“Come and Die”

It’s been a while since I wrote on reflective stuff since starting this job as a youth and young adult pastor. So, since sleep seems to elude me at this ungodly hour (it’s 2:40am as I’m writing these few lines at the moment), it’s probably fitting to jot something down I guess.

I have to be honest that the two and a half years in completing my theological degree had been my desert moments. Dealing with depression and being delusional because of personal goals that seem to constantly slip beyond my grasp has been a constant struggle to deal with. It’s somewhat a miracle that I still have my faith in tact.

I got myself mentally prepared for the worst in welcoming 2012 to be frank. But the new year has been something different. And I have to mention this up front that, it was not all the theology that defused passion, but it was mostly being disolutioned by structures of church and a lot of it had to do with financial struggles that seem to follow year in and year out (still to this very day) and failed relationships; these were probably the instigators of the wilderness experiences that buffeted on my passion. As far as I knew it, I loved all things academic and theological in nature.

Looking back, the start of my conversion which was in the year 2000, on this very date, marks 12 years of following Jesus. The start of my personal faith crisis started to mount up in the beginning of 2006. I eventually picked myself up again reading books and asking questions. I saw Jesus in a different light reading stuff by N. T. Wright, Scot McKnight and anything to do with the emergent and emerging church conversation. As things were picking up, stuff turned grim welcoming 2009. I was out of ministry and a few months after my 6 year relationship went awry just a few days before I boarded the plane to Kuala Lumpur to continue my theological education. I left Miri, my home town, the place I deeply loved thinking of never returning back again for any job offers. As far as I planned it, work or anything to do with vocation was to be outside of Miri.

Things started to pick up again in 2010, slowly. I was happy with seminary and met this girl who would later become a special someone. But things didn’t work out well after a year and when that happened I stooped into an all time low. Nothing mattered from then on. I was angry! At points I blamed God. At points I was sick of God. But the funny thing was I was still reading books pertaining to God and Jesus. I wanted to hate but somehow I couldn’t put up good reason for my situation and how God was involved in it. I still believed regardless. It got to a point where I contemplated the notion of having enough faith to still believe even if all goals and dreams failed to materialized. I came to the conclusion that, whatever happens, i’d still hold onto this belief in Jesus. And eventually, the church I grew up in called and asked whether I would be interested in being their youth and young adult pastor. I wasn’t all exited but, the old hatred of coming back to Miri eased. That was probably God easing me slowly to accept the possibility that coming back would be ok.

There is more to the story but, after another spell of depression close to deterring me completing my degree, I eventually finished it and flew back. I got aquatinted with the young adult group in the church I am now at and it’s been a roller coaster ride, from being disengaged to getting engaged in hearing God, from a passionless demeanor to being inflamed by the Spirit. I have to say that it’s good be BACK. I’m beginning to dream again, breathe again, live again. It’s a good feeling really. I’ve been through a lot of shit (although I’m not saying my shit is the worst there is. I know that there are other people who have gone through a lot of more trying situations than mine), but it’s good to have perspective again.

I’m learning that the most formative years in my journey has to be the two and a half years of being aimlessly lost. I spent a lot of time alone, writing, reading, reflecting. And as I read back some of the stuff I wrote back then, they make more sense now than when I wrote them. I’m also learning that the journey in faith is something like a marathon. We run but not sprinting to the finish line but having a steady mental focus towards the finishing line. It’s so easy to burn out, so easy to lose passion. Life has a way of ebbing it away. That’s why I think it’s essential that we run this faith race with wisdom. And I’m also learning to learn from those who are younger than me. I may be older but the task of learning is a neverending thing. I’m learning to add compassion in my passion. You can’t move forward and push forward if you can’t love people. I’m learning to trust God more with the future. I’m learning also the way of humility. Even with whatever known experiences that I have, I’m still pretty much a fool when it comes to living life. I find myself giving advise and thinking later that, at times, I’m not even sure if my advises were good or beneficial. I’m certainly no pro when it comes to all things spiritual. But whatever I know that has kept me believing till this point of time, I’ll just share what I’ve learned along the way.

And most importantly, I’m learning to dream God’s dreams more than my own dreams. Jesus came to start a kingdom revolution. And so I must keep that at the very core of the things I want to envision. Self abandonment is no joke. But it’s the only way to go at it.

This love affair with Jesus had its ups and downs. This journey in believing has been both good and bad. I’m thankful for whatever the past had taught me, and what this life of being a disciple will continue to teach me. Each day, is the realization that self abandonment is not an option but that it is the only way when one makes the choice to follow Jesus. Bonheoffer said that when Jesus calls people, it’s a call that reads, “come and die.”

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