The Gingerbread Man // 薑餅人

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Gingerbread men

On the outside, Vincent thought he had it all but inside, he had a hole in his heart that needed to be filled.
表面上看,Vincent以為一切都在他手中,但他內心裡卻有一個需要填補的空洞。

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:
http://hk.ourwitness.com/2013/07/21/drinking-from-gods-sweetest-streams-in-the-valleys-of-life/

 

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 。

我在一個“基督教” 的家庭長大,但在我13歲的時候,我們就沒有再去教會了。我當時覺得在主日學裡整天就是要背經文,我覺得根本沒什麼意義。而且主日學跟我當時的世界觀很不同。

故此我沒有完全相信。我有太多的問題,而我踏出這一大步前,我覺得自己需要更加理解基督教。

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。

在我iPhone的聖經程式裡有一句子:「補充自己。是在當你處於生命的低谷時,你才能從神最甜蜜的清泉裡喝水。是在這種時候,神才能補充你的靈。」我認識很多基督徒都是在生命最黑暗的時候信主的。但我生命裡沒有什麽大的低谷,而我也覺得自己不需要神。我生命挺好的,而我也不需要用假象令自己開心。基本上,我對基督教就是這種看法,直至一年前。

我當時在經歷一段很艱難的時段嗎?不是,反而一切都在我手中。我的工作非常穩定,我跟家人的關係不錯,我在世界不同的國家都有好朋友,而我也在我拍拖年齡的高峰期。但當我回想自己的個人生活時,我總覺得經常有一種空虛感。當初我以為我需要一段戀愛關係。但過往的經驗和觀察其他男女關係時,我知道拍拖可以好玩,但不一定讓我的靈滿足。我就想,難道生命裡缺乏的就是神?我心裡有一個神型的洞嗎?

我開始問問題。我身邊有幾位我知性上尊重的基督徒。我看到自己提問:「有什麼讓他們相信,而我自己卻有很多疑問呢?」

有一次我求問我的表哥很多關於基督教的問題,而他告訴我一樣很重要的東西。他說:「你知道嗎,當你相信時,那不代表你會停止提問。你會繼續提問問題去繼續成熟你的信仰。」 這讓我驚訝,這位是一個我尊重的、信仰成熟的基督徒(而且他很聰明),而他跟我說的是連他也一直在提問關於信仰的問題。

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。」

神對我說話了。我收到這個信息的當晚,我去了一個教會崇拜而且第一次領了聖餐。在我多年參加教會的崇拜裡,每次都會讓聖餐的杯跳過自己,覺得自己並沒準備好。那天晚上,我決定不要再離神而逃跑了,並開始向神的方向奔跑。我決定先相信,再問問題,而不是倒過來。

幾天後,同一位姐妹從神裡得到另一個信息,而她再次幫我畫了出來。是一個臉帶笑容的薑餅人,但這次他的心補好了,在一個餅乾罐裡面,而他沒有再逃跑了。這次的信息是詩篇27段4節:「有一件事我求過耶和華,我還要尋求;我要一生一世住在耶和華的殿裡,瞻仰他的榮美,在他的殿中求問。」

那,聖靈,為什麼有一個餅乾罐呢?
答案?因爲薑餅人需要一個家!

*想知道Vincent在信仰之路的下一步有什麼經歷的話,請點擊以下連結:
http://hk.ourwitness.com/2013/07/21/drinking-from-gods-sweetest-streams-in-the-valleys-of-life/

Image credit: flickr.com/infobunny

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