Charlie's Blog: The Wilderness Years


The Wilderness Years

And they marched from mount Hor, by the way that leadeth to the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom. And the people began to be weary of their journey and labour: And speaking against God and Moses, they said: Why didst thou bring us out of Egypt, to die in the wilderness? There is no bread, nor have we any waters: our soul now loatheth this very light food.

I am very candid here at the C-Blog about my journey and struggles. For longtime readers, my story is that I was a Protestant beginning as an evangelical and moving to the Calvinist side of things in my twenties. I even attended seminary for a year to prepare to become a Presbyterian minister when a tragedy shattered my faith in God. I found my housemate who was also a seminary student like myself dead from suicide. It was an upsetting thing to me such that after a few years of drift and coldness I came to the conclusion that all religion was a delusion. I fell into atheism. The only good thing I can say about that move is that it separated me from Calvinism.

My years as an atheist were dark years. I became a militant atheist by my mid-30s where I fell in with a group of other like minded militant atheists like myself. When they took a turn to embrace Wiccans into their group, I was out. I had fled from superstition and considered myself a person who embraced logic, science, and reason. But atheists are more into open marriages and worshiping the Devil than science. You will hear some of them decry ancient paganism and Islam, but atheism exists purely in antithesis to the God of Christianity. Atheists don't hate religion and superstition. They hate the true religion of Jesus Christ.

I separated myself from those atheists not realizing that God was preparing me for what was to come. This blog was a broadcasting station for all of my erroneous beliefs about God and politics. But it reached the woman who is now my wife. She prayed for me to the Blessed Mother which began a long journey to where I am today--a Roman Catholic.

I came into the Church at the same time that heretic Francis was raised to the pontificate. That was six years ago. It doesn't seem that long ago, yet it seems like ages ago to me now. This is because the last seven years of my life have been simultaneously the happiest and most painful of my life. That is a paradoxical sentence to write, but it is the truth.

If you have ever listened to Barber's Adagio for Strings, you know that is very sad music but also very beautiful. That piece of music captures what it feels like to be Catholic. It is a mixture of joy and mourning. Nothing in Protestantism comes close, and I am saddened and disgusted to see the Catholic Church rushing to embrace things I left behind. What Paul VI did to the Mass is akin to what these doctors do to men who want to transgender into women. You can't make them women. You can only mutilate them. Likewise, the Novus Ordo is a mutilated Mass.

My last few years of suffering have tried my faith. All of my pain and grief has served to try and push me back into atheism. The strange thing is that my faith has only increased in proportion to my suffering. I am being tried and refined in the crucible of my agony. The residue of my atheism comes out in the form of complaining. Why does God put me through this? Why do I suffer like this?

I am always brought back in my mind to the children of Israel wandering in the desert. I have meditated on it for years. These Israelites were slaves in Egypt. They were treated very poorly. And God took pity on them and removed them from their bondage through a series of miraculous plagues and the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. And when they were brought out of Egypt, they would spend the next forty years wanting to go back to Egypt. That is stunning stuff.

Did these things really happen? Absolutely. What nation of people would write such an unflattering myth about themselves? Think about it. These Israelites saw the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They were fed with manna from God every single day except on the Sabbath. God was looking after them. There were no atheists in this camp because you only had to look at the daily miracles and the constant presence of God. Yet, these clowns paid God back by worshiping a golden calf with a sex orgy. And they wanted to return to slavery in Egypt. It boggles the mind.

Were these people fools? Absolutely. I can't imagine a more foolish people than that generation in the wilderness. It wasn't peaches and cream in that desert, but it had to be better than living under the toil of bondage back in Egypt. Why did they want to go back? The secret can be found in their disgust with the manna. Their souls loathed that bread from Heaven.

We can laugh at and mock these fools, but we need to reflect on a fact. Those fools are us. The Protestants rejected the Bread of Heaven by becoming Protestant and forfeiting the Real Presence. Now, many Catholics and virtually all the bishops and priests today would like to follow after those Protestants. This is why the venerable Latin Mass has become the joke of the Novus Ordo, and the modernist heretics do everything they can to invalidate the Mass itself. They incorporate Protestant and pagan elements into their worship. They should go ahead and drop the charade and make their golden calf and get down with the perversion. We are almost there with these perverts in collars.

Egypt represents the world. You can choose God, or you can choose Egypt. For me, atheism is Egypt. When I complain in my trials, I tell God that I want to go back to Egypt. This is a humiliating confession on my part, but I share it anyway. I have learned to humble myself over these last few years and to be candid about my weaknesses and failures. Without God, I am just a miserable sinner. I despise myself and trust in the Almighty. He truly is my strength and my salvation.

