BY ERIC TSANG
“ You’re not a bad kid, Eric,” my pastor began, “but we don’t see that insignia of passion in you. We don’t think you’re a reborn Christian.” Wham! His words struck like the blow of a hammer against my chest: I felt a lurch in my stomach as my throat ran dry of air and speech; my brain dumbfounded, my heart sank two stories. I could not believe what I was hearing. “Me, not a passionate reborn-Christian?!” was all that was running through my head. I read the Bible daily, prayed almost nightly, and took my spirituality seriously by looking for God throughout everyday life; how could I not be “passionate”?
Yet, looking back, how could I have been a reborn Christian? Surely, a reborn Christian would be humble, not arrogant enough to justify himself. After understanding this, I made it my objective this freshman year to reflect on the past, to find out where I erred, and to develop my missing passion for God.
I began searching for God two years ago, when I first became Christian. Almost every night, I repeated the same prayer: “Lord, I do not even know if my prayer is sincere, but please give me faith and let me trust in You.” Though I had gone to a private Christian school, I never truly believed. I found prayer to be new territory—a legendary depth of undiscovered ocean:deep, dark, mysterious, and withholding a treasure spoken of as the “highest good.” It drew my soul spiraling into its core. As I became more serious in my search, I set my heart on delving into books that seemed like they might be able to demystify the nature of God. For example, I trudged my way through The Idiot, hoping to emulate Prince Myshkin’s gentleness, genuine nature, and patience, all virtues of the ideal Christian. And ever since I read through The Pilgrim’s Progress, I have tried to think of every mountain of hardships as a stepping stone, each leading up to the kingdom of Heaven. And of course, for counsel, I turned to the Bible. Yet, even all this was apparently not enough to bring about that change, that which would make me a reborn Christian.
“What is it, then, that I have neglected?” I asked myself over and over. “What passion am I lacking?” I longed to understand God, which I felt was already quite a testament to my passion for God. My trains of thoughts ran off tracks, into dead ends, and sometimes collided in commotion. My head became a churning cauldron of questions unanswered, emotions unmitigated, and paths uncertain.
Yet, God seemed to answer all my questions with one fundamental question I had never stopped to consider: “Am I truly willing to give my life, my entire life, to God?” Perhaps I have been stuck all this time, busily entertaining the question, “Who is God?” when He had, since the beginning, stretched out His hands before me—and all I’ve had to do, was to stretch out mine, grab on, and ask, “Lord, what can I do for You?” Furthermore, my goal now must be to love Him in return for His mercies, to show my passion for His perfection by devoting every second of my life to thinking of Him, and to devote every single action to His name. Perhaps, it is in this way that I must transform my passion of desire into a passion of thanksgiving and praise.
I know I will attain my goal if I truly wish to because He promised us, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7, KJV). With this in mind, I pray that the journey may pick up pace, and that God will notice a wandering lamb, heading sometimes this way, sometimes that way, but always longing to return to his Shepherd, and feed on green pastures.