The Richest Girl In The World

This Is My Story, part I.

In a few weeks, I’ll be turning into an age that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. And as it usually goes around this time, I automatically go into reflection mode.

This year’s reflection mode, however, is in extra high gear since I’m in a major transition phase ministry-wise, academic-wise, and life-wise. The confluence of these things have in fact put me somewhat in constant reflection since… Oh I dunno … summertime? It’ll probably last until next year.

I understand that transitions and life uncertainties can be stressful, but at this juncture, stress is the polar opposite of my experience. The words I’d describe this phase are excitement, possibilities, and believe it or not, fun. I’m exhausted, but I’m having fun. And I’m grateful. So grateful that I feel like the luckiest girl in the world, except luck is a misnomer, since all good things in my life are given to me by Him “whom my soul loves.”

It’s not to my credit that these things are so. I have a God, and He has been kind to me. My path has not been trouble-free, but I am clay in the potter’s hand, a vessel in the making, silver being refined, and that makes all the difference. I think God is bringing me toward something, a distinct purpose, of which I don’t know yet but I’m getting closer to it.

I’ve been counting my blessings and concluded that I am tremendously and immensely blessed. So with this post, I’ll begin a series of testimonies of how my life has changed. These are not particular incidents, but the overarching narratives of years of transformation.

Oftentimes this generic phrase is used in personal, faith-related testimonies, “God came into my life, and He turned my life around.” What I want to do is spell out just how exactly God has turned mine around.

For me, this reconstruction is deeper than behavioral; it’s in the level of personality, worldview, life philosophy, and the lens through which I perceive people. I’ll pay tribute to the friends I’ve gained, those whom I probably would never come to know if not for my conversion. And of course, I’ll pay tribute to my family and my late father, whose character traits I’ve discovered to be present in me more and more as I grow up. Though my time with him is cut short, I’m so thankful to have been trained, brought up, and loved by him.

In a book by one of my favorite authors, he says, “there are no proofs for the existence of the God of Abraham. There are only witnesses.” (Heschel, The Prophets, p. 27) Well, I am a witness, and I’m unashamed to declare it.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I’d say wealth is in the contented heart. The currency of my life consists of friendships, service, learning, wonder, and moments of reflection. Of these I have many. God has made me rich.

I Asked for Wonder

“Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder, and he gave it to me.” ― Abraham Joshua Heschel

How would you describe this moment: standing on a precipice, you view the extensive terrains made up of lush green meadows, forests, and blue streams. Or at this time of the year, the orange and red leaves that signal winter’s coming. How would you explain what happens when in silence, you watch the evening’s sun sinks into the horizon? Perhaps this word would do for now: Wonder.

Heschel would describe these as moments when one comes face to face with the ineffable, moments when we part with words.

Awesome though they may be, I thought that these moments are like birthdays. They come rarely (only once a year), far in between, and you can’t ask for it. Until I saw that quote above, I never thought that I could ask for wonder.

But when one has the God of the universe as Friend and Father, why couldn’t one ask for wonder? It’s like saying to God, “Impress me.” Why, of course He’ll do it! Talk about a guaranteed answer to prayer.

A few years ago I made up a list of 10 things I like about God (part one and part two). This was my number 5:

5. God’s Mysteriousness

God is mysterious and His ways are past finding out. I like how there are many, many things that I don’t know or understand about God. He keeps me curious and amazed, and I can actually ask Him to amaze or make me wonder, and be in for a real ’whoa’ experience.

Romans 11:33 – Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!

Job 9:9-11 – Who made [the constellations] the Bear, Orion, and the [loose cluster] Pleiades, and the [vast starry] spaces of the south; Who does great things past finding out, yes, marvelous things without number. Behold, He goes by me, and I see Him not; He passes on also, but I perceive Him not.

This post is my gratitude for the little surprises God had for me everyday this week (which is number 4 on the list). I don’t have to wait until I get to a mountaintop or the beaches in Bali to bottle up wonder and store it in memories. I can have a dose everyday, for to wonder is to worship. And far more incredible than to wonder at the grandeur of His creation, is to wonder at God Himself.

Ask for wonder. You’re in for a real treat.

More Amazing Grace

More Amazing Grace

The longer I am a Christian
The more I find out
How much of a sinner I am
How incapable I am
To be like Jesus
My understanding increases
My nature struggles to catch up
Still wretched, still poor
Thus I fall shorter, shorter of the mark

The longer I am a Christian
The more I desire to be real
In the heart, not just on paper
In the flesh, not just in debates
But it’s easier to be an intellectual Christian than a real one
And when I go home to my mirror
The light of God shines
In my reflection I see two faces

The longer one is a Christian
They say one sees his sins even more
Because Jesus is closer
But for me that is often questionable
And it is very distressing
To be seen more pious than I really am

The longer I am a Christian
The more desperate I become
Because I am helpless
And powerless to obey

But the longer I am a Christian
The more I know the all-sufficient grace
That covers me just the same
The more I know of me
The greater I need my Savior
And He saves me
Yes, even today!

And that is why
The longer I am a Christian
This grace is just more amazing
Than when I first believed

My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things; That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour. – John Newton, author of the hymn Amazing Grace.