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Trans-denominational Fidelity


Jake
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Hello all, I'm Jake, and I am becoming a Christian. I say that because I used to define myself as a Christian, and later as an agnostic. At one time I claimed any label from heretic to atheist, and even recently on another forum, "your friendly neighborhood godless heathen". I have had a long road in coming to terms with my lack of understanding of God, and I am blessed to be at peace with my doubts. I don't know if I will find like minded individuals here, but I am sure from the posts and info that I have read so far that I will at least find individuals who are also searching for a community engaged in the God of their own understanding (or lack of understanding). I cannot know anyone else's mind any more than I can know the mind of God. I just hope to be engaged in conversation to learn more about everyone else's perception of God, and therefore expand my own.

The short story of my evolving and emerging faith is this; I was born into a Christian family of one specific denomination, the Disciples of Christ, First Christian Church. Six generations of my family were Baptized under the same vaulted roof, in the same baptismal tub, by three generations of ministers. I spent the first 8 years of my education in a Baptist school, and in my high school years I attended a United Methodist Church.

At 17 I joined the USMC, and a year later found myself in a battle group off the coast of Kuwait (1st Gulf War). From there, my experiences degenerated. I was back a year later after the conflict ended, and then found myself in Somalia. I saw and did things that were far from faith based. I experienced humanity at it's worse, and I grew first to doubt God, then to hate God, and finally to deny the existence of God.

I indulged in every excess I could indulge in, and I even believe I may have made up some new ones. I alternately enjoyed life and loved myself, then hated myself and despised life, and sometimes both in rapid succession. Some of the specifics are hazy to me now, but I do know without doubt that I tried hard to live at the extremes. I also read and studied extensively on topics of mysticism, spirituality, "alternate religion", and atheism, etc. I labeled it all as BS and tried hard to convince myself that the human condition could be condensed into a series of random and not-so random electrical impulses that were wet-wired into the grey matter contained in my skull, and that there was nothing more than that. I tried hard to provide myself with evidence that this was all there is, and at death, lights out. No more Jake.

 

I failed miserably. There is much more, but that is between me and God.

 

While delivering a sailboat from Jamaica to Miami for a customer, in the middle of a building storm, I experienced a sense of serenity and awareness of something. I wish I could find the words to elaborate elegantly on just what that something was, but I don't have the language. I was filled, overjoyed, ecstatic, terrified, awed, empowered, emaciated, and amazed, all in the course of one blink that lasted forever, and was over in a second. That moment in time changed my perspective on everything. It was my Damascus Incident, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to be in that moment again.

I don't know why it lead me back to the church, but the only explanation I have for it is that it was an experience of God. It was a moment of communion with the Source of All Being. My mind opened to the realization that I am a fool, and I have much to learn. God, or the lack of God was never the cause of the negative in my life, but is LIFE itself. So now I endeavor to live, and to learn, to be content with questions that cannot be answered. I recognize that the only visible expression of God that I can fathom is left in the footsteps of the faithful. I am learning to tread lightly, and to love wastefully.

I have been blessed with some great spiritual mentors from different backgrounds and faiths, and I try to be a good student to them all. I try to come from a place of compassion, and to recognize that all expressions of God are valid, and that I can learn from them all. From the contextual to the fundamental, the liberal to the conservative, the ancient to the modern, we all come from the same Source. Christianity is my doorway to that Source, and my brothers and sisters in the human race are my key to that door.

I am beginning an educational process that I hope will assist me in assisting my fellow humankind with coming to a peaceful awareness and acceptance of our different cultural and religious expressions of God, and how to survive the next century without killing each other over those differences. I am hoping to learn more here.

 

...end of rant. Thanks for your patience.

 

-Jake

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A warm welcome to you Jake,

 

There is nothing quite like a transforming experience like yours even if the words fail us. I hope we can be of mutual encouragement on our journey to One and am happy to share this moment with you.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph

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