i'll go where you will lead me, lord

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. -Psalm 27:4

From Everlasting to Everlasting – Thoughts on Psalm 90.

Psalm 90. From Everlasting to Everlasting.

A Prayer of Moses, the Man of God.

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. 5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: 6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. 8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. 9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. 11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? 12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. 13 Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. 17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

We are so temporary – like dust (v. 3), like a dream (v.5), like grass (v. 5-6). Yet God is eternal, our sanctuary, reigning from everlasting to everlasting. He is beyond what we think we know. He transcends nature, time, and human understanding (v. 2).  In His sovereignty He can make us come and go however He pleases (v. 3-8).

We cannot hide from God even our most deeply hidden sins… God, in all His glory and holiness, is the mirror in which we see our uncleanliness (v. 8). Our lives are vanity, passing away quickly, filled with toil and trouble, and ending as quickly and pitifully as they began (v. 9-10).

How then are we spending these fleeting moments on Earth? Are we numbering our days, acknowledging the fact that God created us and gave us this life for a specific purpose – to know Him, worship Him, and glorify Him? Do we humbly receive and apply His wisdom, which is to focus on His sovereignty and salvation (v. 12)?

Recognizing the ephemeral and transitory nature of our lives, Moses prays that God would show us favor. We are mere servants, only capable of begging for God’s mercy and pity (v. 13). Only by His steadfast love can we find joy (v. 14). Only by His grace can our works produce fruit, and our lives have value and significance (v. 17).

God, I am but a mere servant, clothed with rags and unable to show my unclean face in Your courts. I deserve nothing – not even my first breath…no, not even the first thought You had to create me. Yet You, in Your grace and mercy, delight in me. You save me from the punishment I deserve in all my sinful filth. What a wonderful and lovely and amazing Gospel You offer to all mankind…I love you, Lord. I praise You, for Your works are beyond what I can even begin to comprehend, yet they shake me to the core and bring me to my unworthy knees.

 

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The Gift

He awakes me from my slumber and sits by my bed as I slowly open my eyes, blinking away tears that had remained from the night before. I peer around the bedroom, still cherishing the pocket of warmth sustained between my blanket and my body. My eyes meet His gentle gaze.

“My child,” He whispers, “Come.”

The chill of the morning air causes me to hesitate. Yet He says again, “Come.”

I know I have stayed here for much too long. I rise and the blanket falls away, but His steady, warm hand takes mine and all else is forgotten. He leads me out the door. Our feet pad softly along the carpet down the hallway.

He lets me wonder what is to come until I see it sitting there on the living room floor. It is everything. It is unreal. It is more than I have ever dared to ask for.

I take one step towards it, then quickly look back at Him. He smiles warmly … tears fill my eyes, tears of unbelief.

“Lord, for me?” I whisper. I can barely speak, I can barely breathe.

“Go on,” He says, nodding towards it. I barely touch it with my fingertips before I start to sob.

“Lord, why me? I did nothing to deserve this.”

He laughs softly.

“Because, my child, I love you.”

THE END

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I saw this beautiful painting called The Hand of God by Yongsung Kim a few days ago. In my life, I have seen several paintings of Jesus. He never looks exactly the same from one painting to the next, which has made me skeptical to focus too much on these man-made images of Him. Yet this painting communicated something to me beyond the usual kind smile and warm eyes on Jesus’ face. This was a representation of the Savior I personally know Jesus to be.

Just a week ago, my life was sinking fast. I was saying goodbye to a relationship that I had invested much hope in, realizing fast that God had other plans for me. I was struck with the reality of my father’s unbelief when I received the news that he had been hit by a car. And I had immensely lost trust in a friend who was not strong enough to resist temptation, resulting in a painful break in our friendship and a huge blow to my sense of self-worth.

Nothing and no one truly comforted me in that time. There was too much noise to distinguish love from lies, the people who cared for me from the ones who did not understand my suffering. My Bible, which I usually opened every morning to spend time with my Father, sat silently on my bedroom floor. I stared at it and found no courage to pick it up for days.

