Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June Hope Chest- Hope Tells Me That I Don't Have To Be Perfect by Chaminie Wheeler

Close your eyes – imagine sitting on a mango tree in a tropical island.  This was my favorite place to spend time.  I loved to read and wonder on this tree…
I would wonder many questions:
Who created the sky?  
Has it always been there? 
 Why were there so many world religions?  
Is Buddha real?  
Why was there so much suffering?  
Is there a real God?
I grew up in a Buddhist family in Sri Lanka.  In 1983- the Civil War was starting there (I was 11yrs old). I was the oldest child and my parents wanted me to be well educated.  They knew that the universities were going to close in Sri Lanka.  So, I came to the US to live with my aunt and uncle and their 5 children.  I was to get a head start in English and my family would join me in 1 year.
I hated the US.  Among those things that I hated were the food, the weather, the disrespectful children, and the noise.  I could not speak the language, and I cried a lot wanting nothing more than to be with my family in Sri Lanka.  I missed my brothers, especially Prasad because I always stood up for him.  I was worried about him and prayed that he was ok.  My brother, Samulitha, was only 4 years old at the time and I took care of him.  I missed them so much.  I missed rice and curry and just being with my parents.  
I felt that all hope was lost and I felt very much alone in this strange country.  I had a Buddha shrine in my room that I would pray to during my sorrow and ask Buddha to help me if he was real.  
The only ones who seem to understand me were the nuns that taught me at school.  They were sooooo kind.  They always told me that God loved me and that He was always with me even though that my family was in Sri Lanka.  They told me that I could always ask God to keep my family safe.  They told me that God had a perfect plan for me and that plan included me being separated from my family for this time.  I didn’t understand them, but I wanted to understand them so desperately.  I always wondered why these nuns were always so kind to me? 
After less than a year in the US, I went to a sleepover Christian summer camp at Triple R Ranch.  I could understand English pretty well by then and I heard the gospel for the 1st time.  I liked being away from my aunt and I felt safe among the counselors.  They were kind like the nuns and spoke of the love of God.  They told me how God loved ME so much that He gave HIS one and only SON to become the sacrifice for my sin.  
I understood sin well because in Buddhism, I was always taught how important it was to be a good person.  That any bad thoughts I had or anything that I did wrong, that I would have to pay for it either in this life or in another life.  I believed that the suffering that I was under being separated from my loving family was because of my past sin in another life.  
I had been taught that to reach Nirvana, to end the cycle of rebirth, that I had to become sinless.  According to Buddhism, the only way to reach this state of perfection is to give up all desires for nice things like your family, clothing, good food, ect…  It is impossible to reach Nirvana as long as one has desires because your desires lead you to sin and hold on to this world.  As long as you have desires, you will never be able to break the cycle of rebirth.  You must live in such a way all of your life and do good deeds so that when you take your last breath, you will have a good thought because that good thought will determine what kind of an animal that you will be reborn again as.  If you live and do bad things, your last thought when you take your final breath is going to be bad and you could be reborn as an ant, as an human with a handicap or into poverty and so on.  
Thus, according to Buddhism, you must meditate and do good deeds all of your life.  
Eastern religions look very peaceful on the outside with tranquility with nature and mediation to live a better life, but the burden that is carried by each individual is HEAVY.  There is no hope because we are not capable of living perfectly every minute of every day.  Even killing termites from your home is sin because you purposefully killed many termite souls according to Buddhism and you will pay for that sin during some part of your individual cycle of rebirth.  You can of course do enough good deeds to try to offset that sin.
So, imagine my surprise that God would sacrifice HIS only SON to pay for my sin.  The most amazing part of this Christianity was that there were not many gods but ONE TRUE GOD that loved me so much that HE even died for me.  I was amazed!!!  I could see the hope that my counselors had and the peace that radiated through their life.  
Around a campfire that summer, I gave my life to Jesus.  I accepted what HE did for me at the cross and Jesus became my Savior and my Lord.  
I no longer had to be perfect.  It was not something that I had done wrong in a past life that I was separated from my parents or it was NOT my fault that things in my life was so messed up.  I knew that God would help me overcome all my challenges that were before me.
This has been the promise of God that I have clung to my whole life.  God has never given me more than I can bear and have always provided for me.  I have been reunited with my family (all are still Buddhist) after 11 years of separation. 
 God has given me an amazing husband and 3 beautiful children.
  God used a brain abscess in my husband for me to meet him and nurtured a friendship that drew both of us closer to Him.  
God used a feeding tube in my oldest son, to spare his life.  
God provided emergency surgery to save our 2nd son’s bowels from an incarcerated hernia.  
God provided breath to our youngest son, as he was premature and later hospitalized with respiratory distress. 
 God has literally saved the physical lives of our 3 children.  I am about to face my 9th surgery and am at total peace because God is good ALL the time.  I have hope because He is the author of Hope.  Yahweh is the beginning and the end.  Yahweh Yirah is God our provider and Yahweh Rohpe is God our Healer!  There are countless names to describe our Amazing God.  What a privilege to be lifted in a cloud of prayer to God Almighty who is able to do ALL things by the family of God!  What better place can I be now than in the mighty hands of God?  
Psalm 103 has been ingrained in my heart to show me what a victorious life I have in Christ alone no matter the obstacles.  I have hope because of grace alone… because of what Christ did for me on the Cross. 
 I don’t have carry the impossible burden of living a perfect life to end the cycle of rebirth and to reach Nirvana.  My debt for ALL my sins has been fully paid by the blood of Christ.  I am a warrior princess that has been adopted into the family of God because He loves me!  Hosanna … Jesus saves! 

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