Steve's Story: Meeting Mysterious Strangers
Excerpt from Rescued from Hell, Chapter 6: Back on Planet Earth
The next morning I awoke early, thrilled at the prospect of my new life. Just as it had been in childhood, once again life had become an adventure with every moment holding the possibility of fresh discoveries. Only this time around they would not be discoveries about “Steve as hero”—the supposed centerpiece of my own story as I had once childishly believed—but of Jesus, the true Hero and Center of everyone’s story. I was a-wakening not just to the wonder of life, but to the never ending, ever unfolding wonder of His Life.
There was only one little problem—I didn’t have the slightest idea how to live! For so long my every waking thought was “I’m a dead soul, I’m damned! I HATE myself! Idiot. Curse. Curse. What must I do next to survive in this hellish nightmare? Horrors—another crisis! Rule #___ is in danger! Quick! Do something!” It is easy to see that that kind of conditioning is not good training for healthy, happy living. But it was all I’d known. At breakfast I discovered that I didn’t even know what I liked to eat—now that the real me had freedom to choose. It was as if the person I had been created to be was locked up in a horrible prison for ten years, never allowed to do anything, make any choices or understand anything but bondage. All natural connection to the person I had once been was obliterated. Now suddenly those cell doors have swung open! I’ve been brought out into the light, a light that is practically blinding, and I am thrust into a sea of endless choices. Who am I? What do I like doing? What do I want to do? I was a stranger to myself.
This was a “happy” problem to have, but it was a problem nonetheless. How do other people deal with it I wondered? I could only attempt to imagine because I also had no idea what people were actually like, and I knew it. I didn’t have a clue what they thought or felt or how they charted their own path through life. I had lived so long thinking I was dead and that no one else was truly alive that I had lost touch with any sense of shared humanity. I was now face-to-face with a sea of living, breathing human beings—people who had not gone crazy like me and who therefore were entirely different from me. They could no more understand my insanity from what it was like on the inside me than I could fathom their sanity from my place on the outside of them. I could try to imitate their outward ways, but their interior life was a vast Unknown Territory. They were normal human beings—this made them incomprehensible to me.
To sum up, I had encountered Jesus and now knew that He was alive, but I also realized that I knew next to nothing about Him—the most important Person to get to know in the whole universe! He had revealed a lot about Himself in that first appearance, but He was still the Great Stranger. That was the First Mystery. Second, I had been restored to my right mind and had been given the gift of freedom, but I realized that I knew nothing about who I was or how to live my own life. Another mystery! Third, I had been returned to the world of people, but I realized that I didn’t know anything about what was actually going on inside of them. Yikes—I’m surrounded by billions of mysteries! At the time I was far too frightened by this to appreciate what a gift it was; it launched me into a lifetime quest of searching out all three mysteries with freshness and passion. Not only that, but I was able to search with practically no preconceptions. I was a blank slate.
Fortunately in addition to freedom, I had also been given the gift of faith. The Spirit of God which was now living in me, sustained me through these early scary discoveries with the faith to believe that somehow it would work out. I thought, naively, that it would only be a matter of days before I caught on to how to live this new life as a Christian and that all of these mysteries would be solved no time. However, it took years for the fog to lift from only the most troubling aspects of each of the three mysteries; I experienced decades of searching before I grew into a more comfortable fit with my freedom. Of course no one this side of heaven would say they have plumbed the depth and that there is no mystery left to God, self or others. Even eternity will not be long enough for us to come to the end of that journey. Thank Goodness—we will never become bored for lack of fresh discoveries to make!
I was anything but bored trying to find my way through the maze of a now “normal” day of life. Have you noticed: life doesn’t wait for you to catch on to it? As you might imagine, I was stumbling left and right, but at least I was running to catch up. Even so, being a “babe in the woods” as far as these mysteries were concerned proved to be a blessing. Ignorance is not bliss, but it does give you a tremendous advantage if you at least know that you are ignorant. Most people seem to ask the questions, “What do I want to do? How do I want to live? What do I think about this?” That just wasn’t going to work for me for a whole host of reasons, the main one being I didn’t know myself! And modeling myself after what other people do wasn’t going to work either, for the exact same reason—I didn’t know them. But above all, the biggest reason was that I simply didn’t care what I or anyone else might think now that I had met HIM! So I started asking Him about practically everything, “Jesus, what do You want me to do? How would You like me to live? What do You think about this?” This approach held endless potential, and it had the added advantage of being the only one actually recommended by the Lord.
For the answer to these and other pressing questions, I began a lifetime habit of going to God in prayer and through His Word. The Voice I had heard saying, “The scriptures are true!” was none other than the Holy Spirit, our Inner Witness to Truth. I wasn’t about to disregard God’s Word this second time around. Listening to and being deceived by the very convincing lies of the enemy made me now extremely devoted to getting all of my Truth directly from God. I wanted to know all the truth, believe all the truth and live by all the truth that I possibly could—so help me God. Scripture says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).” Taste it? I devoured the Bible! I cut my teeth on the King James version that June gave me for starters, then worked my way through and wore out a New American Standard and finally came to light upon the New King James. Now the pages are falling out of that one!
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