Psalm 30:1-5 The Author of Healing

11 04 2013

Jesus-healing

 

“I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. 

O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.

For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”- Psalm 30:1-5 (NRSV)

“Faith healing” is a concept that atheists and agnostics latch onto with a great deal of derision, and in some ways rightfully so.  Unfortunately there are “faith healing” scams that go back to the times of the indulgence and relic purveyors, (the sales of indulgences and relics were two of the motivating factors behind the Reformation) so it’s easy to understand the cynicism.  Even today there are plenty of preachers willing to sell you a prayer cloth, holy water, and/or promise divine healing for a “small donation.”

miracle water

Leroy Jenkins’ “Miracle Water-” Straight from the Olentangy River to you!

There is also a small subgroup of Charismatic/Pentecostals who engage in snake handling- a practice derived from a verse at the end of the Gospel of Mark that does not appear in every manuscript:

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-19 (NRSV)

snake-handling-file-photo

As an aside, I do handle snakes- regularly.  I have a ball python and a red-tail boa.  Both the python and the boa are non-venomous snakes, however, unlike the rattlesnake being tormented here.  I’m not touching him. There is a way to tell venomous from non-venomous snakes, and there is a right and a wrong way to handle constrictors as well.   As far as speaking in tongues, I probably know enough French and German to get myself smacked, but that’s pretty much it.  I haven’t cast out any demons that I know of, though I do let the dogs out every morning.  The deadliest thing I’ll voluntarily drink is coffee, and as far as I know I’ve never healed anyone by touching them.  If anything, I’ve probably spread germs by touching people.

I think God gave us intellect for a reason, if only to keep us from voluntarily doing things that will cause us to earn our Darwin Awards. I think the intent of the passage in Mark was not to encourage anyone to purposefully seek out venomous snakes to dance with, or to tell people to drink poison and put God to the test.  I think what he meant was if someone was accidentally snake-bit or exposed to poison, or if these things were imposed on them as a persecutor’s torment, that they would arise unscathed- sort of like Daniel in the lions’ den.

If we put the scams put forth by unscrupulous televangelists and purveyors of the prosperity gospel aside, as well questionable practices such as snake-handling, there is a deeper element to divine healing than healing a physical illness.

Sometimes God effects miraculous healings such as Jesus’ healings that we read of in the Bible- Lazarus, the paralyzed man, the leper, and likely many more.  But more often God gives us the same answer He gave the apostle Paul- no.  I’ll be the first one to say that I don’t understand why some people get cancer, then they’re prayed over and they get treatment and they recover, while others are prayed over, get treatment and they die.  I do know that the one thing that all human beings are subjected to (other than birth- and taxation) is physical death.

So what about the “un-healed?”

There is no healing apart from God, just as there is no creation, no growth, no thing apart from God.  Regardless of how it came to be, entropy is a part of this world.  Things decay and die in this world.

Whether we find healing on this side of heaven, or on the other side, is God’s prerogative.

Perhaps God has a reason for leaving the thorn there?  There was a reason He said no to the apostle Paul when he asked to have the thorn removed, even though that reason was never revealed to Paul.

empathy

If not for pain, how would we learn empathy?  If not for rejection and loss, how would we appreciate the extravagant gift of another’s presence?

God’s ways are not our ways, but as near as I can tell, His healing can be gradual and it can involve pain, but in His time, He will make us whole.





John 16:33- Jesus Wins!

4 04 2013

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“(Jesus said:)I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” John 16:33 (AMP)

Jesus understood how difficult life could be for us, and how badly we need encouragement at times.

This life is not the end, even when it is easy to get to the end of hope.  It is easy to be overwhelmed by physical pain, by emotional distress, by all of the problems that plague humanity.  It is easy to be afraid, to withdraw, to try to escape the expectations and criticisms of others.   There is more to life than the routine of: get up, go to work, go home, go to bed.  There is something beyond loss and pain and disappointment.

As a person who struggles with both depression and chronic pain, the reality that Jesus has overcome the world is good news.  Otherwise life would be completely pointless and hopeless, with nothing to look forward to other than ever-increasing physical pain, as well as ever-increasing disillusionment and disappointment.

