Attention…

…sometimes it’s desired, and other times not so much, right?

What comes first to your mind when you hear anyone say, “I’ve got my eye(s) on you…” or “I’ll be watching you”?  Some of you will think of Robert De Niro (Meet the Parents), or even the song from The Police (Every Breath You Take) (also known as the “stalker song” in some circles).

Or if you’re not connecting with those references (which I admit are decidedly OLD)- most of us who have endured middle school/Jr. high and high school can remember being on either end in terms of being the one paying attention to that “special someone”; or being on the receiving end of that special attention.

For those who are familiar with being on the receiving end (and by no means do I claim to be among this group!)- it likely ranges from being flattering….to being flat-out creepy/disgusting, right? Simply said, it all depends on whom the attention is coming from.

One repeated theme throughout the Old Testament OT scriptures is “eye(s) of the LORD”. Whether it’s in regards to people doing good or evil in God’s sight, or in regards to God’s intent to show Himself strong on behalf of those hope in Him, the assumption undergirding these statements is that He is omniscient and sees all. But it goes further than a physical kind of seeing- He sees not only our behavior but the intentions behind them.

To anyone earnestly contemplating this idea- it can be unsettling, to say the least*. In fact this idea taken by itself out of context may perpetuate the caricature of the angry deity holding lightning bolts just waiting to find someone to strike. But for those who do acknowledge God, especially those who hold a faith in Jesus Christ similar to myself- do you find yourself still unsettled by this idea? If we still find ourselves instinctively leaning towards hiding ourselves, I think it shows that we don’t yet understand the freedom of the abundant life we’ve been given in Jesus.

Something I’ve been slowly and clumsily learning to live out is to delight in the fact that His eyes are never off of me. Should thinking like this make me squirm with regards to my sinful tendencies? Oh yes- and it should. But we should see that this is decidedly GOOD. It’s about remembering that to live in His light is eternally better than dwelling in the darkness of our sins. It’s remembering that the vices that we justify because we feel like they are “automatic”- are actually just pulling us away from what is truly life as God intended. This as opposed to trying to remember in some masochistic sense thinking that I can robotically pull myself up by my own bootstraps and make myself behave because God (as if He is just like Big Brother) is watching. (This is decidedly NOT how biblical Christianity is meant to be lived out)

What has this meant for me on a practical level in daily life? Well, it means that when I do wrong- I openly confess, own it and humble myself before others regardless of what it costs in terms of any “reputation” or “image” I think I may have built for myself- because these things ultimately mean nothing in light of who I really am before God. If I truly live in fear God- desiring to honor Him to the uttermost- then I don’t need to fear anyone else. Sure, it sounds so simple (and it actually is conceptually), but it’s been one of the hardest things for me to faithfully live out- because by nature I tend towards being a people-pleaser. It’s one thing to want to promote harmony among people for the good of everyone, but it’s idolatry to want to please people for the sake of boosting my own sense of self-worth/image. Like I mentioned earlier I haven’t “gotten the hang” of this by any means. But it’s the direction I’m setting my face towards walking by His grace.

I’ll just conclude with the beginning- whose attention matters to you?

 

 

 

 

*(An aside: The staunch atheist may claim that it’s just silliness to even consider in the first place- but I would argue that if one were to have their thought-life spanning their life played on a movie screen for the whole world to see, it would at least give them pause)

 

Mourning with those who mourn…

Just found out this afternoon that an old friend lost her spouse. I literally remember seeing a facebook post of the two of them having a wonderful time just the other day, and then, this.

I’m by no means close with this old friend as we’ve not really spoken over decades, but I did run into her back home in Fremont a couple of years ago over Christmas, and it was good to catch up just a bit while watching our kid(s) (we only had Ezra at the time) at the park.

As I was praying for her and her two boys while just doing my work in the biosafety cabinet- praying just for God’s presence to envelop them, to be palpably present- I began to weep. It probably seems strange to weep on behalf of someone you haven’t really seen or spoken with over decades- but maybe that’s just God’s way of gifting me with a glimpse of how He weeps with the pain of His children, even as He knows His good purposes will be accomplished through every evil and catastrophe brought on ultimately by Adam’s sin. Just like how Jesus wept at Lazarus’ death, our Lord is all too familiar with the pain and suffering of our existence, because He bore all our sorrows- and yet came out the other side victorious.

