True story! There is a village of devout citizens. They are simple people who lead simple lives. Most are extremely poor, and many suffer from malnutrition and starvation. However, hard times have never deterred them from their faithfulness. The harder things get, the more they honor God.
With the passage of time, many began to suffer from blindness, the harsh effects of poverty and malnutrition. Even the very young were affected. As with any community, it is the youth who invigorated it, but now with their being unable to see, things had only gotten worse for everyone.
One day, a physician from a distant land said he could cure the people of their blindness. He knew they were poor and could not pay, but he believed strongly that everyone should have the ability to see. The people praised and honored God that they had been favored with such goodness. Soon, the blind, both young and old, lined up by the hundreds to receive the special eye treatment that would restore their sight. Because the people had never traveled outside their land and neither had many travelers visited them, this was a big occasion. The physician brought with him assistants to help with the procedures and to document the outcome.
One evening leading up the day of treatment, a family opened its home to the physician and his helpers. After the evening meal, they all gathered in a circle to talk and share stories. One of the assistants asked the elderly grandmother what she looked forward to seeing once her sight was restored. Without hesitation, her son, who was acting as interpreter, said she wanted more than anything to gaze upon the object of her divine affection; she wanted to see God. As the old woman talked about how God had kept her through good and hard times, the entire family began to weep. The assistant asked one of the women why she wept. She said she wept because God was so good and so worthy of honor that without Him they were as good as dead.
The time came when the eye treatments were done, and hundreds sat in an auditorium with their eyes bandaged. The physician stood at the front of the assembly with his assistants so they could begin the task of removing the bandages. As the physician cut away the drapes of white gauze from the eyes of the first villager, the others sat in anticipation, listening for any hint that the treatment had been successful.
With her eyes unwrapped, the first young woman, upon command, touched the nose of the physician; then she was able to point out her father in a group. She fell upon her father’s chest and wept. She made her way up to the front where a picture of the savior hung on the wall. She knelt before it and wept. He had healed her of her blindness, and she vowed that she would serve Him all the days of her life. The multitude of people rose to their feet; they jumped up and down and clapped their hands. They shouted in unison, “We praise You! We praise You! We praise You!”
One by one, the bandages were removed, and one by one they fell upon their faces in worship. They promised that they would serve God forever and that their children would honor Him for generations. There wasn’t a dry eye among them.
You’d be hard pressed to find an evangelical Christian church anywhere in the world where similar devotion is not played out on a weekly basis. But these people who had been healed of their blindness are not Christians. They are North Koreans, and their God is not Yahweh or Jesus as you might’ve expected, but their Dear Leader, the late Kim Jung Il.
So when I am asked how I have come to not believe in “God” after having been raised in the Light, after having felt his power, after having been brought to tears by his presence, and after having been exposed to enough to just flat out know better, I answer with a question of my own: How can an entire nation of people have those same experiences and carry the exact same passions for their dead leader that I, as a born-again Christian, carried for a living God?
It was not a god that ignited my passions; instead, it was my belief in that god that filled me with ecstasy. The moment we deify a person, a place, or even a thing, we give it energy, and what I experienced as a believer was the warmth of my own fire radiating back to me. Once I understood that the warmth and light I was receiving was simply a watered-down version of the energy that was mine to begin with, oh, how things changed. My ability to love increased, my ability to forgive increased, my ability to see through people’s outer trappings and straight down to the root of their beauty increased, my ability to live my experiences increased, and my ability to allow others to live their experiences increased.
Each of us is on our own beautiful journey. The North Koreans worship their Dear Leader, Christians worship the great I Am, people across the planet worship gods, animals, things, and ideas. Me? I worship no one; instead, I anoint my head with the oil of gratitude and sit at my own feet and am blessed.