It’s easy to let circumstances steal our joy, but we learn from Proverbs that it’s not about our circumstances:

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is the man who reverently and worshipfully fears [the Lord] at all times [regardless of circumstances], but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” Proverbs 28:14 (AMP)

The Apostle Paul echoed this sentiment to the Thessalonians as well:

“Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (AMP)

On the surface it seems to me like Paul is saying that we should be slap happy all the time.  When I first read this passage I thought ot the 90’s cartoon Ren and Stimpy, in which Stimpy was a happy-go-lucky fat cat, and Ren was a nervous, paranoid and seething little Chihuahua.  In one episode, Stimpy is upset that Ren isn’t happy.  So Stimpy manufactures a “happy helmet” for Ren, so that Ren can be happy all the time.

ren happy helmet

Stimpy’s invention didn’t work out well.

God never asked us to deny our true emotions, but He does ask that we surrender everything to Him.   He has ways of transforming us and changing our perspective when we surrender ourselves to him.

“You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,

To the end that my tongue and my heart and everything glorious within me may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” Psalm 30:11-12 (AMP)

We aren’t going to be happy all the time in this world.  But even through our mourning, our disappointment, our pain, in Christ there is a steady and strong undercurrent of joy- not a superficial, feigned happiness, but a true and lasting joy.

Lord, I pray that we can see through our tears and trials and cling to the joy we find in You, and lift our hearts and voices in praise no matter what our circumstances.





James 5:16 Being Open and Vulnerable (Holy Week Monday)

25 03 2013

vulnerable

I need to make myself vulnerable.  I need to admit that I am weak and fully dependent upon God.  I need the prayers and intercession of others.  I need restoring for my soul.

 

“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart].  The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].” James 5:16 (AMP)

Traditionally Holy Week has been a time of prayer, contemplation and reflection.  As we reflect upon Jesus’ journey from the Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday to His Passion on Good Friday, we are called to examine ourselves as well.

The apostle Peter (who was anything but a wallflower) thought that he could hang tough with Jesus when the time came, but his reaction was very different when he was thrown into the time of trial.

“Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.”’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.” Matthew 26:33-35 (NRSV)

I don’t blame the apostle Peter for acting as any scared human being would.  Sometimes we speak with a crocodile mouth, only to discover we have a canary patoot.  I know I’m a coward.  I know that the only way I can muddle through trials is by the power of the Holy Spirit, and even then I struggle.  I could only pray to have as willing a heart as Peter, though my flesh is infinitely weaker.

If I were to enumerate my faults, sins, false moves, bad judgment, poor decisions, and so on, one by one, it would take years.  I do mean years.

I think that it’s important for us to see the apostles and other heavy hitter characters in the Bible for who they are- simple, human people who GOD used for big purposes.  Apart from meeting up with Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, the apostle Peter would simply have been an obscure fisherman like so many other fishermen of his day, and his name would be lost to history forever.

That’s why I have a little bit of cognitive dissonance with putting “saints” on a pedestal.  We should examine the lives of the people who are part of the Biblical narrative.  We should thank God for their record and their witness, but to see the players in the Biblical story as serene figures on stained glass windows misses the point.  They were flesh and blood human beings.  They made mistakes.

Saints in stained-glass

I enjoy the aesthetic of stained glass windows, but we miss the point if this is the only way we see the “saints.”

The calling to the Christian life is a bold calling.  It is a calling that requires us to be open and vulnerable if we are to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us- not only through our own prayers but through the intercessory prayers of others.

The Christian community is important- it is the Church Militant here on earth.  Although the military reference is rather un-PC, we are called to fight, not with weapons but with healing actions and gentle words.  We are the ground forces here on earth who live out the Kingdom of God here and now.

I would rather see the apostle Peter as he was- a tough, barely educated, coarse, fisherman who worked with his hands.   I can relate to a guy like that.  He wasn’t some guy with pretty clothes and a halo on a window when he was living and acting down here on earth.  He did some things right.  He made some pretty drastic mistakes.  He was human.  What made him and his witness special was God working in and through him.

This Holy Week I pray for my friends and fellow Christians that we would look to Jesus for our courage- because I know I don’t have any apart from Him.  I pray that the Holy Spirit would open our hearts and make us vulnerable- not so anyone can take advantage of us- (been there and done that too many times)- but so Jesus can give us a new heart and new strength, that He would transform us and invite us into His story.

“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezekiel 36:36 (NRSV)





Colossians 3:2-4 Heaven on Earth, Colossians 3:11 One in Christ

21 03 2013

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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,  for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.” Colossians 3:2-4 (NRSV)

Today’s question:

On what is your mind usually focused- on the heavenly or the earthly?  How can you focus more on “what is above?”

