This post could also be called Life before I Disbelieved.
When I lost trust in Jesus, I simply could not live out the victorious life.
Before I disbelieved, I was helping others believe.
What many people don’t know about me is that there were about a span of 5 years, from the start of my graduation from college, where I turned agnostic. I wasn’t sure if the Bible could be totally trusted, or if the Jesus of history is really the Jesus of the Bible.
That’s is where I truly fell victim to the devices of the world, and futility of my own flesh.
(Incidentally, that’s why I also believe in Christian Apologetics on top of right believing in God’s grace for the empowerment of our lives. Correct theology points us in the right direction of victorious living, but apologetics steady our minds to keep walking when events occur that make us doubt if God’s word is true. A pastor once described difficulties of life that threaten to make us turn back as follows. If there are rats near the landing gear of a plane, don’t stop the flight because of it. Rather, simply take off and go higher, the coldness of the high altitude would freeze out and kills the rats. Knowing why you believe gives us the conviction to go higher instead of turning back.)
When I lost trust in Jesus, I simply could not live out the victorious life. There was nothing to shield me from the fallen world around me. When my eczema continued to get worse without reprieve, it forced me to do something I have never done in my life. I had to quit my job and stopped pursuing my career. When politics occurred in church and family, I could not handle it God’s way and left a mess. Gradually, I stumbled, had a life characterized by a lack of purpose, and fell into obscurity.
Yet, I recalled that when I was younger, the odds were already stacked against me but yet the outcomes were so different.
In secondary school, I had eczema that other kids made fun of. One of them incessantly called me “rash king” in front of my classmates,
When in secondary one, I was in the 2nd worst class in school. Pupils would regularly be stealing from others, and teachers would leave the classroom crying.
Educational psychology shows us that in such an environment, despite a high IQ, most kids would greatly underachieve. No one would bet that eventually, I would obtain straight As for my Cambridge ‘A’ levels.
How did I manage to not only survive the poor learning environment, insensitive kids and very painful days, but also get straight As eventually leading my way into an Ivy-League school?
The first half of my life was characterized by beating the odds in front of me. The story of the second half seems to be me falling victim to the same adversities I had when younger. These adversities might have had a different face but the same form. The challenges in the second half of my life after college were similar to the challenges of my youth, I still had crippling eczema (albeit worse). I still had my fair share of naysayers. I still had the challenge of trying to adapt to new social environments. How did I overachieve in the first half, winning over my grades, my naysayers/doubters, and yet flounder so spectacularly, so easily, in the second?
There were blessings that I could never explain. So here’s my final story of how I got from an all ‘E’ student to an all ‘A’ student for my Cambridge ‘A’ level exam.
From Es to As
When I was in Junior College, at the age of 17, I struggled mightily with Biology. Many teachers warned me against taking up Biology at the age of 17 because I didn’t formally study it when younger. Consequently, I got very frustrated and confused, averaging a grade of E in all my tests despite studying very hard for it.
Coincidentally, in the middle of my Junior College time is when I rededicated my life to God and started to live a life of His purpose.
With only 2 months left before my final exams, the dreaded ‘A’ level exams, I gave up and let God. I dedicated my studies and future to God.
At that moment, I felt a peace to “start again”, despite not having enough time, I threw away ALL my Biology notes that I accumulated over the school year because they were all confusing me. Instead, I went into the bookshop and simply picked 2 biology textbooks that looked interesting. I decided that reading two textbooks may allow an intersection of explanations that may increase my precision of knowledge, but certainly, there was not enough time to study through all the chapters. When calculating how many days left before the exam, I know that if I studied without distraction for 12 hours a day, I might be able to cover the material 40% well, 40% not-so-well, and 20% not-at-all. In other words, it would be impossible in my human effort to get an A due to time constraint and that’s assuming that somehow I could understand the materials I totally failed to do so during the school curriculum.
I decided to respect God’s thoughts, and not lean on my own understanding. I felt the peace to start again from scratch, even those many thought that plan was ludicrous with so little time left. How would I master almost 2 years of curriculum in 2 months?
Every morning, even though I felt like an Egyptian mummy (pressed for time and wanting to wrap up my exams real quick), I gave the first half an hour to God. I would read the Bible, listen to worship music, and pray for family and friends. Everything in me wanted to not give up that half an hour, but I had faith that doing things God’s way and in His purpose would yield the perfect result, regardless if it led to failure.
I even shared with my Biology teacher my recent rededication to Christ.
I felt God tell me to not worry about the exams, and study biology for my own education and understanding. So instead of studying chapter by chapter, I choose the topics that interested me the most and kept following the rabbit trails that led forth. After obtaining an understanding of some key concepts, those concepts would beg further questions and I would explore that – I was learning freely, you might say, enjoying the process even though I knew I didn’t have enough time to complete the syllabus. Because of this free-spirited but rigorous approach, I had an uneven understanding of some of my subjects. I had an almost 1st-year medical school knowledge (way above expectation) of the endocrine system and almost close-to-zero knowledge of the anatomy of fishes! This is what happens when you choose 2 random textbooks that were not recommended by the school… the curriculum is different.
This is not the recipe for getting an A.
Yet, I had this supernatural peace that everything was going to be okay. I remember telling God that even if I flunked my exams, I would still serve Him gladly.
It’s the day of the exams.
The exam is broken into structured questions and essays.
