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Along the Wayone story of a sojourner   A book of praise. A testimony for   the purpose of encouragement.    Main message:...
Preface            purpose of this guideThis is not a scholarly dissertation. I have nodesire to add another literary volu...
preface                                             a lo n g t h e waydoctrines, confusing omissions, and contradict-     ...
a lo n g t h e way                                                      functions ­­ and the control system to move ef-   ...
life’s lessons                                       a lo n g t h e wayGod and refuses to accept Him as their Cre-        ...
a lo n g t h e way                                                      and greying hair, I was thankful that I could stil...
a lo n g t h e way                                                       mary care physician, methodically reviewed the   ...
disruptive news                                       a lo n g t h e waythat I liked. He gave me the prognosis as kindly  ...
disruptive news                                           a lo n g t h e wayWe all must die. This is a universal truth kno...
disruptive news                                          a lo n g t h e way               breaking the news               ...
disruptive news                                         a lo n g t h e way                   reactions                    ...
disruptive news                                          a lo n g t h e waythis idolized image of self–made man is hard to...
disruptive news                                        a lo n g t h e wayfamily when I am gone. This gives a special mean-...
disruptive news                                           a lo n g t h e wayInevitably, things will get worse towards the ...
disruptive news                                          a lo n g t h e waywork together for good for those who love God. ...
disruptive news                                          a lo n g t h e waybelt. I wonder whether God intended to prepare ...
disruptive newspermanently stated in the Bible. I look to mygraduation from this life with great anticipationand longing. ...
a lo n g t h e way                                                     America. We never felt Korea was our home; it      ...
flashbacks                                         a lo n g t h e wayher in trouble more than a few times, mostly with    ...
flashbacks                                           a lo n g t h e waymother if we did not go through with the surgery.  ...
flashbacks                                             a lo n g t h e waynothing I could do wrong. He did discipline and  ...
flashbacks                                          a lo n g t h e wayall be killed. By the time they reached Incheon     ...
flashbacks                                          a lo n g t h e wayhimself with the pretense of having to use the      ...
flashbacks                                         a lo n g t h e wayeverything behind, my grandfather, grandmother,      ...
flashbacks                                            a lo n g t h e wayCalifornia. We were treated to Disneyland, and    ...
flashbackshe did not like its power over his mind and will.And I prayed for the stop to his agony. Then Iwitnessed the dyi...
a lo n g t h e way                                                        “Riley, turn your shoulder this way, and Adelle,...
s e n t i m e n ta l t i e s                             a lo n g t h e way                        bobby                  ...
s e n t i m e n ta l t i e s                           a lo n g t h e waybut not quite able to sever the ties with this   ...
s e n t i m e n ta l t i e s                            a lo n g t h e wayAlice did not like this. My father disapproved. ...
s e n t i m e n ta l t i e s                             a lo n g t h e waypolitical battle brewing back at the headquarte...
s e n t i m e n ta l t i e s                            a lo n g t h e wayNostalgic longings can distort and depress our  ...
s e n t i m e n ta l t i e sand irrational, and formed a basis for an atheisticreligion of their own.I often wonder what a...
a lo n g t h e way                                                        cruise. And this world is a boot camp, not the  ...
Ray Parks book
Ray Parks book
Ray Parks book
Ray Parks book
Ray Parks book
Ray Parks book
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Ray Parks book

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Along The Way: One Story of A Sojourner. All rights reserved by Ray Park, 2012.

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Ray Parks book

  1. 1. Along the Wayone story of a sojourner A book of praise. A testimony for the purpose of encouragement. Main message: don’t be afraid. Ray Park
  2. 2. Preface purpose of this guideThis is not a scholarly dissertation. I have nodesire to add another literary volume to the al-ready vast library. I give no new understanding oradvice that is not already given in the Bible. Thisis my attempt to share practical insights givento me during the final days of my life, to leavebehind a thing of value as we face common trialsand fears. who is it for?This book is for those who are on the way toHeaven. Being saved is only the beginning of ajourney. Once we recognize the Lord and acceptChrist, the arduous road of sanctification begins.A minefield of tough questions, and confusingchoices lay ahead. We read the Bible, but thereis so much noise and clutter from conflicting 2
  3. 3. preface a lo n g t h e waydoctrines, confusing omissions, and contradict- who travelled before me had given me a bit ofing views and misguided commentaries—not to guidance, how much lighter, more productive,mention the intentional heresies that bombard and joyous my travel could have been. Everyone’sus through the media and by false teachers. How journey is different, but there is information anddoes one stay on course? What happens when an methods that can lighten our steps and bringunexpected event overturns our very life? Do you deeper appreciation for the ground we walk.have the foundations to face the test? Of course, these are all in the Bible if you knowThe truth is, the Bible is sufficient to address all where to look. As a fellow traveler who has beenof these. Still, a helpful voice from a fellow travel- there, and now stands at the doorsteps of gradu-ler, who can relate to you his own experience, ation, I will try to highlight for you the key pointsmay serve a good purpose—as a supplement. and landmarks one should not miss; and hope- fully do this in a way that you can easily relate to.I will assume you already know the Lord. If you And my prayer is that you will develop a deeperdon’t, go seek Him immediately; you don’t know appreciation and thirst for the Word along thewhat incredible gift you are missing. But you, my way, so that you will develop a habit of feedingfellow traveler, are on your way. From when you daily directly from the Source.were born again, to your final breath, you are ona journey of sanctification. Truly, the work be- Finally, whether we admit this or not, we all live ingins here. The pressures can be overwhelming fear of death. I am now at a place where I can say,at times. It is not easy to be a Christian. Life is a indeed, death is nothing to fear. As a brother inbattle ground, not a play ground. Until one finds Christ who loves you, I wish to offer tips, observa-the rhythm of the walk with God it is particularly tions, and comfort, and to tell you, there is noth-difficult. Then, just when you think you under- ing to fear. To see my reasons why, read on.stand and have climbed a plateau, Satan will at-tack, as is his role. He has, in his arsenal, weaponsto match every stage of your maturity. One mustnever underestimate him.In my life, I meandered through too many pathsI could and should have avoided. Many times,I found myself trapped in some dark alley ofconfusion, anguish, and doubt. If only somebody 3 4
