All the World's a Classroom

Thine.

I watched the Passion of the Christ movie for the first time yesterday. As I watched every strike and blow they made, all I could hear over and over again is “with his stripes we are healed.”

In an age where Christ on the cross is often portrayed in a much cleaned up version, seeing the cross in its true dread (or closer to the true version) gave new meanings to “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” He was so marred that “we hid as it were our faces from him.” It was hard to see. Jesus was not speaking in metaphors when He said, “This is my body which is given for you.” He did give us all that He had, all that He was. Indeed, the cross was not a pretty thing to behold, and how crazy it must had been back then to proclaim that you believed He was the King.

When we behold Jesus and fix our eyes on Him, it is true that all others grow strangely dim. When I woke up today, all of the things that my soul was lamenting over this week went away. None of it mattered anymore, and I want to take this Easter season to ponder and meditate on Jesus alone. How is it that it’s so easy to focus on petty problems instead of the One who is the Solver of the greatest problem in the universe, sin.

How did Jesus do it?

How could Jesus bear all the pain, suffering, humiliation, and separation from the Father? Where could one find the strength to endure such great afflictions with unwavering faith? He trusted the Father, even when He could not see or feel His presence.

I remember Jesus prayed a most profound prayer in Gethsemane, saying “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” He found His strength in surrendering to His Father. Likewise, the strength of a Christian is directly proportional to his/her surrender. “Nothing is apparently more helpless, yet really more invincible, than the soul that feels its nothingness, and relies wholly on the merits of the Savior. God would send every angel in heaven to the aid of such an one, rather than allow him to be overcome.” Testimonies for the Church, vol 7, p.17.

Consider Jesus on the cross. Consider Him whose essence is love, that He would do such a thing for worms such as fallen, sinful men. This is the God that we surrender our lives and our will to. This God, His character, is a marvelous One to behold … and to belong to.

Testimony of Grace

There with every slide, I see God’s grace written all over it. It was God all along who had helped me.

Sustained by God Himself and by the prayers of the saints, on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 I passed my program’s qualifying exam. I have to write about it, mostly for my own sake, because God did something marvelous.

The day before, my colleague and I had to give an extended version of the presentation to faculty members from another department. The presentation was a success and everyone was very pleased with it. It was a good practice and I actually felt confident about my exam. The work had been done and I pretty much knew the topic well. What made me a little worried was actually how not worried I was, and whether I was being presumptuous or not.

So the day came. I was looking forward to this day because it would be a closure for an episode in my life that I was ready to close. Half an hour before my defense, I went into the exam room to set up and pray. I sat down and flipped through the slides to make sure everything looks okay, and at that very moment, I was flooded with a sense of amazement and wonder. There with every slide displayed on the screen, I could see God’s grace that had been sustaining me this past year both to do the work that went behind every slide, as well as granting the strength to create the slides themselves. The presentation was made under strenuous circumstances, involving much drama (that I will not get into). It was God’s grace that helped me survive a rough summer last year when I struggled through a time of mourning and healing, felt inadequate to do research, and was discontented about life in general. He brought me into the society of brilliant and able people whom I could work with so that much was accomplished in spite of me.

It was God’s grace that got me through a very challenging fall semester, with many sleepless nights, high academic pressure, and even spiritual struggle toward the end. It was God’s grace that saved me at GYC from my old life and resurrected me once again into a new life, ready to start afresh with the new year. And now I had come to this point knowing that the only reason I could stand and present this work, is God. Presumption was not possible, for I knew how reliant I was on Christ. I knew that He will help me with this exam; there was no doubt about it in my mind. There was not a tittle of nervousness. But instead, there was joy. My committee may listen to my presentation as an academic requirement, but in my heart it was my declaration of God’s goodness. This presentation was my act of worship; this was my testimony. And so I knelt again and asked one thing for my audience. If there was anything that they would see in me, I’d want them to see that I had been with Jesus and Jesus had been with me.

The exam went extremely well. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything go that well before. God gave me clarity of thought and insights to answer their questions; questions that I’m surprised I could answer even as I reflect on them now. It lasted for one and an half hour, and they told me I passed with flying colors. My advisor was very happy, saying that it was what he’d like to see in all of his students. I came back to the room and knelt down again to praise God for His divine presence and for such a miraculous experience. Needless to say I was beaming for the rest of the week, and of course I could not contain my joy when people asked how my exam went. I could not prevent myself from saying it was all God’s doing.

So this is my testimony, a memorial that I raise up to remind myself that God is indeed faithful. This experience is just the beginning, and I look forward to the rest of my years in Princeton.

10 Things I Like About God (Part 2)

These are the second five of the 10 specific things I like about God.

6. The way He is acquainted with the most painful life experiences

There is no sadness and grief of mine that exceeds His. I simply love the fact that He came down to earth to live as men live. The quote from Early Writings (p. 80-81) just keeps coming back to me.

“In a moment I stood before Jesus. There was no mistaking that beautiful countenance. Such a radiant expression of benevolence and majesty could belong to no other. As His gaze rested upon me, I knew at once that He was acquainted with every circumstance of my life and all my inner thoughts and feelings.”

 

Heb 4:15 – For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

 

Isa 53:3-4 – He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

7. The way He silences my inner thoughts.

Something about His presence that quiets the questionings in my mind. He is majestic, He is sovereign, and He is the King of kings who stands in the highest throne of the universe. I don’t have to know all of life’s answers, things don’t have to be less complicated than the way they are. Yet there is confidence, not because I know what He’s going to do, but because I know Him. The assurance in His character, which only exists in His presence, is the sweet place where I want to abide.

Hab 2:20 – But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

8. The way He knows.

I like that I don’t have to explain myself to God because of His infinite knowledge about me. Sometimes the contents of the heart are inexpressible, and the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf. He knows the words that I’m about to say before they come out of my mouth; He knows what I would do before the situations come up. For someone who is not a good communicator, I really appreciate that.

Romans 8:26-27 – Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

 

Psalm 139:1-6 – O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

9. The way He cares about my happiness

“God is love” is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green — all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy.” Steps to Christ, p. 10.

For some strange reason, undoubtedly my own misconceptions, it was a “paradigm-shift” moment when I read that it is God’s desire to make His children happy. I know that I’ve known that in the past, but apparently I lost that understanding and had to realize it again. God simply wants me to be happy. The Christian life is hard, but it’s not a gloomy one. God is not trying to make this character building process a sad one, He cares whether I’m happy or not.

Psalm 145:15-16 – The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.

God knows how to make every creation glad. I like that.

10. The way that He is mine

None of the above traits would matter if in the end God is a stranger to me. The most glorious truth is that He descends to be my Friend, my Savior, mine. The one thing I like the most about God is the simple fact that I am His and He is mine.

Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know;
Gracious Spirit from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace! O this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.

Heav’n above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen;
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.
Since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms, pillowed on the loving breast.
O to lie forever here, doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.

His forever, only His; Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heav’n and earth may fade and flee, firstborn light in gloom decline;
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.

(Words by George W. Robinson, 1876)

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