For all the Athenians and the foreigners…spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing. Then Paul…said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD…”
Acts 17:3 NKJV
…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Romans 1:25 NKJV
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Sprit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. However, we speak…not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age,
who are coming to nothing.
I Corinthians 2: 4:6 NKJV
Parker had acted in such an animated, nervous way during his visit that I asked him if seeing me in bed, hooked up to tubes and wires, bothered him. He nodded such a vehement “yes” that Chris and I decided that Parker wouldn’t be returning again to the hospital to visit me.
Throughout the weekend, Dr. Gordon checked in three or four times a day and kept us apprised of my status and his treatment plans. When I stabilized to his satisfaction, he would transport me to Palomar Hospital in Escondido, which had several physicians specializing in high-risk pregnancies. He knew I feared being released into the care of my regular obstetrician, who hadn’t called to speak with me or confer with him.
The medical director and my primary care physician had called, however, attempting to obtain my speedy release. Dr. Gordon remained adamant in his refusal to allow movement of any kind until I stabilized. As my stay lengthened, I sensed a battle culminating between my original medical group, (who once again seemed obsessively concerned about the charges being tallied up at a non-provider hospital), and Dr. Gordon. Fortunately, Dr. Gordon’s primary concern was practicing good medicine and protecting me.
My brain alarm bells rang when I learned of the higher-than-average maternal death rate statistics at the hospital where I’d been scheduled to deliver. (One of my nurses, who worked at both this and the other hospital, provided that jaw-dropping morsel of information.)
If the paramedics had transported me there, I might not have survived.
The realization started to sink in that God was present, and He had intervened in my care. That realty was underscored when Dr. Gordon informed me that if the bleeding had started fifteen minutes earlier – in the car on my drive home that night – I would have bled to death. The massive blood loss would have quickly sent me into a coma before I reached a highway call box to phone for help. All of this startling information forced a decision that should have been made months earlier: I would never return to my former physician and medical group for care.
Meditating more on God’s presence and the miracles played out, I prayed again for yet another one to occur: saving the life of my unborn child.
Four days I lay in that lonely hospital room, attempting to entertain myself by vacillating between watching television, praying halting, apprehensive prayers, and attempting to master mind-over-matter New Age principles. I was more familiar with those techniques than authentic, power-harnessing prayer; liberal college professors had successfully integrated them into my thinking.
If I could just think enough positive thoughts and visualize myself getting well – holding a beautiful, healthy newborn infant in my arms – I might gain control over my health and positively affect the outcome – maybe even rectify the ordeal and heal myself!
This religion (and a religion it certainly is!) promotes the doctrine that all of us – possessing a “natural power” within – have the potential to be like God, or even become “little gods.”
It’s a horrible hoax that sounds like the lie first uttered in the Garden of Eden, pleasingly and seducingly wrapped in twenty-first century euphemisms. “Then the serpent said to the woman, …‘For God knows that in the day you eat of [the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:4-5 NKJV).
It’s not just constructive positive thinking, which is proven to positively affect a person’s health and pain tolerance levels. It’s the ardent belief that deep within we all possess the capacity to rise to God’s level, or achieve perfect enlightenment, if we spend time meditating on, calling forth, and harnessing that otherwise concealed, undeveloped energy – and in the process spend an inordinate amount of time concentrating on ourselves and practicing goodness. In many people’s mind that latter point adds everlasting brownie points to their personal tally to get elevated to the next rung on the eternal holiness ladder. You’ve convinced yourself – and perhaps others – that you’re a “good” person. But just how good do you have to be?
And then there’s that concept of reincarnation.
A pastor had recently divulged to me that in order for him to believe in a “loving God,” he had to believe in reincarnation: the chance to do it over until he got it right. I blinked at him. “Get what right?” I wondered. How long had it been since he’d seriously studied Scripture, or taken God at His word instead of mixing erroneous philosophies with it? Even a Bible illiterate such as I knew reincarnation was contradicted in the Bible: “And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 NKJV). I, and the other person present to hear his confession, sat silent and stunned at his revelation and personal assessment of a “loving God.”
I didn’t think it particularly loving to have a soul inhabit numerous bodies – human or animal; for retribution, reward or refinement, over possibly hundreds or thousands of years – to attempt the impossible: obtaining perfection in earthly life. If that were truly the case, wouldn’t God give us the knowledge and ability to have vivid flashbacks in order to correct our past mistakes, to not repeat them? Why wouldn’t we come with a set of mental instructions on what went wrong in a past life? And which body would I assume on resurrection day anyway? A nice combination of all of them? (Of course, with ultimate enlightenment achievement, no body’s necessary; your “perfect” spirit becomes eternally one with the universe. Game over, no real, eternal life. Fun.) That kind of thinking made God seem indecisive, mean, petulant. Since God is love, I knew He possessed none of those character traits.
If I’m anything, I’m logical. And that thinking – although it might make for an entertaining, non-fiction storyline – is anything but logical. Christians just didn’t believe those things! I just couldn’t believe those things.
Since that time I’ve met more Christians who profess belief in, or who are willing to consider, reincarnation. And they do so not because of validation through Scripture, but because they just “feel” it. They point to entertaining, “convincing” stories they’ve seen on television or have read in magazines or books. Their beliefs rise and fall wholly on emotional experiences and feelings – theirs or others’. How saddened God must be to see people, especially His own, go to the world instead of Him for truth. Why did I, or anyone else, think that the world had better answers for life than the Creator of life? What kind of self-destructive lies had I, and others, bought into?
Yet, at that vulnerable moment, I was desperate to “try” anything.
So … away with rationality and doubt! I’d simply banish them from my psyche. Instead, I tried to paint pretty pictures of a perfect, happy future in my brain. I thought positively, and thought positively…and thought positively some more.
I wore myself out trying to think positively.
God gave me plenty of time to delude myself with positive self-talk.
The problem is, eventually self and prating pep talk will run out.
In whose hands would I place my life then?
NEXT WEEK: A two-timing Christian: the self-assessment and search continue…
Thanks for joining me!
Until next week –
Footnote: Please don’t misunderstand me; I believe strongly in a positive attitude. A negative disposition and propensity to ‘awfulize’ everything in life devours you, and probably everyone with whom you come in contact. It’s destructive.
However, upbeat attitudes and positive thinking will never win the ultimate battle we all face in this life. We need an unfailing Source of deep, abiding joy; a Source of love that casts out fear and gives a peace that defies understanding – in success and adversity.
That Source is not us! It never has been.
The million-dollar question is: Do you know what the Source and the ultimate battle are?