  4. 4. a lo n g t h e way functions ­­ and the control system to move ef- — fortlessly in all six degrees of freedom, requires a mind-numbing level of complexity and design elegance. And how does God create these? By a system of transferring a software code from one Life’s Lessons generation to the next. In all the years spent by man just to understand the mystery of DNA, we have now barely reached a point of recognizing the complex design. Each of the fish swimming in the tank is a treasure beyond man’s comprehen- sion, far greater in beauty than anything man has ever produced, a product of the meticulous, how do we know? loving hand of the Master Artist.Not long ago, I visited the Museums in Golden Yet, the bible tells us that this God, the one andGate Park with my wife. I peered through only God, who flung stars into heaven for ourthe glass panes at a fish exhibit at Steinhart story book at night time, who gave us the sun,Aquarium in fascination. I was mesmerized by land and water, working in harmony to provide usthe diverse shapes, colors and patterns, and a warmth, food, and water, who created creaturesunique imprint of humor and beauty that God has large and small for our pleasure and benefit, thatgiven to each of these creatures. Every fish was a this God loves you and me, personally, intimatelydazzling marvel of creation. No man-made thing and perpetually.comes close to the packaged elegance of eachof these creatures. During my days at Stanford, knowledge that humblesI studied robotics for several years. My researchin this topic gave me a deep appreciation for just Such knowledge is enough to make a man fallhow difficult it is to make something move like the upon his knees in humility and uplift his spiritfish. Our most advanced technology and all of to rejoice in thanksgiving. But most people findour efforts can at best produce a crude, child- themselves wanting what they don’t have, ago-ish mimicry of even the least of God’s creation. nizing over afflictions that they feel they don’tTo combine the beautiful design —with all of its deserve, and in fear of some calamity that might fall at any time. Indeed, if one does not know 5 6
  5. 5. life’s lessons a lo n g t h e wayGod and refuses to accept Him as their Cre- ing the malicious attacks the Enemy will concoct.ator and their own Father, then there is a good We are meant to be the over-comers and victorsreason to spend the days in anxiety and fear. But in our life on this earth—not merely survivors butfor those who know God and seek to know Him champions and graduates of the most excitingbetter each day, we know from the scripture that spiritual development program designed andour life on earth is a preamble to a much greater monitored by the Creator of the Universe.life to come. We know that this earth is not ourhome. We are sojourners passing through an a testimonyenemy territory. Our life on earth is a provingground; a special time of training and lessons In this book I want to share with you my ownfor our spiritual growth. And this time is fraught experience—the joys, hardships, despair, awaken-with dangers, temptations, side-tracks, traps, and ing to God’s persistent calling, the peace andland-mines that the enemy has placed to siphon security as I learned to walk with God—as I lookaway the proud and unreceptive. forward to my graduation, and imaginable won- ders I’ve yet to experience. deadly choiceThe bible points to the fools and scoffers men-tioned in Proverbs, and the Pharisees and Saddu-cees of the early church period, and the “earth-dwellers” at the last days of Apocalypse. ButGod from before the foundation of the universedesigned us to overcome all that this provingground can throw at us. No weapon that theenemy can throw at us can break our spirit andour bond with God. Our intellect and emotioncan withstand any affliction and attack that thedevil and demons will put before us. Our bodywas designed to work perfectly under all normaland to some extent beyond normal conditions,with built-in defenses against diseases, anticipat- 7 8
  6. 6. a lo n g t h e way and greying hair, I was thankful that I could still climb 3,800 ft. to the peak of Mt. Diablo and call it fun. Then one day, I was beset by a sensation like nothing else I’ve felt before—an alien concoction My Account of breathing pain, stomach cramp, heart-burn, throbs reminiscent of broken ribs and arthritic joints that formed a backdrop to a cycle of hun- ger pangs before and lingering heart-burns after each meal. These symptoms lasted for only short periods. It is strange how when a pain is gone, there is no memory of it, as if it was all imagined. if death had a sensation After one such episode, I was on a mountain bikeLast August, I had my 52nd birthday. I liked being ride with my friend Jim. I remember telling Jim52. I saw the world now with more mature eyes, half jokingly, “If death had a sensation, this wouldand able to process what I saw with the wisdom be close.” Jim did not know what to make of myof experience. Most hard questions that have odd statement. I had unknowingly given a pro-nagged me—about life, the universe, and espe- phetic note to what soon followed.cially the Bible—were mostly answered. I was atpeace with my past, content with my walk withGod, and looking with anticipation to what wasto come. I felt good physically. I worked out dailyat the gym, and did 30 to 40 mile rides throughthe extraordinarily beautiful hills of the East Bayregularly. My body has endured numerous inju-ries and abuses of my years of reckless pursuit ofsports, outdoor activities, and my love of speed.My body, which I now viewed affectionately asan old reliable car, had generally served me wellwith no major problem. Even with my stiff joints 9 10
  7. 7. a lo n g t h e way mary care physician, methodically reviewed the prior test results and ordered a full bank of tests. The tests, again, came back normal. Then, Dr. Lee called me. She wanted to perform one more set of tests and scans. She explained Disruptive News to me that there is a chance that this is cancer. I pushed aside the implications and tried to fo- cused on the immediate actions this demanded of me. I was most concerned about Alice who struggled with the pressures of financial wor- ries, work-related stress, and family issues. Life the doctors was hard for her, she seemed to be in a fragile state. I told Dr. Lee that I wanted to keep thisMy first encounter with this condition happened information to myself while the tests were beingwhile I was in Korea for a six-day business trip. performed. I had two weeks to ruminate on theThrough the entire 11 hour flight home, I suffered implications.in pain. By the time I landed in San Francisco, Iwas exhausted. When my wife picked me up atthe airport, we drove directly to the hospital. the newsI wondered if somehow an old injury was acting When Dr. Lee called me with the test results, Iup, or could it be something much worse. It is the knew from her voice the news was not good. Aunknown that scares us. The doctor at the Emer- four inch mass was found in the liver. Blood testsgency at John Muir hospital looked for signs of on cancer markers confirmed that this was anbroken ribs or heart attack. The tests came back active tumor, already growing into a major veinnormal. The doctor told me to take some aspirin and spreading to my lungs. She told me that Iand call if things did not improve. must now consult a specialist with whom she had already been conferring.Within few days, my condition did improve. I feltnormal again. I was inclined to dismiss the whole My first meeting with Dr. Sun, a cancer special-thing as a fluke incident. My wife, Alice however ist, came one week later. Dr. Sun was strikinglyinsisted that I take a medical exam. Dr. Lee, a pri- young. Yet, he had a calm efficiency about him 11 12
