In my teenage years I was irregularly devoted to the Christian movement, so much so, that at the age of nineteen I fasted an entire week with only water as my diet. Upon ending my fast I awoke with an overwhelming pain in my throat. It felt like a ball had grown on the inside of the left wall of my esophagus.
My speech was unfazed, the only real ache was this strange pain in my throat and sense that I had something lodged in there. I immediately began to thank God. I sang his praises for giving me strength through my fast, I yelled at the top of my lungs the highest praises to God. I remember standing underneath the archway between my family’s living room and kitchen; there I looked straight into heaven, and proclaimed, “God, this is the least of suffering that I will do for you. This pain is nothing. For one day, Lord, I will die for your name’s sake!”
—During this time I was zealous, fiery, and filled with a passion to serve God’s church through missionary work. I was not ill-minded or faint to the idea of dying for the holy cause — in fact I invited the thought as I had my missionary sights set on Arabia.
In that instance underneath the archway, I felt a great tire come over me. I yawned heavily and I walked over to my bedroom. I had just woken up, but for whatever reason I was incredibly sleepy again. I laid down and closed my eyes only to awaken in a dream seconds later.
Within my dream I gazed around my bedroom — everything was as it had been the moment my head hit the pillow, save for the man that stood outside my bedroom, centered up in the middle of the living room. I became startled, but the man — a tall, tan, short-haired, large nosed, goateed person dressed in all white greeted me with a beautiful smile. He pointed at me and simply said, “You.”
This sent a wild fear throughout my body that I looked away only to question, “God?!” Upon yelling, I heard an entire chorus of voices say, “Be quiet.” I looked out again at the man in the living room and then ducked my head away, praying, “God. I can’t do this now. I’m not ready for this. God, get me out of this.” And I awoke.
The throat pain was completely gone.
Four years earlier, I had attended a sermon from a televangelist named Rod Parsley. I went with my church youth group. I was already unhappy at the prospect of watching this charlatan possess the crowd with his malign misrepresentation of Christianity. But I went anyway to support my fellow patrons and my sister, who had been excited about the event.
The man did no hint of preaching; he mustered up some phony power to “slay” his own daughter in the spirit, where she fell back onto the ground. Beyond this he rallied on stage, sensing that God had told him that someone in the crowd wanted to give his ministry a thousand dollars — seventeen hands shot up and the money came pouring in after that. The crowd awed and swooned to the reviving music as the evangelist stirred the congregration with his calls to give more and participate with their wallets in the building of the kingdom of God.
I sat very low in my chair, enraged. Here was a man blatantly defiling the name of God and all that was divinely right for his personal material gain. I was sickened. I left there miserable. I had to bring down my sister’s high spirits to make her realize what grand theft had just occurred.
By the time we made it home, I had to express my anger to somebody that would listen, my dad. I told him everything I felt in a long drawn out rant about how the man was just there to take people’s money. He did no teaching and provided no guidance — the only guidance he gave was pointing people toward the offering baskets.
My dad replied with something that I’ll never forget.
He said, “If Jesus would have been there, he would have stood up loudly in the back of the crowd and called that man a liar, a thief, and a false prophet. He would have been the most unpopular person there, but Jesus would have stood strongly for what was right.”
After our conversation, I was greatly inspired by Jesus Christ, so deeply that I walked over to my bedroom and made a pact with God that I would devote my life to him, that I would leave my entire destiny in God’s hands and allow him to do what he desired with me. I promised God to unveil his truth and proclaim it everywhere. I would be the unpopular voice devoted to being a thorn in the side of falsehood.
A strong order — because now I had to become entirely educated in the truest truth in order to not stumble around in falsities.
The following story is one my mother recants and one my father used to tell me as to why he named me Joshua Joab. I’ve assumed it to be true, but I can’t prove any of it other than say that Mom is one of the most honest persons I know and I can’t find a reason as to why she’d embellish my birth story.
In 1985, my sister had grown incredibly ill. I don’t know the details of her sickness, but my family says that she was at the point of near death. The doctor had prescribed several medicines to her, but nothing was working. I can only imagine that my three-year-old sister was weak, feverish and faint. This chaos drove my mother into a closet one night to pray, call upon God, open her bible and praise God by reading the book of Psalms. There in the stillness of a sleepless night, my mother’s faith opened up the voice of God.
My dad and mom had been trying for a couple of years to have a second child, but month after month, they had failed to produce anything. My mom felt as a barren woman, having already struggled to have my sister, she believed she would likely not have a another child.
But God told her otherwise, Mom says that she heard a voice commanding her to take my sister completely off all her medication and she would be healed; God then mentioned to her that she was pregnant with a son.
The day after my mother told my dad what had occurred, so they took my sister off the meds and she got well over time — then nine months later she gave birth to a baby boy — a miracle child that my dad felt was direct gift from God that he named him Joshua Joab, so that each time you said his name you would be praising God — Joshua means “the Lord is Salvation” and Joab means “the Lord is the Father” — My dad said he dedicated me to God the day I came home; I was circumcised on the eighth day as was the order of the Jewish doctor that delivered me. My dad made sure to remind me of my birth and my name, saying I was not fully his son, but God’s.
By the age of twenty-two I had left the Church, abandoning my calling as a missionary, and denouncing Christianity totally. I proclaimed to my family that I was now Agnostic (because telling people I am a Deist can be complicated to explain.) I believe it was God’s plan for me to trickle away from the flock, learn the truths of human meaning and examine the world through a scope of logic and reason rather than submit to the mythology of the Christian texts. I became skeptical, defiant toward God, and unleashed– fighting the pyre of his holy spirit, refusing to dive into the folly of nostalgia once again. I was wide open to new perspectives, exploring every religion, reading every text I could grasp which had an opinion about God. I was going to find the truth, because I could no longer find it within the Holy Bible.