Perhaps this is not quite the right question, at least not for me.  I would be perfectly happy to lock myself away- just “me-‘n-Jesus”- and meditate on the glory of heaven, and anticipate the day when I don’t have to deal with all the crud and misery that this life brings. It is a huge temptation for me to set my sights on the limitless and eternal joy awaiting me in heaven and to shut my mind and heart off to the injustice and suffering that’s going on in this world.  I can lock myself up in that figurative ivory tower very easily, until I look at the prayer that Jesus taught us: “Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven,  hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10 (NRSV)

Then I go on to the book of James (James was likely Jesus’ half-brother, and had much to say about living out one’s faith right here in this lifetime) and he has this to say:

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters,  if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?  If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.  But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren?  Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?   You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God.  

You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.” James 2:14-26 (NRSV)

I will say that it is good to find solitude and meditate on the things of God, but one must find a balance between contemplation, solitude and prayer and living the Christian life in this corrupted, complicated and discouraging world.  Faith necessarily leads to action (as Martin Luther said) just as light necessarily generates heat.  Good works are inevitable byproducts of faith.

Unlike a majority of people, I am at home with solitude, contemplation and study.  It is a bigger challenge for me to get out and be the answer to living out God’s Kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven;” to keep one foot in the Kingdom that is to come, and the other in that we are called to help build here on earth.

Lord, help me live out Your Kingdom here on earth.

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“In that renewal, there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!” Colossians 3:11 (NRSV)

Today’s question:

What cultural differences are you allowing to separate you from others who are part of Christ’s body?

All human beings alive today are hypocrites, and I am definitely included in that classification.  The idea of people of all races and cultures and ideologies living together peacefully sounds so wonderful in theory, but the devil is literally in the details.

I grew up in a very rural, very white community.  Virtually everyone was some kind of Christian, be it Catholic or Protestant.  Most of the people I grew up around were just like my family- their families were of mostly northern European descent and had been in this country for generations.  I was in third grade (7 years old) before I actually encountered a real live person who was born in a foreign country- a girl from Korea who had been orphaned and then adopted by a local pastor and his wife.  She spoke absolutely no English.  On her first day in school, she would not drink the cafeteria milk (prepackaged, in a half-pint carton, from a local dairy) until someone else drank out of the carton first.  She told me later, as she eventually learned to speak English very well, that she wanted to be sure no one was trying to give her poison.

I remember feeling very sorry for this girl, at first, but my pity didn’t last very long.  I was very impressed with how quickly she learned English, (it was really important for her to learn, because no one within probably a hundred miles or more could speak Korean) and with how other people helped make her feel comfortable in her new home.  I was one of the kids who volunteered to help her learn English, using picture flash cards for names of common objects and helping her with correct pronunciation.  Within a year her English skills- both spoken and written- were almost as good as the rest of the kids’, and she no longer needed extra lessons and tutoring.

Growing up, I never had too much of an opinion of other people based on their race or customs, because almost everyone that I was exposed to growing up was white and of northern European descent just like me.  The few “different” people I met up with- we had a few black and a few Asian families in town- seemed to be just fine too.

I wasn’t prepared for the culture shock I got when I moved to Columbus in the mid-1990s.  I was now a part of a much more racially and culturally diverse community.  Not (almost) everyone was white. Not everyone was Christian.  Not everyone was straight!

I have to admit that sometimes when I see young black men milling about in a parking lot with their pants half way down their patoot, I hit the remote lock switch one more time just to make sure the car is locked.  Of course, not all young black men are thugs on drugs who are just waiting for the opportunity to pilfer through my car.  Most probably are not. Worse yet, when I do this I am acting out of racism, which goes against what the apostle Paul teaches.  Black or white shouldn’t make any difference, but in spite of myself, sometimes it does.

After the tragedy of 9-11 I admit I have been very wary of those of the Muslim faith.  When I see the women wearing the long dresses and veils, I know they are Muslim, and that more and more immigrants from other countries who are Muslim are making their way to central Ohio.  Being around Muslim people makes me uncomfortable, and I have a very real fear of those who subscribe to radical Islam, even though I am sure that it is not every Muslim’s aim to destroy this country and kill every Christian.  Even so, I admit, I am afraid.  I believe it is a justifiable fear, because there is much in the Quran and other Islamic teachings that advocates the persecution and murder of Christians.  I pray that Muslims will see beyond the deception of Islam and hear the Good News of Jesus, but I am still afraid of them.

I never encountered openly gay people until I moved to Columbus in 1994.  Since I come from a very conservative background, where homosexuality is regarded as an unspeakable sin, at first it was very difficult for me to be around people who are gay.  Then I remembered that God is my judge, and everyone else’s.  We are accountable to Him for who we love, what we do, and for what we accomplish with our lives.  Even though I struggle with how a Christian should regard the condition of homosexuality, the answer for me is to love God and love people- straight and gay.

