When I finally heard the Gospel, I was 21 years old. Even though my family  (my parents and both sisters) had been accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior when I was around 9 years old, I didn’t know what I didn’t know about the Gospel. Below is my account of how I went from a self-righteous individual who didn’t think she needed God to a born-again Christian at the age of 27, nearly 6 years ago.

Hello again!

When I was about 9 years old, my sisters and parents accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord. I truly believe God had a different time for me. I would not be born-again, or saved until I was 27.

Here’s the great news

People at church would tell me Jesus died for me. It didn’t offend me but I didn’t understand it at the same time.

Here’s the great news

What I saw of Christians around me including my family were struggles and hypocrisy. This turned me off of Christianity, and when I was in college, I almost completely trusted in the human mind and believed in secular humanism.

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J E S U S

It became clear that my life was a mess; I had no power to live a good life or be a good person. I returned to Church in the summer of 2006 for myself, emphasis on myself.

Here’s the great news

People at church would tell me Jesus died for me. It didn’t offend me but I didn’t understand it at the same time.

He wasn’t just a man

2000 years ago, God sent his only begotten Son, Jesus, to take the penalty for our sins.
He lived a perfect, sinless life. No deceit was found in his mouth.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

(ISaiah 53:5-6)

If you find yourself offended by the Gospel, you are not alone. There was a time when I was offended, so much that I couldn’t return to church for about six months. I was anguished because the Gospel confronted and confounded all my efforts. “But I try so hard to be good!” I found my heart crying out… it was infuriating and frustrating to know all my good works didn’t matter in my salvation— in determining and solidifying my worth. But God’s intent behind the Gospel isn’t to crush us. It is to save us.

You see, the wrong worldviews trap us, but Christ, the real foundation upon which to build our lives, frees us.

I thought I was free, but I was enslaved. My formative years were spent in D.C. suburbs of the 90’s. The values instilled in me were of self-actualization and reliance. “You can do anything you put your mind to,” I would hear. This, although intended to produce positive results in me, did the opposite. Combined with certain family dynamics that left me vulnerable to lies, I started to believe, “You are a burden. Your needs are too much for other people. It is better to not have needs.”

By high school, my highest goal was to achieve an unhealthy self-reliance that I thought would provide me with safety and security. If I could rely only upon myself to live, I wouldn’t be a burden, thus protecting myself from any chance of rejection. If I lived in a bubble that didn’t need anyone, no one could disappoint, hurt, betray me.

When I did well, I felt okay. When I didn’t do well, I felt so worthless. Mistakes became a reflection of my worth, not a stepping stone to grow as a person. Every step and every thing I did became paralyzing because I thought, “If I am smart, then everything that flows out of me should validate that because I am in control,” and I didn’t know how to bounce back from events that seemed to invalidate something about myself that I needed to be true to feel like a decent person.

The fruits of believing I was in control, and if things went well in my eyes, that the credit belonged all to me, and if they didn’t go well, I only had myself to blame. This made me a very self-protected, isolated person who tried to control everything around herself, including other people. What I saw as a way to secure my freedom, freedom from pain and vulnerability, was enslaving me and leading me to denigrate others by making them factors and objects in my formulaic and destructive approach to life.

To little surprise, I lived a very long time without experiencing love, joy and peace. It was instead, a crushing weight.

I realize now I never felt love because love requires showing someone else all parts of our selves, and vice versa. When I was a little girl, around the age of 3, I remember having dark thoughts. They scared me, and what scared me the most was that they were originating from within. Ashamed, I said to myself, “I don’t know what’s going to become of you; you better not tell anyone about this.”

Instead of confiding in someone else, like a parent or a friend, I buried my heart under shame and fear. Thus, I lived out of a presumed state of rejection that no human kindness and validation could free me of. And it affected my faith because deep inside, although I went to numerous altar calls, and thought I had given myself to God, the way I lived was in hiding from him. It was as if I was always waiting to improve myself a little bit more before really giving all to him. I wanted to make myself more acceptable because inside, subconsciously, I feared that he couldn’t (because he wasn’t really resurrected because he wasn’t really the son of God) or wouldn’t (because I am unloveable) go into my deepest shadowy depths of my heart and rescue me.

God, in his infinite mercies, allowed me to go through very difficult things that at time felt like I was dying a thousand deaths, to prepare my heart to receive the Gospel. He had to contend with my idol— the thing that I had made a god: self-reliance.

