Jesus shows banker His unconditional love
A grew up looking up to prominent family role models and striving to be accepted. Jesus showed A that he did not need to earn God’s love, that he was dearly loved because he is God’s son, and healed his yearning heart. Praise God!
I always longed to be fully accepted for who I am.
Growing up in a hardworking family of successful role models, I thought acceptance was earned, not freely given as Jesus promises. That led me to seek the world – being like everyone else, being liked, and standing on my own.
Having been raised in a Christian family, I have been around the church since I was young. As a teenager, I accepted Christ on my own and pursued God, reading the Bible, going to small groups, etc. But my faith was on a rocky ground without much good soil.
At school in the US, I experienced racism for the very first time and I reacted to this by being angry at those who made fun of me. I vowed to be popular and develop social capital wherever I was, such that I won’t have to experience the feeling of not fitting in and being mocked for being different.
I actively played down my Asian heritage and culture as I did not want them to define me or box me in a stereotype.
In university, my desire to fit in often overruled my Christian identity. I joined a fraternity, for example, to develop social capital. Wanting to be like everyone else led me to a path of partying, sexual promiscuity, and pursuing wrong priorities, all the meanwhile attending church and feeling like there were always competing agendas.
Then I moved to New York to pursue a busy career in finance. I was often told that I was “doing well”. That felt good to my approval-seeking ways.
I made my career an idol where worldly success was the priority.
About the same time, I began a relationship with my (now) wife. We have an amazing relationship where I feel completely accepted for who I am and loved. But she had to move to Hong Kong for family reasons. I was crushed. I started coping with my loneliness through sinful ways like alcohol-fuelled nights out, drugs and strip clubs.
I did not rely on God and He felt far. But God continued to pursue me within His timing.
I soon joined my wife in Hong Kong where I began a process of spiritual revival. God slowly took away my old self and He changed my heart. As I grew in faith, I wanted to seek God in more powerful, spiritual ways. Furthermore, there were guilt and shame from my past that continued to impact me. Despite some reservations, I decided to do a renewal prayer because I knew that God ultimately would bring me closer to Him through this small act of faith.
During the renewal prayer, I was reminded of God’s unconditional love through the Parable of the Lost Son. Luke 15:19 says, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants”. I felt I was that son. But God reminded me of my unearned inheritance, as I personally read Luke 15:20: “My father saw ME and was filled with compassion for me. He ran to me, threw His arms around me, and kissed me”. I broke down in tears as I felt such unconditional love when I deemed that I had not reciprocated or worked for it.
I experienced emotional healing.
The world tells men that emotions are a sign of weakness. And when men do feel emotions and hurt, we are prone to bottle it up. But with God, I know I can go to Him with my emotions, be upset or anxious, and find rest in His provisions. There was nothing to be ashamed of with God, and that is freedom.
I learned one of my gifts is selflessness. Therefore, my inclination is to care for the needs of others, except that I had relied on myself and not God. This led to pride. I held several inner vows or thoughts I lived by without realizing how they directed me, such as: “Be liked by others,” “work hard for my own success”, “please my parents”, “be in control”, “be a good, moral person”, “be a good husband and not fail my wife”, among others. To live by all these standards and rules, without God, was tiring on my flesh and soul. When I let them go by repenting, I found new freedom.
I understood I should not be selfless for selfish reasons, but instead, give and love to help others see God.
God spoke. Regarding myself, God gave me the words “gift and wonderful”. Regarding my marriage, God said “walk”. My wife was praying for me that day, and she also used the word “walk”. How comforting it is to know that God is in our marriage.
Then I was asked to envision God’s throne. I saw a gold house, two pillars with pink and green stripes, a long runway, and two bodies of water. Weird. As I would later learn, this is very similar to Revelation 22:1 which says “…the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” and Revelation 21:18-20 which describes the city of gold and the colours of the foundations of the Holy City in the new heaven: “The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.” This was the first time that I experienced anything like this.
The renewal prayer was just the beginning.
I now have more confidence that I can go to God and He will lead.
It may not be every time, it may not be when I want or what I want to hear, but I have faith that He has His own ways and timing. Recently, I was struggling with attending one of my close high school friend’s bachelor trips, knowing that there would be sin and temptations, perhaps like my struggles before. As I prayed over it, I heard the word “test” and later, I (as part of my quiet time) came across James 1:12: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
It gave me confidence that things will be okay and I found accountability with men in my church group. I can say now looking back, that things were fine, and I was able to stand up for my beliefs and stand the test, while still being there for my friend.
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