Give Thanks to the Lord: Recounting the Ordinary Tales of His Extraordinary Deeds
We have a 2.5-year-old in the house, since before he could talk, we've been trying to teach him to give thanks whenever people give him gifts or do him a favor. It's been so sweet that we've seen the fruit of the training; often times he will say "thank you" without even us prompting him to.
For a lot of us, we've also been trained at a young age to say "thank you" to people. But what about God? What about when God showers us with blessings and makes all things work for our good? Quite frankly we don't always give Him the thanksgiving He deserves.
In light of that, in the next couple of weeks, we are going to anchor in this verse Psalm 9:1. We are going to give thanks to the Lord with our whole heart. We are going to recount all of His wonderful deeds. I encourage you to participate. Let's fill our minds with thanksgiving; let's flood social media with His wonderful deeds so people, especially those who don't know Him yet, will see that He is good. When you share on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #HisWonderfulDeeds so I can see your posts and give thanks with you!! Let's do this!!
My Tale of His Extraordinary Deeds
Today I'm going to recount His extraordinary deeds in how He orchestrated my life to bring me closer to Him. I was born and raised in Hong Kong but I finally gave my life to Jesus at the age of 21 in Iowa City, IA. That's 7712 miles from where I grew up. There are several instances (that I know of) that led me to Iowa City. This is my attempt to recount his wondrous deeds.
In late 1980's, there was an immigration wave in Hong Kong.
To give you a little background, Hong Kong at this point had been a colony of the British government for about 90 years. The agreement between the Chinese government and the British government was that Britain would return Hong Kong to China after a 99-year 'lease'.
In 1989, the two governments finalized their plans to return Hong Kong to China, people started to panic. The people in Hong Kong ware afraid of the changes that could take place because of the switch. So, if people could afford to immigrant, they would.
My parents were seriously considering moving to another country as well. In fact, they were talking with an immigration attorney and had begun the paperwork process to move to Canada.
I could have been a Canadian and I could've had a totally different life story should my parents continued with that process. But my father backed out, considering all the hardships that would come with immigrating to a different country speaking a language he was not fluent in.
And so, we stayed in Hong Kong.
I went to Catholic schools pretty much all my life (except for college). I remember distinctively sitting in a Religious Studies class in 5th grade, hearing about these Bible stories, and thinking, "these are just fictions; they're not real." I was definitely blinded to see God but God turned things 180 later in my life, which I will get to in just a little bit.
Not long after, I started to become obsessed with everything US-related: Hollywood movies, TV shows, music, I even subscribed to popular teen magazines. Up until this point, I was taught British English AND I was not good in English at all; I flunked many of my tests and quizzes. But, because of my US-obsession, I began to teach myself American English. I listened to an American radio
Around 8th/9th grade, I was determined to leave my hometown Hong Kong. The highly competitive academic environment in my hometown was just too much. I wanted to study somewhere with a slower pace and where they speak English. I looked into England, Australia, Canada and, of course... the US.
England was too expensive, Australia was all right, Canada was too cold, and the US was not cheap but I had relatives in California - perfect.
And so I had my heart set on going to California for college.
Around the same time I was preparing to go to the US, God put in my life a dear friend who was (and still is) a faithful follower of Jesus. Her name is Stephanie. Even though my heart was hard, for years she'd encourage me to seek Christ; when it was time for me to leave Hong Kong for college, she gave me her Bible, which I've kept all this time.
My road to California was not smooth sailing... I had to convince my dad. Fearing this was an impulsive decision and ended up with lots of wasted money, my dad was reluctant in letting me go. (I don't blame him - I told my parents I wanted to take piano lessons when I was in 3rd grade. They bought me a piano and put me in lessons; 3 short years later I was done and the piano sat in the living room collecting dust...) But my mother convinced him of my determination to study abroad - it wan't gonna be a short-lived passion of mine because I had made so much preparation ahead of time. I had to study for tests, apply for a visa, research what colleges to apply to, fill out the applications, figure out the accommodation, etc. Because of that, my dad granted me permission.
In July 2007, I boarded a plane headed out for the infamous Southern California. I was so excited but also so nervous - I had been a sheltered little girl at this point and I was gonna face the world on my own. Turned out, my time in California was not like what I had imagined. I had trouble finding people I could talk to/relate to; I was by myself a lot. I was lonely. I was desperate for friends. On top of that, my relationship with my host family/landlord was awful; we had lots of miscommunication and we didn't handle conflicts well. And then there was also other issues with family. So my dream of studying/living in California turned out to be some of the loneliest and most depressed time of my life. But God had a purpose for this. If I didn't have as crappy of a time as I did in California, I wouldn't have left. By the time my sophomore year rolled around, I wanted to leave. So I applied to transfer to any colleges not in California. Oregon... Iowa... Virginia... Pennsylvania... these were all contenders.
After months of college transfer application and waiting, Oregon and Iowa accepted me. I was gonna go to Oregon because it sounded cooler. But my mom kept telling me that Iowa had a better business school (which was what I was going for). I remember getting on Iowa's website and looking at the pictures (because at this point I had never been to Iowa and so of course the pictures would give me a good judgment of what it's like there.), I could feel a sudden heart change. It was weird. It was like someone flipped a light switch; all of a sudden, I'm now quite okay with the idea of going to a school in the middle of nowhere. Looking back now, I can confidently say it was God who changed my heart in that moment.
My first year at Iowa, I applied to live in the dorms - because I had never lived in a dorm before and it sounded like an experience you must have when you're in college. I opted in for getting my roommates randomly chosen for me because I knew nobody at Iowa, which turned out to be one of the best decisions ever. I met Emma, who has been a dear friend since. She was the friend I had been searching for for the last couple of years. She was friendly and genuinely wanted to get to know me. She took me to Cru, a Christian college ministry, and introduced me to her friends - including my now-husband - I finally found friends that I had been longing for at Cru. They weren't cold and distant; they were warm and caring. Even though I was still hard-headed about God at the time, I kept going back to Cru because of them.
I hung out with my friends from Cru a lot, which God used to show me of His existence. In my first semester at Iowa, I became more and more curious about God. How my friends lived their lives for God sparked a thought in me, "maybe there IS a God." As the days went by, I asked Emma more and more questions. During that winter break, Grant (my now husband) introduced me to Chelsy. Our friendship grew quickly. A few short weeks after we initially met, Chelsy answered more spiritual questions of mine for three HOURS and at the end of it I accepted Christ into my heart. Chelsy has been such a dear friend and a mentor in my walk with Jesus, I wouldn't have been where I'm at in my faith without her influence.
Bam. There it is. I finally saw my need for Christ and surrendered my life to Him.
I'm sure there are more great things God has done to bring me closer to Him; but as far as I can tell (and remember), this is how my story goes.
It has not been easy. Especially my time in California, but as hard as it was, in retrospect I'm so glad it happened. If I had had a great time in Cali, I wouldn't have left. If I didn't leave Cali, I wouldn't have met so many great friends (and my husband!) and I wouldn't have given my life to Jesus.
Through my story, I can tell you that God works all things for good, even if there was trials and sufferings at times.
Starting today, I invite YOU to share your ordinary tales of His extraordinary deeds.
Let's be a body of Christ who come together and share all the great things He has done for us.
Share your story today with #HisWonderfulDeeds (and be sure to tag me @everleighcompany); let's FLOOD social media with His great deeds so that the body of Christ can marvel at His greatness together and that nonbelievers can see that He is GOOD.
What will you share today?