I was at my wit’s end when I fell to my knees and forced myself to flip to a random page. I had always been skeptical of this too – I had long since stopped believing that turning to a random page of the Bible would be of any miraculous use. Yet the first words I read  were, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21).

Of course I would be led to Job. The man suffered so much, and lost everything but his own life in such a short amount of time. But it was not the idea that someone else had suffered much more than I that comforted me. What comforted me was Job’s response to the Lord… The Lord gives. He also takes away. And through all of that, His name is still to be blessed. Because of this wise response and deep understanding of God’s sovereignty, Job was seen as righteous in God’s eyes.

I at once understood that I was more like Job than I thought. I knew in my heart that I did not once blame God for what had happened, for all that I had lost. I knew I had faith that God would pull me through these trials, even when I could not hear His voice. The one question I asked him was not “Will you comfort me?” I only asked, “When?” And He was not slow to bring comfort. So I praised Him for fulfilling His promise and for instilling that promise in me in the first place. I could not have withstood those traumatic few days if I did not have this truth to cling to: the Lord is my helper, I shall not fear. What can man do to me?

Then a day or two later, I came across this painting. Right away, I thought of Peter when he eagerly joined Jesus and walked on water with Him for a brief moment.  Scripture says, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'” (Matthew 14:30-31).

My own skepticism was not so different from Peter’s fear. Yes, I believed God would lift me out of trials and comfort me. But if I had been so sure of this from the start, then why did I despair at all? This flaw in my faith troubled me greatly. How could I say I wholly put my trust in Christ as my Lord and Savior if I sank so quickly?

Sometimes I still look away from Him. My eyes are drawn to the waves below me that relentlessly threaten to pull me underneath the current. I catch myself looking back at the sinking boat I once found comfort in. And every single time I take my eyes off of Him, I begin to sink, fears rising all around me. I almost lose sight of Him, it’s too late to catch a breath and cry out for help. Then I see His hand break through the surface. I think He will be angry, disappointed in me for forgetting who He is. But past His extended hand, I see Him smile at me.

That is the point, I realize, of needing a Savior. God knew I would be afraid. He knew I would let my eyes wander from His steady gaze, giving in to fear and doubt. But He also knew I could not pull myself out of my own sin. So when trials come, I may stumble and start to drown in fear…but because of His grace, Christ will always be there to extend His hand and lift me up.

 

My Testimony

 

Before I begin, I’d like to preface this testimony by saying that I share these personal details of my life and sinful past with a purpose in mind.  This is not merely a confession to get guilt off my chest.  This is not a cry for attention or consolation.  This is a true story of God’s glory and relentless pursuit of me, a sinner.  This is proof of the living God who loves me and cares for me.

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me.

Psalm 66:16

As a child, I recited the same definition of sin over and over again: “Sin is anything I say, do, or think that displeases God.”  While this definition is not wrong, and is just simplified for children to understand, it implanted a wrong image of God in me as a little girl.  “Say, do, or think”?  I began to watch every little thought I had that was “bad.”  I was afraid.  I had to be good.  I had to be fake.  “Displeases”?  I saw God frowning upon me.  I saw God ready to punish me like a parent waiting with a rod, staring me down as I cried in the corner of the room.  I grew up wanting to please God and people so intensely that at times, that desire to be good became crippling.  I let myself become a doormat to friends who made fun of me about little things.  I let myself laugh whenever my family said I was dumb or silly or forgetful.  I let myself apologize for every little thing I did wrong, and only apologized more when people told me to stop apologizing so much.  This terrible habit of fearful submission spiraled into me thinking I had to obey whatever my boyfriend at the time asked of me.  And eventually, I made the biggest mistake of my life by letting myself say yes to sex before marriage.

And at the end of it all, was I good?  Did I please my parents?  Did I please God?  Or did I please myself?

I’ll always remember this quote from one night at my youth group that changed my view on sin: “God commands us not to sin – not because He is just waiting for us to fall and is out to get us and punish us. God commands us not to sin because He knows it will hurt us.”

