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Like A Tree Planted by the Waters

Like a Tree Planted by the Waters

When I think about my relationship with God, I think about it as going through three different stages of a growing spiritual experience. The first being the process of getting to know who God is, the second is about learning how to trust Him, and the last is a response to His relationship with me—how to love and serve Him deeper each day.

Like many other Christians out there, I was born into a God-centered family who has been in the Lord for as long as I can remember. But in most of my childhood and adolescent memories, I hardly remember the need to pursue God because there was always someone else to be the backbone of my faith. My parents brought me to church, they prayed, and they trusted in God, while other people told testimonies and other people saw miracles.

My faith was quite superficial, and it wasn’t until the last year of high school did I “test out” my faith. I wanted to see if God is who He really says He is.

Getting to Know Who God Is

While I was applying for colleges and universities, I made a determination to pray to God about my applications, and I wanted to see if He would let me get into all the ones I applied for. I prayed to Him about this matter everyday after school for a whole year.

I realize now that my basis for prayer was an attempt to get something from God, but it was at least a place for me to start to know who God is. I didn’t necessarily trust in Him—it was more like I wanted something from Him so I had to trust Him by default. When God actually answered my prayer and helped me get into all the schools I applied to, this was the first big moment of faith for me.

Although I received good grades in high school, I know that I don’t test well. I didn’t do as well on my SAT’s as I’d like, and I realized that getting accepted into all these schools was really God’s working and His grace to me.

Being able to recognize that it was God working in my life was the catalyst that softened my heart from its hardened state. I also realized that this was definitely my first real experience of being touched by God, and the first time I went through a small milestone in life completely in His guidance.

We ought to all have big moments of faith like this one.

College Woes

Starting off on the wrong foot in college can cause one to become totally out of touch with God. And freshman year was definitely a year of transitions; some of which were good and some of which were not so good.

One bad transition would have to be going from praying everyday during senior year of high school to not praying at all when I got into college. Part of the reason was because I started living with a roommate.

When you share a room with someone, you don’t really want to intrude in their privacy and you also want to be as courteous as possible. I thought that prayer would cause some disharmony between us. So in that sense, having a roommate actually drove me farther away from God. That year, I also didn’t have a car so I didn’t go to church at all. Sad to say, my faith dwindled.

Thankfully, my parents would call me every week and ask how I was, and I would relay to them about my situation. Realizing that I wasn’t attending church or worshipping God on my own, they started to care for my faith.

Learning How to Trust Him

On the way to church

The summer after first year, I decided that I would attend the National Youth Theological Seminar (NYTS). I remember one thing that the pastor said during NYTS that really jolted me. He said: “If you have God you have everything. If you don’t have God, you have nothing.” It was such a simple phrase but it was enough to cut my heart.

I made a determination to attend Sabbath services in my second year of college. Thank God, my parents also supported my spirituality by giving me a car to use at school. So every Saturday, I would drive two hours to attend services at IrvineChurch.

The car itself wasn’t in the best condition, and every time I left for church I would say a prayer and ask God to let me arrive safely for Sabbath. There were a few times when it rained really hard and I was on the 405 Freeway, and once the right arm of the windshield wiper broke and flew away while I was on the road. If it weren’t for God’s guidance, I would not have arrived safely at church.

These trips to church became special over time because I would think of God while I was driving and thank Him for getting me safely to His house. Though the weekly drive can be considered small acts of love from God, His love accumulated over time to eventually overflow in my heart.

On the way to work

I worked at a bagel shop the summer after second year, and we needed to take inventory of our daily profit from the cash register. One day, the manager came up to me and told me that ten dollars were missing from my shift. She was eyeing me suspiciously so I said, “I don’t know where the ten bucks went, but if you think I took it you can just deduct it from my paycheck.” She responded, “Oh, I didn’t mean it like that.”

The incident made me feel pretty awful, so when I got home I knelt down and shared my problem with God. I prayed, “God, only You can help clear my name.” The next day, the manager actually voluntarily helped me out with the various chores I had to do. I realized later that she had found the missing ten dollars, and she even commented that I was a nice employee to a customer.

At that point, I understood that no matter whether I am facing great or small trials, God is always watching over me, and I was starting to get the idea that believing in God doesn’t mean that everything is always smooth in our lives. But through difficulties and problems, we learn to hunger and thirst for God’s words and His help, and we are also able to appreciate His love more.

On the way to an exam

During junior year, I was really swamped with classes. Difficult projects and midterms were coming up, and I had concentrated heavily on other classes except for one architecture class. I had been neglecting the course work until exam time.

The night before the midterm for this class, I started cramming as much information as I could into my brain. I normally work very well under pressure, but the thought of finishing a giant textbook in one night was too much for me. So I knelt down again and prayed to God, “Lord, You know that I’ve been working diligently on the other classes. Please have mercy and help me with this elective course.”

After prayer, I decided to just study for the test based on the lecture notes and the professor’s notes, which would save me a lot of time. The next day, I was stunned to discover that all the questions came from the notes I studied from the night before. God had showed me yet another miracle.

Over time, God has shown His love to me in so many different ways. I had not counted my blessings often enough in the past, but when I do ponder about them, I realize that His immense grace and mercy have always been with me.

In my childhood, I learned about God only through sermons and what other people told me about Him. But going through the college experience allowed me to see Him more clearly, and more importantly, being able to touch Him elevated my faith in Him even more.

Committing Myself to His Love and Serving Him

I’m always very thankful that God sent me to the University of California San Diego (UCSD) for school. This university boasts to have one of the most beautiful campuses and comfortable living environment in all of this country, with the PacificCoast outlining the college landscape and perfect temperature at 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. There were many Sundays where I took my studying to the beach.

Because the location is so wonderful, I did not want to leave this area and I was very determined to find a job in San Diego after graduation. I had four job interviews but none of them fell through. Again I prayed to God, “Lord, You have always answered my prayers, please grant me a job in this area.”

While job hunting, I happened to read a passage while I was doing my devotion one day.

            “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8-9)

This passage helped me change my perspective a little. It dawned on me that I should be open-minded and apply for jobs at different locations including my hometown. I decided to modify my prayer request: “Lord, please take me where You want me to serve You.”

I went back to my hometown in Cupertino after graduation, and that summer I applied for a job in the city. A positive response came back shortly with an invitation to hire me. The only problem was that the Human Resource lost my letters of recommendation, and this made me very nervous.

At that time the annual NYTS was also being held at a nearby church and, although I wasn’t a participant, I fasted and prayed at my home during the same time brothers and sisters at NYTS were praying.

Five minutes after I got up from prayer a phone call came in. “Ingrid, we found your letters.” They invited me for an interview and thank God that everything went well, and I have been teaching at this school district ever since.

The Bible encourages us to delight ourselves in the Lord because He will give us what our hearts desire. I would have to agree that this much is true.

            Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
And whose hope is in the LORD.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit. (Jer 17:7-8)

I do believe that we are like this tree planted by the water. If we lodge our roots deep into the stream, we will be unafraid of whatever difficulties lie ahead of us. Our leaves will always be green and we will always be able to bear fruit for our Master.

Although God may not bless us with all our wishes, He does grant us with blessings that He knows we need. And each experience of His love and provision is like lodging our roots deeper and steadier into the earth. With these experiences accumulated over time, we will grow stronger and more confident in our faith, and we will bear fruits that will give glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Publisher: True Jesus Church