God.com is intended to introduce you to the most incredible friend I have come to know. It is meant to show you how, by becoming interactive with the God of the universe, our softwhere will dramatically change—wherever we go.
I hope that this book will speak two languages. On one level, I want to speak to the skeptic who claims not to believe. On the other, I want to challenge those who claim they believe to begin to really live like they mean it.
Although I wrote this book for you, it may have been just as much for me. As much as I thought I believed, in the end the writing of this book has truly set me free.
Now, more than ever, I really do believe.
IN THE BEGINNING IS THE WORD
And the word is B E L I E V E.
We are all dying to believe. And dying because we don’t. I think believing is a little like looking past what we can see to stare into the eyes of God while falling forward into the blackness—forward, ever forward— free-falling until finally we can see. When we do, what we see is what He sees.
BUT ONLY AFTER BECOMING HIS PUPIL.
Falling into blackness is not my idea of fun, especially when I don’t know when, where, or how the blackness will finally end. Or, more frighteningly still, if it ever will end.
Belief requires a beginning, and that is where we are.
For me, belief began a few years ago with a falling experience— falling from a comfortable life working for a television network; falling, falling nearly off the planet to learn to listen, obey, and trust.
When the God of the universe asks you to believe, your response will ultimately depend on where you are standing, because where you are standing will affect what and how you are hearing.
Monty Python made that point in The Life of Brian
. It captured something powerful in the scene where Jesus speaks to the crowd of five thousand. If you think about the logistics of that endeavor in light of the lack of technology, amplification, and lapel mics, you’ll realize that there would have been a lot of people who wouldn’t have heard exactly what Jesus said. What they heard would have depended on where they were standing. Even though Jesus’ words to the crowd were “Blessed are the peacemakers,” the guys in the back heard “Blessed are the cheesemakers, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“What’s so special about cheesemakers?” they asked each
other. An argument ensued—as discussions involving God and
cheese so often do.
The first time God asked me to believe, I was standing knee-deep in the decadent decade of the ’80s. Jesus asked me, just as He asked the rich young ruler, to sell everything, give to the poor, and follow Him. Despite what Jesus said, I heard, “Buy all you can, wave to the poor, and I will follow you.”
So I did. And He didn’t.
God is patient and loving. He waited a while before He asked me again. He waited until my proximity had improved my ability to hear Him. It took me about seven years of moving closer to be able to heed His call. When He asked again, I heard correctly.
This time, however, selling all I had involved letting go of a comfortable job, world travel, a home, car, and friends and moving ten thousand miles from warmth and safety to the bottom of the planet. In short, I had an opportunity to create a new model for television at a quarter of my salary, at a facility with a fraction of the equipment and resources I was used to, at a two-bit TV station on the south island of New Zealand.
It was glamorous and exciting—right up until I landed in Christchurch and was denied the standard three-month visa. Instead I was given three days. This can’t be a by-product of belief, I thought. Following that moment of defeat, my new boss dropped me off at a cold, dreary motel, and through cloudy eyes and with a misty mind, I watched a dark sky begin to gently weep. After twenty-four hours of flying forward and flailing faithwise, I found myself falling fitfully into a dark and dreamless sleep.
Falling off the planet into an abyss called belief is probably the most frightening decision a person could ever choose to make. Maybe that’s why the journey called believe is one people seldom take.
When I woke disoriented, dazed, and confused, with my internal clock completely askew, I wrestled with waking dreams of my friends in the States, at the pub, near the beach where we used to sit late into the summer nights talking endlessly about life, love, God, and friendship. The camaraderie only intensified when I shared my plans to move to New Zealand. It’s funny how people will drop their guard and let their walls fall when they know you are about to leave. Their secrets are safe with you, and they will tell you how much they love you, because you’ll soon be gone, and their vulnerability
will have no consequences.
But this isn’t a story about moving to New Zealand, or anywhere else for that matter. The story of believe involves moving all over or nowhere at all, depending on what your unique calling may be. We all have a purpose and a destiny, but we only begin to see it when we let ourselves go falling forward into the dark land of belief.
OFTEN IT IS MUCH HARDER TO BELIEVE AFTER YOU TAKE THAT LEAP.
As hard as it may be, this adventure is worth every hardship, doubt, and fear you must wrestle with until you come to that gentle place where you can sleep, nestled close to the one who calls you to believe no matter how the storms rage or the waves threaten.
Will you stare deeply into the eyes of God and look past what you can see? Will you fall forward into the blackness of belief while you flail and fight until you learn to rest in the knowledge that you don’t have to see when you truly believe?
I WANT TO BELIEVE
And I believe you want to, too, or you wouldn’t be reading these words. But I don’t want to believe that I’m supposed to love a god I’ve learned to fear, a god I’ve run from, and a god I don’t understand— like some bipolar boyfriend who has suddenly moved in with my mom. Just because she loves him doesn’t mean I have to, will, or can.
Excerpted from God.com by James Alexander Langteaux. Copyright © 2000 by James Alexander Langteaux. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.