Shela’s Last Post & Spoken Word

For the past two weeks, the Word of God and the words of godly men have pierced me and planted in me wisdom about the kind of woman and daughter of God I should desire to become. Funny, because I’ve never been one to want to sit down and read for long periods of time, but I guess things don’t always stay the same, nawmsaynnn?

Ahnyung friends, and welcome to the tallest BAyUP blog post of posts.

On the 13th of July, I indulged in a short but compelling reading of Jean Vanier’s From Brokenness to Community. Jean exhorted me that my ability to heal others will not come from my riches, but from my poverty. It’s true. The riches that I cling to in this life, I consciously know to be ephemeral. Yet it never occurred to me that my worth, then, must not be in that which is extravagant, but in that which is poor. Do I consider myself poor? Not really. But I want to embrace the poverty in me, my broken humanity that will draw me close to Christ’s heart. I want to understand and conduct myself in a way that someone who knows she is poor would – with humility and grace and patience among both poor and rich men.

Jesus Christ fulfilled the epitome of this humility, and he ended up healing, oh I don’t know… everyone and their moms. So the tactic probably works. What this means for me is this: I will not consider myself superior over any person, in any facet of what it means to be a human being, me who lives only with the breath that God chooses to give me every new day. I won’t consider my talents to be above anyone else’s; I won’t hold my filled stomach over those of the hungry; I won’t consider my physical and mental health superior over the disabled; I won’t hold my college education above those who didn’t have the resources or support to receive one; I won’t, I won’t, I won’t! But realistically, I know will, against my own will. So help me, Jesus. Prune me, Jesus. It is the only way.

I followed by reading Ezekiel’s inaugural vision of the awesome approach of the glory of God in Ezekiel 1. Reading closely into the text, I found myself in this silent place of awe. All Ezekiel could manage to describe was the likeness of living creatures, the appearance of burning coals of fire, the like of gleaming beryl, the likeness of an expanse, like the sound of many waters, like the sound of the Almighty. There are no words in the human language that can depict the glory of God. And I just sat there like… :O. I constantly casual-ize his holiness, and my insensitivity to his glory informs my sluggish life response to his commission over me. Foolish.

That following Friday, I had a lovely date with the Holy Spirit, sitting in the middle of a narrow hiking trail at Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland’s Dimond district. The spot overlooked the tops of trees off to the side, and a slight view of the bay. The only sound was that of chirping birds and breezing winds, and it was vere naahce. In that quiet spot, Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest (July 15) sparked a really intimate time in the secret place for me. “Paul was overwhelmed with the sense of indebtedness to Jesus Christ, and he spent himself to express it.” It’s not about trying to earn my salvation, but rather letting that deep gratitude translate into a form of loving and thankful service to the person that Jesus was in this place, in this time. I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the Gospel of Jesus. Meditating upon this, I found myself focused on the truth: my life in him, and death in myself. By his blood, I am free to bind myself to him. And then I thought back to the awe that Ezekiel had in his vision of God’s glory approaching him. I’ve been given access to the likeness of everything glorious. I have been given freedom to be bound to that glorious God. I am free to bound to You, my Giver of glory, I said out loud. It felt odd-kward, but really freeing.

Amos study with the entire BAyUP team fed me very fully as well. I took away that my worship to the Lord must be coupled with a pursuit of justice. If God truly compels me to respond to him in worship, my life should be that worship service. My soul and presence should exude the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, and my life here – my choices in relationships, lifestyle, career, stewardship of resources, character – should pursue justice and love over God’s people. Justice shouldn’t be an intellectual commercial break in the trajectory of my own life, but let it consume and transform my life. I need Jesus’ heart to replace mine in order to do this. Help me, Jesus.

One lovely day, Erina Melody Kim wrote us a letter, sharing the passages she received while praying for each of us. She gave me Luke 1:26-38, where the virgin Mary hears from Gabriel that she is to birth into the world, the Savior of the world. How krrrray kray must that have been? Her short but powerful response stuck with me for many days and nights: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me as you have said.” As her response lingered with me, I came upon Jeremiah 42:1-7 during a reflection time we had. In this passage, God says that he upholds his servant, that he has chosen him and put his spirit on him, that his servant will bring justice to the nations and will not be discouraged until he does so. God, the One who spoke the heavens and earth into being, has called me into righteousness. He speaks righteousness over me with power, and holds my hand in my pursuit of justice. In response to this, I pray: I, Shela Sinhye Jeong, am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me as you have said, whatever it is you have said. “For nothing is impossible with God.” –Luke 1:37 Ahhh-men, brothers.

