Newsletter March, 2004

ORLANDO CHINESE CHURCH MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

March, 2004


The Love of the Lord

In the fall of 2002 I stepped on this land of America for the first time. When I bid farewell to my parents in Shanghai, I was still quite assured of myself. But life played a big joke on me when I was making flight connection in Tokyo. Upon arrival in Orlando, my heart was so full of worry and sadness that I paid no attention to my new environment. Even now I could not figure out how or where I misplaced the AA ticket. But I clearly remember paying more than 2000 dollars cash for the remaining trip from Tokyo to Orlando, and rushing to catch the departing flight. Due to my carelessness I spent more than half of the cash I had with me. The remaining were not enough to even cover the rent, insurance and part of my tuition. Since the first paycheck won't be issued till a month later, what options did I have in this foreign land? Knowing that I should not tell my parents to make them worry, I could only resort to borrowing money to make ends meet. My classmates tried to help me through the university attorney's office to deal with the airline. Anyway, amid all that strange feelings of confusion and worry, I began the life of a foreign student.

When the school started, I was asked to go with some upper-class students to church for Bible study. But the opening statement in the Bible about God creating the heavens and the earth made me laugh. Since middle school we were taught to criticize this "foolishness and ignorance". Now after completing college education how come I turned back to "study" this "superstition"? Later I read about "God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son", and wondered why so many people were suffering, if God is a loving God? From my childhood I fully enjoyed the love of my parents and relatives, but never saw the love of God. Where was the love of the Lord? Was it just like the air, unseen and untouchable?

As the school work got busier, I declined the invitation to go to church again. Although my mind was full of questions, I decided to leave the spiritual matters alone and stay for the moment in my own atheistic well to behold that small piece of sky. During the 22 years of my life, I never thought about the existence of a savior. I insisted on solving all the problems by myself, no matter how difficult it might be. Because of this bravery, I was determined to come to the States for my American dream. Although troubles abound from the start, I was never discouraged. I kept on telling myself, "wait till the cloud opens up to show the bright moon!"

Before I knew it, the first semester was finished. I almost paid back all my debts, but had heard nothing from the airline. The attorney encouraged me to stay with the case and try to locate all the related documents. Nevertheless, I held little hope for getting any refund. Christmas holiday was quite boring. To a sojourner like me away from home, I did not feel anything special about the season. One day I happened to be talking to a new believer about the spiritual matters again. He left with me this statement: The end of man is the divine beginning. It suddenly made me feel strangely warm, as if my hardened heart was briefly touched by a gentle caress. As much as I was reluctant to admit the existence of God, I could not help but wonder "may be there truly is a God!" So I said a most clumsy prayer, not remembering the exact words but something about asking God to help me get some of the money back from the airline.

With the busyness of the new semester, I quickly forgot my own prayer. Out of blue one day, I received a letter from the attorney, asking me to contact the AA China office to obtain my flight reservation records. It had been over six months; could their computer have kept the record for that long? Since the attorney insisted, I tried to call and fax them. A few days later, miraculously they located the document and things made a dramatic turn for the better. Shortly after that, the attorney notified me to go to her office to pick up the check. I read her letter, every word of it over and over again. Finally, I was convinced that the 2000 dollars were truly recovered. As the emotional excitement subsided, I began to ponder what gifts of gratitude to give to the attorney and others who had helped me in due process. However, I did not think about thanking God for His grace, because I had totally forgot about my own request to Him, considering that all were due to my own efforts with some good lucks.

The arrival of the refund check was a happy event, but happiness did not last very long. Life continued to be bland. As I experienced more of the American life, I reluctantly admitted that many things could not be changed by my will or affected through my diligence. When encountering hardship, I began to pray: If it was answered, I considered to be my good luck. If not, I only sighed that one could not count on life after all. Perhaps it was the atheist subconscious that made me try to avoid the issue of God, and refused to give thanks. Looking back now, I realize that it was a very dangerous period of time in my spiritual journey. How shameful of me that I would only receive but not give thanks. I always thank my friends and relatives for a helping hand, but never thank the God of all creations when openly accepting His goodness in grace.

Thank God that He did not forsake me in spite of my irreverence. By chance I returned to the church that summer, beginning a new look at examining the truth. That night as I returned from the church, the Big Dipper was clearly seen in the night sky, which I had been looking for a few days ago. Why didn't I see it then? My heart was shaken a bit, wondering if truly God was trying to show me "the Way"! From that time on I looked forward to Friday evenings, a time when I could go to Bible study and search for answers to the questions that puzzled me. Although the brothers and sisters tried hard to help me with patience, the stronghold built by years of atheistic education was hard to break. During that period of struggle, I wrote in my dairy, "Faith is good, and I am willing to choose to believe. But can I truly give up the self-assured old me and surrender everything to God?"

But Jesus said, "Heaven is like a door. Knock and it shall be open unto you. Seek and ye shall find." The church has been like a rope coming down from the well's opening to gradually take me out in reaching the great and wonderful world beyond atheism. I discovered that Darwin's theory of evolution was only a hypothesis, not truth. The chance for a big bang was so minute and unaccountable. What we call nature did not come naturally after all. I searched my own heart to find that my insistence of atheism was simply due to my pride which did not allow a sovereign God to rule my life. After several months, though my atheistic foundation was shattered, I for some unknown reasons still could not make up my mind to follow the Lord.

It was the mid-autumn moon festival. I mailed my parents a box of moon cake, though I knew that they would already have boxes of moon cake at home. After calling home to announce my well being, my tears suddenly came down out of control. I discovered how limited human love was. I love them dearly, but all I could do for the big festival was a box of cake. Although they love me so much, I dare not tell them my unhappiness lest they should worry or be hurt. Only before the heavenly Father I can freely pour out my worry and sadness. In His loving arm I can peacefully fall asleep, no matter what storm I may encounter the next day. I know for certain that He has prepared for what I need. Even in tribulation He has a beautiful plan for me. As a blind man suddenly sees the light, I realize that this is the love of the Lord I have been searching for. His love, so solemn yet full of hope and sweetness, has never departed from me. Like the sunshine, the air and the dew, the anointing of His grace is given to us freely. Because of this, only He can surpass time and space to protect my dear family afar, and only He can give me peace and joy in my parents' place.

Considering this, I found that my last defense was broken and I had no more excuses to resist the eternal and selfless love of the Father. I knelt and prayed to Him for the first time in spirit and truth: "O Lord, thank you for your election, and I am willing to receive you as the Lord of my life. Amen!" (Xu Kang)