During that month of January 2014, I continued to pray and kept driving the school bus. January became February. On February 1, 2014 we attended services. During praise and worship, I prayed.
I began with a blessing: Blessed are you Jehovah our God, Sovereign of the Cosmos, who sanctions each day. The Divine responded:
Yes. But why that blessing?
I replied: More than anything, it is the blessing that came to mind. Is that okay? The Divine responded:
Now listen to me, shema.
Elsewhere, I have shared the meaning of the Hebrew word shema, listen. So the Divine is directing me to pay attention in order to understand then apply the information. The Divine continued:
You are here at my call, my beckoning, today is different, not because the day is different but because you are different.
There in prayer, at the Divine’s leading. So I had arrived at a different me. It was a different me, but not the different me that I can see today. The initial stages, but not the person I understand myself to be here in 2016. The Divine added:
I expect you to be different. Your walk is now very different than it used to be.
There is something about the Divine, when the Divine spends time shaping you, the Divine expects the shape to be retained. It is difficult to express sometimes, but here’s some of what I mean.
There are days that I look back, fondly, on the memories of who I was prior to 2010. I struggled. There were things I didn’t like about the church, the teachings, family, friends, in other words life. In particular, there were people who were not pleased that I did not like some things about church and I did not like how the doctrines were derived and subsequently upheld. But in all those struggles, I thought I knew who I was.
Then I arrived in 2010, experienced the effects of relocation in 2011, felt the initial changes of the orientation of my faith in 2012, then traveled the distance of 2013. I arrived in 2014 a different person. In 2014 and 2015, I did not always welcome that new person.
But here in 2016, I have come to accept my new person. It was difficult to accept myself, and that I wanted two wives. It was difficult to accept that I would be willing to walk away from family and friends to pursue a life that I believed was important and proper.
Back in that prayer, I was just beginning to make the transition to my different person. The Divine continued:
You used to follow man’s [humanity’s] advice, man’s [humanity’s] wisdom, properly derived on my wisdom, but in some instances misapplied, unwisely misapplied. But, alas, we move forward.
That exactly states how I lived my life up until 2012. I say 2012 because the experiences of that year made me reconsider faith and the Divine. But I did follow humanity’s advice, which ones in particular matters not, because I listened to them, and did, for the most part, their advice. I also followed humanity’s wisdom based upon the Scriptures.
But now, now it is significantly different. I haven’t forgotten my training in Biblical studies, but I sure don’t support some of the preferred doctrines of my heritage. Now, I study the Scriptures, I pray, I meditate, I teach, I share. And I truly seek to keep my preferences out of the presentation, I simply seek to know the text.
For example, assuming the author is the Apostle Paul, here is what Paul penned:
ιδετε πηλικοις υμιν γραμμασιν εγραψα τη εμη χειρι
Not this (Galatians 6.11 KJV):
Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
Not this (Galatians 6.11 ESV):
See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.
Not this (Galatians 6.11 NIV):
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
Not this (Galatians 6.11 NRSV):
See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand!
Not this (Galatians 6.11 YLT):
Ye see in how large letters I have written to you with my own hand;
NOT a single one of those popular translations express it the same. Even the Greek above could be argued. For the Greek, I used the e-Sword Bible: Septuagint LXX Greek Old Testament keyed to Strong’s numbers with complete parsing information, and Wescott and Hort 1881 Greek New Testament with NA26/27 variants keyed to Strong’s numbers with complete parsing information.
The Greek manuscripts are studied for accuracy and differences, from punctuation to spelling. However, almost every American Christian wants to argue their doctrine from the English. I have arrived where I don’t even like English translations, they are the cause of too many arguments, yet I would rather have a bazillion translations than one translation produced by orthodoxy.
What’s more, I don’t even begin to interpret Paul like I used to. The first major distinction is that I interpret the Apostle like I would King Solomon. Each man was anointed, gifted, and had God’s Spirit when they wrote their material. But just like Solomon’s words are not equal to Moses, neither are Paul’s words equal to Jesus.
That confronts the manner in which many Christians interpret the Bible, because for many the words of Paul have the same value as the words of Jesus, and Solomon’s words have the same value as Moses words, but for many Christians Jesus’ words have more value than Moses.
I no longer interpret the Scriptures that way. Instead, Paul’s words have less doctrinal power than Jesus. Just as some of Solomon’s words are aphoristic because they are true only on some occasions, similar occurs with Paul. As for Jesus’ words, I interpret their value against his teachings to love God and love neighbor, and my exegetical need to know how Jesus interpreted the Law of Moses. To say the least, this creates interesting biblical discussions.
