I am nowhere to be found, nowhere. A painful realization that there is no eye to look at me with the “natural” objective of seeing me descended to prolong my sleeplessness. If I were to plow through the minds of those whom my eyes and my mind perceive I would probably find no trace of me anywhere. “Oh, what a blessing!” some would say, “you just narrowed the search of self to one, only one plausible place where you can find yourself. The heart of God that is…” That would be an answer, a very easy one, but one with no resemblance to anyone’s reality – not even God’s. I remember a dream, rather a nightmare: in that dream I saw myself somewhere in a place. That’s all I can say: a place. I was horrified. I did not know who I was or what my name was. I remember running to every person I saw, desperately asking for help, help to find myself…
Now, under these current circumstances, this dream started making some sense. Being an immigrant, I thought I knew the feeling of being uprooted. How wrong I was! I used to be a part of a culture that was, as I thought back then, a part of me and I was a part of it. But, you see, I left an empty place out there. This void, together with my longing for completeness, not only did not wipe away my inner identity, but rather they accentuated that which defines me as a being with reasoning capacities. Becoming socially compatible was a rather natural process of assimilating into a new culture. My present situation, however, is a process I never experienced before, almost beyond my power of comprehension. Layers of emotions, conflicting thoughts and who knows what else surrounded and soaked me with a heavy garment of uncertainty.
The tension between what the Body is meant to be and the reality of how its members function is an abnormality, in my opinion.
This body of believers was a huge part of who I was and who my wife was. We went together through the 22 years of life-journey, carrying a great regard for the God-given privilege, the grace to belong. Our journey was a lot more than belonging. We were living members of a living Body. “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”(NLT Eph 4:16) I refuse to take this statement of Paul the Apostle as being a mere metaphor. I can’t shy away from asking myself a multitude of questions in my attempt to reconcile the truth of the living Word with the situation we found ourselves in. Then an even more disturbing reality revealed itself to me. There are more than us, my wife and I, in the same or similar predicament. Empty seats once spoke to us of brothers and sisters we loved and saw no more. These seats lay empty as witnesses of something that should have concerned us over time, but we chose not to lose a scintilla of sleep over that. They stood as symbols of identical or similar questions, emotions and who-knows-what-else that clothed them with heavy garments of uncertainty or peace-robbing questions. Why, Lord? Why? Can a living member of my own body depart from me without me even noticing? Wouldn’t I feel the pain of it being cut off, or even the sadness of the empty space left behind? Is my body already disjointed or taken over by leprosy? Is there a crutch for every missing member so that I would not even care for his loss? How would the answers to such questions apply to the body, the local body of believers?
I somewhat found comfort in knowing that I am still a member of the universal Body of Christ, in the hope that Agape love will fully manifest itself in the revived state of the church. There is a love growing cold (oh, how I feel it!) but there is also a sense of searching for completeness that I see, growing more intense day by day. We will come to realize one day that one cannot find himself without true fellowship- fellowship driven not by agenda or human strategies but by the awesome restlessness the love of Christ plants in us.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)
“By this everyone will know…” By reading this, I understand that love for one another determines the power of our witness for Christ. No more identity crisis, no more heavy cloak of loneliness. I know that, as we become aware of the destructing power of being alone, we will finally open ourselves to what God wants to speak to us in that regard. This is only the beginning of my testimony, a testimony of pain and hope, a testimony of identity still to be found. As we know that “the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few”, could today be the day we find the treasure of power in loving one another?