Wednesday, December 19, 2012

faith pleas

i've listened to 6 podcast sermons since last night. even while i was doing my cardio at the gym and typically prefer to tune into PTI or sports nation to get me pumped up, i was already fixated on the first message, desperate for a clue, an answer or maybe just a fresh perspective. i even fell asleep to the sound of bill johnson speaking about divine favor and still i woke up so unsettled and with an ever increasing heavy load on my back. why can't i just shake this off? these days i continually find myself repeating, "God, please. God, please." i don't remember ever using the word "please" with such desperation and longing. i used to think it was just an adverb i would attach to a statement in order to be polite and obliging- something that kind and well-mannered people often use, even when addressing God. that's exactly how i used to pray- keeping my composure, always appropriate and mindful of my carefully thought out words. i'm only now seeing the other side of "please." what i'm praying are actually pleas. cries that must be answered. more like, "God, pullleeeeeeaasseeee!" even though i'd hate to admit it, i was demanding to be justified. i needed justification for my pain and now for my anger.  i threw out my best behavior and any attempt at being proper or put together b/c it was just freaking exhausting. i think the problem is that for so long, while facing trials and going through what felt like a fiery furnace, i thought i had to be strong on my own. i was always so concerned about what i said, how i behaved, and i even tried to manipulate what i allowed myself to feel deep inside- making sure there was no sign of weakness or breaking. it was as if i had to prove to myself that i'm fine, everything is under control (my control. scary). something that stuck out yesterday, ironically while i was lifting weights, is that trials don't test how strong our character is, they only test the strength of our faith. if anything, trials highlight how weak and broken we are and how unshakable and mighty is the object of our faith.
1 Peter 1: 7 These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold -- and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 
 i am utterly relieved. these past couple weeks i've been somewhat of a wreck. i haven't been the best example of patience, goodness, gentleness, or self-control. regretfully, i've made hurtful and obscene statements out of fury and outrage and although i hate using the f-word, i said it a handful of times this week. it was just for added emphasis and nothing else seemed to suffice. i was irrational and in retrospect i'm kinda embarrassed b/c that's not my true character at all. up until this afternoon, i didn't know what to do with all the rage and hurt that seemed to keep multiplying. yet through my pleas i finally admitted that i'm weak- it's ugly, mean and uncensored- but it's real and it's liberating. the bulk of my pleas are for redemption and for these trials and hardships to be worth it in the end, to have justice. although i could never quite grasp what it would look like, i figured it would be in the form of an incomprehensible and intangible type of resolution, maybe just a feeling of satisfaction or contentment. if i believe that what the bible claims is true, that this faith that is being worked out during these difficult times is more precious than gold, it sounds like it's more than just a fickle feeling. i confess, i never considered faith to be so valuable and did not give it much reflection. but as i continue to ponder on 1 peter 1:7 and allow the truth of faith to penetrate, my intense rage is literally disappearing and there's just stillness. i'm being filled with so much peace and even joy to the point where i'm still shocked. is this faith? this is hope? somewhere in between finishing up dinner and washing the dishes, the HS spoke so clearly to me, "this is what it means to be justified by faith." i never understood it that way before. yeah, it may not fit perfectly w/in one single context and it'll probably take a lifetime to unfold all the layers in those 3 simple words. what i do know is that i need no further justification. the pleas have stopped. i have no righteousness of my own.
Romans Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

there is no victory without a battle.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


there's so much power in our words. even the simple act of audibly making a declaration carries implications that we may not fully realize. with His words God spoke the earth into motion and at the sound of His voice  there was creation and life. i'm sure it wasn't necessary. He could have very well created the universe with a snap of a finger or just a thought in His infinite & omnipotent mind. maybe He was setting an example that He wanted us to emulate. i believe once our cryptic emotions are articulated into words and finally released, there's an intangible giant thrust forward. there's no going back. what's said is said. i find this to be especially true in the cases of apologies, extending forgiveness and just being honest with ourselves with any kind of extreme joy or pain. it's almost as if it doesn't become real or we don't fully believe it until it's vocalized. i don't mean to imply that we need to talk for the sake of running our mouths. but there's something about owning our affections and confirming our actions with our spoken word. regardless of the response- however unrequited, unaccepted, or unkind- there's a certain freedom when we know we're being heard. in some rare cases, no amount of attentive ears will ever suffice or make up for what we feel inside. we can share in graphic detail with anyone who's willing to listen, until we're blue in the face, and yet no one will actually understand- not enough to give us rest anyway. in times like these, the only truth that really gives me peace is believing that Jesus hears me before i utter a single word. not only am i heard through my incessant ramblings but i'm so securely held. i know this kinda sounds like a cop out or just something that passive-aggressive people claim in order to feel better about being timid or a pushover. but sometimes that's all we're left with and we'll never get the opportunity to be heard by the ones we believe really should.

as the saying goes, timing is everything. if'all we're concerned about is just getting something off our chest, no matter how pure our intentions and great our motives, it can come off as a curse. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. James 3:10.  as difficult as it is, sometimes it's better to stay silent although it may feel suffocating. the irony is that there's just as much power in what is unsaid. There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
    but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18.
i guess that's why i blog. strangely i feel more and more healed as i hear the clicking of my own typing because i know i'm not holding it hostage inside anymore. it's out in the open. it's done. it's enough. now i can move on.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

praying your tears.

