Eight months has passed since I went on my first fast, since I started reading the Bible and since I started seeking Jesus. In the time that has gone by, many events have unfolded. Some of them are quietly beautiful—like the new way the birds sing in the morning, or the feel of the breeze in the afternoon. Some are mildly mysterious—the way little miracles unfold unceasingly, the way events fall exactly into place, prayers answered.
Some…well, some are just plain and downright uncanny. Walking along this journey, I have experienced many odd events, things not of this world, occurrences that would be hard to explain to most people. Things that would make you think that I have gone mad.
But whether we like it or not, there is more to this world than what we see in the physical realm. There is a battle raging and it is far greater than anything we can imagine, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
January 2011, Benguet
Coming home from WOW Korean Summer Camp one day, I was about ready to give up. I had gone up to the mountains, I had tried to understand this God thing, I had fasted, read the Bible, such and such. And now my life is consisted of teaching Korean kids English and coming home to DVD marathons. So much for enlightenment. If possible, I felt more dismal about my life and its sad stretch of possibilities.
I remember it clearly, Chel and I had just finished watching the Black Swan where Natalie Portman had just plunged into death and thus into perfection, her purpose fulfilled as she faded into oblivion and into the bright Klieg lights. The credits rolled and the familiar cloud of hollow emptiness ate at me as we lay in our freezing Benguet apartment. Outside, the sun was just fading, and we were bathed in grey and black shadows.
I had all the ingredients for a nice spiritual awakening down pat:
I was in the mountains.
I had a nice, inspiring, fulfilling job as a teacher (or so I thought).
I read the Bible and listened to worship, attended service once in a while.
So why the heck was I feeling like this is not where I ought to be?
And then, out of nowhere, a flash of light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t remember who suggested it, It could have been Chel or it could have been me. It seemed like the idea was planted in our hearts almost simultaneously.
It was time to put ourselves where our mouths were.
If Chel and I were serious about living for Jesus, then by golly, we will live for Jesus. We were going to live like missionaries, spread the Gospel, volunteer our time and all of ourselves for His cause and His glory. Well, at least that was the plan.
Chel went straight to work, contacting her friend Georgia, a Canadian who has since opened up a maternity clinic in Tabuk with his husband Achao from Pak-ak. They might be needing some extra hands to help out with chores, do some light midwifery tasks and provide support with their medical missions around the more remote areas of the region.
As she happily made arrangements in the background, I was quietly assessing this new direction I was going in. True, I wanted to find Jesus, I wanted to find some sort of meaning to hold on to in this mad state of existence we’re stuck in, but also, I was still so unsure. The concept of Jesus at this time was still very blurry to me. To put my life at the service of something I barely recognized seemed insane and just a bit pretentious. Yet, I was on a search and if these were the circumstances put before me, well, I was not about to back down.
I may have only gone along for the sake of going along. I had no idea if I was really meant to live as a full-on servant of God just yet. The idea was beautiful and exciting but truthfully, my heart wasn’t set in stone. Like I said, I was barely a believer at the time. But that was all part of the search. Going despite of, breaking free from my comfort zone, taking the leap of faith.
That night (which also happened to be the night we broke our fast), as we feasted on noodles, ampalaya, and omelet, Chel’s excitement was so contagious that I found myself resigning from the school and its very fat paycheck first thing the very next morning.
Well, I’m glad I did. Maybe I’m also glad that The Black Swan ended the way it did.
For the decision to have boarded the bus only a few days later bound to a completely new world in the Cordilleras remains to be one of the most crucial points of my life. Of Chel’s too.
But more on that later.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”