I was very emotional. I didn't know I was going to be this moved... but I suppose my heart was very full and the mix of sentiments just overflowed.
This is what I shared...
So I grew up going to church. Childhood memories include saying the believers prayer with a VBS worker and receiving my first Bible, probably around five or six years old. I also have memories of my mom reading Bible stories from The Big Bible for Little Eyes to my sister and I before bed and praying together. We used to pray in Taiwanese …and for a while I thought God only understood Taiwanese. For as long as I can remember, I accepted that God is real. I believed that He made the universe and that He sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. My understanding was that if I believed that Jesus died for me then I would go to heaven after I die. My prayers then went something like this, “Dear God, please help me not get too nervous when I have to get up and speak in front of people and I promise I’ll be good.” They also went something like this, “Dear God, sorry I yelled at my sister and was mean, but good thing You know everything and You know that I didn’t really mean it and good thing You are so loving and kind and will forgive me.” It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized that I was cheapening His grace and taking it for granted. This visual stuck with me. I am like a little girl playing outside in the mud and before entering God’s gigantic clean wonderful mansion, Jesus is at the front door with a towel, wiping away my mud and dirt so I can enter into His Father’s house. At first, I am super grateful, but with time, I start taking it for granted and it is as if I’m just wiping my feet on Jesus, the doorway mat, before entering.
It was in college that I realized that believing in Jesus is not just “hell insurance” as Pastor Tom likes to call it… but if I truly love God I would naturally want to please Him and do His will. But how would I know what God’s will is unless I read His Word, the Holy Bible? When I was trying to share my faith with my dorm mate I remember I could not answer a lot of his theological questions, yet I would not waiver in my faith. He accused me of having blind faith. So I was motivated to really dig in and know the Bible. My faith solidified and really grew those four years in college. At the time, I was going to a very mission-minded church, our pastor was Hudson James Taylor the IV, his great great grandfather was the famous Hudson James Taylor, first missionary to China. At Urbana ’96, I remember being so convicted about the great need for missionaries overseas that I stood when they called for us to stand before God and others to commit to the calling. I knew I was going into medicine and I imagined that I’d be a physician living in a remote underserved area, helping folks physically and sharing God’s Good News.
Well, life does not always go the way one plans, even though I really thought my plan was God’s plan. So due to a number of circumstances that I do not have time to go into detail, here I am… a physician, trying to help folks physically and share God’s Good News, here in Bucks County, wife, and mom of 4 kids. Now to be honest, it has not been easy. In fact, I tell folks that motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done my entire life! It is harder than medical school and harder than residency. It is not just hard physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well. Motherhood shines a bright light on my own ugly sins that I always knew was there… but didn’t know to this extent! Impatience… irritability… selfishness... rage. Countless times, I'm battling thoughts in my head… and like Jesus in the desert, the only way to counter these negatives is with His Truth from His Word. Even when I don’t feel like believing in the truths, I have to choose to believe that what He says is Truth so it must be true.
So when I hear, “You are a no good sinner!” I have to remember Romans 8:1-2
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
When I hear, “You will never change. You will always fall back to your same sins.”
I have to hold on to and believe Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
When I hear, “You will lose this battle. Give up!” I have to believe Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Growing up in a Presbyterian Church I was baptized as an infant and before going off to college, confirmed as an adult. I stood in front of my home church congregation affirming my faith in Christ. When I got to college, and after that first year of tremendous growth I remember asking my pastor whether I should get baptized again and dunked. He said it was not necessary for salvation and it was up to me. I never did it because I didn’t think it was necessary. I figured I already went in front of a church congregation, so technically already testified. But something Pastor Tom said once in a sermon struck me. He said to get baptized because Jesus got baptized. I decided ok, this is something I want to do. Since salvation didn’t depend on it, I thought it would be more special and memorable if I did this together with one of our kids, whoever gets baptized first. So I’m very pleased to be doing this today with Sierra, my oldest.
You know, as I was preparing for this, I thought about all the different mental warfare I’ve had over these years… there are many, you heard some of them. One struggle that occasionally comes up has to do with the Parable of the Sower. Some seeds get snatched by a bird or choked by thorns or fall on rocks and have no root. How do I know that I’m the seed that falls on good soil? Boy, when that condemning voice gets loud, I can almost be convinced that I must not be good soil and therefore doubt my calling to missions... doubt my calling be counted in God’s family. I realize that on this symbolic day, this act of going under water and up again... from here on forward I can think back to this day and have a concrete physical reminder of God’s Truth... that I have made this decision to follow Jesus and I am forever His sheep.
Jesus says in John 10:27-29 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
So I’m reminded to persevere. Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
And what about when I thought I was called to be a missionary somewhere remote? Well… we’ll see… life isn't over yet. At the end of my life I want to be able to say like Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."