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dreamstime_xs_21425107May 30, 2013 [Your Letters, Discerning Idols]   I chose the name “Changying” for a dear friend from China who now lives in Australia because she is no longer just living, she is “flourishing and luxurious” in her growing understanding of living as one of God’s children. Changying refers to Tracey, who has taken over some of the classes in Australia since I’ve left and whom you’ll meet in another post.

“Dear Karen, I had initially thought that it would just have been a small talk when I met with Tracey, like a daily life chat, since we had not met for a long while. What’s more, I know little of Tracey but I am sure she is one who is trustworthy.  Well, I felt very warm when I saw her passionate smile again that day. Soon after our conversation started, I found that even more passionate is her great love to God.

No sooner had I told her of my current circumstance than she pointed out to me not to idolize my desires. She reminded me the more idolatry I set up, the more suffering I would have because I actually turn myself away from God. I should realise that whatever circumstance I am in, it is God who put me in it. It is His plan. How it happened, how it is developing and how it will end, they are not in my hand. It is God’s hand that is working. So, wipe out my idols. Do not be overcome by my psychology. If I am obsessive about my psychology, my pursuit of happiness would become empty and my life would be meaningless. Only God gives us the purpose of our life: the eternity.

I remember you wrote to me wherever God puts us, He has His purpose. My pastor said to me “be happy in servicing God”. When all these words come together, I begin to understand God’s plan: wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I am His servant whom He is using to serve our God and He will reward us an eternal life. What a privilege!

Now a sense of thanksgiving comes up. I take a walk every day and here in Australia, winter is around the corner. I actually prefer summer to winter, but now when I hear withered leaves rustling in the wind, I say to God:”Thanks God giving us beautiful four seasons.” I prefer a fine day to a much raining day; but now, after raining overnight, grassland turns to green from yellow as if they go through death to life. I say to God:”Thanks God bringing us amazing rainwater. It is a living water.I realize there is no distinct reason why I prefer this to that. Just my funny psychology. So I now begin to learn thanksgiving. When we are so obsessive about idolatry, we do not have a chance to think of thanksgiving. Idolatry makes me think when something comes in my favour,  it surely comes from my idols or me. Then if things do not come at my wish, I make every effort to secure the outcome. The ignored fact is I am not in control, neither are we, any human, are in control. It is God’s will. Once I think of God’s will, I only have thanksgiving because I won’t be deceived whatever happens to me.

Tracey told me that she travelled with her husband to Beijing. She met an impoverished old man. What deeply impressed her even till now is the joy in his tarnished eyes. The joy is his pure love to God which makes his eyes bright and his wrinkled face radiant. When she was speaking, I saw the same joy in her charming eyes as well. I heard the joy in her tone and I could sense the joy in her heart. “I promise you God is taking care of us because we are His children,” she said. Her passion made me feel like I must believe what she had said to me and, I do believe all that she said to me. I am privileged.

There are some things I have to face in the near future and just like you have written “do not try to figure out happiness or unhappiness in future but rest in His arms,” I will face it in God’s arms.

ABOUT: Changying attended two of my 8 week class series in Australia and was always making us laugh with her and love her more and more because of her honesty and humility and way of sharing her heart. She has had a very painful and difficult life and is facing some challenging transitions in the near future which require me not to use her real name. More about that in future posts.

Tracey (real name) is a dear friend, whose husband was our former pastor in Perth. In mid 2010, he received a diagnosis–completely out of the blue–that he had six months to live. Despite every effort, he passed from this earth six months later. It was a blessing to watch Tracey walk this difficult journey, leaning ever more on God. She sat through many class sessions for  two years, asking lots of great questions and then co-teaching and providing her gentle yet honest love to the other women in the group. She is one of two women continuing the teaching and mentoring in Australia, since I have left, and it brings me such great joy to see the impact her wisdom and honesty about God is having on other women. The comments about psychology that Changying makes are relevant because Tracey was once a life-coach centered in psychological teaching. It has been beautiful to see her move from dependence on psychological tools which only yield short-term results, to dependence on God’s truth alone which leads to life transformation. That’s not an easy transition for anyone to make. Now she is a life coach centered on God’s Truth. I’ve asked Tracey to share her story so stay tuned for a future post! – Karen (That post is now available here “In Death and Life- Tracey’s story”)

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