Jesus liberates consultant’s self-image
J had given in to worldly ideas of how to succeed in relationships and in life, and unknowingly suppressed his spiritual gift of mercy in the process. Through a renewal prayer, God showed him his true identity in Christ and the freedom that comes from following God. Praise God!
Freedom. What does it mean to you?
At the time of writing this testimony in the fall of 2019, Hong Kong is going through one of the most difficult valleys since its handover to Beijing in 1997. One of the underlying issues leading up to the escalation of events is that some people believe they are fighting for freedom. I never understood what freedom was until it was in danger of being taken from me that I started to pay attention.
Our spiritual lives are very much the same – sometimes the convenience and comfort of life draw our attention away from the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus.
I lived and am living a very convenient and comfortable life.
I grew up in a Christian family, have loving parents, and a good relationship with my younger brother. I studied at an international school in Hong Kong, and avoided all the stress and worries of my local peers. I went to a great university in Wisconsin, where I received high-quality tertiary education, and met a lot of life-long friends.
College was also a critical point in my life where I discovered my emotional side, and my occasional need to just cry and let my emotions out. This was a key moment in life, which will be revisited later in my testimony.
I currently have a very stable job as a sustainability consultant. I am recently married to a beautiful and godly woman. I find ways to serve at church – whether it is leading a fellowship group on Friday evenings, or volunteering at children’s ministry on Sunday’s. I get my fill of output at church.
With all that said, I acknowledge I am tremendously blessed by God, and I am thankful each and every day — but that doesn’t mean that temptations and spiritual attacks don’t come my way.
One of the issues that I’ve struggled with since my teenage days is lust.
I am keenly aware of this critical sin in my life, and the use of pornography to gratify the pleasures of the flesh. There were moments of ups and downs as I dealt with this sin. I would pray and commit to the Lord that I would not fall into temptations of lust. I will usually have good self-control for a limited period, but the gravitation towards this sin was greater than the sum of my efforts to rid myself of it, and so I usually revert to my old habits.
A year ago, a church brother of mine invited me to attend the Love the Lord course. I thought, ok, let’s check it out. And why not get my then-girlfriend to join this course? So we took this course together. During the course of Love the Lord, I became engaged to my girlfriend.
At the end of the course when I was invited to think about doing a renewal prayer.
I had one key agenda in mind: I need to get rid of this lust issue, such that I go into my marriage with a clean and pure mindset.
With that focus in mind, I approached the renewal prayer session with an anticipation of how God would get rid of this internal lust issue once and for all. I went to the prayer session with an open mind, not knowing what to expect. I was actually kind of nervous, even though I knew my prayer counsellors personally.
When we sat down to start the session, to my surprise, we didn’t address the issue of lust as was on my mind. Instead, the prayer counsellors started out with an imagery that the Holy Spirit had impressed on them for me:
“God created you to be a lamb – meek and quiet – but you have trained yourself to be a tiger to protect yourself.”
The prayer counsellors went on: “Stop hiding. I [Jesus] am your Creator. You have worshipped idols of this world. Stop following what people expect of you. Not your parents, not your work.” They also counselled me, “We do not need to dress up ourselves before God. We don’t have to be the good guy. We can bring the ugliest side out to Him.”
As I sat and listened, having occasional eye-contact with one of the prayer counsellors, I began to notice a mirror leaning against the wall behind where they sat. I wasn’t sure why the mirror was catching my attention, but I tried to ignore it. Eventually, the prayer counsellor noticed that I wasn’t paying attention and they asked me why I was distracted.
As I opened my mouth to explain the uneasiness of the mirror behind the counsellors, the Holy Spirit’s conviction hit me hard.
I was overwhelmed by a realisation: the mirror had shown not simply a physical reflection of myself; but more specifically the evil and dirtiness that has been accumulated all these years. I felt unholy. I felt unworthy. I felt burdened. It was at that moment when I opened my mouth, something in that room, in that atmosphere that Saturday afternoon, the heaviness of which caused me to start crying uncontrollably.
As I unleashed the floodgates of my emotions, the renewal prayer session opened my eyes to even deeper issues in my life that I had not focused on before: my pride, the inner vows I had made such as: “I need to do good”; “I need to prove myself”; “I will be a leader”; “I will not disappoint”; etc.. And the most shocking realisation of all: that I am a merciful person.
When I took any spiritual gifts test in the past, “Mercy” was never one of the top gifts in the assessment.
Whether it was a case of self-fulfilling prophecy or not, I never saw myself as a merciful person until God opened my eyes and connected the dots, tracing back to when I was in university and I found my emotional side. It was proof that I am a sensitive person and I can be sensitive to other people’s feelings.
As we continued in the renewal prayer session, the Holy Spirit unveiled more insights regarding my inner vows and subconscious beliefs. Referring back to the imagery of a tiger and a lamb, it was interesting that the prayer counsellors explicitly mentioned tiger, rather than lion – which then might have drawn references to Jesus being the lion of Judah. Instead, the Spirit was very specific in selecting the tiger, because I was born in the year of the tiger according to the Chinese zodiac. Though I do not actively believe in the fortune-telling, there was a level of curiosity every time Chinese New Year came around. I would watch televised fortune-tellers and secretly wait on the assessment for those born in the year of the tiger.
The Holy Spirit reminded me to not even allow such curiosity about zodiac signs to be bred.
Otherwise, I would be associating my identity with idols, rather than associating with my true Father in heaven.
Another big revelation came regarding my dad and mom.
I love my parents and am super thankful for godly parents that raised my brother and me with the Bible’s teachings. I respected my dad a lot, and in turn strived to excel in everything I did so I could win his approval and respect for me too. It wasn’t as much as an expectation cast upon me as it was an idea conceived in my own mind.
I believed that the better I behave or do, the more I can win my father’s favour.
Likewise, for my mother, there were no explicit expectations that I need to be the one to protect her, but somehow I made a mental note to protect my mom by never making her cry. Growing up, I don’t recall many instances of my mom crying, but when she did, my heart broke and I empathized with her pain. This was my gift of mercy at work.
The Holy Spirit unveiled that I’ve made these inner vows towards my dad and mom ever since I was a child. Though I meant these for good, these inner vows would actually prevent me from living a free and God-centered life.
God accepts me just as I am, and there’s nothing more or less I can do to earn His love and approval. It is in brokenness and surrender that I can connect with God on a deeper level.
My world flipped upside down after that renewal prayer session.
In the way that I lead my team at work: I no longer lead with a tiger’s fierceness, but with a lamb’s tenderness that tries to understand the needs and difficulties that my teammates are going through
Whenever I try to take control of a situation that seems to be on track to fall off a cliff: I take a step back, ask God for clarity, and trust in His ways even if it is His will that we fall off a cliff.
Whenever I try to plan things ahead: I don’t worry about tomorrow; our wisdom is limited compared to God’s.
In the way that I love my wife: I submit to God, who can show me how to be a more patient and loving husband.
When I had altered these perspectives of mine, I enjoyed a freedom that I had never experienced in my life before.
What is freedom for me?
Freedom is being able to talk to God openly, regularly, rationally, emotionally, asking Him to unveil things beyond our own thoughts and imaginations, beyond this physical world, the results of which is unspeakable joy, perfect peace, and fullness of life.
John 10:10- The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly.
To receive notifications of new posts from Teaching Humble Hearts, please subscribe here .