A SUMMER OF LESSONS
Enoch Chang — Texas, Houston, USA
THE DECISION TO GO HOME
In May 2005, I will
complete my undergraduate education, and like many other people in the same
situation I feel confused and pressured to try and understand what comes next
in my life. However it's because of this circumstance that my past summer was
so wonderful. Although God did not exactly reveal to me what I should do, He
gave me something better: peace.
Before the summer of
2004 started, I anxiously tried to find a summer internship. Because I wasted
the previous summers, I felt guilty having my parents work so hard to pay for
my education while I slept until one or two in the afternoon, using the excuse
that I deserved the time off after such a “grueling” semester.
But God obviously
had a different plan for me. For some reason, even though I was well qualified
for many of the positions I applied for, I didn't even get a response or an
interview. Yet people I knew who applied for the same position with lesser
credentials were getting the interviews and the jobs. This went on until early
June, after school had let out for almost a month.
By then I was
desperate and pressed to make a decision to either go back to my home state or
wait around in New Jersey (NJ) to see if I could find some kind of work. I
prayed about it and in the end, I decided to go home and see my family and to spend
time with my brother before he went off to join the army. At least I tried to
find a job, unlike before, so I didn't feel as guilty sleeping in.
I bought my ticket to go home, I got an email from a prestigious research group on campus indicating that I had been accepted into
their summer research program. But it was too late by then, I was going home
and so I declined the offer. Thank God they emailed me after I already bought
my ticket otherwise I would have taken the position immediately, which would
prevent the later events of the summer from occurring.
Bonding with My Brothers
Once I was back home,
my plans for the summer, in chronological order, was to: spend time with
family, clean and remodel the house, study for the GRE, go to the National
Youth Theological Seminar (NYTS), return to NJ, serve as a counselor for the
Student Spiritual Convocation (SSC), and get ready for school.
Before my oldest
brother left for the army, my two brothers and I spent a lot of time together.
There was so much to do before my brother had to leave for basic training. Of
all the things that we did, however, the event that really opened my eyes was when
my brothers and I shaved our heads together.
While we shaved each
others hair, we couldn't help but laugh. We took before-and-after pictures of
the whole process and really bonded. But the real kicker was when we looked in
the mirror together and made faces. For the first time ever, we laughed so hard
together that we cried. And although these were tears that came from laughter,
on the inside I was now crying out of sorrow.
I felt sad because
it was through the irony that I realized how much I would miss my brother and
he would be. It's like what is recorded in James 4:9: “Lament and mourn and
weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” This was
the beginning of what God planned for me to learn—that the most important thing
is to have God with me wherever I go.
After my brother
left I worked on the house for the rest of the summer until NYTS began.
NATIONAL YOUTH THEOLOGICAL SEMINAR
The 2004 NYTS would
be the year I graduate from the seminar. Thank God that in those two weeks of
training I learned a lot, and I really felt the power of God. So many times,
while I listened to the classes, it was as if God spoke directly to me. As soon
as I had a question in my mind about my own life, the speaker would immediately
answer it. Immediately.
When we studied the
book of Judges, I could see the cycle of sin in my own life, just as the
Israelites cycled through moral decline and deliverance. Yet even though they
sinned, God was merciful and loving—always waiting for the Israelites to return
The Power of Fasting
Fasting for three
days is not something you do for fun. It requires more than just physical
dexterity. You need to have a reason and a motivation; otherwise, you torture
yourself for no reason. Before my three-day fast, I fasted for a day and a half
to ask God for the strength to fast for three days.
My main reason for
fasting was because I didn’t know what to do about my future. The other reason
was because of the prophecy in the book of Revelation that one third of the
believers will fall in the end time. I have two other brothers, and I do not
want one of us falling.
On the first day of
my fast everything went very well. I didn't feel hungry or thirsty at all. Even
when I saw my group members eating refreshments I didn't feel bothered or
tempted. But the second day was completely different. I started to feel very
weak and tired and my throat was dry. Add onto that the fact that I had to
translate and things became very painful.
Towards dinner time
I felt like I was burning up on the inside, and I was dehydrated. Because I was
so hot I even went to take a cold shower during dinner time to cool off. Thank
God, there were a few brothers who knew what I was going through and they
prayed for me and encouraged me. I am really thankful for their love.
That night I slept
very well and on the third day of my fast I felt refreshed. But more
importantly, I felt peace and I learned to completely lose my own will. I felt
like I didn't need to continue any more because God had already answered my
prayer by giving me peace. Even though He didn't say go to graduate school or
go get a job, I felt peace and I felt God with me. But I continued my fast to
show my faithfulness to God—that just because I received from God doesn't mean
I will depart and go my way like nine of the ten leprous men Jesus healed.
That night I talked
to a brother who was also fasting three days. Coincidentally, he was fasting at
the same time that I was, and I mentioned to him that the next morning, when
our fast officially ended, we would have breakfast
with Jesus. The next morning when the first bell rang during the morning fast,
indicating it was time to eat breakfast for those who needed to,
I got up and went to the dining area. I waited outside of it for the other
brother and, when our eyes met, we laughed and smiled.
During those three
days I completely lost all my physical desires because spiritually I was so
satisfied. It was like a fountain inside of me was gushing mightily with water
and overflowing. But at the same time, I was able to recognize how weak and
powerless I am as a human, and I really understood the meaning to the verse,
"the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." There was no way I
could accomplish what I wanted to accomplish if God was not with me. However,
for those three days, every time I knelt down to pray I was immediately in a
higher level of prayer. It was amazing.