In college, I had periods of mental illness. In my freshman year, I experienced a deep betrayal of trust but also had betrayed that person’s trust, which would later show me the heart of God when I build idols and betray his trust. My oldest sister and my parents left for Korea in the midst of financial devastation. My youthful arrogance got a huge and much needed wake-up call. I realized I couldn’t do everything myself and that I hadn’t done everything myself. By my junior year I was experiencing delusions and would often experience intense rage that would last weeks. In the midst of my anguish (it felt like my soul was constantly burning), I thought to myself, “If there is a hell and it’s worse than this, I’m in trouble.” The confidence in my ability to figure things out and do even basic things such as taking care of myself was completely shattered. I finished college with a deep fear of my own mind and other people.

You see, through various events, I found myself living in the States as an undocumented, or illegal immigrant. I now am a recipient of DACA, which I see as a mercy of this country, not an entitlement. It was paralyzing and a very scary and condemning situation. I took pride in being a law-abiding, rule-following person, and now I no longer could be that just by breathing. I was paralyzed by the choice to stay or go.

 

 

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When I was stuck in my idea of what strength was I couldn’t see the value and the beauty of the Cross. How could I treasure it or even accept it when I couldn’t see it? I looked at it with confusion, indifference, and scorn because it looked like weakness to me. “Why would Jesus let them do that to him? That’s not strength.”

Aren’t you tired? Thinking and living like everything is up to you, caught in a cycle of blame that renders us into hypocrites?

But it was absolutely necessary to have my self-earned, self-proclaimed, self-designated righteousness confronted because I was looking to Jesus as a mere teacher, not as savior. There is a world of a difference between looking to someone to instruct us what to do vs. trusting, committing, believing in someone with our whole minds, hearts, and soul. Heaven and hell of a difference between relying on my own abilities and understanding vs relying on and thus, submitting to, His. There is a way that is right to a man, but the end is death (Proverbs).

Think of it in this way. Think of a debt which nothing can pay except your life. The hole, the negative is so deep that nothing we can do can fulfill it. The wages of sin is death… but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord. What is the opposite of death that can bring it not only to neutral but to Heaven? Life. Jesus says he is the Way and the Truth and the Life. Only he could pay that debt. A human action alone or even ten thousand cannot erase that great debt because the cost is so great. So while we may clench our fists and rail against a Holy God for the impossible standard set before us, we could fail to see the absolute depth of his love for us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us and has accomplished that standard on behalf of us.

 

He freed me and continues to free me from a life-long habit of  irresponsibility and blame.

What I would later come to see was that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was 1.) absolutely according to His will (aka it was his choice!) and 2.) the greatest act of love and strength ever accomplished on this earth.

He paid that debt with his perfect, sinless life.

What a glorious God that we have because instead of doing what many of us do, which is to close our hearts out of understandable self-protection to those who offend and hurt us the most, he absorbed all the hurt so that he can completely fellowship with us.

Or what a glorious God we have because instead of lessening standards, lying to ourselves, etc in order to keep certain relationships, God maintains his integrity and doesn’t compromise it all the while being compassionate towards us.

That is when my heart started to say, “You’re everything I’ve been looking for.”

Have you ever been betrayed…

The law was not meant to crush us but is a teacher. It shows us our sin. Ever find yourself saying to someone, “Why are you upset with me? I didn’t know it was wrong to do x, y, z?” That’s why the Law, the Ten Commandments was given, so we would know what sin is, and understand our true place between Heaven and Hell. What is worse? To leave someone in ignorance, or tell them what could cause them momentary distress if that distress means they come to a sober understanding of their need for a savior?

 

 

I was lost, blind, but now am found by the great mercies of God.

I don’t think I ever bonded with another human being. My parents became Christian in their early 40’s. I don’t know how they managed to deal with the stresses of life, having born after the Korean War ended, growing up with different stresses. My mother was sent away to boarding school at the age of 14 not because of maternal coldness but because of the very driven culture she was raised in. My father was the first born and a son and has had to bear the responsibilities of that all his life.

 

 

I didn’t have the ears to hear the Gospel until I was 21. God would use the very hard things in my life to win my heart. A heartbreak and betrayal he used to show what my idolatry did to his heart. Mental illness throughout my college years left me with no ability to trust myself. Broken relationships left me with no ability to trust other people. I was a shell of a person who was filled with rage, but even that would prove to be enslavement because I could only run on anger for so long. “You survived,” people would say which I would reply with, “Surviving means you remain the same or come out better when suffering runs its course. That’s not me.” Their ill-discerned consolation felt like placation— it felt like they were trying to normalize my crippled state, and that brewed resentment and further alienation. Their acceptance of me often felt false because there was always a part of me I was hiding, a darkness that I recognized even when I was three years old. I remember fearing for myself, troubled that I had such thoughts, not knowing what would be come of me. I remember instructing myself not to reveal this to anyone for they would surely reject me. (I later learned about two decades later that the dark thoughts related to different events of my life that I couldn’t remember). This lie, lodged deep in my heart, would be the greatest infirmity that Jesus would heal.

