Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Run Your Race

Ever since I was small, I've loved races. I guess it is because I love running. My favorite "Patch the Pirate Adventure" was (and still is) Mount Zion Marathon, which is all about running life's race. And just a few weeks ago, we watched Chariots of Fire, a great film that is now one of my favorites. It is about Eric Liddell*, an athlete who ran - not only his life's race, but even his sport races - with God.

Picture it this way: your life as a racetrack, you are the runner, and God is your Coach.

Running a mere race isn't easy. You have to discipline yourself. You have to undergo a lot of training and exercise. You have to be physically fit, and strong enough.
Running life's race is not easy either. You need to know how to run.

Hebrews 12:1-2 explains how we are to run our life's race.
Let us lay aside every weight. When you run a race, you can't carry anything along with you; it would only slow you down. In running life's race, you must put down all "weight." "Weight" there is the things that hinder you from running: doubt, fear, pride, earthly possessions...lay them aside, and run freely.
And the sin which so easily besets us. Not only must you lay aside every weight, you need to lay aside the sin that enslaves you. Running with sin is like running with a great big pack on your back. It weighs so heavily on you, pushing you lower and lower until you stumble and fall. We need to lay aside the weight and the sin and run our race free from both.
And let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Running life's race is not easy. Yet, we are commanded to run with perseverance, run with all the strength we've got, and finish the race.

Earlier, I mentioned that Eric Liddell ran his life's race AND his sport races with God. How did he do that? Simple. He trusted God to be his wings to fly. He trusted God to be his strength. He trusted God to lead him to victory.

Fellow Brethren in-training, how are you running your life's race? Are you running patiently, faithfully enduring every hardship and trial that comes your way?
Running life's race is more than just and easy sprint. It's a long-distance run.
There are times when you stumble and fall; there are times when you're so tired and it's just so hard. There are times when you are so discouraged, that you just want to give up.

"Be faithful, Christian and run the race. Keep looking upward, and seek My face. Keep pressing on, endure the trials down. And I will give to you the victor's crown."

That is my favorite song from Mount Zion Marathon. It inspires me to move on, to push for the goal. I find running easier when I run with my eyes on Jesus.

Keep pressing on, runners. Don't look at the track; don't think of the obstacles that lie ahead. Don't give up, and don't slow down. Look to Jesus. Fight a good fight. Finish your course. Run your race.

(*If you want to find out more about Eric Liddell read Men of Faith: Eric Liddell by Catherine Swift, Christian Heroes: Then and Now - Something Greater than Gold by Janette and Geoff Benge.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Jewel[s] in the Palace

I am not a couch potato - but I do watch TV - but not a 24-hour cable TV. Everyday, I watch an average of an hour to an hour and a half. Thirty minutes of this I spend my time watching my favorite Korean TV series - Jewel in the Palace. And I would say that the main character of the story would have qualified as a Rebelutionary and at the same time, a good example of what a Lady-in-Training should be, if she lived now.

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The story of the series is based on the history of the first lady doctor of Korea (South), Jang Geum Sho (jang gyum shò). At eight, she began to be trained in the king's cuisine, together with other girls who aspired to be faithful and prominent servants in the cuisine someday. Most of the girls had come from the elite class and some came from clans who had served the kings from generation to generation. Each of them had a clear purpose and it was to serve the king faithfully their entire life. Each had secret desire to become the chief maidservant of the king's cuisine - and that was Jang Geum's desire.
Her mother, Lady Miung Yi Park was once a servant but because of the selfish ambitions of one of her friends, she was accused to have a relationship with a soldier whom she had only helped out of a kind heart. Maidservants in the king's cuisine are forbidden to have a romantic relationship with anybody. Lady Park escaped her death sentence by hiding in the mountains. There she met Jang Geum's father, Captain Sho. She married the captain since she was no longer a maidservant in the cuisine. Both of them served in the Palace but because of their will to expose corrupt ministers and servants who desired wealth and power, they were hunted down.
In such a predicament, Jang Geum should have desired revenge, but she did not: she only desired that the truth be made known. All her years in the kitchen, she served and cooked her best for the kings. If she became the chief maidservant, she would write in the servants' book of annals about her mother, as Miung Yi Park had admonished her. But when Lady Cho - the friend who betrayed Lady Park - found out whose daughter Jang Geum was, she feared that Jang Geum would ruin the future of her clan. Lady Choi devised a plan and history repeated itself. Jang Geum was accused, proven guilty, and exiled to a remote island with Lady Han (the chief maidservant and bosom friend of Miung Yi Park) by the same corrupt officials.
Lady Han died in the journey of exile and it ignited a fire in Jang Geum's heart for revenge. In Jeju Island, as a slave she studied for many years to become a nurse - the only way to return to the palace. She succeeded, but not in her revenge. Jang Geum realized that revenge was a wrong motive in becoming a nurse. She had compassion on Lady Choi and did not sue her skills for revenge. Like Joseph in the Bible, she loved her.
After decades of lies, justice was brought to Jang Geum's parents. She became the chief maidservant and carried out her mother's last request - to write in the book of annals. She carried out everything her mother had requested and afterwards returned to being a nurse.
After 600 years of tradition, Jang Geum marked a turning point in the history of Korea. King JungJong asked her to become his doctor, which terrorized everybody's principle in the government. Nurses were slaves during those times and were of no importance as much as beggars were; even if their deeds were greatly to be praised. The doctors would be shamed for the rest of their lives if Jang Geum accepted the request. Everybody around her told her the same thing "Do not accept it, if you have any decency left. Be content of where you are now." Only three of her friends encouraged her to accept it, and last night - in the TV series - she accepted it. I held my breath as she accepted the king's offer and what everybody's reaction will be I shall know tonight when I watch it. ^_^

All her life, Jang Geum took the hard way to live her life even if an easier way was offered. She could have forgotten and kept quiet about her mother's request and lived a quiet life as a maidservant. She could have chosen not to bother the demoralized ways the prime ministers ran the government and remained in the higher class of society rather than be exiled as a slave and bear the shame of being degraded.
Or perhaps she could have chosen to be content and went with the flow of the 600 years of tradition her country has exercised and remained unscorned by her peers. All these she could have chosen but she did not.

Gentlemen and (especially) ladies, are you a jewel rare and worthy of value to be placed in the palace of the King?
Often the hard way is the right way. To show Truth in this world is hard but it is the path of righteousness that we should tread that fulfills the purpose of the life God has given us.
For more than 2000 years of traditional low expectations that the society offers us every generation, when are we going to mark a point in history? Should we remain content of where we are now? No! If you were a better person the day before and even a better one after, then all days should follow you as a better person. Everyday we should strive to become better than we are. A saying goes, "When we love, we strive to become better than we are." How true it is for genuine Christians!
If you love your Lord Jesus Christ, wouldn't you strive to be holy as He is? Hate what He hates, do what He does! Remember, Jesus took the hard way but it was the right way God prepared for Him.
Do not be clouded by the world's method of thinking. They tell us "This is the easy way. Take it." And oft times we take it but did they ever bother to tell us that that instant way is the right way? Open your heart to hear what He's saying, "I am the [right] way, the truth, and the life, are you willing to take your cross and follow Me? If you are, then come along." Jesus did not fail to remind us that the way He took is the hard one.
And finally, wouldn't it be great to be written in history books someday? But our names need not be known, but our faithful deeds should continue the Rebelution we have marked in history.