there's a certain kind of inexplicable joy that comes only by way of sowing & investing our tears. the spontaneous praise and outpouring of thanksgiving is inevitable after having endured what seemed to be silence & even rejection from the Lord. as it appears, i so easily forget this but i know it's true b/c of psalm 126: 5-6- 
Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them.
i've been wrestling with God with a very simple request, on & off, for over a year now. i say simple b/c there's nothing really complex about this small favor. it's not a dire necessity. it's not some magic fix-it-all remedy or time machine to erase & redo the past. i just plainly told God, "it would be really nice if so & so happened." as uncomplicated & unadulterated as my motives were, i still thought it was impossible or at least highly unlikely, maybe even a tad bit selfish. although i can't quite explain or understand it, i believe the HS kept tugging at my heart to keep praying until it happened. throughout my walk with God, He's been teaching me, slowly & painfully, how to let go of offenses and injustices in order to allow Him to be the ultimate judge and redeemer. i think the most difficult part is feeling like it was a waste- all the tears, energy, time & love- just gone. so i find myself oscillating between letting go and pleading relentlessly with the Lord to do something. and although i don't need it, i feel that the result of my request would bring me a step closer to restoration.
it's like when i'm fully convinced that i'm as good as i'll ever be and i genuinely forgive & forget, a random & rude incident will provoke my desperation all over again. even when i thought the worst was just a distant memory, i'm dragged back down to where climbed up from & i realize i'm actually not okay, not even close.
there were countless times when i was so scared that i would never be redeemed or complete healing would evade me. i remember all the times i went running by myself and looked up & rhetorically asked, "it's gonna be so worth it, right, God? it's gonna be so good, right?" i got nothing.
as fearful as i was and regardless of how alone i felt, i was somehow overwhelmed with this crazy faith that it was all going to turn out really, really great. through all the tears that i cried when it was just me and God, i knew that this was just the hard part & it was going to be over soon. glory is coming. it's so like Him to not leave us where we're at & let us be just good enough. He takes our mediocre expectations & small dreams and blows them up to His proportions. is it possible, God, that You're even better than our wild imaginations will dare to believe? 
You're going to take these ashes & make them into something beautiful. right, God?
awaiting Your response...

I see heaven invading this place
I see angels praising Your holy name
I sing praises, I sing praises
I give You honor worthy Jesus

I see glory falling in this place
I see hope restored, the healing of all disease
I sing praises, I sing praises
I give You honor worth Jesus

we give You praise and all of the honor
You are our God, the one we live for
we give You praise and all of the glory God

Let Your presence fill this place
let heaven come
Let Your angels be released
let heaven come
We worship at Your feet
let heaven come
Face to face we wanna be
let heaven come

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

even if He doesn't.

one of my most fave bible verses is psalm 37:4- Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart. whenever i lose hope or feel overcome by darkness, i remind God of this promise, as if He needs my reminder. on the surface and at first glance, this almost seems to imply that He's a means to an end or simply a way to get what i really want. over the past year, He's been unfolding multiple layers of this passage and inadvertently bringing revelation of what is actually deep in my heart. the more i spend time in His presence and find myself delighting in Him, He becomes the object of my desires. it's like the more i taste and see Him the more i need, like an obsession...w/o the unhealthy side effects.
i have to be honest, though. even with this revelation of being found more and more in His presence, i still get furious and baffled with disbelief as i continue to offer my prayer requests to the Lord. i won't claim to be blameless or have zero faults, but i sincerely pursue holiness and strive to have integrity and purity in my actions and thoughts. so why are hurtful things still happening now? why the added WTF situations on top of the damage that has already been done? seriously. (gosh, i sound like such a whiner, i know). just when i start to feel whole and restored, i find myself derailed and hurt on new levels. and the worst part is, i can't even fight back anymore. i used to be fierce and fiery inside. now i just become paralyzed with fear, my mind racing with everything i want to say but don't, just stupidly in shock. the confrontation comes later when i'm in my room crying out to God that it's not fair. (yes, i realize how silly it sounds to tell God what's fair & not. a whole generation of israelites died before they got to enter the promised land and i'm telling God what's fair).
looking back, i realize that although i thought i was just being cowardly and a pushover, i was actually allowing God to be my defender and righteous judge and to fight for me when i couldn't do it anymore. even when i was faced with accusations and piercing words, i was overwhelmed with ridiculous stillness and inundated with inexplicable peace. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5
so what if i never see redemption? what if He ultimately doesn't rescue, heal or provide? when i don't see the fulfillment of His promises or my heart's desires, will i love Him less if these are left unanswered? i don't wanna sound defeated or hopeless, or even worse, cynical. but i've been thinking a lot this week about petitioning with God and not getting the response that i want. is my love and commitment to God contingent on favorable results and abundant provisions? i'm reading through the book of daniel this week and the answer to all my previously stated questions in my heart are in daniel 3:17-18, "...the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not..."
what a privilege it is to choose God when we can't see Him through the darkness and fire that we're in. this short and fleeting life is the only chance we will have to be able to claim that we chose God even in the midst of our sickness and brokenness. although it hurts like heck and i don't understand, He's giving me opportunities to say yes to Him and still love Him when my heart is so offended and i can't make sense or reason out of what's going on. b/c that's real love, right? it's funny how this comes back full circle- in that, when there was absolutely nothing good in me, He first loved me. not that we could ever repay Christ for choosing us, but each time we choose Him, especially when it's extra hard, we're crowning Him with honor and glory. 
i'm still holding onto the promise that He will be faithful to my heart's desires as i continue to delight in Him. 
i haven't stopped praying for full restoration and crazy redemption and i know He's working everything out for my good. but even if He does not...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

waiting for sunday.

i was reading the end of john this morning about Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection like i've done probably a hundred times before. this time though, i couldn't help but be fixated and filled with curiosity and wonder about that forsaken day in between- no doubt the longest day in history but comprised of just a couple paragraphs in the bible. i typically glide right through the passage and rarely reflect on that daunting saturday that falls between good friday and resurrection sunday. to roughly quote a speaker from dtc (i'm drawing a blank on her name) this past semester, "it was the most hopeless day." so succinct and accurate. i can't imagine waking up the next morning after such a gut wrenching and tragic evening- wishing it was all just a horrible nightmare and praying for the pain of loss to dissipate or at least be alleviated. i'm familiar w/ that sentiment where i literally hurt all over from mental and emotional trauma and exhaustion, however obviously paling in comparison, and i never want to be in that place ever again. mary, the disciples and followers, his family- they didn't expect that the very next day Jesus would rise from the dead, straight up walk out of the tomb and show up to where they were meeting. Jesus, of course, knew from the beginning of time what would happen that sunday...but the others didn't. the heavy weight of the darkness and despair from that saturday lifted and quickly turned into a glorious culmination of the greatest redemption and fulfillment of everything they dared to believed. mourning turned into dancing. sadness turned into unspeakable joy.
to put it bluntly, and at the risk of sounding dramatic for the sake of being dramatic (w/o the intention), i feel like it's been a long saturday. i remember talking myself up as i was walking to the office a few weeks ago after getting off at the wrong subway stop because i was in such a hazy daze. i kept trying to recall what my sis & friends would tell me whenever crap happens- this is making you stronger, it's building your character, you're resilient. stop. enough. reminding myself of all of this just made me more resentful and angry, not necessarily at God, just angry in general. i asked rhetorically, yet emphatically seeking an answer, "what do i need to be so strong for?" i'd rather not. when i was done venting an abrupt stillness immediately came over me and i felt like God simply replying, "you have no idea." whoa. i kinda just shut up at that point as i wiped away the steady flow of tears and decided to trust Him. i really don't have a clue as to what He's preparing me for or how He's going to use me but i got a feeling He's up to something good. it certainly has been a long saturday, but i'm still holding out- with butterflies in my stomach and a full heart- for sunday.

