“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:5
I struggled with the truth that God loved me for a long time. Questions like, “How could God love a person like me?” “Why would God love a person like me?” had no answers. Even as a child, there was a false belief that the one true God, the God of the Bible, loved white kids, black kids, but not Asian kids like me. Why believe such a crazy thing? But as silly as this sounds, every picture, every book, everywhere I saw a picture of Jesus surrounded by children, none of the them looked like me. That’s crazy, I know. But as a little guy, I just made that nutty assumption.
Then later when I placed my faith in Jesus, I knew in my mind that Jesus loved me. It said so in black and white in the Scriptures. I mentally believed that. I had to. But within my heart, there was more hope than faith. I hoped He loved me. I hoped He accepted me and died for me. I hoped, but I didn’t necessarily believe that in my heart.
In fact, I felt I needed to earn God’s love. I had to show Him that I was worthy of His love. I had to repay God for all He had done for me. Alas, it’s a debt that is impossible to repay, but for years I tried. I tried really hard.
Then on a fateful day in 1984, my father suffered a massive heart attack. Upon hearing the news, we rushed over to the hospital, praying the entire time. Praying for healing. Praying for mercy. And for 5 minutes. 5 minutes. I asked God that even if this was time for my dad, I wanted just 5 minutes to tell him how much I loved and appreciated him. Just 5 minutes. We arrived at the ER and was told that despite all their efforts, my dad didn’t pull through. All I felt was numbness. Numbness and the reinforced false belief that God didn’t truly love me. I couldn’t even get 5 minutes so I needed to do more.
Paul tells us in Romans 5:3-4, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” And God is true to His Word! Even in the toughest situations in our lives, God is doing something. He is strengthening the hope we have in Jesus. He’s doing so whether I believe it or not, whether I feel it or not. But the best part, the game changer for me is what Paul writes in verse 5. In light of all that I go through, all the lies I believed, the hurts, the pain, the confusion, anything and everything, He’s been at work in my life. The truth is, God has always been there. God has always loved me. Yes, God does love even Asian kids!
On a very, very special day, the Holy Spirit filled my heart with His love. On that unforgettable day, God made it very clear to me that despite my crazy ideas, He indeed did love me. and began to fill my heart with His love. Despite the confusion I felt when my dad passed away. Despite all the times I felt God wasn’t there or all the times I felt my prayers didn’t make His ears. It was 27 years ago today God showed me clearly how much He really did love me.
You see, since high school, my biggest dream was not being rich or famous or successful. It wasn’t even to have a comfortable life. My biggest dream was having a wonderful family. That was it. A wonderful, close knit family. A loving wife and children to love. And I wanted a daughter, at least one. I did want sons. Every dad wants sons. But for some reason, I always wanted my firstborn to be a girl. Well, 27 years ago today, God, the Holy Spirit, filled my heart with His love. It was 27 years ago today, August 18, 1990, that we welcomed our firstborn, our precious daughter, Michelle, into our family! With all the lies in my mind, I just couldn’t believe that she was real. I couldn’t believe that God would love me enough to make my dream come true. I remember just staring at her, with wonder and a love I had never experienced before, the love of a father! I remember carrying her from the birthing room to the nursery. Never in my life did I carry something so precious in my arms.
That was the beginning of God filling my heart with His love and dusting away all the lies I had believed. It was the beginning of truly experiencing God’s love in my heart and not just my head. It was the beginning of experiencing the amazing love of my Father, who loved me for who I was and not what I did. It has been a process. I am still under construction. But that was the beginning. Happy Birthday, dear daughter. Thank you for being a living reminder of God’s love to me. Thank you for being you. May the Holy Spirit fill you to overflow, God’s love for you. Happy Birthday!
a look back, and another step…