About this sample
About this sample
Words: 1174 |
6 min read
Published: Mar 14, 2019
Words: 1174|Pages: 3|6 min read
On the third page of a thin, navy-blue booklet is my profile information and identification: Isabella Chow, citizen of the United States of America. This small passport lists among some of my most important possessions, but I know deep down that my true identity is not as a citizen of the United States of America. First and foremost and forever, I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God, jus sanguinis and jus soli.
Raised in a Christian household with three older, adopted siblings and two younger siblings, I vividly recall the morning I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord. During a family mission trip in Malaysia, my parents called six-year-old me into their bedroom, asked several basic questions about salvation, and led me in a simple prayer. As soon as I was able to read, my older sister passed to me her NIV picture Bible, which my parents encouraged me to read every morning. Each Saturday, my father held family devotions, which generally consisted of off-key voices singing along with Youtube music, an enthusiastic backup worship band (pots and pans, wooden “drumsticks,” maracas, tambourines, and dance scarves), Bible reading, and popcorn prayer. In accordance with the Psalms, we “shouted for joy to the Lord” and “praised him with loud clashing cymbals” (Psalms 98:4, 150:5)––so loudly, in fact, that neighbors occasionally ventured over to investigate!
Under my parents’ discipleship and nurture, I continued to mature physically and spiritually, and, at eleven years old, was baptized by our pastor in the backyard swimming pool. Church families, homeschool friends, and even non-Christian schoolteachers came over to celebrate, and the afternoon was filled with testimonies, gifts, a barbeque dinner, and pool party. Also present at my baptism was a dear aunt and her family from Malaysia. Auntie Nancy had been diagnosed with colon cancer and was recovering from radiation therapy. For several months our family showered her with love and care––juicing carrots and beets for her breakfast, carrying her outside to bathe in the morning sun, and warming her blankets in the dryer when she shivered from chills. Even in her most painful trials, Auntie Nancy never once complained. Devoting whole mornings to Bible reading and prayer, she truly exemplified the life of a heavenly citizen, whose strength drew from God’s grace alone.
Sadly, after one year of unbearable pain, her heart unexpectedly failed. I lost not just an aunt, but a spiritual mentor and friend. In addition, witnessing such sudden death traumatized me. Hours after bedtime, I lay in bed each night seized with irrational fears of darkness and of death, fearful that my father or mother would, like my aunt, pass away in their sleep. When I did fall asleep, it was only to jolt awake again from 3AM nightmares, unable to sleep again until I had checked that each family member was still breathing. These episodes of fear continued for several months, but light shined once again when God whispered into my heart that He alone is the giver of life. He alone holds my family in his hands; He alone holds to power to take life away. All my anxiety and fear neither added a single minute to, nor subtracted a single minute from, life. Gently, the Lord taught me to trust in his perfect ways, giving in not to fear but to faith and surrender. 1 John 4:18 (“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear”) became my lifeline, as I openly declared the Lord’s promises each night before bed.
My journey through the valley of the shadow of death was certainly a trying time, but, as always, God works all things for the good of those who love Him. Before my aunt passed away, my Christianity had mainly consisted of Sunday services, family devotions, and somewhat inconsistent personal devotions. To be sure, I completely trusted and strived to live by the Bible, but had yet to realize the abundance of life that Christ promised in John 10:10. Learning to overcome my fears attuned on my spiritual ears, so to speak, as I discovered the secrets of communing with God throughout the day and recognizing his voice. Depending on Him for peace and shelter opened my eyes to the reality of His comforting presence and ever-present help in times of darkness. In short, God became real to me.
Since high school, certain influences, in addition to my family, have further solidified my faith. Not the least of these influences is a local Worldviews class. Combining credits for literature and composition, western civilization and/or history, Bible or Philosophy/Theology, and, in 11th grade, art appreciation, the courses examine, over eight semesters, Western thought and culture from Greco-Roman times up until the 20th century. To say that this class has challenged and changed my thinking is an understatement––discussing books by great thinkers from Paul E. Little to Francis Schaeffer to Plato to B.F. Skinner have solidified the foundations of my faith, allowed me to analyze societal trends from an educated perspective, and equipped me with evangelistic conversation starters. In addition, Rev. Booth, our teacher since tenth grade, has become a valuable mentor and role model to me, through his advice, nuggets of wisdom, and prayers.
River of Life’s youth group has also become a second home to me since I joined in eighth grade. Growing alongside sometimes-nerdy Asian brothers and sisters who can be equally obsessed over SAT scores and the Super Bowl, but even more fanatical about following Jesus and reaching the lost, has been a great blessing. When I founded a youth cell group in Morgan Hill last year, my counselor, Esther, not only taught me basic leadership skills, but also spent countless hours investing in my spiritual life during our pre-study dinners each Saturday. No matter whether meetings fell flat or I overlooked an important detail for a community outreach, she never criticized my abilities but helped me to my feet as I learned and bounced back from mistakes. Through Esther’s affirmations of my intercessory giftings, I also re-started our youth prayer team last December with another counselor she had connected me with. As with any new endeavor, prayer team leadership came with its own bumps and learning curves, but serving under the guidance of loving, godly mentors has been a tremendous blessing to me.
As I look back over these past years of spiritual formation and ahead to an even greater adventure, I realize what a privilege growing up in a God-fearing homeschooling family has been. I am no ordinary teenager, but a citizen of heaven whose thoughts, words, and actions have been shaped by a Christian upbringing and worldview. My identity remains not in the values and accomplishments of this world, but in the future hope of glorification and present promise of sanctification. Along with a great cloud of witnesses, I long for the day when I will see my name stamped in the Book of Life: Jane Doe, faithful citizen of the Kingdom of God.
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