In light of the recent shooting in Thousand Oaks and Woolsey fire that engulfed almost 100,000 acres (as of this writing), I am particularly grateful to God for the safety of my daughter, Tiffany. Many of you know her as a friend and NCA student who graduated in May of this year and then moved on to Pepperdine University. On Thursday of November 8th, Tiffany sent the following text to me and my wife, Mrs. Song, at 3:37 AM:
You guys are probably asleep now, but I would just like to let you know that I did not go to that bar. I just have friends and housemates who went. Also, my suitemate “Becca” was there, so she is traumatized right now. My RA is still at the hospital, and the missing girl from my dorm is still yet to be found. I’m doing okay, so don’t worry too much. Just please pray for the kids here.
Now, though it was sent at 3:37 AM in the morning, I didn’t read the text until 6:34 AM. When I first got the message, I had no idea what she was referring to. But, when I turned the TV on, the news of the shooting was everywhere.
You know, Tiffany later told me that she was considering going to that line-dancing event. She changed her mind because she had a test on Thursday. As it turned out, the missing girl from her dorm, Alaina Housely, was one of the 12 killed that night. The entire Pepperdine University mourned the loss of a young person. And, to me, the ordeal wasn’t just some news--my daughter could have been there that night. My daughter could have been injured or killed. My daughter could have been in Alaina’s shoes.
Then, on Friday morning, we learned that the Woolsey fire was shifting toward the campus of Pepperdine University. Luckily, we were able to have one of the upper classmen bring Tiffany to our home that morning, but most students were stuck on campus due to road closures. I later saw the pictures of 177+ mansion-sized homes burned to the ground, as well as how close the flames were to Pepperdine University. The fire had burned several cars and storage containers on the north-end of the campus. While I don’t think the students were ever in danger, I was once again reminded about the frailty of life and futility of worldly possessions.
Without sounding selfish, I am grateful that my daughter is home with me. I am grateful that she is alive. While many properties and structures were lost, and the death toll from the Woolsey fire is at 3, I am grateful for the firemen, sheriffs, police officers, and other authorities who worked tirelessly to save lives.
With this backdrop, this year’s Thanksgiving is particularly meaningful to me. With my son Timothy studying abroad and my daughter in college, I realize once again that there are many factors beyond my control. Only thing, and the best thing, I can do is to place them in the hands of Almighty God.
We are all mere human beings who can do nothing to change the ultimate destiny. Perhaps that is why King Solomon in Ecclesiastes reminds us to place no faith or trust in worldly possessions, work, or knowledge. Indeed, he urges us to look up to heaven, acknowledge God as the Creator and Lord of the universe, place Him squarely in the center of our lives, and enjoy each day that He grants us.
Dear students of NCA. You matter. You are a valuable individual who bears the image of God. You are the apple of your parents eyes, and God loves you. But remember. Hold loosely on to life as you know it. Instead, hold firmly onto the hand of the Mighty God. Have a right perspective as to why you were created, how you ought to live, what your life’s purpose is, and where you are headed.
And this Thanksgiving season, I hope you'll take the time to not only appreciate God, but completely place your trust in him. The journey becomes all the more enjoyable and memorable as you travel with the gracious Father.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
I've learned a whole lot about obedience from my parents. My mom was a strong Korean woman--a tiger mom--who was an authority figure in my life. My father was a man of few words, and his actions spoke louder than words. So, what few words he said were weighty and powerful.
I also learned about obedience through the Scripture. The Bible is filled with precepts, laws, commands, examples, and instructions that teach about obeying God. But, obeying God requires faith, or what J.P. Moreland calls "confidence," in God. Some say that faith is a gift from God, and I believe that. But, faith can be learned as well.
Allow me to explain the concept of faith, confidence, or trust through the following example. When I drive, I am so thankful that there are lines separating cars moving in opposite directions. And, I trust those lines because they don't move or change. So, as long as I stay within the lines, and as long as other drivers also do the same, I have "confidence" that I can get from Point A to Point B without getting into an accident. So, you see, the type of confidence and trust in something or someone can be attained through consistent application of rules or laws.
It's the same with God. First, He gives us guidelines to follow. Second, His guidelines don't change--indeed, He Himself does not change. Third, we need to trust God or be willing to follow His guidelines. Fourth, over time, we can be confident that God's guidelines are there to protect us, bless us, and give us abudant life. Thus, even when life doesn't make sense, we can reflect on God's faithfulness, His promises, His fatherly heart, and continue to trust Him. We can place our faith in the immovable and unchanging God.
Life is unpredictable. It is a road replete with twisting forks. You and I cannot predict what will happen in the future. But, it can be managed by following God's rules, laws, and guidelines. In other words, we must be willing to obey, hear, and trust His guidance, leadership, and nudging.
We need both faith (confidence in God) and obedience to make it through life. Risks and dangers will always be present in the journey. And, since the Maker has designed life to be full or risks that will further increase our faith and obedience in Him, well, we better embrace not only life's "ups" but "downs" as well.