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Rebirth in Grace

posted Apr 6, 2010, 12:43 PM by Elisa Lui   [ updated Apr 6, 2010, 9:09 PM ]

July 2008

Tiptoeing into the intensive care unit, I saw my dad for the first time since his surgery on the previous day. Connected to a rainbow of tubes and wires, my dad lay motionlessly on the bed. I have never seen my dad so fragile before. The roaring voice had turned into a breathless whisper. My heart ached as I saw how much pain my dad was experiencing. He wanted to know the result of the operation. I told him the doctors successfully removed ninety-nine percent of the cancerous cells in his body, including an eight-centimeter diameter tumor, during the eleven-hour surgery. Shocked at how serious the operation was, my dad contemplated for a moment before saying, “I believe it was God who spared my life this time.” I have no doubt it is God’s grace that my dad is still with us today.

But God did not just grant an extension to my dad’s body; HE had actually given my dad a brand new life. When my dad gathered enough strength to share his thoughts with me four days later, he said, “A month ago, I ridiculed you for saying grace before meals because I believed it was our hard work that had earned us food and shelter. I even made fun of you by saying ‘If you don’t work and just ask God for food, see whether a bowl of rice will fall from the sky.’ But now, I realize the simple actions of breathing, coughing and sitting are all God’s blessings.” He continued, “I had relied on my own strength all my life to provide for the family, always planning ahead because I was constantly worried about the future. I didn’t know how all these anxieties were not only signs of pride in front of God, but were also the diseases that had eaten up my body.”

What my dad shared reminded me about Jesus’s teaching on worries, and I read Matthew 6:25-27 to him:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Dad feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

It was my dad’s first time hearing this passage, but it resonated with him deeply. Since learning about these verses, he had made a point to retell the bird analogy to all the doctors, nurses and friends that came to see him. “I do not worry anymore,” proclaimed my dad, “because everything is under God’s control. You shouldn’t worry either because even the birds in the sky don’t need to worry.” For someone who is undergoing so much pain, these words were not only a surprise for those who visited, but also served as a powerful testimony of God’s grace.

Once having sworn that he would never become a Christian, my dad left the hospital today as a newborn child of Grace. No longer burdened by the anxieties of life, my dad decided to let Jesus carry his yoke for him. Rather than worrying about the upcoming radiation therapy, my dad was praising God for every breath he took. His frowning face was replaced by a cheerful smile. As my brother and I got him ready to go home, my dad surprised both of us by saying, “Thank you both for not ever getting mad at me when I responded so negatively to the gospel in the past.” How can we be mad? We both had rejected God before, but HE never gave up on us and waited patiently to grant us a new life. Praise God for his everlasting love and grace. HIS faithfulness has overwhelmed me like the words in the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness”:

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been thou forever will be.

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!