  8. 8. disruptive news a lo n g t h e waythat I liked. He gave me the prognosis as kindly nation. I saw my own mother face her cancer withas he could. Yes, it is an active tumor— stage 4 a stoic acceptance. I observed her endure silentlycancer. He explained that it is too late for normal as her body wasted away over seven long years.treatment with local radiation and chemo. Re- I saw my father face his cancer with a defiantmoval of the tumor or a liver transplant was not self-will. He fought on to his dying breath severalan option either at this late stage. When I asked, years later as I watched him at his bedside.he reluctantly observed that people at my stage And I wondered what I would do if I had to facehave 7 to 9 months to live on the average. such a fate. Cancer was a dreadful thing, theNow I finally understood, that the fleeting dis- stuff of ultimate nightmare. I prayed, Lord, I amcomforts and aches that I experienced numerous not afraid of dying, but please call me by anothertime in the past, which I had casually attributed way, anything but cancer. Even so, I had to askto my old injuries, were due to this disease. This myself, why am I any special that I should bewas good to know: it freed me from the qualms spared from the trials that my own mother andand worries that creeped up from some dark re- father faced, along with countless others whocess of unknown fears. I know now what I faced. had to endure the slow agonizing death due to cancer? I resolved that when my turn came, no matter in what form, I would go like Cyrano’s prior reflections Autumn leaves—graceful to the end. Now I facedAt various times before this, I did wonder what I the test of this resolution.would do if I ever got cancer. I did not fear deathbecause my foundation is established in theWord of God. But I dreaded a few ways of dying. revelationCancer was one of these. I watched people I A special, inexplicable peace rested upon mehave known die from the disease. It was hard to during this time. I felt none of the fear or stresscomprehend how someone who was completely that one would expect from a situation such asnormal one day could decline so drastically and this. I was given perfect night’s sleep. My mind’sdie from it. I also observed how people reacted reaction to the news was one of nonchalance. Indifferently to the calamity. Some were personally effect, I faced nothing new other than an aware-devastated by the very prospect of death, and ness that I will now likely die of this cancer, andclung to the end to some imagined hope of re- die sooner than I had envisioned. I still didn’tcovery. Others went quietly with admirable resig- know exactly when and how the end would come. 13 14
  9. 9. disruptive news a lo n g t h e wayWe all must die. This is a universal truth known to categorically that the fears of death are unfound-everyone, regardless of one’s creed or religion. ed for a child of God. No more need be saidLogically, this news of cancer held no significant about the first misconception. As for the second,new information for me and I resolved to con- I find our irrational delusion of permanence comi-tinue my life as usual. If I can only not succumb to cal. I’ve clung to this notion with every aspectmy base fears and sentimental sorrow, I will just of my life. Why did I strive after my academiccontinue as I have been, and one day, go to sleep degrees and professional achievements? I didfor good. So I determined to continue to read because I thought they will bring fame and for-the scripture, seek God more diligently, love the tune someday. Why was my dwelling place such apeople around me, and await my death. huge and foremost concern? Alice and I emptiedThe process, however, has proven to be much our coffer many times over because we believedmore challenging than this. What I did not know that a house is our fortress, and it will make usis that there is a test of endurance that stands happy for all the days to come. Why did I collectin the way. Death is the final test before gradua- so many things—gadgets, tools, pieces of clothingtion. Before it is over, it will shake me to the core. and pairs of shoes? I acquired each item for someIt will shake anything that can be shaken, and unknown day when I would need it. And why didremove all things until only the things that cannot I lug around that big camera, and take so manybe shaken remain. This too is fair, and I marveled photos everywhere I went? Because I was pre-at the beauty of this design. serving the moment for the future. Only those who think this earth as the permanent and final dwelling think like this, and do these things. Who delusions in right mind would spend everything he has toThe awareness of an imminent death inevitably remodel a hotel room that he will leave in a fewrefines one’s view in a most profound way. An days? How foolish.example is my realization that all along, I have How much simpler my life would have been iflived bound to two large misconceptions. One, I accepted more earnestly what the Bible hasdeath is something to fear and avoid at all cost. taught us all along: that I am a traveler, merelyTwo, in spite of everything, my life here on earth passing through life; that the true purpose ofwill continue, indefinitely. life is to learn God’s ways and learn to love otherI stand now at the door of death, and I can state people? 15 16
  10. 10. disruptive news a lo n g t h e way breaking the news task of telling my wife. As I guessed, directnessHaving to break this news to friends and loved and transparency proved to be the correct ap-ones proved to be a paramount challenge. I sim- proach. I did the same with my business partnerply did not know how to go about this. How do I whose livelihood depended on my continuedtell my wife? How do I inform my children? When performance. For my children, a united front withshould I let my friends know? Would it be bet- my wife proved to be the best way. For my bibleter if I kept this to myself until the last moment. I studies, a simple announcement was all that itknew there is the proper and improper way to do took, and the power of fellowship (koinonia) tookthis. What is the most considerate, compassion- control of the situation in an unexpected way. Forate way to do this? my church community, a public announcement worked to eliminate any misunderstanding or mis-When Dr. Lee, explained to me her concerns, I information. For my casual acquaintances, mostknew and had accepted the outcome. I pondered still don’t know of my situation.the implications alone for two weeks. This was alonely time. My son Riley is the youngest of our Telling others that I will soon die is a surprisinglythree children. He had a special day off while his difficult task. So I wrote down few simple pre-classmates went on a field trip to New York. So I cepts to help me through the process:decided to take an afternoon off to take him outfor a movie. We ate at our favorite Hamburger Tell those who are closest first, then workrestaurant, then went to the theaters. “Hunger outward.Games” was the hit movie among his classmates. Stay attuned to the Holy Spirit’s leading for In the darkness of the theater, I considered the timing and place.picture of the two of us sitting together and re- Share transparently, not selectively.membered how this blissful moment will soon be Consider the person before me, and hear my shattered by what I have to tell him. I watched my words from her perspective. Shield her from son in his happy preoccupation with the movie, harsh sentiments and feeling when possible; and I cried. love the person as I explain the situation. Beware of a pride trip—yes, even here, the I first confided this dilemma to my friend Bill. flesh will rear its ugly head if I am not aware.Together we addressed the problem. Bill told Be a faithful witness. This is about God’sBrad and together they supported me through design; not about me.the biggest challenge that faced me: the delicate Thank and glorify God. 17 18