I’m so thankful that her and her family are believers- they have this sure hope that this life is not all there is- that the best is truly yet to come. To my friend- may our Father graciously lead you and your boys, and draw you ever nearer to Himself, showing Himself faithful and good in every high and low that is to come.

 

 

我 长 大 的 时候。。。

(When I grow up…)

My older son just turned 4 less than a month ago, and he’s quite anxious to grow up.

Every time he sees my wife and I doing something that he can’t do at the moment (paying for groceries, drinking alcohol (LOL), cooking, going to work, etc- aka “adulting” for the millennials), he says in mandarin- “When I grow up, I can do that…”, and I just respond with a “看 看 吧。。。” (Let’s just see…).

My response is obviously vague and non-committal, because in all honesty- I just don’t want him to think about those things yet. I’m not ready for my little boy to grow up that fast. I don’t want him to think about how daddy’s back isn’t always in the best shape, and how grandma and grandpa are getting older, and how managing finances isn’t always the easiest thing to do with a growing family. (I did promise him in jest that I would teach him how to drink good alcohol, haha)

And yet- I know that I can’t shield him from what’s coming. And so I must teach him indeed that one day Daddy won’t be able to do all the things that he does now, how grandma and grandpa won’t be with us forever, and that he and his little brother need to be best friends and look out for each other through thick and thin, and how in and through all of these things (and all that comes his way)- the most important thing in this life is to trust and love Jesus, and to love people.

So yes, my son, you will grow up- and in time Daddy will need you to be there for him when he can’t remember things so well, or if he can’t walk as straight, or can’t carry things like he used to or carry you as he does now. As much as 爸 爸 wants you to stay young and cute, he must remember to entrust your life to God through each and every day, through every teaching moment, every time you are mistreated by someone at school, every moment of discipline, through each mistake that Daddy may make out of anger or impatience towards you. And because 爸 爸 is far from the perfect example, he’ll do his best to point you to Jesus, and pray every day that you would come to trust, love, and follow Him all your days.

May you grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Trying to sneak a short post in…

…because I’ve already fallen off in trying to do this more consistently.

I’ve recently had two things on my mind (that’s unrelated to work):

  1. My own patterns of sinfulness throughout the years
  2. God’s prodding to meet the needs of the under-served.

As for number one- I was watching a short clip from Paul Tripp (a Christian Pastor/Counselor), and he said something that really stuck with me.

It went something like this (I won’t direct quote because I may get it slightly wrong):

Self-examination is a community project. Don’t believe that you know yourself better than anyone else. If the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), and we are warned about the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13), could it not be possible that we are deceived about ourselves? Could it not be that others may see our sin better than we do? 

*Ouch*.

Oftentimes we (the Christian community) are so much better at hiding our sins from one another instead of confessing them, especially when we sin against one another. Or maybe it’s more like sweeping them under the rug, because those we sin against already know of it, so there’s nothing to really hide.

In any case, just that little clip made me think of my own sinful bent, and how it has always left a trail behind me:

“The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.”  1 Timothy 5:24

How humbling, (and honestly how embarrassing) it is when we think no one sees our sin, but in reality, everyone may already see it.

I’ve had a small recurring thought- more of a reminder to myself than anything: “It’s never too late to live a holy life.” Even though my sins vastly outweigh my good deeds or thoughts, even though my trail of sins may be long and shameful, and I must feel the weight of the accumulation- I am not called remain in that place of despair. I’m called to walk in the light of Christ’s forgiveness and cleansing, of the new nature (Christ himself!) who is living in me, to sow to the Spirit, and not to the flesh. To forget what is behind, and to strive toward the heavenward call that is in Christ Jesus.

“12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” – Philippians 3:12-16

Lest I make things sound triumphalist- I only have Romans 7 to remind me that as long as I’m in this body, my sin nature clings to my flesh to compete with the Spirit’s desires. I’ve only come to recognize this truth more as I’ve grown older. And I’m still learning (and will always be) that God wants me to put sin to death day by day by His Spirit, and to grow in loving what God loves, and doing what He would do.

