Category Archives: provision/answered prayer

I will be with you.

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Sometimes we’re the answer to our own prayers. Gideon asked why they were oppressed, where was God’s great acts of deliverance? Where was God?? He’s here, he was just waiting for you to cry out to him. And where was his deliverance? You’re looking at him. It’s you. (Isn’t the same true of us today-in the midst of horrific natural disasters, great injustices, we cry out asking where was God? He’s been there, but it’s us who need to get up off the couch and do something about it.)

No matter how weak we are by the world’s standards, giant obstacles or impossible callings are no match for the strength of our God. He promises His presence in our obedience, and that is all we need. That’s all He asks of us, to obey and to trust in His sufficiency. 

If He calls us to it, He will be with us through it.

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He is true to his word.

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Though he sent them to wander for 40 years in the desert for not trusting in his provision, he was still faithful to this new generation.  He brought them into the land filled with milk and honey, he delivered their enemies into their hands, and he allotted each of the tribes land as he had promised.

He was so faithful to them, and true to his word.

One of the best qualities you can find in a person is someone who is trustworthy, and the Lord is perfectly so.  He will bring about his plans to fruition, and his promises from ages past are still true today.

This new year I made a resolution to become a person who is true to their word.  A person who honors the commitments that I make and says what I mean.  It’s not easy, especially when you’re a people pleaser, and an introvert!  Some of my grad school friends love huge house parties.  I love a good time every once in a while, I do, but my version of good time ALSO includes small intimate gatherings over dinner.  lol  Or more than likely, coffee talk time that’s one on one.  So instead, I found it’s much easier to give hopeful “maybe’s”, because then at least they know there’s a CHANCE that I might do xyz.  It’s not true that introverts are antisocial, but it is true that big parties are exhausting and require a lot of willpower to attend and force yourself to make small talk with new people until you sidle up to your good friends and find that cozy spot in the midst of a big crowd.  But by now my good friends can distinguish my “Maaaaybeeeesbutprobablynots” from my “Maybeyeahlemmecheckmyschedule.”

I’m also a chronically late person.  10-15minutes max, but still.

I realized it’s because I’m selfish.  I never take into account parking (I simply forget that crucial part), I usually underestimate traffic (curse of an optimist), but mostly, I’ve realized, is that I inherently and subconsciously value personal time to such an extent that I’m willing to inconvenience the other person by making them wait.  It disgusts me to write it down, but it’s the truth.  Somehow I value my own time over theirs, and therefore, it’s not bad if I’m 5-10minutes late.  Regularly.

So after God revealed that fun tidbit to me, I decided that needs to change.  So I decided to try to become a person of my word.  Someone whose “yes” means “yes”, whose “no” means “no”, and someone whose “10:30am” actually MEANS I’ll be there at 10:30!

Because one of the things I absolutely love about God is that when he says something, you can count on him to do it, even thousands of years later.  He is never changing, AND he is trustworthy and true.  The promise in his word, for example, that he will bring about all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose in Christ Jesus gives me such hope.  That no matter the sorrow, no matter the pain, no matter the wrongs done to me or anyone on this earth, he WILL bring it about for his good if we put our trust in him.  Nothing goes wasted under his watch.

We can trust him when he says he’ll never leave us or forsake us.

We can trust him when he says he loves us.

We can trust him when he says he knows our inmost being.

We can trust him when he says he knit us together piece by piece before we were born.

We can trust him when he says his works (ourselves included) are wonderful, when all the world tells us otherwise.

We can trust him when he says that he satisfies our every longing and desire.

We can trust him when he says that though there will be trouble, we have nothing to fear, because he has overcome the world.

We can trust him when he says that he is righteous and all the heartbreaking wrongs will be accounted for.

We can trust him when he says that there will be a day when tears and sorrow will be no more.

 

So to read this verse this morning, it’s literally beautiful.  He’s beautiful.  Not a single WORD went void, EVERYTHING he said came to pass.  Thank you, YHWH, covenant LORD.

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Fear & the Will of God

Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real orimagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
Synonyms: foreboding, apprehension,consternation, dismay, dread, terror, fright, panic, horror, trepidation, qualm.
Antonyms: courage,security, calm, intrepidity.

The third of this dictionary series.

These past six months have been absurd.  Filled with quick blushes, fluttering hearts, and alabaster jars full of tears.  As a twenty six year old who has never been in a relationship, these past six months were full of uncertainty, excitement, and revelations, as for the first time, I was “seeing someone”.

He came out of nowhere.  I was happy being single, busy with friends, school, research, and church.  I had just come back from Urbana, InterVarsity’s amazing missions conference, where the Lord reminded me that he has a perfect plan, a me-shaped dream that is part of his plan in restoring the world.  He reminded me that he made me, down to the interests and specific experiences that I’ve had in my life, and nothing, nothing goes wasted under his watch.  He is a purposeful God.