I admit that I am still working on my attitudes toward people who aren’t like me.  It’s easier when they are also Christians, but what about loving the unlovable? What about loving people who have been taught that it’s OK to kill me?

I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me the right attitude and help me to see people the way God sees them.





1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Race to Win, and Colossians 3:1 My Parents’ Wisdom

20 03 2013

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“Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.  Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.”  1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NRSV)

Today’s question:

Are you “running the race” for a heavenly prize or an earthly one?  What does this imply for how you discipline yourself?

I’ve never been much for competitive sports.  First of all my physical coordination is abysmal, and I have no athletic ability.  I remember attempting to play softball when I was a small child (before I got rheumatic fever and was forbidden from organized sports.)  I was usually last in the batting order and way, way out in the outfield.  Until my grandmother made the school aware that my family doctor had forbidden me from gym class and brought the doctor’s note, I actually did take gym class -until I was in eighth grade and ended up in the ER with a badly sprained ankle from attempting to run laps.  It was not pretty.  Everyone else knew how badly coordinated I was and how bad I sucked at every single activity in gym class, and so I was always chosen last for teams.  Sometimes the kids fought over who had to take me, although if the boys were included in the team activity, I was usually preferred over the not-so hygienic boy who ate boogers and dead bugs.

I do believe in personal fitness, even though I don’t get into organized sports.  The current wisdom for people like me with joint damage and minor heart valve damage is that exercise is necessary and healthy, including plenty of cardio, and preferably no or limited impact exercise. Swimming, walking or bicycling are the preferred types of exercise for me as I have a good deal of deterioration in my joints.   No, I don’t have six pack abs and I will not be doing any biathalons any time soon.

lap-swim

The only one I “compete” against is me.  How many laps can I swim or how many minutes can I put in on the elliptical machine?  Probably not as many as most people, but I know that exercise is necessary for bodily health, so I do it the best I can.

I’ve long since been tired of the always-on mentality this society wants people to have- achieve this, get that, know this, do that.  In the eternal scheme of things, how much do those things really matter?  Not flipping much.  The more time goes by I care less and less about much of what the world deems to be important.

I can’t say that I always live in such a manner that I am working toward the “imperishable wreath.”  I’m not the most disciplined individual.  I have many flaws. I make a lot of mistakes.  And this journey would be completely impossible for me, save for the strength and power of Christ.

 

holy family

 

“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Colossians 3:1 (NRSV)

Today’s question:

What attitude taught by your parents do you need to reaffirm?

Mom and Dad have a sort of strange relationship as far as their faith.  Mom converted to Catholicism when she was in high school- before Vatican II.  She is very much a practicing Catholic, including saying Rosaries, going to Confession regularly, praying to various saints and observing holy days and seasons.  Dad grew up as a Regular Baptist, but dropped out of the church when there was a scandal involving the leader of the youth group he belonged to.  Even though Dad isn’t directly involved in a Christian community, he does know the Bible and he does pray, and he lives as a Christian witness. Both of their traditions are highly conservative, and they actually agree on core issues such as the sanctity of human life, but those traditions’ theologies  are strikingly different, to put it mildly.

From one side (mostly my grandmother) I heard that a person had to accept Christ and pray the “sinner’s prayer” to be saved. From my Mom’s side I heard you have to be baptized and believe and then follow all the rules and maybe you’ll be saved and maybe not.  So Mom and Dad didn’t agree on how one is saved, or means of grace, or what sacraments are and aren’t.  (I don’t agree with either of them on the issue of sacraments!) That confused me.  So I had to find these things out for myself, which isn’t easy to do when your parents disagree on important issues of faith.

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As time went on I observed their attitudes toward each other’s faith tradition soften.  Part of that I think was the influence of ecumenism and Vatican II, when it was declared to Catholics that Protestants were no longer to be deemed “heathens” but considered to be “separated brethren.”  I think we are all “separated brethren” over some things, and part of our calling in this life is to agree to disagree and love God and each other anyway.

I don’t see Dad becoming Catholic anytime soon, but I do believe that I will see him in heaven.  I believe I’ll see Mom too, even though I don’t see her at the tent revival running up for the next altar call.   God makes fewer distinctions regarding who’s in and who’s out than we do.

I’ve really been encouraged that they pray together.  It took years for them to actually do that, but they do now.  That’s something that I wish that I could do with Jerry, (I’m always praying for him, whether he knows it or not,) but he is an agnostic and thinks prayer is a lost cause.

