First Saturday of Lent | Qingjun (Joan) Li

Psalm 30, 32
Deuteronomy 7:17-26
Titus 3:1-15
John 1:43-51

“You may say to yourselves, ‘These nations are greater than we are. How can we drive them out?’ But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.” (Deut. 7:17-18)

In Chinese there is a proverb: “There’s no flaming mountain you cannot surmount.” This proverb is derived from one of the four great classical novels entitled Journey to the West. The work is an allegorical rendition of the journey from China to India made by Xuan Zang, the famous monk from the Tang Dynasty. Mingled with Chinese fables, legends, popular beliefs and monster stories, the journey of the characters is a long and arduous one, full of trials and tribulation, dangers and adventures.

As Christians, our hope in life’s journey, unlike that recounted in Journey to the West, is based on the history of the cross of Jesus Christ and the mighty act of our God in raising Him from the dead. The gospel affirms that no matter what obstacles we face, we are in God’s hands. As King David cries out to Lord, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance”(Psalm 32:7).

Having come from China to seek my Ph.D. and now as I teach at a wonderful Christian institution, I have faced numerous mountains in graduate study, pursuing a job, teaching my classes and in making decisions in life. Although my Chinese culture has infused into me the drive and confidence to overcome all the obstacles on my path, my Lenten practice as a Christian reminds me that I cannot remove the mountains in my journey if I do not rely on God’s mighty power. My life experience in the U.S. over these years has confirmed this truth! Time and again, when I was at a loss as to what to do, when I felt desperate at the intersection of a challenging choice, I presented my eager heart to God and sought His help. He listens to my prayers and my cries. HE guides; HE heals; HE cares; HE supports; HE provides!

Just as the children of Israel remembered God’s deliverance of their nation from Egyptian bondage, our Lenten reflection is turned toward the recollection that we are God’s children and His love for us is so vast that He gave His only son for us. We have to remember that “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:5)

QINGJUN (JOAN) LI
Assistant Professor of Asian Studies and Chinese Language

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