“Breathe on me, breath of God;

Fill me with life anew;

That I might love, what God dost love;

And do what Thou wouldst do.”  -Edwin Hatch

http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Breathe_on_Me_Breath_of_God/

This leads me to my second thought. For a few months now, I’ve had another recurring thought: “You’ve read enough, and know enough. It’s time to do what you know.”

I remember how Isaiah 58 had burned me so deeply during my first years after college- how it was truly my life-line, in how God chose to meet me in my times of loneliness.

And now, 17 years later, despite being surrounded by my loving wife and 2 cute little sons (who are growing up too fast)- I still feel this loneliness.

This is of no fault of my wife or family by any means. I believe that God has left that particular passage on my heart to keep me from being so easily taken in by comfort and security, which, let’s face it, are kind of priorities when you’re growing a family.

Where this will lead me at this point- I’m not sure. But I cannot stay still and do nothing. I want to go where He himself wants me to be- to serve how He wants me. Not as I prefer.

So much for short post….

And now Larry Taunton…

…an apologist I admired, not just for organizing so many great debates between theists and atheists through his organization “Fixed Point”, but also for his relationship with a well-known staunch atheist as documented through “The Faith of Christopher Hitchens” (worth your time to read)–confessed publicly of “inappropiate (consensual) behavior outside the bonds of [his] marriage”. (For the full piece, see link below)

http://fixed-point.org/articles/statement-larry/?utm_source=Fixed+Point+Foundation&utm_campaign=3e7d6a1c45-Larry+Statement&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7b195d4eb3-3e7d6a1c45-97489665&mc_cid=3e7d6a1c45&mc_eid=500d46c566

It wasn’t so long ago (just last year) that another respected apologist Ravi Zacharias was accused of overinflating his credentials and being in a sexting relationship which ended up in a lawsuit:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/december/ravi-zacharias-sexting-extortion-lawsuit-doctorate-bio-rzim.html?utm_source=ctweekly-html&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=16549071&utm_content=552936096&utm_campaign=email

In this post-modern, increasingly post-Christian America- disappointment is the norm. And yet, when role models, mentors, teachers, pastors, etc. disappoint, part of us can’t stand it- even as we grow numb to the repeated disappointments of seeing people fail. Why is this the case? Despite “seeing through” truth claims as power plays whenever they’re encountered- people never stop looking for the truth. We’re still looking for truth through heroes, through politicians that we side with, for causes to devote ourselves to. But in my opinion, what we’re really looking for is the Truth– we’re  looking for the embodiment of all that is and was and will be truly ever be good. We’re longing for a “better world”, even if we pooh-pooh the fact that we’ve undermined the rational basis of what “better” actually means (because truth claims are supposedly no more than power plays). We’re still looking for Jesus, we’re still yearning for eternity, because it’s been placed in our hearts by the One who created us.

The older I get, and the more I hear/read of Christian leaders falling from grace (so to speak), the more I’m pointed back to the heart of why the Gospel must be at the center of our attention as believers. Because the Gospel tells us that we are sinners, that left to ourselves, we would revel in the mud- but God in His mercy drew us to Him by His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead so that we might have life that is truly life. We may have role models for all sorts of things, our orthodoxy, our orthopraxy- but our brethren will fail us if we place them on the pedestal that only God Himself should occupy.

And just as these renowned brothers have stumbled- I must be honest enough with myself to admit that I have just as much capacity to do the same as they did, and probably even worse. To be in denial of that would just be lying to myself, to my family, to my God. If the Apostle Paul could in all honestly call himself the “chief of sinners”- then who am I to think that I could think of myself as any better?

When purportedly posed with the question “What is wrong with the world?”,  G.K. Chesterton wrote this reply:

“Dear Sir,

I am.

Yours, G.K. Chesterton.”

(credit: https://www.chesterton.org/wrong-with-world/)

And while from a certain perspective that response may seem egotistical (as if he took too much credit for being able to influence the world as such)- I think that perspective is the only way to walk towards finding the Way, the Truth, and the Life- and to know the Only one who gives life abundantly.  Not only that, I also think that taking this posture is the only way by which the problems and issues of our time (and for every culture and generation) can begin to be addressed. Not perfectly, but at least we’d be getting closer to the true nature of humanity. Until large swaths of society are once again confronted honestly with our own depravity, we will never begin to think clearly about what and how a better future may come to be.