To hear the word “sin” in a context of love rather than of punishment was revolutionary to me.  My sinful past came hurtling towards me, but this time I did not feel the shame that had gripped me and silenced me for years.  Instead, I felt loved by my Father.  Instead of thinking, “God is punishing me because I lost my virginity,” I realized the truth – God commanded me not to have sex before marriage because He knew what emotional turmoil would follow.  Because He loves me, He does not want that pain and brokenness for my life.  And even more importantly – God still loves me even though I have broken His commandments, and is just waiting for me to return home.

I would continue to struggle with these new realizations in the summer before college, swinging back and forth between feelings of shame and forgiveness.  Old habits still remained, and I would cry and hide myself from the world whenever I remembered that I could not take back the sin I had committed.  But God was still pursuing me, and He finally caught me at a fall conference I attended with my fellowship.

My group got to the conference late.  We snuck in through the back as the speaker, Jim Rinella, continued his message.  I praise God for His perfect timing, because the first words I heard Jim say were, “Sex made me stay longer than I wanted to stay.”  At that moment, my heart cried out to God.  I knew He wanted me there at that very second, surrounded by those very people, listening to that very message on healing sexual brokenness.  Jim continued to teach about the prodigal son, quoting the following Scripture:

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Luke 15:20

While he was still a long way off.  What an amazing image – the father stood at the door, hoping and waiting to see his beloved son long before the son was even in view.  I saw Jesus Christ standing at the door with His hands raised to His face, shielding His eyes from the sun and peering into the distance, longing for me to come to Him before I even knew I needed Him.

Looking back now, I see for just how long God has been waiting for me.  His pursuit of my heart did not only begin when I sinned.  It did not even begin when I was born into a sinful body and a broken world.  It began before He created the world, before He created man.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16

And so I realize the paradoxical thinking of my childhood years.  How could God have created me so intricately and with so much care if He was only out to punish me?  How could a loving Creator want to destroy His own creations?  And hear this – why would He send His only son to die in our place and receive the necessary price of sin for us?  It simply does not make sense to see God through a lens of fear of condemnation.  The only possible conclusion is that God wants us and loves us, and commands us not to sin because He wants us to live completely and to be with Him in Heaven someday.

I am still a sinner, and as long as I am on this Earth I will continue to sin because that is human nature.  But I can live in confidence that God loves me and is constantly at work in my heart and has good plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11).  I can rejoice in my suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance (Romans 5:3).  And as I continue to seek Him, allowing Him to sanctify me for His glory day by day rather than striving to sanctify myself in order to please God and people, I can look forward to that final day when I can stand before Him and hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

I leave my testimony with you in hopes that you too will come to know this amazing, loving God, and see the great work which has been completed for your sake through His son Jesus Christ.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Galatians 6:14

Stop Compromising.

The ultimate purpose of us being here on Earth and of Jesus dying on the cross is to make God’s name known and glorified.  While being single allows us to carry out that purpose alone – or perhaps faster and more efficiently, if you’re a solo worker – marriage can be just as instrumental.  Two people working together to advance God’s kingdom not only holds so much potential to impact the hearts of others, but also glorifies God within the relationship, therefore keeping it alive and prosperous.  So how much impact are you really making for God’s purpose if you are not pursuing someone who understands that same purpose?  How can that significant other love you like Christ does and sacrifice himself like Christ did if he or she does not understand Christ’s love in the first place?

As it is written in Song of Solomon 8:4, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases.”  Wait on the Lord, and do not waste time – precious time God has given us to spread the good news while we are here on Earth – pursuing something or someone less than the perfect plan God ordained for you before you were even born.  Do not replace God’s amazing design for marriage – the union of two people called according to His purpose – with the lie that your heart can be satisfied by compromising.

Be Still

Upon coming to UCLA, I expected to learn how to become a better musician.  I expected to learn how to be independent.  I expected to learn how to build relationships and make connections for my future career.  But I never realized the biggest lesson I would have to learn was how to let God fight for me when I have done all I can.

