first, a BIG thanks to those of you who have blessed me with a memorable weekend and the many many kind words.

. :: the truth of how i got through seminary :: .
providence ::. the weekend has sorta been an emotional ride. graduation wasn’t really a big deal to me. it was a formality that i was willing to do to commemorate my wife and my mom. it was all for them. then, as i sat there beside my brothers and sisters many of whom i did not know, it dawned upon me, this is much much bigger.

i remember starting this journey six years ago not knowing what i was really getting myself into. i remember getting my world a little rocked with the things that i had been learning and all the questions that i had. there was a time out of my rebellious heart when i thought, who needs seminary anyway? there’s so many books out there. i can read. stoopid asian culture. so big on degrees. rant. rant. rant. ok, i’m doing it for the church.

i was really scared. i didn’t want to fail. all i kept wondering is whether it was possible for people to fail out of seminary. well, i’d be the first. i prayed repeatedly, GOD, YOU GET ME THROUGH THIS! i’m in this for YOU! i simply can’t do this. i’m not able. i’m not smart enough, especially by asian standards…i suck.

truth is, seminary IS hard. not just academically. there were many sacrifices. jealously, i watched my friends advance in their fields (and income). they were free to do what they want. especially on weekends. lauren and i looked at the many couples around us, desiring, why can’t we be normal? we survived many tears and heartaches. continually, i was trapped in the tension of where i wanted to be and where i actually was, alone with my thoughts, my studies, my inner turmoils. everyone, even my best friend, lauren, was in one world. and i was in another. lauren was so often a casualty in this private war. so this graduation was for her.

my mom is more important to me than ever. i’m really all she’s got and all that she’s worked so hard for. many of my chinese brothers know the burden of caring for our parents through our careers. i watch some of my friends take care of their parents financially and increasingly easier as they advance. all of my cousins give a significant portion of their income to my aunts and uncles. my mom fends for herself on her meager chinatown job working to late hours of the night only to wake up at dawn to do it all over again monday to saturday. she’s hardly able to upkeep her house. unable to fully operate a lawn mower, the grass grows wild. her house is quite a sight in a nice neighborhood. as she ages, her five foot frame becomes more fragile. this graduation was to give her hope.

sitting amongst my fellow graduates i was still unsure of being there and getting this degree, a master of divinity. what was it for really? what does it really mean to study God? am i supposed to be more spiritual after all of this? i was far more disciplined and full of faith six years ago. i’m still capable of doing the most heinous acts. i’ve changed much. maybe i’ve become more human. and God, simply more beautifully divine to me than ever.

i was expecting being handed a notice for, congratulations but you will receive your diploma upon completion of the following… we were given an exhortation on the sovereignty of God, how he is in control of even the seemingly small and insignificant details of our lives. he knows all and he does have a plan. yes. like rushing wind, i was given life and purpose again. it was without doubt, this graduation was to HIS GLORY, HIS HONOR, HIS POWER.

he heard my faithless cries. he did get me through it. i’m really graduating. he’s sustained my marriage, my mom, my life. to make it even more clear to me that it is HIS POWER, i received the premiere master of divinity president’s award. i had no idea. i didn’t believe what i was hearing. (i don’t think my colleagues believed it either) my heart must have stopped beating for a whole minute. the sound of my own breathing was all i heard as i walked up on stage to receive it. why me? i don’t think i’ll ever know.

to my surprise i received a real diploma. i’m done. i’m proud to be a biblical alum. a master of divinity? surely not really but if realizing this simple truth of knowing that God is truly sovereign, then sure.


1 Response to “graduation”

  1. 1 Todd Hiestand
    May 17, 2005 at 2:14 am

    again, congrats bro. can’t wait to read some good stuff from you now that you have all this time on your hands!

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[american born chinese pastor]
seeks to be that third place for those who are american born chinese [abc] in ministry.
here we may explore issues unique to the chinese church and doing ministry in that context
expand the intersection of asian american culture and christian faith
or simply expose what goes on in the mind of this abcpastor

this may be a bit ambitious or even naiive but i do hope that through the posts we can bring together different faith communities, passions for the advancement of the Gospel and the equipping of the body of Christ.

if you are an abc pastor or have any suggestions or would like to contribute to make this space evolve, just comment.

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