The structured questions were from chapters I was very familiar with! Very few of the questions were on topics I had close to no knowledge! I felt God start to turn “my mourning into dancing”.
The essay questions.
The first was on the endocrine system! For this topic, I actually had superior knowledge, and since this was an essay, I had the chance to express it. I remember I felt this incredulous feeling when I saw the question on the paper. I felt like “more than a conqueror” at the point. After crushing this question, I flipped over the page to the second essay question.
It was on fishes.
Fish was the topic I had a very superficial understanding of, and in an essay question, you cannot hide your ignorance. I felt my soul being crushed at that moment. If I flunk one whole essay question, you’ll never get an A.
At that moment, I looked carefully at the question, it was on the mechanics of fishes – how they move, how they swim and what makes them efficient.
All of a sudden, I got a solid idea (or perhaps a desperate idea), and I knew this idea came from God because almost nobody else that I asked after the exam did the same thing as I did.
Biology is just physics covered in tissue.
I was actually very good at physics, and started to deconstruct the fish on the spot from first principles and started to answer this Biology essay question as though it was a Physics essay question. I knew the mechanics of a submarine, how it cuts through the water, and how it adjusts its internal pressure in order to adjust their depth in the ocean. I realized on the spot that the fish was similar. I remember writing equations and drawing diagrams in the Biology paper. I wrote about how the fish will adjust the air in its bladder to control depth using Archimedes principle. I drew diagrams of the fish wagging its tail to produce a resultant force by Bernoulli’s principle to propel it forward. I drew the shape of the fish, the smoothness of the fins to reduce drag forces. I can still remember it to this day, 25 years later, for this was the day God gave both favor in helping me not only choose the correct topics but get interested in the correct topics and the wisdom to think out of the box when no one did it that way.
“F= kv, where k is the drag coefficient; v is the velocity of the fish through the fluid. Smooth fins and gentle curves minimize k.”
This was in my paper. I remember it from 25 years ago like it were yesterday.
This is where my natural world showed hints of the supernatural. It started when I gave up on my own pursuits and followed Jesus.
My fellow students looked incredulous when I told them what I had done since I did not know the classically biological way to answer the essay question.
Did it work? It must have. I got my A, even when I was prepared for the worst.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
In Jesus lies wisdom and favor
Lest I think that I deserved all the credit, I did two things after receiving my results.
The first, I called my very smart friend Sabrina, who’s a doctor right now. She asked me what my results were. Overjoyed, I told I got straight As. She promptly asked, in an agitated manner, twice.
“Ken, stop joking, what did you really get?”
“I got straight As”.
“I mean seriously, what did you get?”
My friends sure have a lot of faith in me… not.
The second, I had to show my biology teacher who knew my history of Es.
“Madam, what do you make of this?”
“I now believe in miracles.”
Before I “disbelieved”, my life is actually filled with many of such experiences, where I had no business doing well, but somehow, God helped me do something unexpected.
But years later, after college, for many years, these types of favor and wisdom would dry up.
I suspect the reason why.
In my heart, I knew the factor that made the biggest difference was this – I couldn’t connect with the promises of God because I wasn’t sure who God was anymore, and by extension, I could no longer see Jesus in the same way anymore.
Once that occurred, when I prayed, I felt as though I was talking to the ceiling… and God’s abundance dried up. There was no supernatural provision for my declining health, no favor in my career and no godly wisdom for the difficult decisions in life.
In as short as only 5 years ago, I rededicated my life back to Christ after a journey of personal tragedy and studying apologetics to know the reasons why I believe in Christ.
The same favor started to come back. You guys know my story.
This decade of experience where I did things upon Christ, then was unable, and then rededicated my life to Christ again taught me first-hand the truth of this one verse.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Cor 2:20)
Jesus is the source of all true blessings.
Back then, I was regularly 1) dedicating my school life unto God and 2) I believed upon Jesus with a child-like faith. I didn’t know it then, but in hindsight what I was actually doing was actually exercising two major Biblical principles for the victorious life of abundance: 1) seeking first His kingdom and all other worldly things will be added (Matt 6:33), and; 2) believing God is a good God which leads to an abundance. (Matt 25:29). Jesus is the great expression of God’s goodness.
My past had shown me that when we seek God and His kingdom (Matt 6:33) and believe God rewards those who seek Him (Heb 11:6), we experience God’s abundance – having all that we need. We achieve more than what we deserved to achieve in the natural. The Bible calls us, “more than conquerors” (Rom 8:37). This is a state of God’s abundance.
When we touch Jesus, we touch the source of supernatural provision and abundance.
Hence, if we are seeing failed resolutions year after year, it may be occurring because we have a far deeper unfulfilled need for God’s abundance. God’s abundance is a state of blessings that starts from the inside out. It requires God to release His grace and our cooperation to believe God is a good God. Without this grace, we would also be chasing a counterfeit abundance born out of human hands, and not out of God’s hands.
When we touch Jesus, we touch the source of supernatural provision and abundance.
Hence, let’s not start the year with “a resolution”. But whatever our resolution, we should start the year knowing not only what God’s promises are for our lives, but also, that in Jesus, God is holy to fulfill those promises for you. Knowing these promises are working in the background should give us tenacity when embarking on a worthwhile project knowing that God can open doors and clear paths for us.
Don’t let the agnostics and critics tell you that there are no good reasons for the authority of the Bible, or that Jesus is a myth. There is good evidence abounding, but that is another post for another time.
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