  11. 11. disruptive news a lo n g t h e way reactions situation. Some tried to convince me to come toI found sharing the news is also a powerful, mov- Korea where treatment of liver cancer is purport-ing experience. This task demanded a brutally edly more advanced because the hospitals see sohonest connection of two souls on the truest, many cases. My uncle was convinced that somemost basic plane, where our inner character and exotic mushroom from a remote hill in Koreaour bond is disclosed openly. For everyone to would help me. It took all my negotiation skillswhom I had to relate my condition, I saw some- to keep him from spending a small fortune fromthing about that person that I never saw before. his meager resources on this miracle mushroom tea. Alice’s best friend Lilian knew a forerunningAlice first could not believe my word. She oncologist at Stanford Hospital who specializedthought I was joking. When she realized I was in liver cancer, and she was willing to drop ev-serious, she broke down and cried, and my heart erything to get me enrolled in his program. I wasbroke with her. I explained to her the eternal deeply moved by everyone’s manifold expres-perspective living and dying. I assured her that sions of sympathy and love. I told each one thatthis is not a calamity, but a graduation to await my principal goal is not to get well, but to honorwith anticipation. I reminded her that God will God in whatever condition in which He deemedprotect and provide our every need. Then re- best to put me.markably, she stopped and looked up with a calmdetermination. She said, “I somehow knew this It is a privilege to be blessed by friends like this.was coming. Everything will be OK.” Then she im- I was thankful that I got to experience this. I praymediately set out to do whatever she can to make that I will be worthy of their affection and lovemy life as pleasant as she can make it. I witnessed until my final day.in wonder the ideas of courage and love becomephysical manifestations in my wife. supportFor my friends—Bill, Brad, Jim and others—I was Growing up, it was ingrained in me to be selfstruck by how profoundly the news affected reliant. I would not seek others for help. Thisthem. My business partner Rick took the news sense of independence is something I picked upwith calm consideration, followed by continuous from my father, and reinforced by the culture ofcare and concern. My friends in Korea reacted America as I grew up. This was also impressedwith unconstrained sorrow and alarm. These upon me during my university through earlydear people struggled to find any way to help my career years. As someone growing up in the US, 19 20
  12. 12. disruptive news a lo n g t h e waythis idolized image of self–made man is hard to a stylish new coat, or a fancy espresso machine,escape or ignore. or a luxury car. That is, as long as our core valuesWith cancer, I had no choice but to admit that I are not compromised—such as the commitmentcan no longer help myself. Then I realized that to to the truth, denial of our pride, and responsibil-face life’s challenges alone, while shunning the ity to those in dire need.help of others, is not God’s way. As I walked those aisles, the first thought that occurred to me was, “I don’t need any of this any more.” The simplicity and finality of realization changes was refreshing. I was never much of a shopper,My views of the world around me were notably but this utter divorce from the desire for materialreset at the moment of my revelation. As if the things highlighted by my imminent death gaveknowledge was the trigger that I needed, I saw me a special sense of freedom. I liked it. I walkedthings around me, sharply, and from a different similar aisles, replicated in countless stores ev-perspective. Some things I saw with a deeper erywhere, all my life. Why did I not see it this wayappreciation—like the moments with my wife and before? I wished I did.children, friends and brothers, and even strang-ers. Other things no longer mattered. view of time I now focus with a greater intensity on things that material things matter. What I do now must have an immediateI recently accompanied my wife to a shopping purpose. Else, why would I bother? A purposemall. This, I knew, would be a moment I will gives me the focus. The focus transports me toremember and treasure. As we walked the aisles the tasks at hand, away from the fog, and discom-of clothing and merchandises, I recognized how fort and pain that the cancer brings. This is myevery item was designed and presented to incite solace.a special need and desire: an open invitation to I count three things that drive me. First, a desirevanity and to induce the “lust of the eyes.” And to be a worthy witness of my King and Savior,this, we live buried in—this subliminal seduction. who has given me the peace that surpasses allGradually, little by little, we get accustomed to it, understanding, which keeps my heart and mind,come to appreciate it, and eventually participate so that I can indeed rejoice and give thanks noin it. In truth, there is nothing wrong or evil about matter my situation. Second, provision for my 21 22
  13. 13. disruptive news a lo n g t h e wayfamily when I am gone. This gives a special mean- it means to be in the Family of God. I am un-ing to the work I must accomplish. Third, leaving worthy of such love, and yet, without hesitationbehind a proper legacy for loved ones. This writ- they gave so freely and naturally. I prayed thating is an element of this. I received their gifts of love as graciously as myI cannot afford to waste what limited time I have friends have given them to me.on meaningless, mundane things. The work con- I realized that this fabric of love we weave in oursumes all my available hours. I am driven to be an lives by interacting with our brothers and sisters,effective steward of my time. In effect, I am more this is a treasure that is precious beyond anythingalive now than I was ever before. on this earth. The Lord gave this a name: “fel- lowship,” koinonia. He called the people who are relationships bound by this net of love, His Body. The Family of God, once we are born into it, is the great-My situation caused me to recognized the est family in all the world. If only I had seen thisstrength of the bond between me and my fellow earlier, how so much better my life would haveman in ways I have not experienced before. been?Upon sharing the news, the compassion that myfriends bestowed on me was