I don't understand Your ways
Oh but I will give You my song
Give You all of my praise
You hold on to all my pain
With it You are pulling me closer
And pulling me into Your ways

Now around every corner
And up every mountain
I'm not looking for crowns
Or the water from fountains
I'm desperate in seeking, frantic believing
That the sight of Your face
Is all that I need
I will say to You

It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it all
I believe this

You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it all
I believe this

Sunday, July 15, 2012


i don't know where this is going. i freak out often and your persistence and boldness makes me fidgety and very nervous. you make plans for us and nonchalantly invite me along when i haven't even fully consented or decided if that's what i want. i inadvertently push you away when i tell you harsh realities that are difficult to say (probably even harder to hear) but you keep coming back to me. why? you just want to hang out with me even if you can't really have all of me b/c you know someone else has what's left of my heart. rejection and excuses and busyness do not seem to deter you. you wait so confidently with unwavering childlike hope for one day when i'll be ready and willing to glance in your direction and give you a chance (and a call me maybe). nothing about your patience or initiative makes sense, it's completely foreign, and  it makes me uncomfortable. yet you don't expect anything from me, just to simply let you be good to me. as much as it surprises me to admit it, your pursuit is healing deep wounds and wiping out vicious lies in this deceptive and tricky heart of mine. it's renewing my faith in love and shedding light on how it's supposed to be. you're raising the bar and perfectly portraying how i know i deserve to be treated and sought out after- with love, purity and respect. this is the what You intended for me before i got it all wrong and lost my way. like i said before, i don't know where this is going and i don't need to. for now all i know is You're restoring my soul. You're romancing me in the midst of the chaos and storms that i so violently and desperately want to shake off. even in my anger and frustration of being caught in this all too familiar, unbelievably painful and cursed cycle again, You speak tenderly to me (even if it's just to tell me to chill out and breathe b/c it's gonna be alright). i let out a good cry (or two or three) b/c i'm just too old for this and have no tolerance for it anymore but i can hear Your whispers loud and clear. You remind me that i'm made for love and pleasure and You have plans for me. oh boy, do You have plans for my life. i recall Your promises over me and You fill me with ridiculous joy and excitement that You will be faithful to all the radical and silly desires of my heart. You're the only one brings me peace and You're overwhelming my heart.

You love me.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

we found love in a hopeless place

each morning this week, i awakened to discover yet another mosquito bite on my face, fingers and all over my legs and arms. it's over 100 degrees in NYC and my outreach team and i are staying in the bronx in a decrepit, rundown building w/o ac- six girls sleeping on bunk beds in one room and 3 guys in another room (thank God for our ceiling fan!). without exaggeration, there are ginormous rats the size of my forearm in the basement where the boys play bball and some of the wooden planks on the floor are missing or nearly completely corroded. the neighborhood isn't exactly the safest and i long for the comfort of my memory foam mattress and making my own evening schedule. which begs the question- why in the world do we do this? at first i doubted that just a week of volunteer work or hanging out w/ inner city teens could make much of an impression or impact on their lives or mine. people like us probably enter and leave without a trace or second thought. but as we were debriefing last night and sharing how blessed we were that those rowdy boys actually sat still and sang songs with us and even enthusiastically participated in our admittedly cheesy bible trivia games, i was so humbled and overcome by His amazing grace that transcends all demographics. i was exhausted and hotter than i prefer but had the most perfect peace and my heart was so full...and i couldn't stop crying even up until this morning (i'm a big baby). the same love and grace that saves me from my wretchedness and desperation everyday is available for them, too. even in our flawed attempts and weakest efforts, Jesus pursues them and brings lasting hope and light. if i'm absolutely honest with myself i would have to confess that predominantly, the gospel has mainly been characterized by what Jesus has done for me- rescuing me from darkness, giving me a new identity, feeding my soul, healing my brokenness, showing me His perspective. all of these claims are wonderful and true, but they're awfully self-centered and diminishing. the gospel and the name of Jesus literally have the power to raise the dead, give new life, and allows us to have an intimate relationship w/ our creator, yet i've been using it to boost my confidence and assuage my issues and mistakes. how outrageous is that? it's like using a crocodile birkin to store my sweaty running shoes. the leader of the ministry that we're serving at this week shared with us that a few years ago, one of those unassuming teenage boys said to him, "if God was small enough to comprehend, He wouldn't be big enough to handle all our problems." not only is that mind-blowingly profound and fascinating, it's also eerily comforting and beautiful to discover and rediscover that this life is not about me and how much pleasure i can possibly derive from it. oh the irony and paradox of life in Christ that when we lose our lives for His sake, we find it. i will never come close to figuring Him out or reach the extent of His love. He is bigger and better than my wildest dreams. thank God because i am not that imaginative or ambitious enough. now as i digress on a slightly superficial note, i was thinking about one day in the future when i finally open up my heart to love again. i wouldn't mind if we lived in the bronx or darjeeling, india. as long as i could look forward to coming home to him every night, i'd be a deliriously happy girl. and as trite or cliche as it sounds, this week in the bronx is making me fall in love w/ Jesus more and more. oh gosh. i am such a sappy romantic ;)

i love how john concludes the gospels after telling story after story of Jesus...

