The gospel's answer to "what if...?"

Tina.JPG

The one question with which I have struggled my whole life is “what if?”  What if I was born a princess in a land far far away? What if I was born a boy?  What if I was sent to another country than the U.S.A.? What if, what if, what if...

As a little girl, I knew there was a God and He was close to me somehow, someway.  I had no fear, and I had all the freedom in the world because God was with me.  Then I began to grow up and learned about the Trinity, the things we have to do to get to heaven or else go to hell or purgatory.  I learned that everything was sinful and questioning that statement alone was the greatest sin.  Consequently, guilt became my companion.  Year by year, my best friend God became a scary giant being high up in the sky.  Not until my late twenties did I heard about grace and Jesus.  Thank God He pursued me and never left me regardless of how close or how far I feel to him.  

What if God let me believe my work was the only way to heaven? The first 25 years of my life was all about work.  My Catholic background, along with the traditional Asian teaching of never settle, formed a perfect set of life’s rules that I followed religiously.  I knew what and how to do almost everything correctly or above expectation.  Yet, I could not fool the God of our universe.  He saw my brokenness underneath my unsound pride and ignorant self-identity, and He showed me Jesus.  Our God showed me His love, faithfulness, and grace instead of the usual teaching of punishment of my failure to follow rules.  He replaced the lies of my wasted body from sexual abuse with “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” -1 Corinthians 6:19.  He replaced my alcoholic father with godfathers and host fathers who love me unconditionally.  He placed faithful friends around me during my most difficult and rebellious college life years to remind me of His existence and sovereignty.  Jesus loved me and met me where I was: a broken and ashamed girl shivering underneath a gown filled with unsatisfactory trophies.  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” -John 10: 27-28.  Before I knew I was His, He chose me first.  Thank God He was never going to let me go.  

What if God gave me everything I asked for?  I remember visiting my step sister a long time ago. She had a yellow rubber duck that I wanted. I asked her for it. She said no. Then I asked God to give me one. No answer.  So I took it from her.  What if God gave me the rubber duck, would that be enough for me?  Looking back at my life, I asked God to give me a job that I love, a social life of which anyone would be jealous, a great man I would marry, a green card I would have to stay in this country, etc... Some requests were given, some were not.  Would these gifts fulfill my bottomless heart of desires? Would I ever be filled with answered prayers?  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." -2 Corinthians 12:9.  Thank God for forming me just the way I am and knowing my heart so well to give or to take away my desires.  Only He can satisfy me, and when I forget, that is when I feel that hole of the bottomless heart.  Thank God for creating me to crave for the most perfected thing/person. Him. Nothing else will do.

What if I was never His?  From all the “what ifs” I had ever had, this one is the scariest of them all.  I would be completely lost in my own ignorance of grace and for the rest of my life trying to fill up my heart full of desires with things that this world can never fulfill.  I would be left with works and my own self-righteousness rather than the freedom of accepting my inherent imperfection and have the Cross cover me.  I would be a good citizen of the world and spend my entire life trying to save the world just to end up at my death bed thinking my work is not complete.  I would never be satisfied.  Thank God I never have to ask this question.  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

TINA NGUYEN