surprising. Even endurancepeople whom I barely knew displayed such careand sympathy. The extent to which my friends Then came the physical side of the trial. I naivelywere affected by the news revealed their caring envisioned that I will continue in my earlier statehearts. A lady from our church, whom I did not until a quick death. No. My body weakened. Eat-know, took the time and effort to put together ing became a labor each day. Numbing fatigueand present to me a gift bag of books and a DVD came over me by the afternoon, and got worse byon staying healthy. My friend in Seoul, Korea the evening. I resisted taking the pain medicinescanned the city for specialists and was ready to but soon, the pain from my liver was too distract-fly me to Korea for treatment. Jim took special ing and I had to take the pills on a regular basis.time to go riding with me although we could not Now, even a short walk is laborious. Dr. Sun toldtake our usual long course, and he had to wait me that the liver pain is normal. The systemicmuch of the way. Some recommended to me chemo medicine I started to take is supposed tospecial exotic treatments all out of concern and contain the liver growth, but will not reduce it.love for me. Then I told myself, Ah, this is what So, how I feel today is as good as it gets. 23 24
  14. 14. disruptive news a lo n g t h e wayInevitably, things will get worse towards the end. energy, which normally drives an active mind, andIf my bodily health was the sole basis of my sense puts in its place a dull blankness.of well-being, then I had good reasons to despair. The hunger comes suddenly and furiously. I craveFortunately, my body has a little part in how I food, but eating does not satisfy. When I amgauge my wellness. My wellness is in the security overcome with fatigue, resting neither refreshesof Christ. My strength comes from the Word. My me nor brings recovery. This malevolent thing ofhappiness and joy comes from my personal, daily intelligent design is a dark, pervasive presencerelationship with my Father. Therefore, all is well that seemingly delights in inflicting maximumwith my soul. torture on a person through persistent pain andStill, the daily grind against my declining body discomfort, and grinds away at one’s very liferemains: the final test of my endurance against force. It mocks the very gift of life that God hasmy flesh. instilled in us and points unmistakably to a mali- cious intelligence, in character with everything cancer—satan’s legacy Satan does.Having considered this phenomenon of cancer Satan’s ploy is to present a counterfeit of every-for some time now, I begin to understand its thing admirable and worthy that God has done;demonic design. It latches parasitically to the his desire is to defile those things that are beauti-body, diverts the body’s life-sustaining energy ful and worthy with which God blessed mankind.to its rapidly growing tumor. By counterfeiting So it is with cancer. If the human DNA is theas normal cells, it renders the body’s defense ultimate software system created by God, cancermechanism ineffective. Because it craves nutri- is the most vicious malware invented by Satan.tion, it triggers panic-inducing hunger pangs, He is the usurper and defiler. He cannot create aand drains away from the body its vitality. This is beautiful thing on his own. Yet he delights in car-only the physical side of the attack. Psychologi- rying out grotesque mimicry of God’s creation.cally, it works to break down the victim’s mental So he spawned viruses designed to destroy. Istate by continuously bombarding the mind with hate the creature with a perfect hatred—for itshopeless mental fatigue, like a siren’s whisper to dastardly works, for its insidious style, and itssurrender; just put off all things, lie down, close malicious intents.the eyes, and give in to the weariness, darkness Yet, it is God who allows the evil to continueand despair. It effectively extinguishes all creative for a time. It is said, All things (even the evil) 25 26
  15. 15. disruptive news a lo n g t h e waywork together for good for those who love God. This is why the Bible exhorts us to seek modera-Romans 8:28. Those who choose Satan as their tion, to deny the body, to overcome the fleshlyfather are attracted by evil. But we who are saved desires, and to fast.are filtered, purged, and strengthened by evil. So Now that I face the prospect of fighting a painthere is a purpose for evil in this world. We are that will not go away, but get worse with time, Imeant to suffer, and fight, and emerge victorious recognize the real benefit of fasting. What is fast-when the fullness of time comes. This is what life ing, but an exercise of pitting the will against theis: a training ground of immortal spirits. flesh? Half way into a fast, the body signals thatThere is nothing good about my cancer. In truth, it is not happy, that it needs food, and the signalthere is nothing good about any disease, or ca- gets louder. I personally have not fasted longlamities, or trials that befall people in this world. enough to experience the stage when purport-We cannot rejoice in hardships, for these are edly the hunger goes away. I’ve noticed that thethe results of evil intents. Nevertheless, we can struggle is not so much the sensation of hunger,rejoice in the fruits of the hardship. God did not but the persistence of the nagging flesh for food.leave us to be hapless victims of Satan’s tricks. By In the end, fasting is a rewarding exercise, be-design, we are built to overcome the hardships cause at the end of it, there is a gratifying mealand transcend above the momentary physical to anticipate.misery to an eternal spiritual glory; and in so My struggle with cancer has taken on the sensa-doing, we do testify to the name of God, and His tion of fasting. The persistent, nagging discom-grand design for our lives. fort and pain, combined with the ever present fatigue. But neither eating nor resting brings value of fasting relief or satisfaction. I have only my will to keep things in check. This is going to be a long fast.The pain started within few weeks. I was deter- With time the test will get harder, I know. Andmined to not allow it get the better of me. Resist- this time, it is not an exercise. So, I am glad foring against fleshly desires—of lust, greed, and the few times I’ve fasted when it was still just anrecognition, for exorbitant habits in dining or exercise.comfort, etc.—is one stage of managing our flesh.Enduring against pain is another, more advanced Knowing what I do now, I would have fastedstage. A man cannot find spiritual freedom when more. I imagine that it would have been easierhe cannot even escape the bondage of the body. to face this trial if I had more training under my 27 28