On Wednesday, the 20th of July, we attended a vigil for immigration reform, totally organized and put on by the fabulous Erica, Erin, Sara, John, and David. I shared a spoken word that the Holy Spirit totally wrote. You can read it if you want, below!

“Freedom is not a universal phenomenon.
Instead, it is contingent upon the context
by which we establish our identity.
It is contingent upon the standard of life we
have accepted as our own,
the standard of life to which we
have been assigned.

In this place and time,
the standard of life which I must accept as mine
seems to stem from
the color of my skin,
the songs of my mother, working in the kitchen,
from the direction from which the sun
smiled down at 3 o’clock,
casting playful and faithful shadows
that followed me
all the way home to my mother
working and singing in the kitchen,
whose sweet tunes danced their way
into my childhood ears
every day, as I walked home from school.

According to the color of my skin
and songs in my ears,
the forces of politics, politics, economics,
money tricks, and
politics
authored the kind of freedom
that we so desired,
but that my mother, working and singing in the kitchen
could never feed us.

According to the color of my skin
and songs in my ears,
we went hungry
for the kind of freedom that would keep us
from going hungry,
for the kind of freedom that would give us
permission to spend our evenings
dancing,
not playing chase with our hours of sleep,
which always seemed to taunt us
about how quickly they got away,
but I guess that’s just part of the game.

According to the color of my skin
and songs in my ears,
I was forced into a game of hide & seek,
elimination round.
I never understood
why
the seeker couldn’t just find me, tap me on the shoulder,
and laugh.
I never understood
why
I never got to laugh,
why the game was so serious and strained,
but I guess that’s just part of the game.

Because even if I were found,
and by the rules of the elimination round,
sent far away
to a life I’ve never known
and to a land that’s never known me,
I’m still
here.
I still pray to the same One
hears.

I still stand
on the same ground you stand on
by the same gravitational,
family relational,
five sensational,
“come all who are thirsty and drink from springs of Living Water” invitational
dominion of God,

the Maker of Heaven and Earth,
the Giver of life and
every good thing.

You can chase me with a stick.
You can move me across lines like
a game piece on a Monopoly board.
You can tear my family and home
apart
like a house of cards.

But remember,
that games are fun for everyone.
A smile is a smile.
Grieving is grieving.
The same things make us proud and ashamed.
The sun gives a playful and faithful shadow
to every child walking home from school.

There is the human race.
And then there is God;
and humanity as a whole falls
short of his glory.
And all of a sudden,
we are one.

The prophet John says about the coming of the kingdom in Revelation 7:
                  “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands, and they cried out in a loud voice:

‘Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!’

Then, one of the elders said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore,
Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”

Brothers and sisters,
our freedom is contingent upon the context
by which we establish our identity.
It is contingent upon the humanity
that we own in ourselves,
the humanity through which
we dwell in our sin.
And our freedom is in Christ.
My freedom is in Christ,

And I await the day when the people of God
come together in righteousness
for justice
in unity
to re-erect the kingdom of God on this earth.

The song of his kingdom come
still rings
in my ears,
and I believe
we will be free.”

We will be free, friends! Thinking about being there, among the nations, tribes, peoples and languages, worshiping God on his throne, gives me joy and excitement that transcends my usual fear of the unknown, despite the knowledge that the unknown is good. So thank you, Jesus.

This might be the last time I blog before returning home. So see you later, beloved. I can’t wait to see you guys again, hug and share the blessing that has been this anointed experience.

In love and joy and peace and Him,

Shela S. Jeong

Shift our ideologies

Oh my gosh, so many of you caaaaame! So many of you came to our Open House, beloved friends and family in Christ. I think our whole team could agree that we were blessed by your support and presence tonight. And those aren’t just words. Trust.

(I was going to end that paragraph^ at “Trust” to sound cool and concise, but I just must go on in expressing my joy in having seen and hugged all of you.) The Lord has blessed me incredibly in the powerful sense of community and relationship I possess in you guys. I don’t think you really realize or appreciate it until you spend time away from it. To have relationships in which you find yourself eager to share about anointed experiences, and in which your beloved are willing to hear – that’s a big big deal.