Another factor that complicated matters was that I was in the United States illegally since I turned 18. I was petrified and paralyzed. I didn’t want to be here illegally, not for one second, but I was too scared of people to return to South Korea and depend on my family. I didn’t think I would survive. My constant failure killed me for those 9 years of trying to figure out how I was going to fix this situation, where I woke up in the wrong by just existing. It went against all that I had been raised to be: self-sufficient and law-abiding. Being able to fix my life felt like the highest moral virtue. It felt absolutely right to want to be self-reliant in all things. Thus, my failure to be what I wanted to be killed me daily and I hated myself deeply.

About 5 years after graduating from college, I was given the gift of desperation. In my tiny room, I was on my knees in reverence and faith that I was approaching the actual throne of God, pushing past the fear that he might slay me because of his holiness. There was no hiding, no lying, pretense, half truths, etc when in his presence, and there he was, replying to me, telling me what my problem was that was keeping me from this very moment. Years prior, when I was desperately going up to every altar call, extending out my arms crying, “Yes, Jesus, I need you to save me! Please enter my heart,” nothing seemed to change in me. I didn’t know why. I didn’t know there was something to give up because my life was such a wasteland. I needed to give up my rights to hold onto bitterness, self-righteousness and self-condemnation. I needed to give up my shabby throne in a kingdom where I got to live like God didn’t exist. I also needed to confess with my mouth my sins. There were even things in my life that I was taking responsibility for but God told me that the shame of those things didn’t belong to me. I was blown away by the truth he was speaking to me.

He then said, “Your idol is your self-image.” I was baffled, happily, but baffled.

“I have an idol?” I was genuinely surprised, but I did! I idolized my image of myself in the past, before all the “bad” had happened. I, for years, had thought about the past incessantly. If only this hadn’t happened, or this had happened, I’d still be functional. I’d be the self I chose to remember; a self that wouldn’t have fallen, wouldn’t be broken, would be capable, self-reliant, not needing anyone. Needing was the core of my problem, or so I thought. That was the primary reason I was seeking God in my half-mannered, double-minded way. “Please fix me so that I can fix myself,” I pleaded many times. All my efforts were to re-realize this self, to become it again, which was a lie because I was never self-reliant. Nobody is.

So that night, when I had hit the bottom of the bottom, willing to end my life with no regard for anyone, Jesus found me. “If there was a way out, I’d take it,” I had said with all determination in my heart. I was thinking a bottle of pills, but God gave me Jesus. I knew with every part of me that I was loved, forgiven, that God was absolutely absolute, and I was filled with joy and life for the first time. After that day, I saw everything differently. My heart and eyes were continually towards heaven, for Jesus was no longer a concept but a living foundation! Jesus became Lord as he put to death the lies that one, if anyone saw how I really was inside, they’d reject me, and two, that even if they wanted to, no one could overcome my darkness. Though I had been able to share the Gospel to others, I still subconsciously operated within these doubts before God himself would crush them along with the idol that was crushing me all my life. All the bitter things in my life became sweet once I knew I was his and he was mine.

The Gospel tells us that he is both desirous and absolutely capable as demonstrated by his crucifixion. So dear reader, let us keep draw near to Jesus incessantly in faith, full of confidence in this mighty truth. And if you are in a place like I was, straddling the line, step over with every part of your self! He is worthy and alive!

We can be cleansed

It means that through Jesus, we can be cleansed of our sin and become children of God, just as he is a Son of God, and enter into Heaven, receiving eternal life.

FOR THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH
BUT THE FREE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS, OUR LORD
(ROMANS 6:23)

Remember the courtroom scenario? So imagine you’re before a good and just judge who must punish you and now you’re facing sentencing. Imagine if someone stepping and saying, “I’ll pay the fine on behalf of (insert your name)!” And now the demand for justice has been satisfied and the judge is now free and able to let you go. Imagine you’re facing execution. And someone who is loving, has lived a perfect, sinless life takes your place. That’s what Jesus has done for all of us. This is a demonstration of God’s great love. Not changing his standards but fulfilling them by paying the price himself.

Surrendering

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
(Romans 10:9-10)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

GOD’S JUDGMENTS ARE RIGHTEOUS AND TRUE. WE ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALL SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD AND ARE SEPARATED FROM HIM BY OUR SINS. ETERNAL SEPARATION IS HELL. tHE ONLY ONE THAT CAN ETERNALLY BRIDGE THIS GAP IS CHRIST. REMEMBER:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

john 3:16

Innovation

Simply Brilliant

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