Usually when people ask me, "What's new?" I don't have a good answer. Most of the time, I can't remember. But this year was different. Tons has changed, and all of it is memorable.
- I moved. The fourth time in five years! Back to 'Sweet home Alameda / Right on through the Webster tube…'
- I travelled. A lot. Philadelphia, PA twice, Johnson City, TN, and Montreal, QC, Canada — all for work. In January I went to Atlanta, GA for the G3 Conference with AChoe. In the summer, I went to Israel for the Holy Land (seriously, the best) and to Florida for Disney World with family. Next year the plan is to go to Europe (especially Germany for a belated Reformation 500 Tour).
- I started feeling older. I got glasses (a whole quarter of a diopter!) because I the preacher was blurry from the back of the church. I had to go to the chiropractor for a hip problem, who said I have the hamstrings of a 40 year old. I needed to see a podiatrist for my increasingly flat feet. I'm having to stretch every day. I actually have to exercise to stay in shape, so I started dabbling again in basketball, rock-climbing, biking, table tennis, and running. [But now it's too cold.]
- I made stuff. This year, I built a coffee table, some wooden planters, a shelf for the kitchen, an indoor bike rack, and too many 3D printed pots and containers to count. I even went to my first Maker Faire in San Mateo and started an Instagram (@themakedomaker) to chronicle some of my work. There is a simple delight in making things with my hands; I really enjoy it. [Although, I now have way too many tools for someone who lives in a sub-1000 sq. foot apartment with two other guys.]
- I learned how to code. Kind of. Through work, I wrote some simple C# applications and a few Python scripts. I even volunteered to hack/stumble my way through some GoogleScript for a project at church. I also learned enough Linux to setup a RaspberryPI. Not sure if I understand the hype, but coding sure is a useful skill.
- I became a manager at work. This one was a shock, especially to me. Who would have thought? After four years at OSIsoft, I am now officially a "Team Lead." Lord, have mercy on all my reports; they'll need it!
- My brother moved out to the Bay Area for school. He's busy with grad school, but it's neat to have him close by. It's also encouraging to see him grow into a new church in the area. (Thank you for loving him, SFBC!)
- My other brother graduated college and started working. World, look out. He's learning 'to adult.' I'm glad that he continues to be part of a good church in Sacramento. (Thank you for loving him, RCG!)
- My little sister started driving. Seriously this is so weird. She isn't so little anymore. I remember babysitting this one like it was yesterday. Where has the time gone?
- I bought a new car. After killing one car's transmission, and then finding that another car needed work on three separate electrical systems, I'm done with old cars. Thanks for the help, Dad and Mom!
Much of these changes are good, and I rejoice and thank the Lord for it. But, I thank Him for the many things that haven't changed, too. By His grace, I still love the things I did at first.
- I love my church, EBCB. This is my home away from Heaven. We are not much in the eyes of the world; this is true. But these are some of my favorite people in the world. The Lord loves them, and has used them over the past 8 years to love and serve me so much better than I deserve. This year, I've had the joy and privilege of serving them by fixing broken lights, running electrical wire, organizing the tool closet [but please, never again], babysitting, leading a small group of college guys, and buying groceries for church lunch. Amidst the challenges, things are happy in the Lord at Evangel Bible.
- I love sharing the gospel. This year, I took Evangelism Training with DGalindo and KLee. Of all my semesters taking this class, this one was probably the most interesting. We met a hardened secularist, a Muslim who tried to convert us (!), a committed humanist, and a poor lady who truly believed we were living in the Matrix. Lord, have mercy on the ten souls who heard the glorious gospel truth. I also had the opportunity to read through parts of the Bible with a coworker [PTL!] and share the gospel with him.
- I love seeing sinners saved. The highlight of the year was seeing my friend and neighbor from childhood, KLeong, be baptized at BCC in Irvine, CA. What a marvelous work the Lord has done! The Lord was working on his heart for 26 long years, and finally, oh finally, He broke it and gave my friend a new one of flesh, one that loved Christ and His people. This was one of the happiest days in a long, long time.
- I love my friends. While I am thankful for each friend that the Lord has given to me, this year I am especially thankful for F&S Gan and C&J Woo. These two couples have blessed me in innumerable ways, letting me do laundry at their place, feeding me dinners, giving wise counsel, lending a listening ear, and encouraging me to keep serving the Lord. They are a Godsend. This year , I also got to know AMalone better, my brother in Christ, friend, and coworker from across the country. What an unspeakable blessing to have another believer on my team at work!
- I love my family. I don't get to go home too often, but every time I see them I'm reminded of how blessed I am to have them. We are definitely works-in-progress, but the Lord's grace is sufficient. I'm also reminded to pray for the Lord to shine His face upon them, that they would continue to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It's a comfort and hope beyond words to know that He alone can meet all their needs.
By God's grace, the gospel of Christ's life, death, burial, and resurrection is still the foundation of my life. He has blessed me far more than I deserve.
As I reflect on the year, the overwhelming sense is one of content satisfaction; it has been a good year. And thus, I must give all praise to the sovereign God, who has been exceedingly kind to me. As I recently read from Calvin's Institutes:
Thus for the good and safety of his people, [God] overrules all the creatures, even the devil himself, who, we see, dared not attempt any thing against Job without his permission and command. This knowledge [of God's sovereignty over all things] is necessarily followed by gratitude in prosperity, patience in adversity, and incredible security for the time to come. Every thing, therefore, which turns out prosperous and according to his wish, the Christian will ascribe entirely to God… (Book First, Chapter 17.7)
God has cared so well for me, and I know that He will continue to do so, for He has said, "The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed" (Deuteronomy 31:8). Every good thing given has come from His hand (James 1:17), and every evil thing He permits for His good purposes (Romans 8:28). I believe that. And it is soothing to my soul.
I don't know what 2018 holds, whether prosperity, adversity, trial, life, or death. But one thing is for certain, and that is enough for me: I'm one year closer to Heaven than before. Come what may. The Lord is with me, and He is more than enough.