Living in the Shadow of Cornell

Lucas (Parats)
Cambridge, NY

As the university named after him neared completion, Ezra Cornell directed his developers to build one of the most majestic monuments yet...the castle that would be his home. The massive courtyard and circular driveway around this castle was broad, ensuring that from a distance any prospective student could identify that the owner of this castle was someone important indeed.
Yet as the building neared completion, Mr. Cornell's health grew weaker. When he finally died, the mighty fortress designed to be his dwelling place lay empty, incomplete, and uninhabited. When the builders completed the building, it was posthumously named Llenroc (Cornell spelled backwards) by those who wished to institutionalize the university's founder and for anyone who cared to remember his sad end...
It was in the shadow of this building that I was raised. My father has worked for Cornell my entire life. My parents frequently hinted, in no subtle way, that to attend there would be a worthy educational path, putting me on the highway to success and satisfaction. In my youth, I strove to achieve the academic excellence required to attend such a prestigious Ivy League School. The looming shadow of Cornell haunted me...
In high school, my hopes started to grow dim. My grades, once a paragon, were slipping. As for me, I was a social outcast. I tried to remind myself that "lots of social outcasts get into Cornell," but the reality of my poor grades and even poorer self-esteem sunk in deeper than my self-serving reminders. Friends I once placed my trust in betrayed me, and relationships with young women turned sour. I couldn't bring myself to strive to reach the bar raised too high for a 15 year old to ever reach...
Then I heard about Jesus. It's amazing, growing up in a "Christian nation," what I grew up NOT learning. Only when I was in high school did I learn that Jesus loved the outcasts and those who were suffering. Growing up, I didn't know the difference between Christmas and Easter. I didn't know that Jesus healed the sick. Wow, was I sick. Sick in my soul. I had failed. I resigned my heart to the fact I was never getting into Cornell. I was a total failure. The immorality I had given myself over to was too great a cross for me to bear. I needed forgiveness and a new start. Reaching for Jesus, and the forgiveness Christians told me about, I believed in the transformation they told me would take place.
The new path I was on promised great things. I didn't know what church to go to, so I went to the one my friends went to, Bethel Grove Bible Church. This church, I was told, was non-denominational. That meant they weren't divided like the other churches. Funny thing, it seemed like any time I started talking about the things I was reading in the Bible, the things Jesus actually said and did, I encountered resistance. "We don't do things that way anymore. He didn't really mean for people to live like that forever. It was only for the primitive church." Oh. What were we supposed to do instead?
"...you should go to seminary!" What's that? I didn't really know, but if this was the way to serve God, I wanted to do it. After all, the people I knew that knew God said this was the way to go. Goodbye Cornell! There's a greater path to success and happiness! I have another mountain to climb...
I never knew life could be so lonely...spending another weekend alone in my dorm room while everyone else did what they wanted. The nagging in my conscience reminded me that nothing was really that different from before Jesus...but wait, at least I have Jesus now. In heaven all things would be made right. Of course, God would see that my heart was for Him. I couldn't sell out like everyone else, so what could I do but hide in the shadow again...
I thought graduation would solve everything. Then I could go into "real" ministry, reaching the lost, and establishing something better than what we had. My campus ministry outreach job at Georgetown University had the prestige, but somehow my supervisors were never pleased with my performance. What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I ever fit in? If only people would listen to me, they could find the great satisfaction of following God. Yet, at the end of my internship, I was effectively blacklisted from ever being a minister in my denomination. I was fired. No one would listen to me know. I was 27 years old, and life as I knew it was over.
More and more, I drifted toward isolation. None of the churches I attended seemed to sustain the life of the first church. Yet I met a people in a little cafe downtown who were different than everyone else. I thought they were Amish, or hippies, or a cult. One thing I knew is they were kind and helpful. I found that I wanted to be with them more than anyone else.
They told me things I didn't want to hear sometimes, things that were true about me, things I preferred to conceal in the shadows. They said I needed to bury my old life so that Messiah could raise me out of the death I was in. If I wanted to be truly saved, I needed to leave all my possessions, AND the shadow of expectations that haunted me. The promise at the end of the path was not about great things for me, but about great things for Our Father. His path leads those who believe in Him to walk together.
So I did just that. I heard from those who possessed God's Holy Spirit. How did I know they possessed the Holy Spirit? I knew because that same Holy Spirit possessed them. How else could they live with no selfish ambition the way they did? I joined them and did not look back. Just as Llenroc overlooks Cornell, so my old life lingers in the background of my new one. I can forget what lies behind me and press on to what's ahead. I am different now, because I am finally in a secure place to face the truth about who I really am. My heart was once a heart of stone, but is now a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:25-27 ). It's amazing to find the joy of being a servant in the house of the King. Come and visit one of places where this happens!

Your friend,
Lucas

The Twelve Tribes is a confederation of twelve self-governing tribes, composed of self-governing communities. We are disciples of the Son of God whose name in Hebrew is Yahshua. We follow the pattern of the early church in Acts 2:44 and 4:32, truly believing everything that is written in the Old and New Covenants of the Bible, and sharing all things in common.