How God Saved Me – Ophelia’s Testimony of God’s Grace

Me, as an 8-year-old...and, yes, those were my glasses  =)

Me, as an 8-year-old…and, yes, those were my glasses =)

As a child, I was quiet, obedient, respectful – all that a young girl raised in a Chinese home should be.  I don’t think I ever gave my parents very much trouble at all (you can check with them, of course).  I remember being slapped on the hand only once.  That was it, because a piercing look from my mom was enough to get me in line.

I share this not to brag.  In fact, I share this to demonstrate just how hypocritical I was even at a young age.  You see, my obedience wasn’t true obedience – an obedience out of love and respect for my parents and for God who placed them as my authority.  Rather, I only obeyed to avoid punishment and to gain their approval.

I didn’t realize that my outward actions did not match my inward motivations.

Thankfully, God began to change that, starting by putting me in Awana.  Awana is kind of like a Christian girl/boy scouts.  We got a vest with badges that we can put on.  We were rewarded for memorizing Bible verses and winning games.  I got to go with friends each week, so I really liked it.  Plus, I got real good at memorizing the verses (again, wrong motivation…).  =P

Anyway, one night, a teacher spoke to us about Jesus and how He loved us so much that He came to earth to die on the cross so that we may go to heaven someday.  He explained how nothing we can do in and of ourselves would get us to heaven, because we were all sinners; but, if we believed in Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, we would be saved from punishment.

I think I was 8 years old at the time (see above picture…don’t you like my dress?).  I didn’t have a very deep theological comprehension of salvation, but God allowed me to understand the basics: my outward obedience wasn’t good enough; I was going to hell; I needed Jesus to save me from hell.

That night, I raised my little hand when the time came for all of us to bow our heads and pray to God.  One of the counselors took me into the church kitchen and sat me down by the stainless steel table.  I told her that I wanted Jesus to be my Savior, and she patiently asked me a few questions.  I don’t remember what they were, but I’m sure they were to check if I knew what I was asking for.  Then, she helped me pray to God, asking Him to save me.

After Awana was over, my dad came to pick me up.  I distinctly recall my thoughts as I was holding my dad’s hand and walking with him to the car.  I thought, “I need to obey dad differently now – not to avoid punishment, but to please Jesus, who saved me.”

It was God’s grace that He revealed to me that night the basics of my own depravity and His redemptive plan.  As I got older, He gradually built upon my simple understanding of these doctrines.  He has and continues to employ various people and situations in my life to teach me about Himself and His will for me.

It amazes me how rich and deep the gospel can be, but I praise God that the gospel can also be so simple that a little child was able to grasp it!  That little child is now forever grateful.

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” – 1 Jn.4:9

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” – 1 Jn.5:11-12

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.” – 1 Jn.4:15

A picture I took of God's beautiful creation

A picture I took of God’s beautiful creation

 

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I Want to Walk through Fire!

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Every now and then, if I don’t have a particular topic to study, I like to read through a book of the Bible that I haven’t read in a long time.  Usually, that means one of the minor prophets.  So, a few weeks ago, I decided to flip to the book of Daniel.

It is no wonder that children and adults alike are fascinated by the stories of Daniel.  Captivity.  Government conspiracies.  Political controversy.  Interpretation of dreams.  And even hungry lions!  Oh my!

But as exciting as these things are, Daniel wasn’t the man who made the most impact on me when I last read through his book.  Sure, he definitely was a man we should all emulate – a man of discipline, conviction, courage, wisdom, and, most of all, faith.  However, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were the men that “caught my eye” this time around.

Sort of portrayed as Daniel’s three little sidekicks in many children’s books, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego are far from being any less heroic.  I am sure you know the story well.

King Nebuchadnezzar builds a monstrosity of a golden image of himself for everyone in his kingdom to worship.  He decrees that those who refuse to worship it would be sentenced to death by fire.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, in obedience to the true God, do not bow down to this idol.  They are brought before the king, who gives them a second chance.

