I never really considered this song as very meaningful – it was nice, but not really significant in the past. But after this experience, the lyrics have become so special and touching to me…
This was a time when I was fed up with myself – now that I was going to church and even studying the Bible, I had expected that I would be completely changed, reaching a new spiritual level where I would be converting people left and right with just one word. But when I looked at myself, I was still so human, still bothered by the opinions of others and by my desires for relationships and success.
One Saturday after testimony sharing, I was particularly desperate to meet and get to know Jesus, because I could not confidently say I had met him. So after much struggling that day, I came to the dorms with this determination in my heart that somehow, I would come to know him.
There was no shortage of people going through the halls of New North, which was usual for a Saturday night – these dorms were well known for all the partying that happened there. As I went to the communal guys’ bathroom to prepare for bed, I caught myself looking at my reflection in the mirror and just felt dissatisfied with who I was. At this moment I became so frustrated and thought, “I’m not going to postpone this moment any longer. Something has to happen.” I desperately wanted to meet Jesus and finally change, and I also felt this deep sense of being tired of living before people and worrying about how others viewed me. I’m not quite sure exactly everything that I was thinking about, but I remember feeling that something was holding me back from reaching Jesus.
So I stood there with my hands on the sink, just staring at myself in the mirror with a feeling of deep despair but also determination. A lot of time passed by, and many people came and went. My face must have worn a very depressing disposition, because one of my freshman friends saw me, walked in, and gave me a hug. It looked like she had been drinking, but there was such a look of compassion on her face that I realized I must really not look so good right now. Some guys also walked in and gave me sympathetic pats on the back. They knew that I was a Christian, and I think they considered me a good guy (but a bit off). I felt somewhat comforted by these gestures, but did not respond outwardly to them because I had locked myself in my own mind, and I could not stop until something happened.
One hour passed by. Then two, then three…eventually, I put my head on the sink, staring blankly at the ground. I was so tired, wondering what I was doing here, but tried to remember what I was looking for, even drawing a cross out of toothpaste on the ground. People walked around, leaving me alone, and eventually the traffic died down. I could not leave; I was fixated on the idea that I needed to stay here until they basically kicked me out. At one point, I had the thought that Jesus might see me from heaven and reveal himself to me in the psychiatric hospital that they would temporarily take me to; then maybe I would be changed.
I had gone in there around 10pm, and eventually I noticed that the sun was rising. No change had occurred, and my mind was spinning as I tried to keep focused. I started questioning if this was really the way, and finally, around 7 am, I gave up, went back to my room, and threw my exhausted body on the bed to sleep until 2 pm. My Bible teacher picked me up for worship service but I did not tell her what had happened. When we came to Ebenezer, I went in and just sat there with a dazed look.
Then the worship songs started to play. One of the songs was “This is Amazing Grace” by Phil Wickham. I recognized it somewhat, but I was new to Christian music at the time, so I didn’t really know the lyrics. Then I heard the words, “That you would take my place…That you would bear my cross.” I pictured myself standing before a cross, about to be nailed to it. But then Jesus came, gently pushed me to the side, and let the nails be driven into his hands, instead of my own hands. In that moment, I really understood what it meant, that Jesus took my place on the cross. Inwardly, I could see myself crying out, “No Lord!” but He answered, “It’s ok, it’s ok.” I had never really seen it so much that way. I was so comforted and amazed at Jesus’ love and willingness to bear my cross that I just sat there silently, tears steadily pouring down my face in streams.
Then suddenly, I felt as if someone placed a hand on my right shoulder, and I heard the words, “I already did it for you.” Then whoever did that was lifted up from me. I was looking upwards at this person, whom I realized was Jesus; he was so high up there in the sky and he was so glorious and awesome that it cannot be explained. At that moment, I was tiny and insignificant, and I could not move or change what this amazing being was doing. I could see that he was really in control of everything. This was very humbling for me. I had thought I was somebody since I had made this great struggle, like I was making a noble effort that no one else was doing. But when I saw how great Jesus was, I realized that for me to even think that was simply foolish. My whole focus had been on myself – literally, I was looking at myself in the mirror – but in that moment, I was finally looking at Jesus, and He was glorious.
As the song ended, I became aware of my surroundings once again, and the service proceeded. At the time, I was not so confident of what He meant: “I already did it for you.” That was in Spring 2014. Even 5 years later, I have still had some uncertainty about it. But looking back and going over what happened, I realize that I had been struggling so hard to change myself and reach Jesus on my own. As a result, I was suffering so much, even behaving very strangely, like staring at myself in a mirror for 9 hours straight. But when Jesus said that, it was like He was telling me that the work has already been done. If I kept trying to make my own way, it would have failed, no matter how much spiritual effort I made to overcome my sin, and I would have remained tormented forever. But Jesus made the way already, meaning that it’s done. It’s finished. Jesus has done everything already by paying the price for my sins.
So now I have a different struggle – not looking at myself and trying to overcome my failures on my own, but instead looking at Jesus and actually obeying Him, regardless of my condition. Through this, I am reminded of Jesus’ great grace on the cross for sinners like me. Because of him and his healing, I can have a new, sin-free life together with him, from now on and forever. It is no small thing that he has done for me. It is nothing short of amazing grace.