So coming off this conference high, my friends told me that they were speaking to this guy about me, and suggesting that we meet.  They’d been talking to him for months, and he was asking my best friend tons of questions about me to see whether he wanted to take a risk and meet me.  Eventually, he decided that he would jump, and he asked me out to coffee in mid January.

We met once a week, no more, no less.  And we tried to keep the boundaries platonic.  Ever since our second meeting, we always went dutch, and physically we did nothing–not even holding hands.  But over time, he found me making my way into his heart, and eventually, I found him in mine.  As cliche as it was, things happened so quickly.  He told me  in early March that he “liked [me], and really enjoyed spending time together”.  And in early April, I tried ungracefully to tell him the same–“soooyanothatsongthatsplayinginthatsceneinbeautyandthebeastwheretheyrethrowingsnowballsateachother?yeaaah,ithinkthatswhereimat.”  Hahaha 🙂  But he graciously let me express myself in the only way that I could.

We went and found new restaurants together through yelp, we fast danced (me awkwardly) at the Navy’s Anniversary Ball, and we sat beneath the shade of trees and talked for hours, often spending a quarter of a day together.  Restaurants would close, but our conversations would continue as we strolled along the Ala Wai canal, or sat in a car.

He believes in one of those Christian alternatives to dating–dating with friendship at the forefront and marriage in mind, then once he knew that I would be the one, he would propose, and then pursue until I said yes.  It’s modeled after Christ’s pursuit of our own hearts–a commitment to loving us that inspired and motivated the greatest act of love known to mankind.  Commitment first, pursuit second.  And although I struggled (and quite frankly was frustrated) with wanting a traditional relationship where pursuit and romance happens at the onset of emotions, I respected his conviction and I admired that his eyes were focused on the cross.

Being in the Navy, he would occasionally be gone, disappearing into a submarine for weeks at a time, and communication was spotty and via email at best.  But we made it through, with biblical encouragement and the cds of worship songs he’d make me.  His last underway was most difficult, I was so used to texting him every day, and that morning he’d sent me a text, facebook message, and email, so every line of communication that I had was another reminder that he would be gone for 21 days.  And I actually was counting them down one by one in the beginning, because I missed him so.

But while he was gone, I was praying with open hands, asking the Lord what he would want from us.  Specifically, “What should we do, Lord?”  And behold, I heard “Break up.”  Over the course of a few weeks, I’d press the question again twice after that, not believing what I’d heard, and honestly not wanting it to be true.  So finally, when I heard it a third time, I began asking the Lord for confirmation–through scripture, through quiet times, through anything, but specifically, I asked that my friend Jeannie, who had always been so supportive of us, would confirm what I’d heard.

The Lord provided.  Be careful what you pray for, because He is a God who answers.

Since we stopped dating, the tears just won’t stop coming.  I sobbed in the beginning, and I just had no words to say to anyone, including God.  It was all I could do to just sit there with Him in my car, watching the sun sink over the Honolulu skyline, and know that He hears and He was with me.

Through this time though, God has taught me so much.  I’ve begun to read books on Guidance, Finding God’s Will,  listening to sermons on singleness and listening in silence…and through it God has shown me much.

We all want God to tell us what to do.  We all want God to simply save us the pain and the struggle of figuring things out for ourselves, because we know that his plans are infinitely better than ours.  That his plans lead to his glory.  And who wouldn’t want to take a shortcut to get there?  Why bother with my own plans and my own desires when i know my heart is sinful, and when I know that whatever he wants is best for me?

Because he wants you to be an autonomous being that is both fully you and fully submitted to him.  Just as he didn’t force you to choose him, he will not and does not want you to just be a puppet who does whatever He wants.   In a sermon by Tim Keller, he provided this illustration:

Imagine you’re a parent.  And your five year old asks you for permission to go out and play.  “Of course,” you say.  “But be back home by five, because your mother and I are cooking dinner.”  Now imagine that it’s 15 years later, and your 20 year old calls and says “Hi Dad, my friends are playing frisbee at the park, is it ok if I go play with them?”  You’re dumbfounded.  “You’re 20 years old!  You know your workload, you know how much time you can afford to spend with your friends.  You don’t need to ask me, you can decide for yourself.”

The greatest lessons are learned through living, not told by word of mouth.  Did you come to believe that God loves you because you heard it week after week in a building with a steeple, or did you come to know that God loves you because you had an undeniable experience where his love completely overwhelmed you like the flood of rushing waters?  Did you come to know that you are a sinner because people with picket signs pointed their fingers and accused you, or did you come to find you’re a sinner because you were shown a mirror and saw the depth of depravity within your own soul that looks so shiny and good from the outside?