On one of my first nights after moving in, a debate about abortion starts up in my lounge.  It’s about ten people arguing for pro-choice against one person arguing for pro-life.  I sit and listen for quite some time as I hear these friends turning on each other.  I sit, and listen, and tremble with fear and anger all at the same time at the injustice I’m witnessing…until one guy arguing for pro-choice says something I could not stand.  He says, “We give the decision to abort to the older, wiser people in the situation.  If I were to get a girl down the hall pregnant, don’t you think it should be our decision to abort since we know we can’t handle having a child?”

I walk right into the circle, wait my turn to speak, and ask him, “You say you give the decision to the wiser person?  Then how come you had sex when you knew you weren’t ready to have a child?”

What intrigues me is that no one can respond.  The very person who so confidently argued against me is now silent, scrolling on his phone until someone else speaks up.  Eventually, they all exclude me from the conversation and I have to leave the room to calm down.  I cannot tell if I won or lost.  All I know is that God triumphs in the end.  All I know is that God will fight for me – I need only be still.

Fast forward to a week ago.

People are smoking weed down the hall, and it’s obvious.  It’s happened before, but this time their door is open and the smell is making me nauseous.  After taking some deep breaths and gathering all the courage I can, I knock on their door.  Twice.

A girl I know from choir answers.  I ask, “Is someone smoking in here?”

After a quick glance down the hall, she whispers “yes.”  Something in me becomes brave and I respond, “The smell is making me sick, and if you don’t want me to throw up on your front door, I suggest you stop.”  She closes the door slightly behind her and frantically explains that she doesn’t personally smoke.  I tell her I understand, but it’s still a choice to have those people in her room.  After some hesitation, she says, “Okay I’ll tell them.”

I leave, still shaking with adrenaline.  I can feel her friends in the room call me ugly things.  I can hear the Enemy whispering that I’m weak.  I message the girl later that night, apologizing for scaring her but not apologizing for doing what’s right.  I tell myself again and again, God will fight for you.  You need only be still.  Eventually, I fall asleep.

 

Puddle of Faith

Why do I stand in the shower

Holding my hands together

Letting water collect in my hands

Like a thundershower filling up a leaf?

Why do I watch in awe

As the soap bubbles swirl around

Only to let it all go

Seeping through the cracks

Between my wrinkled fingertips?

It hits me as I see the last drop

Exit the safehaven I have created

I like to have control

But I love to give it up

 

 

Dear Hillary

YES. Modern feminism has actually devalued women! By suggesting that women can do everything men can, you are also taking away from the fact that both men and women bring special features to the table that God inherently gave them.

BeautyBeyondBones

Alright, that’s it.

I’m doing it.

The time has come.

I’m taking on …

the pantsuit.

dlGtWst

Womp. Womp. Sorry if that was a let down.

But in light of the recent political conventions, I have finally worked up the courage to talk about something that I have wanted to “tackle” for a long time.

The Pantsuit.

Or rather, what it stands for.

Now, some people may have watched the conventions and gotten all hot and bothered about the political “superheroes” in attendance. The brilliant/moving/potentially lifted speeches. The cause-for-concern weight of former presidents and their affinity for oversized balloons.


But I was focused on one thing: The Pantsuit.

Now, I must begin with this…it was so unfortunate that both the headlining women wore white. I mean, for the love, Melania Trump is a gosh darn vision in white. Not that Hillz wasn’t beautiful in her own right, but her stylist should have realized…

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Dear God,

I had a dream last night about my best friend of 14 years.  For the sake of anonymity, I will name her K.

For our entire friendship, I have prayed for K and wanted to share my faith with her, but it seemed I could never find the right timing.  We always had something else to do, something else to talk about.  Whenever I did share a little about church and what I believe in, she always seemed like she cared but did not want to be involved.  This dream has caused me to believe that the time is near for me to finally share with her.

School just got out, and she spontaneously invited me to her house.  Suddenly, I thought, This is the perfect opportunity for me to share the Gospel with her.  So I went without saying a word to my parents or anyone else about where I was going.  As we walked up her driveway, we saw her next-door neighbor doing something in his yard that suggested he was a Christian (I can’t remember exactly what he was doing.  Perhaps he was hanging a cross on his door or something similarly symbolic).  I looked at K and she responded to his actions with a negative comment, something along the lines of how strange and superstitious her neighbor was.  It bothered me greatly as we entered her house – that this was the image she had of Christians – and she probably thought the same of me but never admitted it.  So I stopped in the hallway, causing her to look back at me in question.  I stood there and said firmly, “I think it’s time for me to tell you what I really believe in.”