 

 

Even at the earliest ages…

…deep inside we know and feel that the world is not as it should be.

Both of my sons like watching TV in general, but I try to limit things, and do my best to give them better “programming” so to speak. Since my older one (getting close to 4 years old) likes animals, I show him the Planet Earth series by BBC.

Most of you have probably seen at least clips from this series, so you know that it was a pretty incredible endeavor/production to undertake. And in every way, BBC hit it out of the park. You really get to see a panoply of nature.

Aside from the beauty of mountains, streams, valleys, and coral reefs, viewers are repeatedly exposed to the norms of the ecological food chain. In other words, you see lots of the predator-prey interactions.

Every time my older one watches it, he asks me in broken Chin-glish “Why do these animals have to eat other animals? I don’t like it.” I tell him plainly that animals need food to eat, and so they have to eat other animals to survive. I try to explain to him that we also eat animals because we need food to survive too.

As ostensibly accurate as my words are, they don’t go deep enough, because they don’t truly get to the heart of why things are the way they are. They’re never enough to keep my son from crying about what he sees. He knows and viscerally feels that something is not right. And he’s right.

As simply as I can, I go on to tell him about how this is because sin is in our world. I tell him that things won’t always be like this, because Jesus is going to come back and make all things new, so we should asking Him to come heal our broken world.

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven…”

As a parent, oftentimes a part of us weeps internally when we see our children weep, especially when they are weeping in response to seeing the nature of our world as it is (be it through the natural world in general or through sinful/wicked interactions with people).

And what a reminder their tears can be for “grown-ups” like us. We’re all too jaded by the world as it is (and by our own sinful selves), and have more often than not learned to live either in willful ignorance or in denial of how broken the world is…of how broken we ourselves are. We don’t cry anymore because we’ve been taught that “it is what it is”, that “it’s just the struggle for survival”, that “it’s just evolution in action”…and we’ve functionally started believing that that was all there was to it, so we just move on.

Oh but we do so at our own peril.

Two passages in Isaiah vividly express the hope that viscerally speaks to fallen man- from the youngest to the oldest. No matter how the eldest may rage against impending death, be it in denial of God or of an afterlife- I’m willing to bet that at least some part of them would resonate and long for what these passages promise. I’ve only bolded the parts that would speak to my eldest son in his current state as a preschooler- but I hope and pray that as he grows older, his yearning for these promises would grow deeper and stronger.

Isaiah 11:1-9

The Righteous Reign of the Branch

11 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
    and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
    and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
    their young shall lie down together;
    and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
    and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
    in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

 

Isaiah 65:17-25:

New Heavens and a New Earth

17 “For behold, I create new heavens
    and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
    or come into mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
    in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
    and her people to be a gladness.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem
    and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
    and the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
    an infant who lives but a few days,
    or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
    and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
    they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
    they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
    and my chosen shall long enjoy[c] the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain
    or bear children for calamity,[d]
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
    and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
    the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
    and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
    in all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.

 

Come Lord Jesus. Come.

 

 

And years later after our family expands by two….

…I’m trying to give a go a this whole blogging deal again. No fanfare. No guarantees of longevity. Just want to force myself to think and not be on auto-pilot as a parent. Topics will sometimes be Bible-related, sometimes sports related…heck, anything goes.

But it’s so hard to even focus….especially in front of a computer.

But let’s give it a go…starting now.

In Ezra 3:2-3, the children of Israel who had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon were starting to rebuild the altar to perform their burnt offerings as part of keeping the Torah (the law God had given to Moses). Keeping the law that God gave them was meant to distinguish them from the pagan nations surrounding them. (In one sense it was a good thing, in that they were meant to demonstrate and reflect the goodness, mercy, and holiness of God. In another sense it could be perceived as very stern and restrictive- because they had some serious standards to adhere to, and the law would ultimately point out to them how they themselves fall short of the glory of God.)

But lest I get sidetracked- let’s stick with this idea of being distinctive compared to the surrounding culture. Here you have a rag-tag bunch of former exiles, trying to restore some semblance of their lives in God’s ways, surrounded by pagan peoples who are pretty opposed to their Temple/City rebuilding project (as you’ll see further along in the book of Ezra).

