This is a tribute to my dear friend, Layshan's brother, JengChang Lee (1985-2002) who fought liver cancer bravely for 2 years before he passed into Jesus's arms. Through their suffering, his death and Layshan's amazing faith, I was brought closer to the God I mocked and loathed. Amidst all the sorrow, God was growing something beautiful. Whenever I thought of this, I feel forever indebted to my dear friend who was (and still is ) the greatest witness to me just by living her life rooted in God, and my heart trembles by how God works. None but only our God can plan just unthinkable and impossible plans!
The tears came. Quietly but fiercely. I was sitting alone by a wide river, on the sloping riverbank.
It was early spring in Japan. It was a very sunny day, but the cold bitter wind was relentless. I had walked about 15 minutes to get to the river. Any day I would have given up to go out, it was simply too cold for a girl who had grew up in a country which summer lasts all year long. But not that day, not that day. I walked in the merciless cold wind, feeling it cutting through my face and my skin. I walked and walked until I got to the river. I remember sitting down on the riverbank, looking at the river. The bright sunlight fell on the flowing water, reflecting bright beautiful patches of light over the river. I squinted at it.
Then the tears came. And I let it. There were nobody around. And even if there was, I did not care. I did not care. The wind caressed and tried to brush it away, only to sting my face more. I let it stay, welcoming the pain, hoping the pain would make me feel better. Maybe.
But it did not.
I was burdened with sorrow. And most of all, my heart was bursting with anger. Anger boiling all over, at one whom they call, God.
But He was not my God, He was her God. A God to my very dear friend. My very dear friend, Shan.
I poured my anger out at Him. How could you?! How could you do that to her? How could you do that to her when she has been so faithful all these time? How could you do that to her brother? HOW COULD YOU! It did not matter I did not know Him. Or I did not call Him my God. I was angry at what He allowed to happen, so I let my anger loose.
With the anger, my own memories of losing someone came vividly. The boy whom sat by me for 2 years in elementary school, he never grew up. The chance was taken away from him when he was 13, while he was crossing a road, a car hit him. And he was gone. My own grandmothers. One death came claimed her out of the blue. My mother whom had never cried came to the school to fetch me while I was in the class. My teacher talked in a hushed tone and with a face full of sympathy. My mother's red eyes. And she wept at the funeral. I was too young to understand my mother's heartbreak. But I remember my father's mother. Towards the end I could see and smell death when I looked at her. And my father whom never seen to be close with her wept too, at her funeral. He wailed and I was shock, I long to hold him but our culture did not foster physical closeness among parents and children. So all I did was stared.
All those people gone, but the emptiness stayed. Sitting on the riverbank, I pondered on death, and life. How meaningless I thought. So I was living, but so what, the end would come. It would come and it would be the same.
How vain. How empty was this life. I walked back to the dormitory with only that thought in mind, and my face red stung by the wind.
That night I made a phone call to my dear friend Shan in Malaysia. I had to talk to her. I had to give her some encouragement, some comfort, some strength. Even though I had no idea how.
Yet upon hearing her voice, my voice broke, and I could only manage to mutter her name. No words would come, and the tears flowed. We stayed quietly for a moment, I tried to say something again only to have my mouth agape with no voice coming out. Finally she said, it's Okay. I am Okay.
I am Okay.
And I cried harder hearing those words. I do not remember the rest of the conversation. It was a short phone call. But all these years those words echo in my mind, I. am. Okay.
After hanging up I was totally embarrassed, amazed and baffled. How could I tried to comfort her but turned out to be the one who was comforted and encouraged? How could she be so strong? What is holding her together? And who is this Jesus?
Who is this Jesus?
I asked the question to myself, half amazed and half baffled. I had no idea later that year I would ask the same question again, this time with anger, when the boy I deeply loved broke my heart, telling me he could not marry me unless I was a Christian. I asked the same question fiercely and with such hatred, I wanted to murder Him with my thought. And I vowed to myself, I would have nothing to do with a Christian boy anymore. I spat Christianity at its face. That is it. I drew the line and I built up a fortress. Little did I know, when I thought I was building up the fortress, He was actually tearing it down. When I thought I would see and hear His name no more, He would come to me again and again. Little did I know, in order for me to be able to receive His love and grace, my heart had to be broken.
Little did I know.