There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2 ESV
How a Little Girl from San Francisco Chinatown Was Set Free
I am thankful I was born in a country where the doors of opportunity are not opened only to those who are rich, powerful, or famous.
For I was born of humble means. I was first generation American-Chinese and I grew up in a single parent family back in the 70’s when co-parenting was not in vogue. My father left when I was seven. I grew up fatherless and I grew up fast.
So how does a little girl born among the steep hills of San Francisco Chinatown, who grew up speaking Chinese first from her momma who didn’t speak English (I actually learned to speak English from Bert and Ernie by watching Sesame Street, before meeting my Kindergarten teacher Ms. Carol) – how does someone like me end up writing here at (in)courage and publishing a book like Whispers of Rest that sits on the shelves of bookstores like Barnes & Noble?
It isn’t by might nor by power – for I had neither. But, here in this country, there is freedom of religion; because of this, when I was just eight years old, I opened a book that would change my life.
This was a book I read first as a story, because I loved stories. I read books the way you’d take to a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven with a tall glass of cold milk. I gobbled them.
But, this story was very odd. This story did not end up the way I expected, with its pages only filled with beautiful and happy things.
This story was shocking. The person who loved everyone was rejected, thrown to the side, discarded, by those who were popular and rising up with mainstream acceptance.
He was an oddball. He didn’t fit in. He was condemned as a criminal. And everyone left him.
This story was told to me that unlike all other heroes I read about, he died alone, wronged, hanging on a cross.
But, what was strange about this story is that it didn’t end there. The story continued because this man was Jesus. And this man wasn’t just a man. He was the Son of God, and He rose again and stood alive – with His hands outstretched to call me His.
What drew me to this Jesus wasn’t his perfection (I didn’t understand such things as a little girl). What drew me to Him were two things:
Jesus loves me.
Those two words are close cousins for me. For I have known suffering and rejection, but I didn’t know about love, even though I hungered for it.
So, as I continued to read through the pages of this book – and now you know this book was The Bible – my heart was set free because I recognized the One who tasted rejection and suffering understood and loved me. Jesus called me His.
And so today, as we anticipate Independence Day – with so much suffering in our country and around the world – as we hear stories upon stories of heartbreak, rejection, death, and war – it would seem there are too many problems around to celebrate freedom.
But, the beauty and freedom of God’s love is this, friends: We have Someone who honors our suffering and sets us free – not because life is perfect, but because we are perfectly loved.
We have Someone who will never leave us, reject us, or abandon us.
This Someone is Jesus. We can rest because freedom comes from within.
My presence will go with you and I will give you rest. (Exodus 33:14)
Freedom comes and stays alive because the oxygen to the flame of freedom is LOVE.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38–39)
Jesus sets us free.
We don’t need to be perfect to receive His love. We don’t need to hide our fears or our dreams.
Jesus stands among the rubble of noise and brokenness around us – like our flag that stood among cries of the wounded and embattled.
And He whispers, You are my Beloved. My love sets you free.
So how does a little girl from SF Chinatown find herself set free in her heart and her soul?
Jesus. This is true freedom. We have Jesus.
How is God’s love inviting you to experience freedom?