Now, if I were in their shoes, I think I would seriously consider taking this second chance.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, on the other hand, knowing their sure fate, still replies:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

OH MY WORD!

First, consider to whom they were speaking to – the ruler of…THE KNOWN WORLD at the time!

There was no man more powerful, more intimidating than the king of Babylon.

Second, consider their sentence – death by FIERY FURNACE!

To me, I can imagine no other death that is more painful.  Can you?  Not being able to breathe.  The heat being unbearable even before the flames touch your skin.  Extremely hot smoke, not only choking you, but burning your eyes, the inside of your nose, the inside of your esophagus.  If you haven’t passed out by then, you get to experience the excruciating pain of being on fire.

Now, third, consider that they didn’t even know whether or not God would actually save them.

They understood very well that God could very possibly choose to let them slowly burn to death, but that didn’t make God any less worthy to be the only object of their worship.

These were the three things that went through my head as I read Daniel’s account of the event.  In light of all that is happening in the Middle East today, I had to ask myself,

“Would I withstand the most powerful men on earth for God?”;

“Would I walk into certain pain and death for God?”;  and

“Would I obey and worship God despite life-changing consequences?”.

These questions are not so far-fetched, are they?  Many Christians around the world have to ask themselves these questions everyday.  They, too, are heroes like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, because they refuse to deny Christ when it is so easy to do so.

Now, I probably will not have to ask myself whether or not I would walk through fire.  I probably will not have to decide whether or not to verbally deny God in front of a dictator or prison guard.  But I do have to decide not to deny God through disobedience every time I am tempted to sin.  In a sense, that is walking through fire, because it can be so difficult to do!  Some temptations are so hard to resist!

But praise be to God, because even when I fail,

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom.8:35-39)


Dear God, I thank you that you are worthy to be worshipped.  I thank you that I am more than a conqueror through Christ, who saved me.  I pray for my brothers and sisters around the world, who must face similar situations as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.  Please strengthen their faith.  Remind them of Romans 8, that NOTHING can separate them from your love.  If it is your will, may you protect them and their families.  Please also strengthen my faith that I would obey you moment by moment, for it is often in the smaller things that obedience is most difficult to find.  In your Son’s most precious name, I pray.  Amen.

– Ophelia

Day By Day – A Prayer

Maffrine's husband Tony reading to their daughter Joelle.  So cute!

My husband Tony reading to our daughter Joelle. So sweet!

My first ever blog post on Intwine Paperie blog! I certainly go out of my way to make it clear to people around me that I DO NOT LIKE TO WRITE. Ask Ophy, she will tell you that.  I avoid it as much as possible for many reasons (or with many excuses). All the amazing posts you have read in our blog thus far were the results of Ophy’s talents.  I hope you are not too spoiled by all the good writings that you can’t show grace to some mediocre ones from me once in a while. I promise, I will keep the torture short. Ready? Here we go!

Every night, my husband looks forward to tucking in our 17-month-old daughter Joelle to bed with stories.  I love hearing those cute giggles coming from her bedroom.  I reserve that special moment for daddy and daughter while I take a break or finish washing the dishes.

Recently, my husband requested that I sing hymns after the stories so that our daughter would be spared from the horror of highly imperfect pitch at the end of the day.
Yesterday night, I wanted to pick a really short one to sing so that we could put Joelle down quickly (she did not take any naps that day, and we were eager to spend the evening together watching Captain America 2!).  As I was flipping through the hymnal, I saw a short one that I had not sung before.  So, I decided to give it a try!  It was “Day by Day- A Prayer”.  The lyrics go like this:
“Day by day, day by day,
O, dear Lord, three things I pray:
To see Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly.
Day by day.”


This is my prayer:

God, you have shown me in many occasions that my heart is prone to wander.  When my life being a mother and wife gets busy, I oftentimes begin my day without drawing near to You first and end my day carrying all the weariness of the day to bed with me.  But You are so faithful to convict my heart of needing to first love You and to walk with You closely so that I may depend on You in everything I do – day by day.

– Maffrine