See, there's this thing Christians do that I hate: they pray, and they tell me that God told them something. There was something that He "laid on their hearts." Actually, sometimes they don't even have to pray -- this just occurs in the middle of breakfast, or the drive to work, or going to the bathroom.
Such an event sounds wonderful and cool until I try the same thing, and nothing happens. I never feel sure that I've been given any new information. The proverbial list of objectives in my head doesn't seem to change. It bothers me because I feel like there are two possibilities. Either they are all using God as an excuse to do whatever they want, justifying their actions by professing that God told them something that no one else heard. Other Christians feel they can't question this claim because that has the potential to be a doubt against God, and who wants that? On the other hand, it could be that they totally have this little phone line with the Lord, and actually hear His voice in their heads, which means that I'm missing out. I'm not praying hard enough, or I don't have a relationship with Jesus like I thought I did, or He is just ignoring me. He has nothing to tell me.
I know, I've heard a million people tell me the whole schbeel about the Bible being God's message to His people. I have also heard this not only from a million people, but a million sermons, a million books, and millions of other things. (I am a really busy person.) But there is just something so mystifying about God speaking to me specifically. The idea makes me feel more secure about my faith, as if I've finally unlocked the truth of the universe, because the Creator of everything has finally shown Himself to me in a tangible way. If God did this all the time, then there would be no reason for faith, opening a Pandora's box of reasons why this wouldn't really make Christianity meaningful, but come on -- just once in a while would be nice!
Well, I've complained about this to God who knows how many times. I've heard such great stories about God telling people to do cool things that totally worked out in ways that could only have been divinely inspired.
I was beginning to feel left out.
Last night I cracked open this book that my friend lent me a long time ago that I accidentally took home for the summer. It basically profiles each world religion, belief system, cult, affiliation, you name it, so that you know the history and details of each one. It's really nifty, especially if you want to quick reference something about Islam or Scientology or whatever. I was flipping through a bunch of ones in the middle that I hadn't seen before, and I found that there was actually a section on atheism. This surprised me just because I didn't consider it to be a belief system particularly, but I guess it is, in an opposite sort of way.
The last page of each profile has a little section that lists some famous people who identify with that belief system, just for your little trivia box. The atheism page had more than a couple -- Angelina Jolie, Jack Nicholson -- lots of movie stars and such. But one stuck out to me for some reason.
I really can't think of a reason why I was surprised or even particularly stopped at his name, but it was Bill Gates. Now, don't get me wrong about atheists, because I do not belong to the school of thought that they are all bad, scary people, or anything of the sort. I have plenty of friends who identify themselves as believing in no gods and they are very nice, loving, dependable, trustworthy people -- sometimes more than Christian friends, for that matter. I just feel like I have things in common with Bill Gates. He has the appearance of being so mild-mannered, and he gives back so much of what he has to the community. He actually has to stagger his charity giving so as not to flood the economy.
That really nice guy who built a Microsoft empire doesn't believe in God?
And then, without really knowing whence the thought came, I felt it hit me: "Pray for him."
I prayed for him. I just felt like I had to. It's always good to pray for people, sure, but I just felt like I had to do it right then, and it had to be for him. And I felt like I had to keep doing it. "Keep him in your prayers."
Who'd have thought that I would feel the overwhelming need to pray for Bill Gates, the most famously wealthy person in the country?
Well, regardless of how strange it might sound or feel -- I still don't quite understand -- but I think that it might have been God laying it on my heart to pray. For all I know, He could be sitting in heaven shaking His head at my guessing His will, but at least I know this is something that He would want anyone to do. Pray for people in the world.
I am praying for Bill Gates' family, health, and that he sees the face of God. Somehow, somewhere, I am petitioning God to reveal Himself to the man who has everything. It's between the two of them, and not me, but even rich geniuses need a Savior when all worldly things blow away with the sands of time.
Whoah, I just had another revelation! Right here! Right now! This is big! Check this: if I am so sure that Bill Gates needs to know Christ, then how stupid am I for always trying to live without Him? I mean, I sit here all the time thinking about how smart I am for getting this grade, how pretty I am for making that guy look at me, how comfortable I am laying in this bed with a feather pillow. God has given me plenty. Not billions of dollars (...yet), but plenty. Still, all those things can disappear in an instant. Humility is a lesson that shouldn't wait for an accident or tragedy. Ultimately, no matter where I am in life, either a mountaintop or a dark pit, the God of the universe extended His hand towards me to a better life on earth and an eternity in His palace, and who am I to say "no, thanks" to such an offer?
Basically, I'm an idiot. I believe in the one true God and I still sometimes get all self-sufficient and pacified by earthly crap. Being able to hand all that I have back to Him so that I can live happily with just the love of the Lord on my shoulders -- that's the goal I need to run towards.
I'm praying that my pal Bill Gates one day might do the same.
Maybe God will speak to Him like He spoke to me last night.