Still confused, she replied, “Okay…but it’s not like you need to.  I already know.”

“I don’t think you do.  I just want to make sure it’s clear.”

Next thing I know, I’m sitting on her bedroom floor with K and her younger sister B.  As a side note, I have been praying for B as well ever since I told her I was going to church and she replied with, “Ew…you go to church? That’s so weird.”  So I was surprised to see that in my dream, she seemed very open to what I was about to share with them.

I first asked the two sisters what their conception of Christianity was.  K spoke up first, saying she thought Christians worshipped the sun and did a lot of stupid rituals to worship things they could not see.  B piped up from behind her and said she had thought that too.  I immediately responded, “That is a huge misconception.  We do not worship the sun, nor do we do a bunch of meaningless rituals.”  K seemed to get annoyed and bored of the subject, so she brushed it off with, “We’ve been best friends for so long.  It doesn’t matter if I know or don’t know what you believe in, as long as we’re still best friends and we just respect each other.”  But I was not satisfied.  I said, “It’s because we are best friends and I want to stay best friends that I feel I must share what I believe in.  How else can we trust each other completely than to be completely open about ourselves?”

She shut herself off again, suggesting we go do something else.  I then realized I still hadn’t told my mom where I was yet, so I said, “Unfortunately I have to go home.”  Getting up from the bed, she asked, “So is that the only reason you came?”

“No, but I felt like it was the right time to tell you.”

Then I woke up.

My first thought when I opened my eyes was, This is big.  Like I mentioned before, I have prayed for the timing and the ability to share the truth with K for years.  And for years, I have not received an answer.  Finally, through a dream – the most clear way God speaks to me – I see that it is time to turn the tide.  It is time to stop letting K and B brush off Christianity as a meaningless and superstitious religion and never find out the truth for themselves.  It is time to stop living in my comfort zone and share the most important truth with the friend I care about most.

Now of course, fear is a big reason why several Christians never speak out about their faith – even with their closest friends and family.  If K was as rude in real life as she was in the dream, I would feel discouraged by this dream.  After all, she did not receive me well in the dream.  However, I know her well.  I know for a fact that she is not nearly as quick-tempered as her dream self.  Yet, my dream self was not afraid to challenge her.  So what do I have to fear in real life?

 

Dear God,

So I’ve been leading a group this summer for girls.  It’s like a Bible study, but we’re also reading a book about building our relationship with God before we think about dating.  So far it’s been great.  I’ve learned just how far God is willing to go in order to show us that He loves us.  I’ve learned that sometimes we are more thankful for the things God has given us than we are for the Giver.  But most of all, I’ve learned that God is the best friend we could ever ask for.

Growing up, I was always taught in Sunday school to see Jesus as my best friend.  Unfortunately, this lesson seemed vague and irrelevant to my life – not necessarily because I didn’t appreciate God, but because I didn’t know the value of friendship quite yet.  I saw God as my Savior, but certainly not as someone I could have a casual conversation with.  It was not until the end of high school that I began to realize the meaning of friendship and intimacy as a whole.  I learned this by looking at my own friendships.

When we are intimate with our friends, we aren’t afraid to ask them things like: “Whatcha doin today?” “Wanna hang out?” or “What’s wrong?”  In fact, those very questions create the closeness we have with them.  I’m never afraid to ask my closest friend Catherine if she wants to hang out because I know she enjoys my company.  I’m never afraid to tell her what is troubling me or ask what is troubling her because I know she cares about me.  So why should it be any different with God?

I’ve learned my whole life that God loves me, cares about the details of my life, and wants to spend time with me.  So this morning, when I first opened my eyes – before I even turned on my phone to check my messages – I prayed, “Good morning God.  What are you up to today?”