Amazing Grace

    

Chapter One
THE LORD*S GRACE AND HIS CALLING

My Childhood

Counting stars: I had many cousins who enjoyed playing with me. One evening after dinner my third cousin said to me, ※Go to the courtyard and count stars. I*ll give you a reward when you finish counting.§ Greedy for a reward, I immediately took a stool, sat down and started counting stars eagerly. At first there were only a few big twinkling stars in the sky, but soon there were so many stars that I could no longer keep track of them. My vision grew blurry and I felt dizzy. No longer able to count, I burst into tears.

My cousin asked, ※You were counting alright. Why are you crying?§ ※I can no longer number them all,§ I replied. As the Bible says, ※Look now toward Heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.§ (Genesis 15:5)

 Grandfather was very strict with the family, especially with me, a female. He used to say, ※A girl should mind her manners whenever she sits and eats, should laugh without exposing her teeth and walk without swaying her skirt.§ He was very protective of my younger brother and was strict with him only regarding his studies. Even though I was older than my brother, Grandfather did not teach me the traditional books of ethics and wisdom. On the other hand, he had my brother recite three pages from those books before he was allowed to take his breakfast, even spanking him when he failed to do so. At that time I thought that Grandfather was favoring me over my brother because, as I was not required to study the books, I was spared the rod and did not have to starve. It was not until I was grown that I realized it was actually an example of favoring boys over girls.

Mother had me recite the Lord*s Prayer, the Ten Commandments and ※The Disciples* Handbook§. She also taught me how to pray, though I was naughty and did not like to do so. Whenever we said grace at mealtimes, I would cover my face with both hands and peeped through my fingers to see if there was any good food on the table.

When I was 5 or 6 years old, I used to see the sun, the moon and the twinkling stars in my dreams around dawn. Frightened, I closed my eyes tightly but still saw them. I also dreamed of many colorfully dressed Chinese and foreign men and women standing hand in hand around my bed, smiling and hovering over my face. I became so scared that I covered my head with the blanket, though even then I could still see them. When I told Mother about my nightmares, she always said, ※Do not fear.§

I was a menace when I was young. One day when I was 3years old, Mother ran up the stairs when she heard me crying. Seeing my distress, she asked if I had stomachache. Despite my reply in the negative, she asked again. With a mirror in my hand, I tearfully replied, ※My eyes can*t roll; other people*s eyes can.§ Mother laughed and said, ※You silly girl, how can you see your own eyes move when you*re staring into the mirror?§

Another time, sitting on Mother*s lap facing her and holding her face in my hands, I said, ※Mom, I can see myself in your eyes. Are you in my eyes?§ She gladly replied, ※Of course, my child! Not only are you in my eyes, you*re also in my heart. Since we*re the children of God, His eyes and His heart are always on us.§

My carnal being was very wicked. Even at a very young age, I was a very jealous person. My younger sister was very pretty and had long tilted eyelashes. The villagers used to say that ※people with long eyelashes are pretty, smart and ferocious.§ This made me very uneasy. I figured that, because she was pretty and smart, Mother would love her more and that my sister would bully me when she was grown and ferocious. With hatred in my heart, I thought of ways to harass her.

One day I caught my sister taking a nap and cut her eyelashes with a pair of scissors. With a sense of satisfaction, I thought: ※Well, now Mom will not love you any more and you won*t be able to bully me when we*re grown!§ Since I was unskilled and did not cut evenly, my sister*s eyelashes irritated her when she woke up. I became very scared when Mother noticed her condition and asked, ※Why do your sister*s eyes keep winking?§ Fortunately, a few days later her eyelashes did grow back even longer than before.

Mother took my education to heart. As early as the first grade, I was sent to a boarding school 37.28 miles away. At that time the only means of transportation was to be carried by porters; I sat inside a bamboo basket at one end of the pole with my bags at the other end. At school, I was often bullied by older classmates. Unable to fight or curse them back, I vowed with hatred in my heart to retaliate when I was grown. To ensure that I would not forget, I jotted down the names of those I hated most on the first page and those I hated less on the second page of a note-pad, and tied it to my vest with a string. Were I not saved by the Lord, I would have become an extremely vicious person!

 

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