  16. 16. disruptive news a lo n g t h e waybelt. I wonder whether God intended to prepare vertible that the Bible was compiled from outsideus for times like this when He encouraged us to our time domain, supernaturally, extra-terrestrial-fast? Still, there is an end to this fast. Then, I will ly. The more I read it, the more I understand. Theeat and be satisfied with the heavenly food. I so more I understand, the more I am able to digestmuch look forward to this. the fathomless significance of the message. The more I digest, the more I hunger for more. denying oneself My studies transport me to a communion with God. And I delight, laugh, and cry with the WordWhen the suffering reaches a peak, all I want is that moves my soul. My struggle with cancer be-for it to stop. But it does not. How do I overcome comes a dim shadow when I see the glory of Godthis power that pain inflicts on my body and then that pervades the universe. Even in this cancer, Ipermeates to my entire being? Fighting it makes understand the purpose it has for me. I remem-it only worse, because I unwittingly focus even ber the simple hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus,more on the pain. The key I learned is not to look full in His wonderful face, and the things offight, but deny my body its control over my mind earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of Hisand soul. Denying oneself is simply a choice, and glory and grace.” How true.requires no energy. It frees my mind to focus onwhat is more powerful than bodily sensation. carnal and spiritual manIf any man will come after me, let him deny him-self, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Endurance is a tiring work. Yet, my trial has onlyLuke 9:23. Yes, my Lord, I will follow Thee. begun and I know the hard part is yet to come. If this world was all there is for me, then my endur- ance would be in vain. There is no remission, no focusing on christ recovery only an end shrouded in darkness andI still have my secret weapon when all else fails. confusion. I can understand why people withoutI open the scripture and get into my studies. Christ cling to this miserable existence with allThe Bible is not a book. It is an intricate, multi- their might and with everything they have, hop-dimensional, boundless information delivery ma- ing desperately for some elusive, fictional cure.chine—entirely consistent, complete, and true. No This is where believing and denying God makeshuman mind could ever produce a system of this a deadly difference. I have my hope firmlyfunction, complexity, and elegance. It is incontro- planted on the promises of God, so clearly and 29 30
  17. 17. disruptive newspermanently stated in the Bible. I look to mygraduation from this life with great anticipationand longing. This momentary affliction of mybody does not compare to the eternal glory thatawaits me.I do not pray to God for a miraculous cure. If Godhas a plan, and it is His will, I am certain He canmake this cancer vanish with a blink of an eye.Why not, when He is the architect of the greatcode, the designer of this wondrous system, andthe master of every matter that is on earth? Butthat is not my prayer. A miracle without His pur-pose is merely a fluke. Rather, I pray to God thatI may finish my race well. I pray for the strengthand courage and wisdom to ace my final test. Ifa carnal man so fixed on his bodily existence canutterly disregard the existence and needs of hisspirit, why should I not be able to live throughmy spirit and disregard this body? This is mychallenge. I will not be a subject to this diseasedbody. It shall not master my mind and spirit. Ithas served me well all these years. And at times,it was a source of my pride and satisfaction.Now it just has to carry me through to mygraduation day. 31
  18. 18. a lo n g t h e way America. We never felt Korea was our home; it was a place our family sojourned while waiting for the promised land—America. We arrived in America with a few suit cases and a handful of money, just enough to get us going after spend- Flashbacks ing everything my parents had saved on the journey here. mother My Mother was born to a well-to-do family in Pusan, the second largest city in Korea at the reaching for a star southern end of the peninsular. The people ofAs children, we are encouraged to dream. I grew this province are traditionally know for a warmup listening to songs like, “when you wish upon a heart, outspoken bearing, and impulsive behav-star...,” and later, “to dream an impossible dream ior. My mother was all of this, and she was beau-... to reach for the unreachable star ....” Now I tiful. She could not bare to see a needy personlook back, and can’t help but laugh at the folly. without taking some action. One day while theyWhat a terrible thing to do to a kid? The Book of were still newlyweds, she loaned away all ofProverbs teaches that a child should be brought their meager savings when a neighbor came toup grounded on wisdom and fearing the Lord. It her with a heart-sob story. They never saw thatteaches that a child should learn to be circum- money again. And my father never forgave herspect, frugal ,and provident. But when the TV for that.and Hollywood media began an assault on family But she was everything a boy could ever wantwith the indoctrination of entitlement, a predomi- from a mother. Time and again, I saw how shenant segment of US population were affected. went out of her way to help others. These areAnd I was no exception. I swallowed this pride- the impressions that stick to a child’s mind. Whattrip line, hook, and sinker. better model than to see a caring heart in action?But I grew up embracing this notion of the self- She was loving, protective, comforting and sup-made man. From as far back as I can remember, portive to the extreme.my father’s eyes were fixed on emigrating to Her outspokenness and impulsive actions got 33 34
  19. 19. flashbacks a lo n g t h e wayher in trouble more than a few times, mostly with blur. My mother receded to a dim recess of mymy father. But I loved my mother for her warmth. thoughts as I frantically pursued my dreams ofAnd she was beautiful. success. Whenever I sent a card on Mother’sMy mother was a devout believer. As far back as day, or called her on her birthday, it was with aI can remember, she talked to me about Jesus. tinge of guilt. I knew that she deserved more andWhen she worked or cooked, she hummed or better than this obligatory gesture. If she wassang hymns. She took me and my sister to the disappointed, she never showed it—always happychurch every Sunday. I remember a hot summer to hear a word from me, however terse. I pushedday when we walked the dirt banks of a creek away my guilt by promising that when I becometo Sunday school. Cicadas were chirping. We successful, I will make it all up to her.huddled around a dirt patch in a circle while a My father called me one day to tell me that myteacher told us a bible story. I don’t remember mother was diagnosed with cancer. I rushed tothe story, but I remember the watermelon we got Southern California. She had a very aggressiveafterwards. cancer that started in her nasal cavity, evidentlyWe arrived in the US in January of 1970, to begin from prolonged inhalation of toxic fumes whilea new life. This was not easy back then for a working at her welding station. They had alreadycouple starting anew in a foreign land. For many performed a minor operation to remove the tu-years, she got up every day at 6 am for a long bus mor, but this was to no avail. The next operationride to a knitting factory. Later, she worked at a involved an grisly operation that would remove aHughes assembly plant that manufactured LED large part of face bone, replacing it with a pros-watches. Her task was welding tiny parts while thetic denture-like device that would allow herpeering through a magnifying glass. Looking to talk and eat, though poorly. The doctors didback, I realize now how much she sacrificed for not know whether even with this procedure, theus. Through it all however, she was always proud cancer could be cured, of course. It was just oneof me. When I gave my valedictorian speech at more thing they could do.the high school, she glowed with pride, as though When I arrived, the family was at a stalemate.all her hardship was vindicated at that moment. My father did not want the procedure. My sisterThen came college, graduate school, career, insisted we go through with it. My mother did notstartups, and children. I left home in Southern know. So my opinion would become the decision.California and the pace of life accelerated to a My sister arranged a meeting with the doctor who explained to me what would happen to my 35 36
