There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2 ESV
How a Little Girl from San Francisco Chinatown Was Set Free
I am thankful I was born in a country where the doors of opportunity are not opened only to those who are rich, powerful, or famous.
For I was born of humble means. I was first generation American-Chinese and I grew up in a single parent family back in the 70’s when co-parenting was not in vogue. My father left when I was seven. I grew up fatherless and I grew up fast.
So how does a little girl born among the steep hills of San Francisco Chinatown, who grew up speaking Chinese first from her momma who didn’t speak English (I actually learned to speak English from Bert and Ernie by watching Sesame Street, before meeting my Kindergarten teacher Ms. Carol) – how does someone like me end up writing here at (in)courage and publishing a book like Whispers of Rest that sits on the shelves of bookstores like Barnes & Noble?
It isn’t by might nor by power – for I had neither. But, here in this country, there is freedom of religion; because of this, when I was just eight years old, I opened a book that would change my life.
This was a book I read first as a story, because I loved stories. I read books the way you’d take to a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven with a tall glass of cold milk. I gobbled them.
But, this story was very odd. This story did not end up the way I expected, with its pages only filled with beautiful and happy things.
This story was shocking. The person who loved everyone was rejected, thrown to the side, discarded, by those who were popular and rising up with mainstream acceptance.
He was an oddball. He didn’t fit in. He was condemned as a criminal. And everyone left him.
This story was told to me that unlike all other heroes I read about, he died alone, wronged, hanging on a cross.
But, what was strange about this story is that it didn’t end there. The story continued because this man was Jesus. And this man wasn’t just a man. He was the Son of God, and He rose again and stood alive – with His hands outstretched to call me His.
What drew me to this Jesus wasn’t his perfection (I didn’t understand such things as a little girl). What drew me to Him were two things:
Jesus loves me.
Those two words are close cousins for me. For I have known suffering and rejection, but I didn’t know about love, even though I hungered for it.
So, as I continued to read through the pages of this book – and now you know this book was The Bible – my heart was set free because I recognized the One who tasted rejection and suffering understood and loved me. Jesus called me His.
And so today, as we anticipate Independence Day – with so much suffering in our country and around the world – as we hear stories upon stories of heartbreak, rejection, death, and war – it would seem there are too many problems around to celebrate freedom.
But, the beauty and freedom of God’s love is this, friends: We have Someone who honors our suffering and sets us free – not because life is perfect, but because we are perfectly loved.
We have Someone who will never leave us, reject us, or abandon us.
This Someone is Jesus. We can rest because freedom comes from within.
My presence will go with you and I will give you rest. (Exodus 33:14)
Freedom comes and stays alive because the oxygen to the flame of freedom is LOVE.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38–39)
Jesus sets us free.
We don’t need to be perfect to receive His love. We don’t need to hide our fears or our dreams.
Jesus stands among the rubble of noise and brokenness around us – like our flag that stood among cries of the wounded and embattled.
And He whispers, You are my Beloved. My love sets you free.
So how does a little girl from SF Chinatown find herself set free in her heart and her soul?
Jesus. This is true freedom. We have Jesus.
How is God’s love inviting you to experience freedom?Leave a Comment
Thank you friend! Your story encourages me!
I loved the way you share your struggles in live to your new walk with Christ.. I felt and could relate to your story and needed this reminder that love in Jesus is our freedom..
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Romans 8:1 and the story of Jesus you so beautifully unwrapped sets me free. Because Jesus came, lived, was rejected, betrayed, hated, suffered, and died a horrendous criminal’s death upon a cross. Because death couldn’t hold Him and He rose from the grave, leaving all my sins He took upon Himself in hell where they belong. Because of this, I don’t have to be perfect or earn my salvation; guilt can’t touch me; others can’t define me. Because of this there is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus. This sets me free from the guilt of sin and the pain of death. Because of Jesus I am free to dance and live life in abundance….despite the world and its pain. Awesome post Bonnie and so appropriate for this week! So glad that little girl found the greatest Book….
Susan Ashcraft says
So beautifully said, Bonnie. Thank you for sharing His love in your post.
God bless you,
This is just awesome! I’m so glad you read His Book and found Jesus.
Ellen kelly says
Your book is fabulous
Wow Bonnie, I cannot imagine how scary this all was to you as a young girl , but you persevered !
Such a great way to tie this all into Independence Day !
This is so well written and absorbed , thanks for the inspiration and reminders .
Hope y’all have a blessed and safe day .
Rebecca L Jones says
I am learning from the Lord how the past shaped my experiences, how I allowed the enemy to creep in. Freedom is precious and freedom in Jesus, even more so. I have been busy blogging but I am going back to listen to some of your podcasts. You are right He knew more suffering and rejection that anyone, I wrote a post called You Have To Bleed, and you do figuratively, to understand Him. I am so happy you have overcome and for His favor on you.
Beth Williams says
Great testimony on the love of Jesus. I have been a “church” girl most of my life. I was there in the choir, doing youth activities, etc. Not really being a “free Christian”. Shortly after I married in September 2004 I “heard” the gospel for the first time. It was on a Wednesday night I declared my independence from this world & got baptized. I have had ups and downs along the way. Lately I’ve been on fire for God. I want to do as much local mission work as I can & share His love with others. With His death & resurrection I am free to dance, sing & shout to the Lord loudly!
Vivian Green says
Hello my kindred spirit! So very comforting that we shared the same fatherless experience. I longed for a father i didn’t know who left a wife and five small children in a third world country with no means of survival. He was a US Army soldier who got an order to Monterrey Army Post in CA and promised to send for us. But never to be heard from nor seen again. But God… an child Evangelism missionary (Ms Margaret) came to our small town one day. She played her accordion singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Then she told the story from the Bible of the lost sheep in the night and how the loving shepherd left the rest of the flock to search for that one that was lost! In my child’s mind I was that little lamb in the arms of Jesus. That day as a child, I found a very loving father and Savior! O what joy floods my heart and soul! And the rest of my growing up years was history with Jesus Christ as my Daddy!
Nancy Ruegg says
These words of yours, Bonnie, especially spoke to me: “We have Someone who honors our suffering.” I had never thought of the “honors” of suffering, but there are at least a few: He honors us with his presence and strength to get through it; he teaches and guides us as we persevere. You have been honored through your suffering, and now your readers benefit from the wisdom you gained. With you I praise God for his love that has set us free–even in the suffering.