By Judy Wang
As far back as I can remember, I have always loved reading books and watching movies. I remember the first time I watched the scene in E.T. where the children on bikes were lifted off the ground and soared over the police into the night sky. I was amazed and gasped in wonder as their silhouettes appeared against the backdrop of the full moon. Many years later, the story of Harry Potter and his magical adventures burst into the world and captured my imagination all over again. Who doesn’t love hearing an underdog story or epic tale? Whether it is about a lost alien and the lives he touches, or a young orphan who grows up to defeat the greatest dark wizard of his generation, Stories. Are. Powerful. They can move us, inspire us, teach us, and change us from the inside-out.
I first heard the complete story of Jesus in my freshman year of college. I learned that the Son of God came to us as a man, taught and healed many, died an unjust and horrendous death for my sins, and rose victoriously from the grave on the third day. By His sacrifice, I could now have a direct, personal, and intimate relationship with God. Since then, He has continually revealed more of His plans and purpose for my life so that He may be glorified. Whenever I came to Him humbled, desperate, and broken, I was blessed and encountered a different facet of God’s character and love each time.
Reflecting on my last three years, I would testify to His faithfulness as “El Emunah” -- The Faithful God (Deut 7:9). It was a time of transition, which is a common theme in the lives of young, single adults, and I experienced many changes that were beyond my control. Professionally, I had started working at my dream job with wonderful team members, but soon found myself reporting to a new manager that often criticized me harshly, belittled me publicly, and demanded unreasonable results without providing resources. I began dreading to go to work. Spiritually, I had reluctantly left my previous church because I was frustrated and stressed by the unwelcome advances of a male church member who, despite receiving admonishment from church leadership over several months; continued to romantically pursue the women in an overly-aggressive, persistent, and inappropriate way. And emotionally, while I was happy for my younger brother when he got married first, I also felt the fearful sting of being “old” and “undesirable,” and received more pressure from my parents to “fix” my situation and “force” a marital relationship. In the midst of these challenges, I felt hopeless, angry, and depressed; hated my circumstance, and questioned God’s love for me.
As I wrestled in prayer and read the Word, I uncovered false beliefs and conflicting expectations that I still held onto. I discovered hidden insecurities about myself as they bubbled to the surface. Did I believe that God is in complete control and sovereign in all areas and every detail of my life, even the difficult ones? Did I have faith that God is for me, and not against me? Did His promises apply to me or were they meant for everyone else, except me? Did I still believe that God is good and faithful, even when painful, unjust, or unwanted events occured? Was God’s love and His love alone truly enough to satisfy my needs and desires? Did I trust that His timing is perfect? And, was I willing to wait upon Him to deliver me, answer my questions, or simply walk with me through the trials?
During that time, I came to Evergreen SGV, started attending regularly, and plugged myself into the community. By faith, I gradually opened up my heart to strangers and new friends, which allowed God to prepare my heart for the lessons He taught me in that season. I realized the stories we tell ourselves about our spiritual journey reveal our understanding of who God is, how He feels about us, and who we believe we are before Him. We know that God loved His Son (Matt 3:17), that Jesus only did what He saw His Father do (Jn 5:19), that Jesus struggled in prayer before going to the cross (Luke 22:41-42), and that His death and sacrifice on the cross was considered foolishness by an unbelieving world (1 Cor 1:18). We also know that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isa 55:8-9). And, although we may not yet see the “big picture” or fully understand the story God is writing, one thing I have learned for certain: Your story is important and relevant.
May you be encouraged and reminded that our God is a Faithful God, and not pass judgement too quickly on your current situation. As you start a new week, my prayer is that you may continue to fight the good fight, finish this race, and stay true to the course He has set before you (2 Tim 4:7). Because our God is the Master Storyteller, He has a story to tell, and it is the greatest story that has ever been told or ever will be told.