Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On the Steps


"On the Steps"

"On the Steps" (November 14, 2008)

This is a picture of me on the night of November 6, 2000, just outside my university's computer lab, trying to pray. My world had just been undone. I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist church believing that its prophet (Ellen G. White) wrote completely biblically and that SDA truth was the most correct kind of Christianity out there. But on this night, I read an investigative report on a website about Ellen White.

Granted, in the 90's, I had begun hearing things once in awhile about EGW's plagiarism, copying someone else's work and printing it as her own (the usual SDA comeback was that it was okay to do that back then -- not true, I later found out! She had to withdraw one book called "Sketches From the Life of Paul" because the original authors threatened legal action). Or I remember hearing an SDA pastor telling me about a picture at the EGW estate (I grew up in the same town as the SDA General Conference headquarters) of EGW wearing a pearl necklace, despite the fact that she had blasted people for wearing jewelry. So to make her message more consistent, the church actually tried to air-brush out the pearls from the picture! But it had been exposed. Of course, I just laughed at it at the time rather than deal with the real theological ramifications of it -- rather than deal with the challenge it posed to SDA "truth". Like most good Adventists, I kept my faith in what we taught and I decided that people who said those things were usually bitter or angry at SDA for some other reason.

But this night in November 2000, when I looked at that one particular website, the information was just too much to ignore. I couldn't rationalize it away any more. There was much more than plagiarism or pearl necklaces. There is a lot of medical evidence that explains not only her visions accompanied by somewhat epileptic symptoms, as well as her bi-polar hyper-religious and legalistic bents, while at other times seeming to be normal and kind. The most disturbing part was that over the years, the institution tried to keep it hidden (like the necklace, ironically). When people in the institution tried to expose it, they were usually told that they had to leave their jobs. I wish I could remember all the evidence, and I wish I could point to that site again. I think the page is down now, but most of the information can be found on various investigative EGW sites and former-Adventist sites (as well as much, much more).

But for me, that night, the evidence of what I read was too much for me. I left the computer lab and fell down on some stairs outside. I wanted to run away and disappear in the woods. You see, I had just finished working as an SDA missionary in Japan for a year. I had taught the Bible, SDA truths, and Ellen White. I taught honest people that these things were the truth, that this was what God wanted them to know. And now, it all looked like it was a lie. Going off into the mountains seemed like the best thing to do.

The worst part was that for that moment, "Jesus" fell with Adventism.

Like most Adventists, I believed that everything we taught was from God, and that Ellen White was God's prophet, writing God's words. If she was false, and everything she wrote was Biblical, then the Bible must be false. I can't describe the sickening fear that I experienced at that time.

So I prayed. Or tried. I wasn't sure if God was real, but I prayed anyway and tried to forget about what I'd read. I can't actually remember what I said when I prayed. I think I couldn't really say anything. I barely was able to utter, so shattered was my belief and faith in God Himself. Even though I had felt His presence for the first time just two years earlier. Even though I had heard Him speak to me for the first time in the previous year (as a missionary). Even though He had healed a homeless man's infirmity as a result of the ministry we did in Japan. When EGW was exposed, "God" came down with her, and for a terrible moment, all the things He had done in my life and that I had done with Him fell, too.

Somehow stumbled back into the lab, began to read a book by Hazel Holland, detailing a prophetic dream she'd received and its interpretation. A friend of mine had found it on the internet, and I was about to read it (not taking it seriously, mind you) when I browsed around and ended up at the investigative EGW report that shattered my faith in her. I returned to looking at Hazel's book more on auto-pilot than with real interest.

At first I was cautious, but then my heart began to pound. I began seeing my whole experience in Adventism from a new perspective--God's perspective! He knew that things had been hidden. He knew that when I was growing up, I saw many things inside the church that didn't seem right, but that I wasn't able to talk about it because I was told that nobody was perfect and that it was wrong to criticize God's church. But as I was reading, I began to know that God's heart cries for His children! He loves us, and He knows all the things we go through! He sees all the hidden pains that we often are not able to recognize and cry about. He hears all of His children's cries.

I sent off an email to the website administrator (that was hosting Hazel's book), and he forwarded it to her. The next day Hazel emailed me with the shocker: she lived five minutes from my university! Little did I know that God had been preparing her for this, that through other people God prophesied to her that students would be coming to her. So she had started to get her home ready for meetings. So I went that same week, tested her with the Adventist questions, and she spoke the Gospel instead, which broke through my Adventist testing questions. The Gospel won. And I began to discover that God is a lot bigger than I had imagined. It was the beginning of me entering His Sabbath rest in Jesus Christ -- not one day a week, but 24/7, finding out that Jesus Himself is my Sabbath rest.

(You can read a little more about what happened later in my post here: Why I Left Adventism)

I've shared all of this because for reasons I can't fully write right now, God had me paint this scene from my "shaking", when I was on the steps, ready to go into the hills and leave everything. Basically, die. And I did die on those steps. And God raised me up. He resurrected me. What I would leave behind (Adventism) is like death compared to the life I've discovered in Jesus Christ now and His Holy Spirit who speaks to me, comforts me, lifts me up, and ministers His sweetness through me to others.

That moment on the steps was critical. It was one of two times in my life when I didn't know what or how to pray, and yet God answered my prayer! I think a lot of Adventists are going to find themselves "on these steps" in the coming days. And like it was for me, for so many of them "God" will fall when EGW/SDA is shaken. Most tragically, many will wander out into the hills and leave everything altogether. Many will "die" inside and not be resurrected. This is part of why God had me paint this -- for intercession, for them, that they not stay in death, that they not go out into the hills dead. In Jesus' name I pray and cry. Amen.

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