The wilderness years for the Israelites were a rite of purification for the people of God. They had to suffer and an entire generation would have to die in that desert before those people were ready to enter the Promised Land. The reason that generation had to die was because a new generation would have to emerge that had no memories of Egypt. I see something similar in the USA with the boomer generation that recently celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock which amounted to fornication, urination, and defecation in a disgusting field as they dropped acid and listened to awful music. The bulk of that generation will have to die off and wake up in Hell before this nation ever turns back to righteousness again.

Most people go to Hell. I know this because the wicked outnumber the righteous. This is why this world is the wilderness for all those who love God and yearn for Heaven. Heaven is our promised land. The wilderness is our purification. This is why we suffer like we do.

Those stiff necked Israelites preferred being slaves in Egypt than being slaves to God. This is why the manna was nauseating to them. They weren't rational people, but people beguiled by evil. This is what sin does to us. It blinds us.

The wilderness was no picnic. But the wilderness was better than Egypt. In my own life, I would rather suffer with the Lord as my hope than ever return to the nauseating darkness of atheism. The thing I have learned in my sufferings is that God lets me go through a great deal of pain, but it is always limited. It never goes beyond a certain limit. At the moment I feel like throwing in the towel, the suffering lets up. And each trial is followed by a season of rest and refreshment.

It wasn't like this when I was Protestant. I encountered my first real trial back then, and I failed spectacularly. I had been reading up on Calvin's teachings concerning suffering in the Institutes, but those theories were no comfort in the reality of my adversity. I look back now on that trial and consider how light it truly was. But that's the difference between Protestantism and Catholicism. Protestants don't do suffering. Their theology doesn't allow it.

I was reminded of this as two high profile Protestants have apostasized from their faith and one has chosen to end his life by suicide. Now, I know other Protestants who do suffer and suffer tremendously. They don't understand the suffering, but they accept it. I think it must be hard for them when they are subjected to prosperity teachers who teach them that suffering and poverty come from a lack of faith. I wonder how Joel Osteen's faith will fare after a cancer diagnosis and his fine head of hair falls out from the chemo and radiation.

I am tempted back to atheism all the time, but I am never tempted by Protestantism. For me, it is either true religion or no religion. This mirrors what happens with so many cradle Catholics who lose their faith. They don't become Southern Baptists. They become agnostics and atheists. They reckon correctly that if Catholicism is false then all religion is false.

What makes people lose their faith in God? We can offer so many answers, but I find most of them to be incorrect. People especially Catholics become atheists because of suffering. This is why I became an atheist. I could not reconcile the suffering in this world with the goodness of God. This is why those Israelites were so quick to turn back to Egypt. They did not trust in God. They believed that God brought them out of Egypt to die in the desert. Ironically, that is exactly what happened to them.

God can only do so much for you, but the rest depends upon your cooperation with grace. Those Israelites died in the desert, but that was their fault not God's fault. Likewise, I must admit that I probably would have become Catholic if I had just kept praying and seeking after God so long ago. This is how so many other Protestants came into the faith. But I was ready to bail when the adversity hit.

The reason I don't become an atheist now is twofold. The first is that I have already been an atheist, and I know that mindset from the inside. The second is that I have learned and experienced too much since becoming Catholic. I have seen the pillar of cloud and fire in my life. I know God exists. I can't not know that God exists. I know it so well that I find myself the ex-atheist consoling Catholics who are tempted to schism and apostasy under the trial of all these scandals in the Church.

Scandals and suffering cannot take away my faith in God. I spend every day of my life reading about saints in the Bible and in the history of the Church who persevered in their trials until the end. I see how those who were weak in faith were perplexed only to hold on through their trials to find themselves on firmer ground. And that is where I am now myself. My faith in God has never been stronger than it is now as my future is now more uncertain than ever. I just trust in God.

What God is able to do in your life depends upon how much you trust in Him. You don't have to do anything heroic except remain faithful to God. God takes care of the rest. For me, this means that I must not complain in my trials. God knows me better than I know myself. And these trials are necessary for me and my salvation.

My wife said something to me that I found to be truly awesome. We live voluntary poverty to such a level that other people we know would be shocked and afraid to live like we do. The irony is that I don't feel in the least way deprived. We just don't live luxuriously. God has taught us to live like this. If we ever had a taste for material things, we have lost it in much the same way that I have lost the taste for meat since becoming vegan. By embracing the thing others avoid, we have learned a great deal of wisdom in the process. Most of the things we fear in life are just in our heads.

You don't want it easy in life. You might think you want this, but you will find out that you don't. You want the cross that God has for you. When you first put it on your shoulder, it doesn't feel good. You want to throw it off. But then you carry it for awhile, and you get used to it. At some point, you prefer it. Then, you embrace it. Suffering with God is better than all the pleasures in this world. Once you know this, you quit complaining. Egypt has vanished from your memory.