If I am really seeking the things of Christ, then I would seek to reconcile myself not only with God, but with those who don’t share my faith.  Sometimes it breaks my heart, but Jesus calls us to love others even when they aren’t lovable, and when we disagree.

 





Vanity and Knowledge vs. Innocence and Humility

13 03 2013

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“I, the Teacher,when king over Israel in Jerusalem, applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.

 What is crooked cannot be made straight,  and what is lacking cannot be counted.

I said to myself, ‘I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.’ And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.

For in much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase sorrow.” Ecclesiastes 1:12-18 (NRSV)

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“He (Jesus) called a child, whom he put among them,  and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4 (NRSV)

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorite books of the Bible.  At first it seems rather depressing and despondent, but I can see and feel where Solomon’s coming from.  When I was growing up my family always had high standards, and the pursuit of education was especially prized.  Failure and mediocrity were not tolerated.
Because I had unusual gifts, my parents placed higher expectations on me (at least academically) than on my older sisters.  I didn’t always appreciate the dog-and-pony show that accompanied my precocious reading ability- “Oh, show Mrs. so-and-so how well you read the dictionary!,” got old very quickly.   I got tired of hearing how I should help my sisters (the same ones who would beat me up and take my stuff the minute there were no adults around) with their homework because they struggled with spelling and writing.
I got noblesse oblige and self denial pounded into my head as a child, and I didn’t like it.  I felt as if I were expected to show up on stage 24/7, give what I didn’t have, and then give some more.  I did, too, partially out of fear of my parents’ wrath, and partially out of the fear of hellfire, because not fully utilizing one’s gifts was a Grave Sin.  I kept up that impossible pace until my early 30’s when my physical health crashed.  Me- the unwilling, doing the impossible for the ungrateful.
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This is how “normal” kids see the world.
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This is how I saw the world when I was a kid.
Nobody understood how completely terrified I was of virtually everything- especially of being deemed inadequate and unworthy.  I spent my entire childhood being the geeky little nearsighted poor kid with the bad clothes who everyone used as a punching bag.  I was bound determined not to spend my adult life being the rest of the world’s doormat and sick joke.  But behind my carefully cultivated professional façade of impenetrability and capability, the little geeky kid was looking around the corner for the next beating. Nobody understood that my mind is always going a million miles an hour and that it drains every ounce of energy I have when I am around people- just to filter out the noise around me.  I don’t read body language well at all, and what comes naturally and subconsciously for most people is an acquired and conscious skill for me.  I can interpret and (usually) send the proper non-verbal signals when I interact with other people, but it is an energy draining and somewhat “artificial” process.
I have, and can acquire the necessary technical knowledge I need to function, but I am a poor navigator when it comes to relationships and the complexities of dealing with other people.
IgnoranceIsBliss
I don’t know what “normal” is.  I know that I’m not normal and most of the rest of the world is. One thing that I wish that people would understand about “abnormal” people like me is that usually when a person is given an exemplary gift in one area, that person is likely to have a profound deficit in another.  I am more than aware of my deficits, and they are limiting and severe.  I may know a lot of things, yes, but in my knowledge I know all too well just how inadequate and unworthy I am.
Some of the happiest people in the world are small children and those with cognitive deficiencies, which is telling. They haven’t been burnt enough by the world and the malice of others to become cynical and jaded and wary.  Ignorance may just be bliss in certain circumstances.
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The quest for the knowledge of good and evil led humanity to the first sin: wanting to be as God. (see Genesis 3)  The problem with that is that humanity, while made in the image of God, is not God.  We are finite and limited both in our physical presence and in the knowledge we my attain.

“Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness,’ and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.'” 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 (NRSV)

I can’t help but to think of all my atheist and agnostic friends who say things to me such as, “Don’t you know anything about science?  Why do you believe creation stories that involve some guy in the sky and a chick and a dude and a snake?”

God, I trust.  The Bible, I trust.  Science is valuable but…the only problem I have with putting faith in science is that our knowledge is limited and fallible.  Science does not have all the answers, and sometimes what is taken as scientific fact today is disproven tomorrow.

One has to have a lot of faith to believe that something arose from nothing for no reason at all.  I don’t see how creation was possible without some sort of sentient Force or Designer behind it.  For me it is far less a leap of faith to believe in a Creator God than in random chance.

Faith is a gift of God. It is purely of God to be able to surrender to Jesus and follow Him, especially when the rest of the world thinks you’re touched in the head for doing so.