In verse 3, it says this (in 3 versions):

Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices.” (NIV)

They set up the altar on its foundation, because they were in dread of the neighboring peoples, and they offered burnt offerings upon it to the Lord, morning and evening. ” (NRSV)

They set up the altar on its foundation and offered burnt offerings for the morning and evening on it to the Lord even though they feared the surrounding peoples.” (CSB)

My thoughts:

There is a very honest vulnerability recorded by the author of this first section of the book of Ezra (author is unknown). Up until chapter 3, it’s been a pretty rosy path, as King Cyrus gave the decree that the Israelites should not only be allowed to go home to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, but should also have the financial and material support from the surrounding nations! And yet, the Israelites feared the surrounding nations for their potential opposition.

Why would they fear as they were deciding to build just an altar (not even a temple or a city wall)? Here’s a one-word answer: FIRE. To build an altar meant that sacrifices were going to be burnt as according to Mosaic law. What happens when you light a fire? You make yourself especially visible. You mark yourself out for better or for worse. You may even catch the attention of those pagan neighbors, some of whom may not even have known (or cared for that matter) about your existence until they saw the fire. Undue attention is probably not what these Israelites were looking for as they tried to start life back in Jerusalem. They were faced with a decision: should we try to keep a low profile and not burn any offerings, or should we go ahead and just do it? It may not seem like a big deal, but it actually was a pivotal decision. What was really at stake was deciding who they would fear: would it be God, or would it be the surrounding nations?

Imagine if they chose as a community to just lay low, chill out, and live quietly and somehow try to live their life as God’s people without offering burnt sacrifices. That would have been the end of the book of Ezra right there. They would’ve never rebuilt the temple, nor the city walls… “And they lived happily ever after…(sort of, kind of…maybe…not)?”

But they didn’t. In light of their own fears, they chose to fear and trust God, and that meant obedience to God’s law- and in doing so being distinct and making themselves visible to those around them.

Did their obedience lead to success in the near term? Well, you should read through the rest of chapter 3 and 4 to find out.

Why did I bother writing about this passage? Because I can relate to these Israelites. As cultural trends in America follow that of Europe (secularization), Christianity is increasingly mocked and viewed as a backwards, outdated, and for some even a bigoted system of beliefs that results in racism and misogyny. (I think they’re wrong, of course). As a microbiologist who has been immersed in a general academic culture that subscribes to the absolute truth of Darwin’s theory of evolution, it’s pretty intimidating to be the nail that sticks out waiting to be hammered (being of Asian descent no less). It’s FAR too easy to live like everyone else does, and to keep quiet about faith, because you just assume that no one wants to hear it. But even if that’s true…if that ultimately kept me from actively obeying what I know from God’s word…then I would be betraying my God and Savior.

The church in America by no means is undergoing persecution in terms of physical abuse and torture seen in countries like N. Korea, but there is a soft persecution of the culture at-large wanting to impose its standards of speech/beliefs onto any who would oppose. (Liberal elites have owned the narrative since the 1960’s regarding the value of human life, sexuality, etc.)

Living faithfully as a community of believers that actually lives as a city on a hill for the sake of God’s glory will be increasingly difficult.

Brothers and sisters, in view of these coming troubles, let us fix our eyes on Jesus together, let us love one another dearly, encourage each other, and set our hearts on obeying Christ together, no matter what the cost. Let us fear God rather than men.

 

 

 

 

 

Through loss, I find- or am found.

What is it like to lose one you love? And what is it like to find them?

The pain of losing an unborn child stings no less, even with another one waiting to come into the world. No matter if the popular culture regards “it” as a thing, a piece of tissue, only those who know truly know differently.

And in the span of a few minutes immersed in tears, I caught a glimpse of the depth of the Love of God. Bless the Lord O my soul. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Too much time has gone by…

…and it has taken much too long for me to (once again) realize my need to stop, think, and breathe deep.

We took a brief weekend trip down to Destin, FL with a few dear friends of ours. The main reason we actually made it out to FL was because Lee had bought a parasailing coupon via one of those online deal sites, and we wanted to use it.

