Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Taking the Exit
On the surface there was nothing wrong. I had a good job, some friends, and a unique means of self-expression in sand sculpture. For all of my life, however, I've wanted more. I didn't know what the "more" was, but it was out there. Sometimes I could almost touch it or taste it, particularly after a really good sculpture.
So, I tried to get ahold of it. Searching, searching. I tried psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, looking for answers inside. While that was going on I also considered outside answers, coming to the conclusion that religions are all matters of opinion. I wanted something with the self-stated grace of confirmation that imbues real truth. Gravity is a fact, sunlight is a fact. Buddha is an opinion, and I put Jesus in the same category.
In 1971 I met a man in college who was a Christian. He was also the first person I'd met who seemed to care about me as myself. I put two and two together and later that year gave my life to Jesus.
A few years later that experiment dissolved into noise. I had been digging for years, trying to find the "gravity" truth to Christianity, but never found it. My filters always came up empty. No fish, just noise. So I simply terminated the experiment and assumed there was no God.
25 years later I was on the beach doing a sand sculpture. A man walked up and asked if I could at least consider the thought that creativity came from God.
"That answer's as good as any I've come up with. All mysteries. But I don't believe in God. I don't not believe. I simply don't know."
"That's good," he said. He told me about a church.
So there I am a few months later looking into that fogbank. And I'm getting scared. One day, not too far ahead, I'm simply not going to get out of bed. Someone from work will call and I won't answer the phone. A couple of days after that the police will come knocking on the door. I won't answer. They'll break the door down and find me there in a mess of my own making, and they'll take me away to some dismal hospital. End of Larry as we know him. Oh, well, don't worry. Just go on. Maybe something will happen. I already knew I lacked the guts to off myself (if I could have found a guaranteed effective painless way to do so, I would have) so I would have gotten involved in something worse than death. Doctors, helpers, etc, etc, etc.
Well, what's it going to cost to visit this church? They're within bicycle range.
Now, who knows where hope comes from. Why did I make the effort to visit this place? Call it, for now, a coincidence.
I visited Mosaic in Beverly Hills, and took the first step onto that last exit before oblivion. Here were people talking about God as if he were real, as if he cared about them and would participate in their lives. And they moved FAST!
Before I really understood what was happening, I was a part of this community. I knew that somewhere along the line I'd have to reconsider what I thought about God. Later. Six months or so.
It turned out to be three weeks. I was invited to a church retreat for men, and the first night there I came face to face with my needs and God's offer. I was desperate. For some reason, I, who had given up hope, was leaping for new bait.
Since then God has been building a foundation under that leap. The process has been amazing. I'm an experimenter by nature, and I treat this as I would anything else. Try something and see what happens. Sometimes God says "No," other times it works. It's the only way I know to really learn.
And, you want a miracle? Here it is. I'm still here.