As I was studying Reference service and XML/XSLT, I also was looking for a nearby church to join. I found one, and a campus Bible study, at a club fair that fall. In Bible study we did Ruth, I, II, and III John...
Here at this church ... I found a group of middle aged believers (mostly Korean) who met every single day of the week to pray for each other and meet with students. I joined a one-to-one Bible study with one young woman named Maria on Wednesdays. We still meet every Wednesday. We have been going through the Gospel of John. (After 7 months, we are up to chapter 10)
I was faced with many passages that stung me. I saw how my character was actually prideful inside. I thought that I was better than those around me and always tried to overachieve so I could be at the top. I didn't care if they failed, just so I was better. I also hated my own country and was angry with people. When I looked, though, I saw Moses praying that God spare the rebellious people Israel over and over. What a caring heart he had! I did not have this heart. And here was a key: before God, I thought I was 'ok'. I figured that I was nice enough and worked hard and didn't do sinful things. But before God's standard I of course fell short. All do. It was last fall that I saw that I too was a sinner and needed mercy. I think that's the first time I ever admitted that...
Well, I made it through a busy semester of reference work, information technology projects, and reports on various library user groups. I spent about two weeks at home for Christmas and then was back to school. I took a course for 3 weeks in January on management. The three weeks went fine. They were followed by a weekend break and then the next semester began!
This semester I have had very, very challenging courses. I am taking a Java course and another in Database design where we need to plan, build, and use a database in Oracle. Also, I am taking a class in Cataloging and am a TA for that information technology course.
It's been busy, but now I am ravenous for the word of God. The Sunday services and Wednesday and Monday Bible studies continue, and I look forward to them - they are the fun part of my weeks. Also, I joined a Friday night fellowship and prayer time...
That leaves me here. I am nearing finals week and will get another two week break from the chaos. There was a job opening in Pennsylvania, and I emailed them about it, but haven't heard anything back yet. The thing is, I don't want to go my own way. I don't want to do whatever I feel like, because when I did that in the past - in deciding to go to Japan, or to take up anime as my life pursuit - it left me feeling empty. I want to dedicate my whole life to God. I want to not break the Great Commandment. (Matthew 22:36-39) Which means that I can't give you an answer yes or no, because I have offered myself to God that He would send me wherever He decides. I know He is living and that all His word is true and active. I know my Savior gave His life for something, me!, even though that something is definitely not worth his mercy. I mean, have you ever read a mythology where the GOD dies to save a people who are still His enemy?
...I know I am taking a chance in writing to you. Maybe it will ruin your day and maybe it will be on my mind all day, distracting me from work. Yet, I am simply trying to be sincere to my heart that wonders about you and wishes you abundant blessings of health and of life, and of the very peace of God that passes all understanding.
You know, I have so often confused myself, but I know that the word of God is true and trustworthy.
"And the words of the LORD are flawless,
like silver refined in a furnace of clay,
purified seven times."
And I know that this God is never changing and always full of grace to those who seek Him.
Email. Wednesday, May 2, 2007.
My life has changed so much in 5 years. I mean, I am still the art-loving person I was and am still very meek and mild, but, for one thing, I learned how to spell. :p
Email. Thursday, May 3, 2007.
Before last year I did not believe that Jesus died for my sins. I did not ever want to go to church [in college]. I hated praying and I never read the Bible. I could not be called a Christian in the very least aspect, except that "my parents were" and that "I thought I wanted to be." Now, it isn't that I am a good Christian because I try to be or want to be -- my heart has actually been changed, allowing me to be. I never saw before that being a Christian was first knowing and understanding, and then acting. I tried to act without first knowing what I was acting for. Of course no one is ever a perfect person or a perfect Christian. But It is true that Christians are reborn to something new - Galatians 2:20. While they may still struggle with sin, they are not always worrying about trying to be perfect, but God's Spirit reveals, guides, and empowers those who have open hearts to God. I never understood that before last fall.