Before you download this piece as evidence that I need to be institutionalized, I just want to say that I don’t mean that God spoke to me in an audible voice. And no, I don’t mean God’s been sending me (or has ever sent me) secret messages. I just mean that God’s love is so awesome that He can and would use anything to reach out to us – even to an apathetic teenager like I was.
My journey of faith began at childhood with a mix of truths and untruths. I attended a Catholic school when I was little. And from there, although I learned that God of the Bible was the one and only true God, I was also taught that Mary was some sort of superhuman saint whom we should pray to. At school, I learned that God made everything in the world. But at home, my then-atheist dad taught me that all humans evolved from apes. My ideas of God and the spiritual world were peppered with misconceptions and confusion.
In 1975, God graciously brought my family and me to the United States from Hong Kong. A few years after; sadly, my grandfather passed away. A kind and gentle pastor and his wife came to comfort us and helped my family with the funeral arrangements. After the funeral, the pastor and his wife lovingly took my two brothers and me aside and told us about a gift of life that would never end. And that was how it was originally meant to be – God and people together happily forever. The only problem was that sin got in the way and we were disconnected from Him forever. A sinful person just cannot face a Holy God. God didn’t forget us though. To get us reconnected to Him, Jesus, His only begotten Son, came to die on the cross in our place so that the Law of righteousness would be satisfied. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day because He, being God, has the power and authority over death and life. Would we accept the payment for our sins that Jesus had offered on the cross, they asked. In response, I, along with my two brothers, with our very simple faith, accepted Christ and became children of God.
Thus began the new life in me. My understanding of who God was and my relationship with Him, however, did not grow much after that. I went on with my life without thinking much about Him. In hindsight, I realized that although I didn’t give a split second of thought about Him, He was thinking about me.
A few years later during one Easter, God reached out to me through a movie on television. I don’t remember what the particular movie was, but I remember vividly how the face of Jesus captivated me. The face and eyes of Jesus were so full of love and sorrow even for a world that was so hostile to Him – a world that included me! My young heart ached with Him when I saw how He was maligned and rejected by those He came to die for. I was laden with remorse and sadness as I contemplated what He had done for me and how I’ve neglected Him even though I knew Him and knew how He had suffered and sacrificed for me.
Grief over my sin was gradually replaced by joy as God reminded me how He has reached out to me to rekindle my relationship with Him. He showed me it’s never too late to return to Him. Did He not say to His own children, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Rev. 3:20)? Thus, I opened the door and let Him in to be the center of my life. It’s ironic how Jesus had to ask to be let into His own house, but He’s the kind of God who will not force anyone to love Him.
I was determined to learn more about God and learn how to love Him back. At that time, my older brother had already been going to a church regularly, so I bombarded him with questions about the Bible. Probably having gotten tired of my pestering him, my brother decided to bring me to the youth fellowship group at church where I could have all my questions answered. From the Bible studies with the junior high counselors there, my knowledge of God grew and my relationship with the Lord strengthened.
Near the end of ninth grade, I decided to obey God’s command and got baptized. A couple of years later, I responded to the calling at a camp to dedicate my life to the Lord. Kneeling at the altar of the sanctuary, I pledged my life to Him.
I think this well-known Bible passage sums up well my story with God.
“ For it is by grace you have been saved through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
It was not by my effort that I found Christ. It was the awesome God who sought after me, an insignificant sinner, and won’t let me go. He didn’t stop there after finding me. He reminded me that I was His handiwork, created for a purpose. And that purpose was to be His messenger wherever I go, in whatever position I find myself, with whomever that crosses paths with me in my life, and at any season, anytime.
When you know you’ve been missed and that someone is thinking of you when you are away, you know that’s love. And that Someone is God. He may be searching for you now like He searched for me time after time. For me, He was trying to get my attention through every which way – even through a little picture box. Is He trying to get your attention today too? I bet He is.