Tonight, I am basking in the abundance of “home” in my life. For me, friends, home is where I find intimacy, and God is allowing these spheres of intimacy to constantly sprout new branches more deeply and in new people. And so, as I finish sippin’ on my mango flavored milk tea (ANDREW JOPSON, THANK YOU <3), I reflect on what a blessing it is to be given the capacity for intimacy, for relationship. If I were hungry, hurting, or broken, intimacy would be the last thing on my mind. Yet here I am, basking in it. So thanks be to God.

I’m currently allowing God to speak the truths and great intentions he has for my life through a process of intake and reflection. Summaries of things I’ve internalized in the past three weeks: that every man is but a product of his surroundings; society manipulates systems to feed the rich and further exploit the poor; and everything is about money. (Maybe these are obvious.)

How has the Spirit led me to process this information? When I say that every man is but a product of his surroundings, I mean that I’m here – 20 years young, halfway through my undergraduate career, emotionally and physically healthy, spiritually filled, lacking essentially nothing – and the 20 year old “prostitute” walks the track as we speak, justifying her fatherlessness, beatings, and dehumanizing labels of “whore” by completely embracing “prostitute” as all she’s worth, because we were simply born into environments that molded our lives into these forms. I’m still left perplexed by this arbitrary and heavily skewed allocation of privilege between her and myself. And I’ve come to the point in my faith where I can truly sit and just receive God’s abounding grace without trying to earn it. But when I sit here, my cup overflowing, inches away from her cup, left empty and dry, I am honestly lost in making sense of it.

But what if his grace isn’t arbitrary? What if he was intentional in his heavy distribution of privilege, opportunity, options… to me? What if Israel was God’s chosen nation for reasons deeper than “just because,” but possibly because it would bless, teach, reveal more of the glory and love of God to the nations? By the Spirit, I’ve partly reconciled my confusion by deciding that I must and hereby take ownership of this privilege and grace. It’s not enough to simply receive when there is purpose and commission behind what I am given. I seriously thank the Lord that he’s teaching me this now, that my next two years of schooling will be anointed and purpose-filled. Dude, exciting.

When I say that society has manipulated systems to feed the rich and further exploit the poor, I mean that I’m an overweight man sitting on top of an iceberg, whose stubby white tip hides the boulder submerged and suffocating beneath the surface. What I mean by that is, that almost everything about my privileged lifestyle feeds on the exploitation of other people’s labor. And as I learn about this corruption, I want no part in it, but it’s impossible to leave and expect to survive. I want someone to fix it, but something’s stuck – ideology. For the longest time, I didn’t know how to pray for society because I didn’t know enough about it to ask for the right things. But now it’s my prayer: Lord, shift the ideologies of my generation to ones that honor your heart for your people, that future leaders would lead our people to a state of justice.

God is good in reminding me to never stop interceding for both the leaders and the broken. I want to take this heart of intercession back to Berkeley with me, so Holy Spirit, it’s my prayer that you give me your heart which intercedes over us (because I’m easily distracted and prone to lose passion).

Finally, I have come to the rather obvious conclusion that everything is about money. People crush each other to climb the corporate ladder, they exploit each other, they kill each other… whether it’s out of greed or a simple will to survive, everybody wants the moneys. Because money is something you earn, right? Because once you have it, you’re the owner. With ownership comes responsibility – responsibility to sustain yourself in such an unstable world. How taxing and suffocating is that? I don’t want to spend my life investing in, loving, slaving over, and fooling myself into thinking that I own what God could easily give and take away. Even before “making my own money,” I want to surrender and say that it was never mine. I believe it’ll save me many white hairs, and I believe in his provision.

Sunday, our teams spent the whole day together, learning about economic discipleship from Gary. It was a blessing indeed. The day before that, we had our block party on a cute little chunk of E 16th street. Dancing in the street with a bunch of mothers, grandmothers, little girls, and Sara Fong (whom we’ve discovered will become extremely happy as long as she gets to dance to fun music) was so freeing and fun! The community is alive here, and it’s great.

Another thing: the men in our team have taken a liking to creating beats out of weird noises they can make. That + Sara’s (new) obsession with dancing led us to a Saturday night prayer meeting, during which we found ourselves standing in a circle in our living room, motioning out and making rhythmic noises such as barks, claps, shrieks, and “OHH” on repeat. Bhavna got it on tape, and watching it play back was a semi-awkward experience for me, just cause we’re so weird. But God bless us all.

I’ve embarrassingly talked wayyy too much in this here post. Until next time, friends!

 

-Shela Jeong, 7/11/11