"Show me the truth," I pleaded.
I only had fifteen minutes between downtown bus transfers, but I made a point to step into a nearby chapel to quickly ask the Lord to show me the truth of who He is. I hadn't felt close to Him since I hid out in my Catholic school's church during recess. I talked to Jesus there, knowing He was with me, heard me, and loved me.
As a working-class, 30-something, I wanted to return to that knowing, that intimacy. But, simply sitting in church talking to Him didn't seem enough anymore.
"Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."
~ Matthew 7:7 NLT
With several chapel stops behind me, one day I changed radio stations and landed on a preacher — the kind I used to immediately turn off. This time, I couldn't. His captivating description of God's mercy and protection over a desolate people in the wilderness gripped me. I needed to hear more.
After tuning him in over several weeks, I wondered, "Does this teacher have the truth I am looking for?" I visited the church and kept visiting. I soaked up the teaching so much that I volunteered in the tape ministry just so I could access all that biblical knowledge. It fed my mind's search for God, but my heart and spirit still needed something more.
While the Lord was wooing me through His Word, so was a man from a more traditional Protestant background. We had been dating for five years already, so we thought we should became engaged.
"My church is going to Israel next year," I told him. "Do you want to go?" We'd be married in just a few months, so I thought I should ask.
"I don't think that's a good idea," he essentially said. "I don't want to go, and I would rather you not go either." So, I dropped the request. The trip quickly filled up anyway, and the desire to visit Israel remained a desolate desire. I didn't yet know the hope of Proverbs 37:4 that says if I delight myself in the Lord, He would give me the desires of my heart.
"A man’s heart plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."
~ Proverbs 16:9 BSB
The wedding would be in a month when he called to say, "I don't want to be married."
"What just happened?"
More desolation. That's what happened. Yet, if I were honest with myself, I would have allowed relief to overcome despair. His religious practices never meshed with my own newfound faith-filled pursuits. We were growing further apart in that regard and other significant regards.
Even so, breaking a betrothal is painful to one's heart and ego, and difficult to accept. The sometimes intense and juvenile email conversations that followed didn't change the situation.
Within two weeks of that phone call, the pastor announced there were cancellations for the trip to Israel. So, guess what I did? Yes! I signed up. Since I was so immature in the faith at the time, I didn't see this as the hand of God. I only saw it as a convenient opportunity. That turned out to be a massive understatement.
On this "Footsteps of Jesus" tour, the pastor read the Word of God at every site we visited — an impressive feat, about 30 sites.
Hearing the Word in the land of the Word, sitting on the Temple steps, tasting the Galilee fish, smelling the Jerusalem air, overwhelmed my mind and spirit more than any sermon ever did. And it captured my heart more than any time spent with my fiancée.
Was this the truth I had been seeking?
"Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual."
~ 1 Corinthians 2:12–13 BSB
I can't tell you when it happened. Or how it happened. I can only say, it happened. Somewhere between being immersed in the Jordan River and unpacking the anointing oil back in Los Angeles, God filled me with the Truth that I didn’t realize I was looking for.
I immediately began spending several hours a day reading the Bible. At times, my heart pounded so hard that I had to put it aside and take a break! He touched His spirit with mine, and a lot of what I was reading actually made sense. Not only that, I couldn't stop talking about the newfound love of my life, Jesus.
When I asked Him a question, the answer appeared in my Bible reading, in a sermon, or a conversation. I'm not talking about uncovering complex theological issues or new revelations. I'm talking about understanding and knowing basic faith issues beyond hearing it taught by a passionate preacher. These truths were now engraved in my own spirit, mind, and heart; they became a part of my renewed identity as an adopted child in the family of God.
I was no longer a spectator in the pew. He made me a doer. But what was I supposed to do?
It so happened that a few months after returning from Israel, I completed a Master in Professional Writing degree with an emphasis in nonfiction. I had planned to write books and articles that helped people in some way. However ...
"The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD."
~ Proverbs 16:1, ESV
I now write and edit books and articles that help people find the Truth that I prayed to receive in that small downtown chapel. I have taken courses in the historical/grammatical approach to hermeneutics as well as apologetics, basic Hebrew, and am a continual learner.
I especially enjoy uncovering scriptural truths and writing from a first-century Messianic understanding, as the Spirit-filled Jewish apostles would have understood it and taught it.
I work knowing I still only see dimly, that none have 100% theological truth until we reach eternity with our Father. Yet, with reliance on His Holy Spirit, with honed writing and editing skills, with continual exposure to great teachers in the Word of God, and with the devotional reading of it, I submit my work unto the Lord and trust Him to use it for his kingdom building.