The Gingerbread Man // 薑餅人
On the outside, Vincent thought he had it all but inside, he had a hole in his heart that needed to be filled.
I grew up in a “Christian” family, but we stopped going to church when I was 13. I felt like all we ever did in Sunday school was memorize Bible verses, and I really didn’t see the point. At the time, it didn’t fit into my worldview at all.
About 8 years ago, I moved back to Hong Kong from the States, and an auntie urged me to check out Island ECC. At first, the experience was a bit overwhelming and very different from what I remembered about Sunday school. Here was a full service, in a giant hall at the Exhibition Centre, complete with a rock band and a pastor who spoke about things that I could actually relate to. Over the course of the next few years, as my career took me in and out of Hong Kong, I would occasionally pop by church. Every time I went, it felt like my heart would “unclench,” when I didn’t even realize that it was clenched in the first place, and I felt like a better person afterward. This feeling kept me coming back to church, even as a non-believer.
But I didn’t really believe. There were just too many questions that I had, and I felt like I really needed to understand Christianity better before I could make the leap.
For many years, I thought of Christianity as a comfortable delusion — a place where ignorance is bliss, logic doesn’t matter and the most important thing is psychological comfort. That was fine for other folks, but not me. As a deeply analytical person, I couldn’t imagine sacrificing logic and reason to achieve that comfort.
There is a quote from the Good News Bible app on my iPhone that says, “Replenish yourself: It’s in the ‘valleys’ of your life that you can drink from God’s sweetest streams. It’s during his period when He restores your soul.” I knew that a lot of believers came to Christ during the darkest periods of their lives. The problem was I didn’t have any major “valleys” in my life. I didn’t feel like I needed God. My life was already great — I didn’t need to delude myself in order to be happy. This was basically my outlook on Christianity until about a year ago.
Was I going through a really tough period? No. On the contrary, I had everything — at least on paper. My career was taking off, I had a great relationship with my family, I had a number of close friends from around the world, and I was in my dating prime. But then, as I reflected upon my personal life, I started realizing that there was this persistent emptiness in me that wouldn’t go away. At first, I thought I needed to get into a relationship. But from past experiences and from observing other couples, I knew that while dating could be fun, it didn’t necessarily lead to satisfaction or fulfillment of one’s soul. Then I thought, what if it’s God that’s missing from my life? What if there’s a God-shaped hole in my heart?
So I started asking questions. There are a few believers in my life that I really respect intellectually. I found myself asking, “What is it that allows them to believe, when I still have all these doubts?”
One time when I was peppering my cousin with questions about Christianity, he told me something that really struck a chord in me. He said, “You know, the questioning doesn’t end when you start believing. You continue to ask questions and grow in your faith.” This took me by surprise. Here was a guy that I considered a mature believer (and really smart), and he was telling me that even he continues to ask questions as part of his spiritual growth.
Through another cousin, I met an amazing sister in Christ who inspired me to take the next step in my faith. Within two or three days of meeting me, she told me that she had received a “download” from God about me, and she sketched it out for me on a piece of paper. It was a gingerbread man, running with a smile on his face and a hole in his heart. There was a message to go with it: ”My Son, I’m so proud of you. There’s nothing you can do to make me love you less. You are my son whom I’m well pleased with. Stop running away. My love for you is relentless. I have placed David’s heart in you. You are a man after my heart. Love, Papa God.” This was spot-on — by all outward measures, I was a happy guy. But inside, I felt empty.
She later told me that when she got this image of a gingerbread man with a hollow heart, it made no sense to her. She asked God what it meant, and He gave her 2 words: “Running Away.” She didn’t know what the gingerbread man story was about, but she looked it up on Google and it was about — you guessed it — running away! The download she got was, “Stop running away. My love for you is relentless.”
God was speaking to me. The very night I received this message, I went to a church service and took communion for the first time. In all my years of going to church, I had always let the cup pass me by, feeling that I wasn’t ready. That night, I made the decision to stop running away from God, and start running toward Him. I decided to believe first and ask questions later, not the other way around.
A few days later, the same sister received another download from God, and again she sketched it out for me. It was the same happy-looking gingerbread man, but this time, his heart was patched up and he was encased in a cookie jar, and he wasn’t running anymore. The message this time was, “Psalm 27:4: One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”
So — why cookie jar, Holy Spirit?
The answer? A gingerbread man needs a home!
*To find out the next part of Vincent’s journey, click on the link below:
八年前我從美國搬回來香港，一位姨母建議我到Island ECC教會看看。起初，到這教會的經驗給我蠻震撼的感覺，並且跟我所記得的主日學很不同。他們在會展的巨型展覽廳舉行主日崇拜，還有搖滾樂隊，而牧師所講的道也是跟我自身生命能拉上關係。 過後幾年，因工作的關係，我經常要出入香港，偶爾我也會去教會。每次去到教會都感覺自己的心會放鬆（連我自己也不知道我平常的心原來是如此緊張），而每次去完教會都覺得自己變成一個更好的人。 即使我當時還沒信主，這種感覺讓我一直繼續去教會 。
多年來，我也覺得基督教是一種舒適的錯覺 – 一個無知是福、邏輯沒有地位的地方，而最重要就是心理舒服的感覺。其他人對這沒問題，但我就不可以。作為一個喜歡深度分析的人，我不能想像如何能犧牲邏輯及理性去換取那種舒服的感覺。
透過另一位表哥，我認識了一位奇妙的屬靈姐妹，她激發我在我信仰的路上踏出下一步。她在認識我的兩三天內告訴我神跟她講了一些關於我的事情，而她幫我在紙上畫了出來。紙上是一個正在奔跑的薑餅人，臉帶笑容，但心理卻有一個洞。有一個隨畫的信息：「我的兒子，我因你而驕傲。没有你做的事情會讓我對你的愛減少。你是我的兒子，我因你而歡喜。不要再逃跑了。我對你的愛是永不休止的。我把大衛的心放在你裡面。你是跟隨我的心的人。阿爸夫愛你。」 這跟我的經歷一模一樣 – 從表面上看，我是一個開心的人，但心裡面卻很空虛。
她之後告訴我，當她剛收到這幅心裡有個洞的薑餅人的圖畫時，她一點都不懂。她問神這是什麽意思，而神答覆了她兩個字：逃跑。她不知道薑餅人的故事，所以她在網上搜了一下就看到 — 你猜對了 — 關於逃跑的故事！她得到的信息是：「不要逃跑了。我對你的愛是永不休止的。」
Image credit: flickr.com/infobunny