Those are simply a couple of different things that make me different from the old me. Now, I rely more on prayer than ever. I am ready and waiting for things to change in my life, yet I grow impatient.
Returning to my prayer, the Divine added:
As for the remainder of your life, your walk, it will change, continue to morph, do not expect things to remain static, you will be forced [compelled] to adapt, this is not so much for you, but for them, for you have the ability to flex, to change, to adapt, others, not every one, has that ability
And that has been proven to me several times since that prayer. I just accept that it is. But consider that the Divine added:
Flexlessness causes some to remain static and incapable of finding and experiencing more of what I have to offer in life, but such is their choice, you have chosen to flex, to be flexible, this flexibility will be put to the test. Always be flexible.
From that, it can be seen that there is more to the Divine than what many choose to experience. But, as the Divine said, that is their choice. So why compel them to something that they themselves choose not to participate it. All one can do is plant and/or water, and let the Divine do what the Divine does.
Yet, the Divine said I chose to be flexible. Well, that flexibility has put me into places that I never expected, for example, becoming a stay-at-home father. Another example would be having Christians come into my association then leave. In many ways, they cause me to rethink and reevaluate what I understand about God and the Scriptures, but I have found that I have to be flexible to meet them where they are.
There are many ways to interpret “meet them where they are” but the main thing I want to get across is that if to them apple means pen, I no longer try to get them to understand that pen means pen. So be it, apple does NOT mean pen, never will, that is why the word apple means apple not pen. But for the sake of helping someone in their faith, I simply have to flex, and for them apple means pen.
I find that gruesome to linguistics and truth, but I no longer argue the essence of apple and pen when they are not open to understanding the difference. Interestingly, many will agree with that concept, until that concept in practice bumps up against something where apple means pen to them, and I try to inform them that apple does not mean pen.
Returning to my prayer, the Divine added:
You will not always be here.
and then provided some clarity:
By ‘here’ I mean Texas, this portion of Texas, but also this portion of your heart, your walk, your faith, everything that makes ‘here’ your current here.
For me, that was clear enough clarification. Then the Divine added:
Because you will not always be here, I am going to make sure you will have provisions, for your provisions are about to change, and how you receive those provisions is also about to change. Don’t worry. Trust me, I will provide.
How the Divine provides has changed. I have come to rely on Mary and her income. That was a significant change for me. I have also had to come to rely on God to lead with finances. Many Christians will say “duh!” But that is not the point.
How many Christians that say “duh!” are willing to let go of investments, retirements, insurance, and other devices of income and safety to let the Divine lead? That’s the point. Not knowing if you will have enough money to repair your automobile.
That may not sound difficult, but it is. I was the Christian who enrolled in insurance, set aside for retirement. Some of that changed when I went into ministry. But in the here and now, learning to trust that God will provide has been challenging. The Divine has come through, every time, but it has never been through prosperity of my own hand, and that has been the most difficult thing to adjust to experiencing.
Then the Divine continued:
But, like I have stated previously, I inform when things are about to change, and things are about to change. Change in profound, and wonderful ways. Trust. Always trust.
Back in February 2014 I had no idea the changes that lay ahead in those months that were to come. But in March of that same year, because of prayers, I would step out of bus driving, return to the house, and help my son with this schooling. It was something I never expected. But I can see how the family is better, much better for it, and that is only one way things changed.
I find the most difficult thing is to trust.
The world is filled with nonsense, incoherent thoughts, inconsistent application, constant character defamation, competition, insults, decay, and death. There are times that I feel overwhelmed at all of it.
Yet, I know that I am called to a specific task. It has not been easy to adjust to simply focusing on what the Divine wants from me. Sometimes it feels more important to take care of the distress and problems that others experience. But the Divine has narrowed my focus significantly.
I help my wife, our children. I help those whom God has led me to, or leads to me. I continue my studies. I present. I teach. I interact. I plant. I water. That’s it.
Sounds simple, it’s not. But it is a focused work. And to trust the Divine to provide me with what is needed is still challenging. I rely on everyone from my wife to my kids to extended family to my friends for everything.
That is 180 degrees out from what I was taught to do as a youth, and different from what I was taught as a Christian.
I work, but work in a way I never expected. That was a profound change. As I work, I look for my family to be put together. When that happens, I’ll continue to work, because I am trusting God to put it all together and provide for what is needed.
Blessings and Shalom