Likewise, God’s guidance, his wisdom comes through learning.  Learning to listen for the promptings of the Spirit, and learning to walk in ways that are just and true.

Of course, when you’re making difficult decisions that have nothing to do with morality (for those, the answer is in God’s word), things get complicated.  What job to take, what school to go to, who we should marry, we often turn to God for guidance and for direction for these.  As we should.  There are certainly better options, and there are worse options.  Prayer, wisdom, and countenance of friends are certainly necessary.

But to ask God directly for what He wants, I think we need to examine our hearts for why we ask this question.  Sometimes the way just doesn’t seem clear.  And any of the options before you seem good, so therefore you really want to inquire of the Lord and make an informed decision.  And often times, he may just tell us to choose.

Sometimes, however, we ask the Lord what he wants because we’re afraid.  We fear making the wrong choice, because we’re afraid of the consequences.  We don’t want to pick the path less traveled by and come to find it’s full of thorns and wild beasts waiting to devour us.   It may seem like the holy way to go, inquiring of the Lord.  But your heart is quaking in fear.  You’d rather He just make the decision because then there’s no responsibility on your part–God told you do this.  And if God told you to do it, it must be good!

Remember, God is a God who answers prayers.

When I asked the Lord what to do with this man, I was in the second boat.  Not only did I fear the consequences of my actions, but I honestly thought that if God made the decision and told me what to do, then I would follow, and I hoped that it would expedite his glory.  God, you, me, and the right person, we’ll make a good team one day.  So if he is the one, tell me to get a move on and climb aboard.  Silly me.  Expedite his glory.  As if such a thing exists!  The rocks cry out day and night with the sound of his praises!  As if I could delay his glory by making the wrong choice.  As if I had any power to do such a thing, as if such a thing could even happen!  The Lord will be glorified in our sin or in our worship, it’s simply our choice.

But the Lord convicted me today that I asked him what to do out of fear.  He in his grace, answered anyway.  I was afraid because I knew that he was close to a proposal.  I was afraid because if it turns out I don’t want to marry him, I didn’t want to hurt him.   I was afraid because if I don’t want to marry him, I may end up alone forever.  I was afraid because if he didn’t want to marry me, I would be heartbroken.  I was afraid because deep down inside marriage scares me.  I was afraid because my parents are divorced, I’ve never seen a healthy marriage, and I’m terrified of going through it myself.

Being a child of divorce leaves scars.  It just does.  The Lord heals the pain, but that divorce is never erased from your memory.  My identity was shaken.  I became the product of a broken home.  But as the pieces were shaking, what came to the surface was that I was first and foremost a child of God.  Should God strip away all the other labels that people place on me (daughter, sister, tree hugger, student, staffworker, etc), only that would remain.

Nevertheless, I didn’t realize until today just how scared I was of marriage because I’m afraid of divorce.  I’m afraid of the arguments that come between two people who vowed to love each other till death do you part.  I’m afraid of marrying the wrong person because I know how painful and earth shattering divorce is.  And I know the bitterness and the resentment that can come.

I was talking on the phone to my best friend, and I told her my fear of being single.  And she said–what’s meant to be will be.  But I asked her–were my parents meant to get a divorce?  Was that meant to be??  And I still am wrestling with God about the answer.  I know that sin wormed its way into their marriage and rotted it from the insdie out.  But was that part of God’s plan?

The Lord convicted me too, asking me…do you really believe that I work everything out for Good?  Do you really believe that my plans always prevail in the end?  Do you really believe that you can mess with life so badly that my plans do not come to fruition?  Do you really believe that I am Sovereign??

So choose.  Pray, consult, listen, use wisdom.  But choose.  Don’t live life in fear of making the wrong choices because no matter what you go through, I will be there.  No matter what happens, I will use it for good.  No matter what happens, I have you in my hands.  No matter what happens, I am in control.  No matter what happens, I love you and that is enough.

Do not fear impending danger.  Do not fear evil derailing my plan.  Do not fear a life of pain.  Do not fear threats that are real or imagined.  Because I am the Lord your God, and you are mine.  Trust me.

When we seek to know the Lord, we aim to please him, and we find ourselves squarely in the will of the Lord.  It’s not something to be sought, but something to be lived.

The antonyms to fear are courage,security, calm, and intrepidity.  (Does this not sound like a life lived in freedom in the Lord?)

The cure to fear, however, is faith.

