, as ' oIf there is one thing I learned about my salvation it is a brutal honest truth that I am not good. As much as I would like to claim so, this is not the case. On one hand it brings about quite a depression to recognize this fact, and the other brings the greatest peace in the world that Christ loved me and died for me still knowing this about me- years before I did mind you. But like Paul, I recognize beyond doubt, that I am the greatest sinner. Paul never met me or I am sure he would recant.
Growing up in a minister's home I was quite assured of my righteousness. There were days I would go to church, give a dollar, raise my hands, jump, sing and dance. Check. Check. Check. I would ridicule others who did not live up to my standard, and I would ironically even do things like open my eyes during prayer so I could take note of those who were laughing or eyeing each other- Shakespeare himself could not create such irony.
As the years passed, I became exceedingly good at not only convincing others of this righteousness, but hiding that side that would remove all doubt there was anything close to truth to this delusion. I would routinely give sermons and hear, "Oh Isaiah, that was the best sermon I ever heard". "Yeah, that's right. God is so lucky to have someone like me", was my thought. As much as I would like to say this is a lie or exaggeration, it is the God's honest truth. If the truth is to be told, I did not have faith. I would look around and see people praising God, and couldn't relate to a single damned thing. I knew all the songs and stories, but I had no idea who this Jesus was. Even worse this was absolutely, positive 100 percent certainty that this facade was an obligation to get my parents approval.
As ministers I don't think they could have possibly understood the damage they were doing. As a parent now, I get their concern. But I learned to follow rules, and yet simultaneously living a double life, to make sure that approval was never lost. When I informed my mom I would go visit my cousin in Bible college, she immediately ran in the kitchen and called everyone saying, "Isaiah is going to bible college!". I never had or since seen her so excited or proud of me. Years later when I returned to bible college, she proudly proclaimed "Good, now I have something to brag about you again". The most brutal hatred of her and God was brewing in me and it was only a matter of time before it would spill over.
8 months into being at Bible college I was turned into an atheist. I had enough doubts growing up, that was always met with punishment or disapproval. Asking questions was not allowed and was meant with scorn, anger and a sense that I was being "disobedient" I wasn't, I just wanted to know logically why some things didn't add up. This doubt was permanently set in stone that freshman year as the professors werent able to answer many of my questions. But the nail in the cradle was when I heard Christians making fun of Clinton, mimicking "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" in an irritating southern drawl. They would also refer to the oval office as the "oral office". With so much sexual dysfunction in my own life, I knew these people would stone me alive if they knew about me. So I hid it again.
The story how I came to Christ and why I deconverted at the second Bible College is the topic of another blog. Suffice to say that after I left, I was filled with so much hatred of my parents, God and Christians, I literally told God, I WILL COMMIT SO MUCH BLASPHEMY, FORNICATION AND DRUG ABUSE YOU WILL NEVER. EVER BE ABLE TO FORGIVE ME". I got over 30 tattoos with all the major world religions, including Islam, Buddhism and Judaism a Egyptian mythology, drank as much alcohol as my stomach could handle-and many times not handle- and had a strict do-on-site policy of any drug that happened to come in front of me. The sexual immorality only grew worse and more twisted.
After I came to Christ many years later I was BEYOND furious. I questioned why he didn't reveal himself to me when I begged for faith to get my parents approval. Why did he allow me to get so brutalized by Christians and a desire to throw my immorality in their face. Why didn't he meet me when I made a sincere, honest attempt to go to bible college and accept him- twice. Worse, so much worse, was the regret I lived with. I had cheated on my wife and she left me. I spent my life in such a crazed, downward spiral, I ensured there was no future I would be able to live, and I fully planed on taking my own life. To top that all off, had to also try to undo the desire I had to get drunk and sleep with any woman who was willing.
Fast forward to 6 years into being a Christian. I fumbled, rumbled and stumbled. There were days, so many days, I absolutely, positively was assured I was not a Christian. Even though he saved me from the garbage truck wreck of a life, I frequently found myself so easily going back to my old actions and ways of thinking. This pig returned to his mud. Yet, that made that hate arise again. WHY DID YOU LET ME DO THIS. YOU VIRTUALLY ENSURED I WOULD GO SO FAR OUT OF MY WAY TO SIN YOU MADE IT TO NOW MY LIFE IS TOTALLY NON-REDEEMABLE. The distrust my wife also had for me after became reunited made that misguided and directed anger arise. One day, she would tell my daughter. I knew beyond any reasonable doubt that day would come. She already used it against me. And her insistence made me really want to give a reason to be so skeptical about the new me.
On the first week of my missions trip I had a 7 hour visit from the Holy Spirit. He showed me precisely how evil, sinful and full of pride I truly was. He showed me for a season he let me go off on my own thoughts, power and will. He showed me beyond any doubt, why I had been so unsuccessful and able to truly make an impact, besides great efforts on my part. If there was any hope of us working together, I had to fully, wholeheartedly and unequivocally acknowledge it is God 100 percent, Isaiah 0. My desire to give 1, 5, 10 or 20 percent was putting me in the position I was in. This revelation changed my life.
This was simultaneously the worse and best thing he could have done to me. I saw how futile it was for me to lead my walk, and how reliant on him I actually was. I have so much more to write about this in the future, but I can say beyond doubt the following:
1. My contributions are worthless and I will ALWAYS return to the vomit.
2. Without his illumination I will blame others, and refuse all responsibility.
3. My good actions are even done with improper intent.
4. Looking to others sins to make myself feel better from this reality only puts me further and further from him.
5. As long as I fail to grasp this, I will only turn people further off to both me and him.
There's so much to write, but this will come a later day. I am only sharing how this has affected me and started to turn my life around just by the recognition. I know beyond any doubt now that there was a reason why I was allowed to stray away on the short lease he did give me. Now I was able to relate to all those immoral souls I once cast judgment and abuse on. Now I knew the power of his hand to undo the filth I created, and give me a sense of peace I could never find. The great peace maker has brought healing, forgiveness and restoration that has given me so much love and appreciation and I will never roam again!