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25

Thursday, May 24, 2012


do you remember exactly this time last year? you were fully set on getting into HSS or NYU for your fellowship for 2012, unwilling to budge or divert from your meticulously thought out plan. you insisted on staying on the east coast and expected the results of your acceptance to comply. then match day came and your biggest fear, that didn't even seem like a possibility according to you, was realized. i saw how much it hurt and i felt your pain as if i was your siamese twin. while that wound of rejection was still fresh, our hearts dared to aspire again for UCSF. we knew it was risky to hope for it but all the signs and confirmations made us feel safe and confident. less than a week after convincing yourself this was it, you were crushed all over again. it seemed like rejection was following you around like an ugly disease. what kind of messed up deal is that? you were devastated to the point where you struggled to get out of bed. i witnessed it all unravel and the worst part was i couldn't do anything to fix it and make it all better. i would've cashed in my 401k and spent all my savings if that could have kept you from having to go through that disappointment. as i prepared to leave for hawaii and as broken as i was with my own mess, what was left of my heart ached for you. i didn't have the right words to say and i wasn't able to offer any reassuring promises. all i had was an unwavering trust in the Lord that He isn't stingy as i prayed for His redemption and providence.i believed that as much as mom, dad and i want you to succeed and be happy, God's commitment to your life and making you great spans infinitely wider. as you laid down your ambitions and died to your own flawed plans, He revealed a glimmer of hope in a distant dream called Stanford. it was exceedingly more than your imagination ever dared to reach and presumably out of your league. it was too high that we never even saw it on the horizon. but this was His plan all along. His divine intention was to give you more than you deserved and more than you ever wished for. when i see your life it's so evident that our God is too good not to be true. so banish the rejection from the past like it's going out of style and perish the thought that you are anything short of a royal priesthood and coheir w/ Christ. you lack nothing because you are perfectly loved by the One who has everything.
you were made to shine His glory and you are radiating the brightest when you are most satisfied in Him. so thank Him again and again, find ridiculous joy and crazy love, and give all the glory back to Him.
now we are only 3 1/2 weeks away from living across the country from each other. and although there's no doubt i'm going to miss you more than i can comprehend right now, i'll have so much peace knowing God hand selected you to be there. as stubborn and emphatic as you were to stay in NY, He opened up a spot for you all the way in palo alto instead. the best part is the story hasn't ended. i know that you'll keep adding chapters of His furious and radical redemption as you share testimonies that will continue to leave us in awe w/ our jaws on the ground. love you, Hong.

 Love...always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:7

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

songs of joy.

the world is a cruel and lonely place upon the discovery that your so-called claim to fame is all a sham. it deeply disappoints me to realize and admit that i'm actually not as hardcore and strong as i formerly believed and deceptively let on. i'm sorry but i regret to inform you that it was all a front. i can't run as long as i used to. i can no longer take all the hits and blows and still come back for more. i'm prone to injuries and it takes longer for my body to recover these days. my tolerance has drastically decreased and i'm softer than i was last year. it's almost as if what tough endurance i did have was really just a mix of anesthesia and adrenaline that is now slowly and painfully wearing off. not just physically but even the dead and sleeping areas in my heart and memory have been awakened and it's not pretty. all of a sudden, i'm inexplicably hurting everywhere and i'm at a loss for a sensible reason why. seemingly out of nowhere, i'll just be overcome with tears and raw emotions and cry uncontrollably. seriously, where the heck is this coming from? i thought i took care of this while i was in hawaii. ok no problem. let's just quickly clean up the mess and get it together already. God, redemption now. please? for the past few weeks or so i've been glaring at my issues to the point where that's all i could see. i kept convincing myself i was so weak until i believed it and was consumed by it...until yesterday. i was listening to a new song called "come back down" by greg laswell & sara bareilles and i swear she was singing to me when i heard the line, "all of your wallowing is unbecoming." ouch. i snapped out of feeling sorry for myself and relying on my own limited wisdom to fix whatever is going on inside of me. ok i give up my right to fully understand what He's doing. yeah, i may not be as strong as i thought or hoped, but i am not a helpless and distressed little girl either. Christ lives in me and He renews my strength and transforms me more and more into His image every day. i believe this. i am a child of God and the maker of heaven and earth also created me and has amazing purposes for my life. for the first time in months i started dreaming God sized dreams again and reclaimed His promises for me. the harsh truth is, we will constantly be faced with hundreds of justifications to cry and temptations to give in. but for each trial or dark season there are exponentially more reasons to be joyful and give thanks. no matter what the circumstances, there is always an abundance of things to rejoice about. we can smile at the storm and sing in the rain because of the hope and confidence we have as we walk with Jesus. talk about a great awakening. this is gonna be glorious.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.  

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. 

Psalm 126: 1-3, 5-6

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

love's the cure.

throughout the deplorable predicaments and exceptional hardships that i have faced, regardless of whether the conflict was a result of my faulty actions or not, i always feared the worst case scenarios. despite the heaps of optimism that ran through my veins and my attempts to remain positive and not give into any paranoia and skepticism, my heart couldn't help but entertain the possibility of what i believed to be utter destruction and the end of my life as i knew it. as the saying goes, i hoped for the best but prepared for the worst. i convinced myself that if these fears are ultimately realized, the world will be flipped upside down and i simply will not survive- like a korean drama unfolding right before my eyes. so what happens when those nightmares actually become a reality? from past experience after i'm all cried out from mourning the loss or tragedy, i wake up the next morning to discover that life does in fact go on even with a broken heart and crushed spirit. we don't fully comprehend our ability to endure unimaginable adversity until we're smack in the middle of it. then when the worst is over, because there's always an end, we rise above it all and after sufficient time has past, we become fighters and more resilient. so is it true that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger? i typically deal with issues head on- i don't mind confrontation, a little mess here, discomfort there- so long as the problems are solved or at least addressed with a solution in sight. but with matters that are completely out of my control, where i'm helpless and gravely wounded, i tend to run and hide. subconsciously or very purposefully, i block out specific memories as a defense mechanism. choosing to not remember certain details sure seems like a suitable method of coping at least for a while but are we better off? did those unfortunate circumstances really make us stronger or was it all in vain? after enough instances of running, hiding, brushing aside, & making excuses, our "resilience" actually becomes numb tolerance. we repress our love and hold back affection and just don't care anymore. the scary thing is the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. we stop saying hello, purposely withhold smiles when they're in our vicinity, and simply ignore their existence. sometimes we're deceived into believing that just because we don't feel rage or bitterness anymore we don't hate deep down inside. it's both comforting and frightening to know that no matter how easily our hearts build up calloused walls in order to forget, God never does. the incident could have happened 6 years ago with blurry details but it still matters to Him and He doesn't ask us to just get over it because we're convinced we need to be invincible. we are not that impressive. oftentimes the hardest thing to do is just admit that it still stings and we still cry even if we pretend to be hardcore and play it off like we're over it. it's only by His divine grace that He doesn't leave us where we are to silently carry these offenses that inevitably rot our hearts. when we least expect it, He will dig up the wounds and give us a cure for our indifference- an abundance of His extravagant love. this might hurt a little but it'll be worth it. promise.

