My Random Life #1 :: A Leap of Faith
Instead of endlessly reading more blogs from my Bloglines reader (which is up to 271 feeds, not that I read all of them, but I do skim them from time to time), I’m going to start blogging towards something that might one day get published as my autobiography.
My approach will be a random-access, non-linear recall of episodes in my life. To get started is better than to sit still, waiting for that perfect moment, or preparing an outline for some kind of a chapter-by-chapter book proposal. This isn’t to say that my life all that spectacular per se, but it is something that I’ve occasionally had a strong compulsion to do. I’ve got an intuitive sense that for me to tell of times when Life has brought me to notable accomplishments or tremendous struggles would be of help to some readers somewhere, particularly as a distinctly Asian-American Christian voice. (not that this partiularly label, I prefer the term “point-of-reference”, encompasses my whole identity or even a majority of it, but it has been more distinguished for certain conversations.)
Working as an electrical engineer was something to do. I had to do something after graduating with a college degree. I couldn’t figure it out from my own feelings or interests. I didn’t have that kind of compulsion or drive at age 21. I often envy those who have their life’s dream and desire figured out as a teenager, knowing what they wanted to do for a career so early in life. (I still don’t know what to do with my life, and now I’m 38.)
So I took my first job offer to work in Southern Maryland, in the sticks an hour Southeast of Washington DC. It was a small company, a government contractor affectionately in the ranks of a “Beltway Bandit.” Not a bad deal, a comfortable routine life with a short commute. I made a few new friends from work, and I was part of the company volleyball and church softball teams.
I re-connected to the online world, having first ventured into cyberspace in my college days. It’s not cyberspace as we know it today with the ubiquitous Internet and World Wide Web. It was an amateur network of Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes) connected by dial-up modems running at 2400 baud. Through a local BBS called Southern Maryland Christian Information Service (SMCIS), I met Buggs Bugnon.
Buggs was a retired Navy senior chief twice my age. We talked online and then we talked in person. I wound up at his home many evenings for the next 2 years. Saturdays were a wonderful tradition of Bugnon burgers, hand-made giant patties of quality ground beef and onion soup mix, grilled over charcoal on the back deck, topped with homemade cole slaw. Grace always began with “We thank Thee for the great God you are.”
Weeknights were a mix of popcorn and television, hacking around on the computers, watching people login to his BBS, prayerful conversations about spiritual things, or tearful agony over my feelings nurtured by years of pity parties. He became a father, a discipler, and a mentor. His prayers and my own spiritual wanderings intersected in the summer of 1990, and I felt I wanted to do something spiritually meaningful.
The verse from the Gospels came to me several times in different ways: the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. If somehow God could use me, I was available. I could be one of those workers. My overwhelming inadequacies didn’t really matter, right? Moses felt like he wasn’t a good speaker. Jeremiah didn’t think much of himself either. The need was indeed great, with a minority of Asian Americans who were Christians, so I could surely help. I didn’t have debts. I didn’t get disowned from my family when I broke the news that I was exploring this idea. I got a green light from the pastors at my church. I got accepted at seminary. I even had the secret prayers of my mentor Buggs for over a year, that God would confirm this upon my heart and soul.
I took the leap of faith. Packed all my worldly belongings into my Mercury Topaz and drove to Dallas.