It was through the
fast that I understood what the preacher meant when he said there are two
levels of prayer: to seek after God's power and blessings, and to seek after
God Himself. Thinking back to it now, I understand why, with His last ounce of
breath, Jesus had to fulfill all righteousness and said, “I thirst.” Even when
He was so physically, spiritually, and emotionally pained, He had to fulfill
the work of God.
I also understand
why Jeremiah was the weeping prophet. He faithfully served God even though he
was mocked and even though no one listened to him. Yet he maintained his
faithfulness to God. And I understand fully that to serve God, we must suffer
loss but we cannot stop, just as Ezekiel continued on with the work of God
after God had taken his wife the day before (Ezek 24:16-18).
One of the great
things about NYTS is the fact that there are over 150 students praying,
singing, and learning with you. They come from all over the world and can share
with you lots of different experiences and it's easy to be edified by their
testimonies. But one of the greatest things is the fact that people pray for
each other. There's no question in my mind that the summers I spent attending
the various seminars the church holds have been the most meaningful.
One summer, I
decided to take summer classes instead of allocating the time to attend NYTS,
and I can say at the end of the summer I regretted it. I justified my action by
thinking that if I had a lighter load during the school year I could focus more
on daily spiritual cultivation, which is perhaps even more important than a two
But that year turned
out to be especially poor for me spiritually because, on the one hand, I felt I
had missed out when everyone else came back from NYTS and had all these
experiences to share, and I didn't feel like I was one of them. And two because
I had to learn the teachings that I could have learned in those two weeks the
hard way. It's hard to tell your family you can't get a good internship because
you want to go attend a church event, and it's hard to watch all your friends
get great internships while you don't. But it's worth it, and if God has extra grace
on you like He has had on many before, you can have both.
I can say without a
doubt that my experiences and reflections this NYTS are more than they have
been in the past because I really felt God. I felt Him forgive me of my sins, I
felt His power, I felt the suffering, and I felt His great love. And I am
ashamed. But God still had more for me to learn.
STUDENT SPIRITUAL CONVOCATION
After NYTS ended my
brother and I flew to NJ and by the grace of God we both served as counselors
during the Student Spiritual Convocation in August. It was in this SSC that I
saw the big picture—the great plan that God had for me during this past summer.
Coming off NYTS
where there were over 150 people praying and singing together, I was used to
having things loud. I was used to feeling God's power in prayer and I was used
to the boot camp. But at SSC there were only a little over 50 students and from
the first prayer everything was very quiet.
Their voices were so
soft and in my prayer I couldn't feel God like I did at NYTS. I started to
repent and I thought maybe as counselors we didn't pray enough in preparation.
I was afraid the students wouldn't get much out of the SSC and it was our
fault. Because I was so disturbed by this I wrote in my booklet during class
instead of paying attention:
God, what is wrong? I don't understand, why are we so weak? God help us, we need you.
sense a few days later. During the testimony session, I was touched by a
sister's witness and then God opened my eyes. I was so moved that for the first
time in my life I wrote an entry in my non-existent diary.
Alas, I am a fool. Forgive me God.
You were here all along but I could not see you. I could not see your works
because I could not hear your still quiet voice. It was not until you spoke
through an 11 year old child that I realized your presence. I'm so used to
seeing your power with my eyes and hearing it with my ears, but I never
considered that you were not in them. But now I've heard it with my heart, your
whispering voice. I've met God and surely I did not know it. Faith that can
move mountains. Faith so simple and pure, yet so profound. Forgive me Lord, I
am a sinner. Cleanse me and purge me of my iniquities. Your holiness is too
God had been working
the whole time! I just couldn't see His works because I didn't listen for the
still quiet voice. I looked for God's power, but not for God Himself. It was
after this realization that I saw how God had touched so many students during
that SSC. Some said it was their best ever because they really touched God and
could talk to Him.
I learned that the
quietness that was characteristic of this SSC was actually God's peace. Students
even commented how peaceful this SSC was in comparison to the ones in the past.
You never saw the students running around chasing each other. They prayed, they
read the bible, they ate, and they slept.
I finally realized
what God planned for me to learn this summer. It was a long process but it was
definitely worth it. I learned that no matter where I go, the most important
thing is to have God Himself with me and to listen for His still quiet voice.
That's all that matters. Because the more I think about it, the more I realize
that the process I went through is the same process Elijah went through.
From his victory on
Mount Carmel against the prophets of Baal, to his fleeing to the wilderness, to
thinking he was alone, to seeing God's power on the mountain of Horeb, to
finally meeting God when he heard the still quiet voice, to realizing he wasn't
and to continuing with the work God wanted him to do. This is exactly what
happened to me.
I saw God's power at
NYTS and His victory over Satan. I used to think I was alone. But at NYTS I saw
God has reserved for Himself many workers more faithful and zealous than myself. With my own eyes I saw God greatly revive the faith
of many of His children. At SSC God took me one step further; to not seek just
for His power and blessings but to seek for God Himself, to listen to His still
quiet voice and take Him with me wherever I go.
As my undergraduate
education winds down, I can really see that all the decisions I've made really
reflect where I want my life to head.
There's actually one
last thing I learned in NYTS about the two Enoch's mentioned in the book of
Genesis. The one from the line of Cain had a city named after him, and he
represented fame and fortune. The other was from the line of Seth; he walked
with God. So I face a choice, what do I do after graduation? Now that I am at the
crossroads of my life I have peace knowing that I choose to walk with God.
In quietness and confidence shall
be [my] strength. (Isa 30:15)