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12 

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

laugh out loud.

it's nearly impossible to hang around me for an extended period of time and not have something to say about my laugh- not only because i laugh so often, but also because it's extremely loud, hearty and distinct. after 29 years of repeatedly feeling self conscious about it, i've finally come to terms with this once and for all. i admit it comes off pretty manly and when i hear myself laughing in a video or recording, i still can't help but cringe in dismay thinking, "omg, that's what i sound like??" what in the world will my mother in law say? without fail every single sunday after service, at least 1 or 2 people come up to me to tell me that they heard me laughing during pdanny's sermons. yup, that has to be jini. i cannot control myself and at times like these, i sort of used to wish i could. i thought if only i could lower the volume or intensity or make myself sound more ladylike somehow, that would be wonderful. it's ironic that oftentimes the traits that we feel most insecure about are the very characteristics that we end up actually appreciating and even cherishing once we fully embrace them. this gradual acceptance comes with age, i suppose, and believing that each of us are the best when we're simply ourselves. as cliche as that sounds, it's absolutely true. i can't imagine politely giggling through life in an attempt to make others believe i'm a certain way. nobody likes a poser. i hope that i'll never have a shortage of reasons to lol and that i have bellyaching laugh attacks every single day for as long as i live ^___^

Monday, April 23, 2012

love & football

a couple years ago, i competed in a spring football tournament playing on the d-line for the very first time. all throughout the prior seasons of training and conditioning, my position had always been the offensive line right tackle. considering the lack of experience, i thought i adjusted to the new role fairly quickly. i remember the thrill of being on defense, aggressively pushing past the o-line to make the tackles, and the high from the adrenaline rush. in my limited knowledge of the defensive line, my primary goal was solely to bulldoze through whoever stood in my way to get to the qb at any cost. i thought that the only thing that mattered was my beast-mode strength and agility to jump off the line as soon as the ball was snapped. by the end of the tournament, my arms and legs were black and blue with massive bruises and my body was all banged up for days. i guess i just gathered that painful collisions and forceful contact were part of the package. not to brag or anything (seriously), but i know i'm pretty strong & muscular. it's just a fact that i've grown to accept. so to be quite honest, i didn't think i even needed much coaching because i was already powerful and aggressive enough. not even a couple weeks into our regular season, i got a mild concussion during practice and received a stern warning from my neurologist to stop all contact sports indefinitely. it's a bad sign when your doctor actually requires you to wear a helmet for flag football. in retrospect, i realized i was playing extremely recklessly to the point where i became a liability instead of an asset to my team because i was injuring myself and my teammates. a couple nights ago while chatting with one of the defensive coordinators about the skills and techniques needed in defense, i had a convicting revelation of how love and relationships relate to the game of football. i've been told by my family & closest friends that my best characteristic is that i love really well- but sometimes to a fault. instinctively from the very start, if i chose to love you, i was all in, full speed ahead, giving away my heart and affections with limited questions or reservations. act first, think later. if i got hurt, which inevitably happened due to my brash and hasty actions, i simply brushed off the dirt and got right back into the game. i relied on pure passion and zealous love to sufficiently cover over any deficiency of wisdom and discernment. i had no idea the gravity of the damage i was inflicting on my own heart through all the years of carelessness. regardless of how much i claimed to believe in true love, soon enough the thought of getting into another relationship or letting someone new into my life freaked me out. and likewise, the fear of getting injured again threatened to trump my love of football. i learned the hard way that there is much needed knowledge in how to utilize my strengths and just as much wisdom to know when to hold back. my coach explained that i need to learn how to read the plays and react accordingly, to use my strength and skills at the appropriate times and be trained to avoid collisions by knowing how to properly maneuver and channel my energy. after months of deliberation, i ultimately gathered up enough faith and courage to try again, all for the love of the game. of course even if i do everything accordingly, there's still a possibility for injuries and there are no guarantees we'll win. that's life. without risk, there is no reward. thank God for grace...& insurance.

Friday, April 13, 2012

you're not mine anymore.