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starting a new life

there have been many things to celebrate lately.

okay, so first,  i noticed that lately, there have been SO MANY MORE asian actors and actresses on the screen!  they’re not necessarily in sitcoms and stuff yet, but commercials are definitely having more asians repping the products, and there have been more asian hosts (particularly asian women–top chef on bravo and some other show like what not to wear)  and also, my friend byron is going to try to make it as an actor!  i’m so excited for him! 🙂

and while i think we have a long way to go…i’m excited 🙂  it’s the beginning.

and secondly, i’m going through this whole fundraising process…and I really want to tell people this but i feel as though i can’t really (hence, putting it out here)…but God truly provides.  So my friend and I started looking at apartments, and within one week, we’d added another roommate and also started the application process on a place.  It was that fast.  And along with the application process comes the security deposit and the first month’s rent.  that was about $800 or so right out of my pocket.  Wow.  even looking at that number now, I’m pretty stunned at how much money i’ll never get back.  And I was afraid–I didn’t have that much money in savings, and so I called my mom.  I had said just minutes before how great it was that parents are like no-interest bankers–how naive and selfish of me!!!  when I started talking to my mom, I asked her if she’d be able to help me out in buying furniture and paying my first security deposit, etc.  And I told her I’d pay her back as soon as my paychecks became secure.  But then little did i know….that along with graduation, along with choosing to live in the city comes financial independence.  and i’m saying that euphemistically.

and so i learned in a hurry–my safety net just fell out from under me.  And I started crying right there with my roommates in the same room.  my new roommates that I would be sharing an apartment with, my new roommates that relied on me to pay my third of our bills.  because I didn’t know what to do.  I only had so much in savings, only a little bit over what I needed for security deposit and first month’s rent.  And what was I going to do once all my savings were gone?  How was I going to buy furniture, how was I going to pay for the next month’s rent??

Praise God that I’m living in Christian community.  My roommates understood.  And we’re all trying ot make this on our own.  Or at least, as much as we can.  We dont’ want to live as a star…we’re learning how to be a square…or a circle.  But it’s true…probably if we wound up on extremely dire circumstances, our parents wouldn’t let us fail….our parents would help us out in times of utmost need.  And for that, we will always be part of the star community.  We’re trying to live paycheck to paycheck…but it’s not enough.  We will always have that safety net behind us (or at least, that’s the way I think now…it may not necessarily be true.  our parents may not be there to bail us out when we really fall deep into financial difficulties…but in our minds we have peace because we think that’s true).  And so they offerened to help me if it ever came down to me not being able to pay my rent.  they offered to chip in if I ever needed it, and then be paid back later.  And one of them knew exactly what it was like to be…financially independent.

So i’m carrying on with this new found sense of independence.  And i don’t know if i’ll sink or swim.  But by God’s grace, I know he’ll be there every step of the way.  And I’ll try to do my best to honor him in all things.

But in any case…so I was extremely upset, and I didn’t know waht to do.  i couldtn’ back out on my apartmentmates….I had just signed up to live with them.  in contract.  And I wanted to.  I wanted to live incarnationally in a new community full of people that were different from me in more ways than one.  I wanted to get to know my fellow sisters better.  I wanted to live by my fellow brothers.  And I think this is a necessary step for me to learn how to be a good steward of my finances, to learn how to live independently….and learning to trust God.  with everything.  with my relationship with my mother–to know that he’s there in the midst of it–with my finances–to know that he is my sole provider, not my parents or my boss–with fundraising for my job–with relationships with my roommates….everything.  everything.  He knew I would end up living in this apartment, he knew I would end up living with my roomies, he knew what my finances would look like…and he’s right there in the midst of it all.  He’s beside me every step of the way.  And for that….what do I have to fear?  And i so I asked my roomies to pray with me and for me…and I asked my fellow staffer to pray for me….and I was terrified of what would happen financially….but at the same time, I was at peace.  I think I was more upset over the shock of it all….over hearing my mom be so final and definitive…and not knowing what the future would look like…but I knew God would work it all out.  somehow.  SOMEHOW.

so I paid my rent.  and my security deposit.  I used about 75% of my savings to do so.  Praise God i had those savings to start out with!!

And lo and behold….come graduation…my aunt, uncle, and grandfather all give me graduation gifts.  And it’s just enough to pay for rent for the entire year.  It’s one of those things thats clearly God.  It’s not enough to cover for utilities, or for groceries, or for gas or other expenses…but for my needs…it’s enough.  Now, I hope that I don’t need to use it, but already….as September looms ever closer…second month’s rent?  It’s coming out of those gifts that God provided.  And some is coming out of summer income (not very significant though).

And I put the majority of that money into a cd.  that i can’t touch.  for a year.  Was that smart?  or wise?  Im not sure just yet.  But I still have faith that God will provide.  It may be cutting it close, It may look like living paycheck to paycheck…but It’s really living day to day on faith.  And though it may not look very different to the world…there is a big difference.  My faith is not in my boss, or the accountant who writes up paychecks…my faith is in my God, the one who breathed life that that accountant….and he’s the same God who clothes the lilies and feeds the birds.    Who am I to worry?

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