  20. 20. flashbacks a lo n g t h e waymother if we did not go through with the surgery. I was in Korea one winter day when I receivedBut my father was convinced that my mother’s a call from my sister that mother passed away.frail body could not take the operation and the I rushed to Southern California on the nexthorrific ordeal that would follow even if the flight out of Incheon. My sister told me that shesurgery went flawlessly. I considered, I prayed, I endured the ordeal bravely with her bible asthought, and in the end, recommended to bypass the one source of her solace. She told me thatthe surgery. I decided to trust God if there is to towards the end she was in great peace. Beneathbe a cure. I could not bare to see my mother’s the failing body was a spiritual giantess. At theface come under the knife of doctors who could funeral service, I saw her face for the last time.not tell me the outcome even with the surgery. I saw peace there on her face, and she was stillShe weathered seven increasingly agonizing beautiful. But as I traced the lines carved in heryears as the cancer ate at her face and her body. face, I saw telltale signs of the misery she had en-My sister, who was a registered nurse, and took dured. I have never before wept so bitterly, withit upon herself to take care of our mother at such abandonment.her house. I questioned my decision each time Ithought of her. I visited her as often as I could, fatherbut my life was in shambles as I struggled to keep My father was the most incisive man that I havethe startup alive through the dot-com crisis of known. He had the sharp mind that cut throughthe Silicon Valley venture market. On one such muck and confusion in both people and prob-visit, I remember apologizing to her. All those lems. Where others dawdled indecisively, he hadthings that I had wanted to do for her, that I an uncanny insight to make the right choice andhad put off while chasing wild dreams weighed get people into action. This quality attractedheavily on me. She told me I was wrong. She said many people, but few could stand his piercingI already gave her everything a mother could ways for long. He lived a lonely life and died as awant from a son. She told me how happy I made lonely man.her, and how proud she was of me always. WhenI had to return from my visit, I saw her sitting at For reasons I have never understood, I was theher window watching me as I drove away. And my one object of unmitigated love and fellowship toheart sank each time, knowing that this may be my father. With everyone else, he would unfail-my last vision of her. ingly discover within short time some unac- ceptable flaw in character. As for me, there was 37 38
  21. 21. flashbacks a lo n g t h e waynothing I could do wrong. He did discipline and desperate escape to the South before it wouldreprimand me when I deserved it of course, be too late. He gathered a group of villagers andbut when done, he would always find a positive made plans for a night voyage by the sea in atwist to what I did. I learned from my mother small dingy. If they were discovered, they wouldthe warmth and safety of the motherly love. My be shot.father demonstrated the perfect, unwavering, un- They pushed off one night. My father had toconditional, stark and dangerous love of a father. leave behind all his family. He was the fifth in lineHe was born on 2/21/1930 in a farming village in of seven siblings: he had two older sisters andNorth Korea in a family of five brothers and two two older brothers and two younger brothers.sisters. From the very early age, he displayed His two sisters were married and had families.signs of extraordinary intelligence. When he was His two older brothers elected to stay behinda mere child, he would recite verbatim an entire and watch over their aging parents. His youngervolume of the Chinese character manual—where brothers were still too young for this danger-most students struggled to memorize a page a ous journey. The younger of the two sisters wasday. He so impressed the teachers, several took a devout Christian involved in missionary workhim under their wings, even paid for the tuition with her husband. My father loved her for herwhen the family could not afford it. ways. As he was leaving she handed him a stashThe country was under Japanese occupation, of bills—old Korean bills with gold visibly lacedthrough his early years. For a poor farming vil- inside the paper. She had given him everythinglage, this had little impact in the lives of villagers. the couple had.All children were taught to speak Japanese and His mother walked the many miles to see him off.by the time the Japanese occupation ended in That was the last time he saw her. The journey1945, my father was fluent in the language and was a difficult one. Lack of wind left the boatcould write better than most native Japanese. stranded in the sea for days as they ran out ofWith the cessation of Japanese occupation and water and food. They lost their way and headedthe end of World War II, the Korean peninsu- for a North Korean harbor. Believing that theylar was divided at 38th parallel, setting up the had reached the South everyone was on theircountry for the coming Korean War. My father feet waving and shouting cheers in relief ashad just finished high school when he saw the boats passed by. Then a small fishing boat ap-approaching disaster. He decided to make a proached them. The fisherman told them that unless stopped attracting attention they would 39 40
  22. 22. flashbacks a lo n g t h e wayall be killed. By the time they reached Incheon his forehead. As he slowly opened his eyes, heHarbor, in South Korea, they were barely hang- saw a soldier staring at him. The soldier asked,ing on to life. The harbor patrol incarcerated the “What are you?” Then my father smiled at him,group—with a looming conflict, the government thinking what an odd question to ask. The nextwas taking no chances on spies infiltrating as thing the soldier said was even more inexplicable.refugees. They were released after few days, but He whispered, “don’t move until we are com-the money my father carried was no where to be pletely gone”. Then he turned around, shouted,found. “There’s nothing up here,” and he was gone. TheWithin weeks of their arrival, the war broke out. missionary sister’s material gift, however pre-The North Korean army swept down uncontested cious, amounted to nothing for my father, but herpast Seoul all the way to the tip of the Korean teachings of Christ gave him his life.Peninsular, where the allied forces made their Not long after this, the American forces reoc-stance in Pusan. So my father found himself hid- cupied Seoul, expelling the North Korean forcesing in deserted houses from the North army who from city, and there was a short respite from run-were patrolling the streets for stragglers. One ning and hiding from the North army. But in fewnight, soldiers came into the house he was hid- months, the North Korean army returned with aing. As all his companions rushed underground vengeance, and this time bolstered by Chineseto a designated shelter as they did before, he soldiers. The enemy swept past Seoul, pushingdecided to run up to the attic. Another compan- the UN forces south. My father found himselfion followed him, and they sat silently in the dark caught in enemy territory again. It was duringas they listened to horrors that ensued below. this time when my father was rounded up withAs the soldiers were leaving, he heard one say, other young men and conscripted at gun-point“Wait, here is one place we have not checked.” to the North army. He was put in a boot camp toHe heard a soldier climbing up a ladder to their be sent out to fight in battles raging all aroundhiding place. A gleam of light reflecting off a in the Korean Peninsular. Noting the lax security,bayonet penetrated the darkness as its tip slowly my father planned an escape route. He marked apushed up the hatch door to the attic. He closed ledge above the lavatories beside a window fromhis eyes and gave a final prayer of thanksgiving which he would make his escape. But the yardto God as his sister had taught him. He waited was constantly patrolled by the guards. So everyfor the bayonet to pierce him, but seconds ticked day he studied the pattern of their movementsaway in silence and he felt the heat of a lamp on and counted their steps. One night, he excused 41 42