i hate breakups. even when i come across news of celebrities splitting up, complete strangers that i will never know in real life, i can't help but feel a sliver of sorrow and sadness for the once happy couple. so you can only imagine what my heart goes through when i'm actually part of the split. what bothers me is that one day you can promise your love to another individual, hold their hand and never dream of letting go, and somewhere in the daunting unforeseeable future you run the potential of morphing into mere acquaintances who barely have 2 words to say. where once you gazed into each others eyes and the rest of the world disappeared, now you find yourselves stealing forbidden glances in either direction for a second at a time. our hearts are so fickle and deceptive. they can be far too easily convinced to eat up anything sweet and alluring even just for a risky moment, all the while knowing in the back of our minds that we might regret this later. and when later finally comes, interactions turn cold and awkward, you no longer find absolutely everything the other does and says incredibly endearing and wonderful, and you forget what drew you together in the first place. why can't you say what you mean and mean what you say? how did you so abruptly change your mind already? when did promises and vows stop mattering and losing its value? i realize i sound like a little kiddie who didn't get to go to disneyland after mom and dad pinky swore. yeah, i guess to a certain extent i'm just dewy-eyed and naive and although my past hasn't accurately exemplified this, i do believe in true radical love above all things. when i tell you i love you, i mean it with my whole heart and forever. i love deeply because i don't know any other way. in the past, i used to reason that when a relationship didn't pan out the way i expected or hoped that meant i wasn't worth fighting for. so in my credulous state, i would convince myself that i have to try harder and be better next time. love more. strive more. give more. lies lies lies. i couldn't have been more wrong. it's true that the heart wants what it wants and we can't control who we choose to love. but there is an element of wisdom and discernment that we need to heed to instead of being led entirely out of passion and a need to fill a void. oy vey. if only we trusted and believed all that He has in store for us, we would be willing to wait and never settle or compromise. after lots of mistakes and tough lessons learned, i discovered that it's impossible to give your heart away so recklessly and haphazardly when you've already given it all to Jesus. it's not mine to give away anymore and this is the only way it's kept safe until that one comes along who will be sincere and honoring enough to go to God for permission to take my hand and have my heart. when it's all said and done, we were made for extravagant love and endless pleasure so it's no wonder that artificial substitutes and temporary fixes fail us and make us sick. oh, the things i desperately wish my daughter will know at an early age and not be stubborn like her mom.

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?

“I the LORD search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.”

Jeremiah 17:9-10

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

just the way you are.

i remember riding in the car one night this past winter with dad when he turned to me and confessed that whenever he feels angry or upset with life, all he needs is to hear mom's voice or see her face and everything is alright with the world. it's that simple. all it takes is the sound of her hello over the phone or a glimpse of her smile and it's enough to remedy any adversity and like a switch he has joy and peace again. i also recall crying after he confided in me and i told him how much i want what they have. not to be cynical or anything, but i genuinely think it's nothing short of a miracle when people find that kind of pure, almost childlike, love these days. it's easy to lose faith in love and even easier to give up hope in people. they disappoint us, don't measure up, fall short of expectations, they're awkward or have major issues, they aren't tall enough, smart enough, ambitious enough, attractive enough, etc. the list goes on when you're constantly sizing people up. there's always something to write off in order to move on with lightning speed to the next one on the list. these past couple weeks have been exhausting. whether it's self-imposed or not, i'm perpetually feeling like i'm having to prove myself. subconsciously, i'm attempting to convince whoever is sitting on the other side of the table that i'm actually pretty awesome if you'd just give me a chance, kinda like a job interview- even if i quite honestly couldn't care less. whyyy? it's ridiculous and it's unnecessary. after all, it just takes that one to have that extra special twinkle in his eye when he looks at me (i'm like half kidding here). i'm probably making this sound a lot more desperate than the situation entails but i'm digressing. regardless, if i keep this up at this rate, it might even be enough to drain my motivation to keep on trucking with cheerleader-like confidence. oftentimes i wonder how i can still so naively believe in real, untainted love after all the ish i've been through. but when i really think about it, i don't know any other way to be. call me a fool or maybe i'm just a sucker for love. i'd rather veer on the side of the amazing grace of God that protected my heart like crazy all these years. it makes my heart whole again and renews my hope and faith in love like the very first time. now i'm just learning to take a chill pill and enjoy the ride. this can be fun.

"As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn't supposed to ever let us down, probably will. You'll have your heart broken and you'll break others' hearts. You'll fight with your best friend or maybe even fall in love with them, and you'll cry because time is flying by. So take too many pictures, laugh too much, forgive freely, and love like you've never been hurt. Life comes with no guarantees, no time outs, no second chances. You just have to live life to the fullest, tell someone what they mean to you... dance in the pouring rain, hold someone's hand, comfort a friend, fall asleep watching the sun come up, stay up late, be a flirt, and smile until your face hurts. Don't be afraid to take chances or fall in love and most of all, live in the moment because every second you spend angry or upset is a second of happiness you can never get back."
- Unknown

Sunday, February 26, 2012

love matters.

whether we acknowledge and accept it or not, we are each a product of our upbringing and our past experiences and choices. i guess depending on our childhoods and histories, this can work in our favor or be detrimentally dooming. given that everyone grows up with their own set of family issues and dramas, it's no doubt a testament to amazing grace that we all don't turn out to be completely wretched and broken adults. the momentous occasions in our lives that either propel us forward or take us back ten steps gingerly mold who we are becoming with each new day. for instance, people rarely have issues with intimacy or fits of rage just because that's their personality. something in their past, maybe violence or infidelity at home, provoked the behavior and instilled that character within them. those events from our pasts that aren't so easily discarded decisively play a role in the types of people we grow up to be. it affects our social circles, our performance at work, our prejudices, even outlook on life in general. it's naive to think that the countless decisions we make daily aren't important, that our parents' choices from long ago aren't significantly impacting the present. the people we allow into our spheres of influence, the compromises we make, the environment we choose to encompass ourselves with, the special chosen ones we trust with our whole hearts, they all leave extensive impressions even if it's just for a season. i've noticed that somewhere along the way, i lost count of how many people have come in and out of my life like a revolving door. they appear out of thin air, stick around indefinitely but long enough to become a huge part of my world, and then disappear as abruptly as they came. unfortunately, the departures have a tendency to leave roots of bitterness and grave wounds that could potentially take years of mending and restoring. but on the flip side, there are those encounters that teach me how to love better and deeper than i ever thought was possible. with my biggest regrets and stupidest mistakes, i'm finding that those were the very cases that taught me how to be stronger and wiser in the end. i learned how to forgive, how to be long suffering, how to see the good in bad situations, give the benefit of the doubt and always believe in love above all things. call me idealistic or plain childlike, but i don't believe in luck, chance or coincidence. not one bit. i believe everything happens for a reason and that there is someone much greater and more powerful than we'll ever comprehend who is in control of our lives. the scary or unappealing aspect is that if there is an alternate force or higher being that writes our destinies, then we might as well be robots because we don't have a say anyways. the most important consideration here is that the One who is in control is not only all powerful but all loving, and love is always a choice. regardless of how our parents failed us or mistreated each other, despite how many times we gave our hearts away, with all our failures and victories, the point is that it all matters and there is never a shortage of hope because He makes all things new. ever since i came back home a couple months ago, each passing week has been so unpredictable and drastically different than the one before. although i can't map out what to expect next, it's kind of fascinating to see in retrospect how intricately the simplest of decisions made with the profoundest of revelations have collectively brought me to where i am now. the winter has passed and the springtime has come, figuratively speaking. when we choose love over every other option, even our goodbyes and closed chapters have the potential to usher in fresh beginnings and spark new flames. rather than waiting around for coincidence or chance to give us a lucky break, we have to turn the page and anticipate the bonfire.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

don't stop believing.