The 10-15 minutes that we had to ourselves at ~500 feet above the beautiful turquoise-blue ocean was definitely the quietest place I’ve been in for quite a long time.
And I guess that’s what’s so sad.

But I’m thankful that the opportunity to be near the ocean (and actually in it for once) not only brought back memories of simpler times, but reminded me of the most important things.

It’s hard to believe that I’m going to be 34 this year. It’s so easy to get caught up in worrying about anything and everything, whether it’s being self absorbed or not.

I know I can’t assume that I’ve got another 34 years ahead of me, and I need to start living like I believe that.

“So teach us to number our days, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom….”

“A moment of racial (and self) hatred…”

*This post is of something I experienced months ago (late October) this year.*

I stopped by the gas station to fill up my rental on my way back from Galveston to Houston Hobby airport.

As I walked towards the convenience store/mart to pay for the gas, I saw a tall, lanky-but imposingly tall African American teenage boy violently kick the glass door open (which basically shattered it) from inside the store with a Coke in his hand, almost strutting his way out- trailed by a short, obviously overmatched gray-haired Vietnamese man yelling, “Come back! You have to pay for that! I’m calling the police!”

Before I go any further, let me give a bit more context. The boy was part of a large group of African American youth who were apparently given permission to set up shop and sell Houston Texans sporting apparel on the periphery of the gas station property. Given that this boy was a head taller than the rest of most of his peers (and just about everyone else present at the gas station), none of his peers said anything as he stormed off, or even tried to stop him. They just stood there talking away with each other as if nothing happened.

I found myself dumbfounded and enraged at the same time. Part of me wanted to go tackle that guy and make him pay up. The “practical” side of me didn’t want to get tangled into this incident, because it “wasn’t my business”, right? Predictably, the “practical side” won out. I did just as much as those kids- just stared and watched, AS IF I were helpless to do anything (but of course I wasn’t).

A whole stream of paralyzing thoughts whirled through my mind-

Some of them were directed towards the youths- “Why do you let your own people do this kind of thing? Don’t you know that when you do nothing, that you enforce the prevalent stereotypes regarding African American males- that they are good-for-nothing, criminal-minded jackasses that prey on those physically weaker than them?” (And yes, I do see the irony in sharing my thoughts here, thank you very much)

And as I saw one of the shopkeepers at the register call the police to report it, I could tell from his response that no one was going to come by anytime soon. I reflexively (and cynically) thought, “I bet that if these shopkeepers sounded completely Caucasian/Texan”, there would be a much faster response. That thought came from completely unwarranted assumptions on my part, reflective of my own racist bias against Caucasians in any kind of position of power.

And I thought to myself, “I wonder how things would’ve panned out if the shop owners had a gun on them and threatened to dish out some payback then and there? Would that boy have strutted away like he did with no regard for property damage?”

Part of me really wanted to walk up to that big group of teenagers and call them out for their inaction (Irony…hello again).

Another part of me wanted to encourage the shop owner to get some guns. I really felt badly for the old shop owner. Maybe I felt so badly because the owner and his workers were of Asian descent and had heavy accents as they spoke. Most likely they were first generation immigrants trying to make a decent life in America, doing their part to contribute to the economy- and this is the treatment they get, both from black and white. It was WAY too easy for that kid to just walk out with whatever he wanted. I hated it. I hated him. I hated everything he stood for in my mind (cue stereotypes). I hated the fact that other mid-aged African American adults present did not try and stop him.

What did I do? Nothing……

Nothing. Just got back in my car, and drove off to the airport. As if nothing happened.

I hate myself.

I can make excuses about not doing anything. But the “It’s not my business” line just isn’t true. Justice is for EVERYONE. I can’t say it’s not my responsibility to try and stop that boy because I’m not one of “his people”. I can’t rightfully scold a bunch of kids for their inaction if I find myself choosing the same route of inaction. By not doing anything, I probably reinforced some stereotypes as well- that of the passive Asian male who is too fearful of getting involved in anything that would remotely bring danger or risk his own safety.

This post is titled “a moment of racial and self-hatred”, and again I’m struck by the irony that while this particular incident was “a moment”, but in reality it’s just a window into the ongoing racism and hatred that goes on inside my heart. God save me and the world from people like myself, and make me stand up for what’s right for the sake of Your shalom in our world.