Dear Mr. Foster: I was sorry to read that you have mental struggles. If I had known, I might not have attempted to be so harshly comprehensive in my response to one of your articles about what is wrong with the Christian religion. I told you that you might want to turn that spotlight on yourself...
Fifty years ago, my world was crashing down around me, partly because I had not taken a friend's advice to talk to other people and compare experiences. At the time, I was fairly deep into the drug culture-- well, not the culture really, but fairly deep into the drugs themselves.
I had spent a year or so smoking pot, hitchhiking back and forth across the country, and often, while in the middle of a desert or on the high plains, I would take my complaints to God, quite angrily, in fact… Why the war? Why all the evil? Why don’t you do something? You know, the whole repertoire of youthful foolishness.
When my drug-addled world caved in around me, in desperation, I went up to the roof of the building where I was staying (because if you climb higher, you are closer to God, so He can hear you, I figured), and I desperately prayed for deliverance from the “bad trip” I was having. Well, God answered. It felt so great that for two more weekends I dropped LSD, went into a nightmare of a trip, went up to the roof, prayed again, and was delivered. Luckily, it occurred to me that I was banging my head against the wall, because it felt so good to stop!
As was my custom, I left town in my continuing efforts to find “the answer,” and after some months, ended up at a small ranch where an elder Pentecostal Missionary and his wife had turned their ranch into an outreach for young people who were “on the road to find out.” There were like 7 or 8 young people living there. Every night after supper we would have little prayer meetings, sing some country type gospel songs, give personal testimonies of how God had changed their lives, and finally use the chairs as altars on which to pray. It seemed natural to me, because I had already called on God. None of it “turned me off.”
Now, after a few weeks, and I did not realize that this was occurring at the time, God was leading me. He introduced me to His Son, Jesus, from whom I pleaded for mercy, to forgive my sins, and come into my life. You see, I finally realized my problems were my problems. My parents were not to blame. The war was not to blame. The world was not to blame. It was me, my actions, that had made a mess of my life. Well the love of Jesus washed over me, lifted the burden of guilt off of me, cleansed me inside in a rather unexplainable thoroughness, and enabled me start on the road to get my life right.
It took a long, long time for me to rehabilitate, several years in fact, to establish a new lifestyle and mindset where I could function in the real world. From then until now, piece by piece, I began to get understanding and insight into Jesus' way of thinking and doing. Yet, I am still a work in progress and am holding on to the promise that “He who began a good work in you (me) will bring it to completion…”
Notwithstanding all that, one “criticism” for you-- a warning of sorts-- and I know this, because I am not immune: This is a common dynamic in all facets of life-- intellectual, political, social, whatever-- when we lose our moorings, the sea will have its way with our boat. In other words, we, as a Society and as individuals, can ride on a pendulum from one extreme to the other, sometimes wildly. It’s like the apostle James wrote: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:2-6. NIV Bible)
Yes. There is a ton of things wrong with just about everything. The answer is not any religion or philosophy or political party. The answer is finding and developing and persevering in a personal and dynamic relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. “Seek and keep on seeking. Ask and keep on asking. Knock and keep on knocking.”