it's pretty ridiculous how easily we can deceive our hearts into believing something that's not genuine, placing our hopes into faulty hands all because we lose sight of what's real and true. oftentimes, i know i'm guilty of only considering what's immediate and readily accessible, limiting my options and inevitably crushing my faith, instead of trusting and holding out for more. i guess this is a true test of patience: knowing that He is up to something good in all the delays and detours we face instead of foolishly reacting out of haste. there have been instances where i convinced myself to play along and be accommodating to something i knew was totally off. it just wasn't me at all yet i was trying so tirelessly to change myself in order to fit my circumstances, like trying to squeeze my feet into size 6 stilettos (i'm a size 10). i denied my actual desires, some that i even subconsciously suppressed, in order to pursue what was right in front of me because it felt safer than to keep my standards of what i knew i needed. in the process, i swapped out best for just good enough for now. sure, it'll suffice, i suppose. i threw away my detailed and specific prayer requests, all the while convincing myself i was just being too picky and high maintenance. it's incredibly humbling as i'm writing this because i feel as if the Lord picks up all of my crumbled up lists of my secret yearnings and longings out of the trash and hands them back to me, answered tenfold. when i experience firsthand His divine favor and grace over my life, i can't help but feel slightly embarrassed that i doubted His providence and faithfulness. you mean, i don't have to fit an obscure mold or front like i'm someone i'm clearly not? a couple weeks ago, i made it through 3rd round interviews at a prominent real estate investment firm. some of the requirements were long hours, professional demeanor, corporate environment & dress-code, ability to handle high levels of stress, super fast paced- basically everything that's obviously not me. it's nothing but God's mercy that i didn't get the position because i would've probably settled and accepted the first offer. thank God that He knows me so well and was preparing the perfect job all along to give me at just the right time. last tuesday morning i interviewed with the executives of the largest film/tv production studio in nyc. i was completely myself, without embellishments or exaggerations, simply confident and honest. when i came home from the interview, i went for a long run to ease any anxieties and kept repeating out loud, "God, i trust You. God, i trust You." i don't have to freak out and try to control or manipulate a favorable outcome. i figured if it was meant to be, then God would make it happen effortlessly and i would gladly and humbly receive it as a gift. i got an offer and accepted by the afternoon and started my new job the very next day. it's like a dream- 9 to 5, casual dress-code, small & intimate company, chill and laid back atmosphere, friendly exec team, better pay and benefits than i prayed for, and lots of fun perks. this is pure grace- that He doesn't allow us to compromise and settle but instead He gives us more than we will ever deserve or attempt to wish for. i'm proclaiming and believing this for all the other areas of my life where i haven't seen the same kind of breakthrough. i'm holding onto the promise that as i continue to delight in Him, He will be faithful to the desires of my heart- all for the glory of His name. Jesus, i thank You.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

*the day i accepted the job offer, i had a celebratory dinner at pf chang's and the picture is the fortune i got from my cookie. oh gosh, He knows me. fosho.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

the garden state.

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. Genesis 2:8

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

during the past couple weeks, i've seen the word "garden" pop up at me on numerous occasions commanding my attention. given that i do live in the garden state and i have been watching lots of linsanity on the msg network, i guess it's not too shocking that i'm exposed to many "gardens" these days. maybe it's just that i never really noticed all the references before. in any case, it got me thinking about Jesus in the garden and what that even means. in genesis, eden was paradise. there was no separation between God and His creation and everything was just as it should be. before sin entered the world and this perfect garden was interrupted and tainted, there was an absence of fear, shame and pain. i know it seems nearly impossible to imagine that kind of serenity that existed in genesis 2, and maybe our lives are a far cry from what eden was like. but i believe that eden is more than just a physical heavenly place that inhabited the earth once upon a time. even more significant than a state of mind and deeper than just plain perspective, being found by God in the garden is simply about pure delight and pleasure. it's the awesome privilege we have of retreating with the lover of our souls regardless of the state of our hearts, regaining faith to see His immeasurable goodness in the midst of storms, and effortlessly enjoying His presence. i realize i might come off like a naive flower child here, escaping from reality without a worry in the world. believe me, i've had my fair share of hardships, my life is by no means perfect, and i'm no stranger to heartache. even still, i know the main thing that fuels my faith in love and gives me ridiculous hope is finding Him in the garden again and again. i had a job interview yesterday on a busy street on 5th avenue. i rode the elevator up and sat in a corner conference room with a gorgeous view of the NYC skyline. what immediately caught my eyes were all the exquisite gardens on rooftops and terraces of the other high-rise buildings. from all the noise and traffic on the ground level, you would never know that there was such tranquility and beauty just an elevator ride away. i guess that's what the garden is to me. it's about relationship and spending quality time with the One i love. it's out of this place that i'm inevitably elevated to see life through the clarity of His vision and i'm able to walk out in solid faith in a really, really good God.