Between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one I believed in the very special nature of my existence. Everything seemed to line up in my life, I felt unjustifiably lucky — God definitely had a plan for me; I felt like his special creation. But I grew to hate this mindset, I grew to hate this cloak that God had covered me in —I felt controlled; I felt unfree from the grasp of God’s destiny and desires. I had to shake God off my conscience in order to fully rid myself of this gifted position that filled me with pride and arrogance.
I assume that most first world people feel like the center of the universe at some point in their life, where they’re the grand player on a very large stage — a feeling of infinitely immortal desires at their disposal, fortunate to enjoy splendid luxuries of being a first class citizen in one of the most powerful nations to exist. It’s hard not to feel this way — godlike — when the world moves at your pace. In one way or another, here in the first world, we are tiny messiahs blessed with grace to make the world a better place.
Around my late twenties I abandoned all prospect of feeling special — that feeling of nestling underneath God’s wing. I accepted that I had no real destiny about me. I enjoyed disconnecting from the pact with God and continued to resist my relationship with Jesus Christ — I’ve had a constant back and forth with Christ specifically. I’ve always admired Jesus the man, more than Jesus the god. I see the power in his impact to be something far more special and potent than the mythology of him being equiped with soul-saving redemptive powers. I admire the brave young man that stood up to the powers that be, the man that penetrated the empire with ideas, inspiration, hope, faith, and love–the man from a small village on the outskirts of society who changed the world as we know it.
That is insane to me. That is what is most powerful of all. That the story, legend, and wisdom of a young man could topple empires of ideas. His forgiving attitude is the epitome of Western society, one that turns the other cheek to old tradition, wealth, and power, inviting community to be the rulers of a good life. Christ, and those that took his allegiance after him, have shaped the very nature of modern thought. That is the most remarkable thing for me.
And so the mythology inspires me too, the story of Christ rising from the dead. It’s a curious thing indeed. Dying and resurrecting–the idea is such a hopeful desire to humanity that fears death, or one that rarely ever sees death as the ultimate finality.
And so, too, I see that my mission — in regards to God — is that I must be the one (or one of the ones) to resurrect God.
“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”
— Friedrich Nietzche
Holy lamentation. When will God rise again as Christ did?
The whole earth trends toward humanism, where is God in all this? Is man become a god to replace the God? Can God be replaced? How then can we become a god if we have not defined God?
God will resurrect. I am going to make sure I do my part in helping raise Him from the dead. God saved me, now I must save Him.
Yes, God needs our help. Yes, God is dead. Yes, God will rise again.
I am for God. I am for the restoration of God.
God as a concept, as an inspiring force, an umoved mover, the prime mover — one drawing us toward perfection, showing us every day what perfection might look like. A guiding principle to direct humankind into a century where we will display our own godlike abilities and behaviors, if we are above the law, then we will have erased the cosmic Magna Carta we aligned to when we as a human community once revered the former deity.
It is humanist to resurrect God. And we will, because we are the ones who have always defined God.
If it is all a myth, then it is a myth we invented to inspire ourselves — one created to let us know that there is something greater than us, something more good, more perfect than who we are, but if we can glimpse and leap toward perfection, if we can define what that perfection looks like and agree upon it, then we are also capable of becoming perfect.
That was Christ’s message in the Bible, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” he said in the book of Matthew. Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. Why shy away from the thought?
Humankind can be perfect and continues to strive to be perfect. Humankind is perfecting itself daily through various avenues of life — as we learn from science, understand our emotional responses, and cure diseases, we are stepping toward perfection each new day.
This was Christ’s commandment.
My relationship with God is one very much so like that of a loving father and a spoiled child. God has spoiled me. I am certain of this.
I remember standing in my fully-furnished, two bedroom, two bath condo in the prime region of Medellin, Colombia and thanking God for the job he had given, the home he had provided, the friendships he had kindled for me all along the way throughout my backpacking journey in 2015.
I came to tears in that moment, fell to my knees and asked God, “Why have you always been so good to me? And why me? Who the hell am I that you always provide for me no matter the circumstance?” I had sold everything, dropped it all, ventured out with the intent to suffer, to struggle, but God would not even allow me that.
“Why God?” — my heart, my mouth, and my mind became still. I felt God’s spirit speak and simple communicate, “Because I was your first love.”
From a young age I’ve sought out God’s wisdom, God’s advice, and more importantly sought out to know God. I prayed for hours, remained alone with God for several hours a day. I have always relied on God to provide, help, and guide me. God is my best friend.
“Then how can you say God is dead?” some will ask. Because on the grand scale, it is humanism, it is technology replacing poverty, fixing tragedy, descreasing sickness — it is human advancement and education lowering crime rates, it is a sudden turn toward not necessarily needing God or a god as a nation. In a global sense, God is dead, being replaced with inner-strength, self-help, and Eastern viewpoints of the power within.
Who in this first-world really needs God? Capitalism drives human nature to be at its worse, greed preys upon the meek. God is far divided from these spectrums of human nature.
It is my duty to make God relevant again. I want to ressurect the ideas, concepts, and connections once had in the past. I want to create a bridge from the island of non-believers to believers. That’s what I want. I want to make talking about God palatable, not faux pas, or pointless. I want God to resurrect as a modern entity, fully defined and acknowledged by society.
This is the God I want to see rise from the ashes, and it will occur.
God is dead. Long live God!