Dad used to be one of those who was cynical about the saving grace on the Cross. During my teenage years, dad on several occasions challenged Christian men and women who tried to share the gospel with him, and asked, “If Jesus is Savior, why couldn’t He come down from the cross?”
Why wouldn’t Jesus avoid death while He actually could, or could He?
He could, by all means. In Matthew 26:53-54, Jesus showed his disciples the necessity to surrender him for the awaiting crucifixion, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and He will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
Jesus was determined to do the Father’s will, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11). Jesus Christ was ready to drink the cup of death and God’s wrath on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Why wouldn’t Jesus avoid death on the cross? That was dad’s most pertinent question regarding the Christian faith at that time.
Dad never knew that the message of the cross would completely convince him one day, that dad would willingly follow the Lord of the cross.
And so it happened. The LORD spoke to dad through miracles and convictions that he could not deny it. Dad accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He also took great courage to make his faith public. He was baptized in the church that mom had already been attending, and became an active member of the church. He refused to perform Chinese ancestor’s worship even when there was pressure to comply from his siblings. He found ways to fulfill his duty in our extended Chinese family without yielding to their Buddhist and Taoist rituals. Dad has become a new person, with a new identity in the Lord.
Since then, dad’s most favorite hymn was Amazing Grace. It was one of the melodies that he would whistle, hum, or sing it through and through during shower. Once a while, dad would even try to play Amazing Grace on our Pearl River upright piano, completing the entire song with only one finger — his index finger. 🙂
Last night, I practiced on my harp again, trying to memorize the beautiful harp arrangement of Rhett Barnwell’s for Amazing Grace, while thinking of mom and dad. In a month’s time, during my wedding reception, I would be able to play Amazing Grace for dad. It will be more than a harp presentation or music dedication. It would be a time of celebration. We shall be celebrating the wonderful and amazing grace of God, who has called my family out of darkness into light. We are saved, not by our own credits, but because of His grace, amazing grace.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
T’was Grace that taught…
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear…
the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares…
we have already come.
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…
and Grace will lead us home.
The Lord has promised good to me…
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be…
as long as life endures.
When we’ve been here ten thousand years…
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise…
then when we’ve first begun.
— John Newton (1725-1807); John P. Rees, stanza 5.