I am my Beloved’s and He is mine, so come into Your garden and take delight in me.
Take delight in me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

a new thing.

even though there remains quite a bit of uncertainty about my future and i'm still in the midst of hashing out all that the Lord did in my life in 2011, i'm finding myself with overwhelming peace these days. it's ironic and kind of an oxymoron, to be inundated by a calm stillness. this is completely foreign to me. i'm used to over-analyzing, being obsessive compulsive and needing a concrete plan. in the absence of having all the answers that i thought i needed, i can honestly say that i've never felt such assurance that i'm right where i need to be. for the first time since i can remember, i have confidence and joy as i entrust 2012 completely to the Lord. the more He reveals His awesome purposes and draws my heart closer to His, the easier it is for me to release my grip of my past. sometimes the only thing holding us back is ourselves. we can't seem to get over a mistake, an offense, a loss, so we carry it around like an anchor. if it's a wound, we pick at it. if it's an ex, we replay what went wrong. what we really need to do is cut off the chains, break free, and freaking LET GO. the past is the past and it should stay there. how will we ever grow if we insist on living in yesterday? the last couple weeks i was forced to deal with a certain perpetual struggle, my achilles heel in sorts, that creeps around me like a little monster and rears its ugly face just when things are smooth and serene. in previous experiences, i was defeated and powerless to combat against the enemy's conniving because i didn't know who i was or my worth. it took months of detox and rebuilding, after being utterly broken and desperate, for the Lord to instill my true identity and authority through Him. this time as i recognized that i was being faced with the same pathetic routine only with minor adjustments, it seriously pissed me off. heck no. i'm so sick of playing the fool, sitting around passively as a victim, and succumbing to this insane cycle. Jesus already brought redemption and restoration when He took it to the cross, why should i accept this? i was made for so much more. but these are just resolute statements and it's clear that talk alone will not suffice. it's absolutely necessary that i'm led by His wisdom and presence, not by mere passion and good intentions. so this is where my part comes in. i'm violently shaking off these lurking monsters and running full speed ahead.

same story + redeemed jini = glory.

But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.

Isaiah 43:1,18-21

Thursday, February 2, 2012

i got it from my mama.

i'm realizing these days, as i'm intentionally observing my mom, just how incredibly similar we are. from our distinct hearty laugh to the way we cut fruit- even down to the way our lips slightly pout as we're cutting- there is no doubt i am my mother's daughter. i guess i never really noticed before just how much of her idiosyncrasies i've subconsciously picked up throughout the years. now (almost) twenty-nine years later, i see that my behavior isn't best explained by the fact that i was raised in kansas, or by me being a 막내 or even a Christian. i am who i am largely because of my mom, and not solely because of the years sown into prayer for me but simply by living life with her. so i have these awfully loud, angry neighbors. no matter what time of the day it is, i constantly hear them screaming at each other as if they only know one decibel- extremely loud. i already see how the edgy kids are following the precedent set by their parents. not that i'm judging, but it does help me appreciate and value the way my mom raised me. above all, the greatest thing she ever taught me was how to love. i think sometimes we're so in love with love that it makes us sick. true, there's nothing that quite compares to the thrill of being in love for the first time. the high is practically like an out of body experience (so i've heard). but as great as that rush is, there's something so sacred and precious about the longevity of love. it's no longer all about feelings and cliches. sure, there are the occasional rainbows and butterflies, but when the hype runs dry, that's when true love takes on the verb form. i can confidently say that my mom's love for our family, particularly my dad, is evident in her actions. she is long suffering, she is not selfish, she is not easily angered. mom prefers others' needs above her own, she encourages and lifts up, and she always trusts, hopes and endures. i've witnessed how much mom's heart has grown and her capacity to love has stretched as she's deliberately and consistently chosen to love especially when it was tough and when she didn't necessarily feel like it. despite all the valleys and dark seasons our family has endured, through all the sicknesses and years of locusts eating away at our hope and joy, mom's love has only become stronger and more resilient. i'm aware of it with each home-cooked kimchee jjigae. i see it every time dad holds mom's hands as they stroll around the neighborhood. i hear it in mom's simple "eung" in response to dad telling her "i love you" after thirty years of marriage and still not exhausting or diminishing the significance of the L word. this is just a glimpse of what i might be like thirty years from now and it's lookin good ;) i only wish i was able to blog in korean so mom could read this. hehe.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Friday, January 27, 2012

divine delay.

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. John 11:33

i can't help but be perplexed by this verse, that it's somewhat contradicting in the context of what led to the weeping and wailing. Jesus was fully aware of lazarus's sickness and yet He intentionally delayed in his response for two days. He loved lazarus, he was His "dear friend", and still He let Him die. i understand that Jesus knew what He was doing all along. it's not as if He was like, "dang it. i waited too long and now he's dead." there was a greater reason for the stalling- it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this. John 11:4. what confuses me is why Jesus is angered and deeply troubled by the result. the thing is, we know Jesus was fully able to miraculously heal lazarus right away and avoid the drama of his death altogether. in His wisdom and divine purpose, He must have foreseen that this death would cause immense heartache and turmoil to martha and mary. even still, He allowed it to happen. Jesus knew how the story would end from the very start. He knew that He was going to supernaturally raise lazarus from the dead, displaying an even greater miracle than if he had simply been healed immediately. i find mary's reaction to Jesus so refreshing and honest. she falls at His feet and cries, "Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died." John 11:32. she's not afraid to be real and express what's burning on her heart- that she doesn't get why He didn't intervene sooner to save lazarus from death, and truthfully that the situation really sucks. she's not hiding her raw emotions here. there's no doubt that the glory and the joy that the sisters eventually experienced far outweighed the momentary grief and suffering. but when it comes down to Jesus standing face to face with the one that He loves and sees her weeping, He's so moved that He weeps with her. how true it is that He was familiar with pain and touched by our infirmities. He takes up our most dreadful, gut-wrenching, devastating experiences to demonstrate His awesome glory and power. yeah, i believe it and proclaim this over my own life. in the meantime, before our stories are redeemed and His glory is revealed, it's encouraging to know that we can be real with Jesus. we can tell Him when our hearts are offended and life isn't fair. we're allowed to be pissed when things aren't quite the way they should be and others wrong us. He doesn't expect us to always be strong and have it all together, like we could ever put up a front before the omniscient God anyways. i love the ending of this story. even though He very well could have raised lazarus in silence and discreetness, He shouts in front of a large crowd for him to come out of the grave, receiving further glory by those who came to believe in Him through what they witnessed. and this is what He's called us to. He never said it would be easy, but by offering our lives to be used to display the power of God through our weaknesses and struggles, we get be living testimonies of His majesty and wonder. i'm awaiting the day for Jesus to shout into my life to awaken the parts of me that were once hopeless and dead. Jesus, have Your glory!

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53: 4-5, 10-12