  23. 23. flashbacks a lo n g t h e wayhimself with the pretense of having to use the outspoken young man, who went out of his wayfacility at a time when everyone had already bed- serving others apparently out of sheer pleasure.ded down. He reached the lavatory and jumped He befriended this man, impressed by his ex-up to the ledge. He lay there counting the steps traordinarily selflessness. The man was from Pu-of the patrol. Relying on few second window and san, and without hesitation he invited my fathera prayer, he jumped down to the outside and to his home for dinner that day. There he met thebolted. man’s sister, a woman of striking beauty. This isHe survived while hiding and fleeing and how my father met my mother.scrounging for food. He did not have to wait long By the time he was 24, my father lived throughbefore the UN forces surged again up the pen- more horrors and tragedies than most people ininsula and my father was in a friendly territory their life time. But there was one more that await-again. From a very early age his dream was to live ed him. After the wedding, the couple settledin America. So every chance he had, he studied into a meager but stable life of a military couple.English. This American dream played a key role One day, he happened to come across a famil-at this juncture. He found a line of men trying to iar looking face in the crowd. It was his youngerenlist themselves in the US army. When his turn brother, the one who always trailed and mimickedcame, he spoke in a surprisingly fluent English him as they were growing up. Of all the siblings,that he wished to serve as a translator, and volun- he adored this brother. He thought that this wasteer to a post at the front line—to interrogate the the most blessed day of his life. My father, myprisoners as they came in. This is how he became uncle and my mother rejoiced together: finally aa part of the US army. He told me about the family in the midst of a foreign land.nights when he would be wakened by the sound From my uncle, my father learned of the fate ofof bullets whizzing past his head, and his compan- the family. The sister, whose family was so de-ion beside him would be taken in an instant, and voted to Christian missionary work, disappearedhow after a time, stepping over corpses became one day along with her family and was never seenroutine. He looked for his brothers. Perchance, again. During the conflict when the UN armyhe might come across one of them amid streams pushed the enemy back, an opportunity cameof POW’s. If he found them, he would save them. when the border was open for short time. TheThe Korean war dragged on, and my father was family decided to make a run for the South. Thisin a train bound to Pusan, when he observed an was a life-and-death run for the freedom. Leaving 43 44
  24. 24. flashbacks a lo n g t h e wayeverything behind, my grandfather, grandmother, morgue, and found my uncle’s body. There wereand 4 sons made for the border along with bandages wrapped around his head. As my fatherhundreds of other refugees. They did not know slumped beside the body in shock and despair, ahow long this border would stay open, and they line of blood streamed across the bandage.travelled light, counting on luck to bring them My mother told me that the months that fol-safely to freedom. In the desperation and confu- lowed were the closest time that my father camesion that pervaded the scene, the sons realized to losing his mind. Then in the darkest gloom, athat their parents were no longer in sight. They fresh hope—news that my mother was pregnant.slumped in despair. The two eldest sons decided Mother told me that when I was born, my fatherto backtrack to look for my grandfather and came back to life also. When I was still young, mygrandmother. The youngest, still a child, would father once told me that I saved his life. Then,refuse to leave without their mother and father. I did not know what he meant, and he did notSo the eldest son told the fourth son, “You go explain.and find your brother; we will find our parentsand follow you as best as we can.” That was the After the Korean War ended, the country gradu-last my uncle saw of his family. ally returned to normalcy. After many years in the US military, my father landed a fairly high post inLater, my mother would describe my uncle as the Korean CIA, as an officer in diplomatic liaisonthe most kind hearted, good man she has ever and also counter espionage group. I rememberknown. Several months passed in bliss. For my never having to wait in line—for restaurants, the-father, the fate has finally turned a corner, and aters, anywhere. His magical pass would melt anythings were looking up. My father was away on business owner into a most cordial host. But thean extended assignment when he awoke from a prospect of settling in America was still foremostdisturbing dream. My uncle was calling him des- passionate dream. So when all other doors wereperately. In the morning he received an urgent closed to him, except for an opening he cametelegram. “Come quickly, your brother is dying,” across, he studied to be a baker. I’ve never hadit said. He rushed back to Seoul and to the hospi- so much sugary pastries offered to me—thoughtal. There was my mother, who explained to him at first they were rather odd. So we arrived in USthat my uncle waited desperately, calling for my in January of 1970, where my father was reunitedfather. Some latent disease had eaten through his with a friend from the front-line days: Unclebody, and he had died hours ago. He entered the Wayne who was now an officer stationed in Tustin 45 46
  25. 25. flashbacks a lo n g t h e wayCalifornia. We were treated to Disneyland, and He waited patiently as I stumbled and delayedmy sister and I thought we were in heaven. After over 12 years of struggle getting my doctorate.a short visit in California, we moved on to Balti- Then at a time when most filial sons were buyingmore, to a bakery where my father would bake new cars and sending his parents on cruises, hebread. This profession lasted all of one month, watched me in agony as I launched my startup.and we were back in Los Angeles, where with few Then I was gone for over 6 years in Korea. Whenthousand dollars, my father started our new life. I returned, his health was starting to fail him. ButMy father plied himself to many trades: a butcher I was so busy starting up another company, thenshop, a wig shop, house-painting, until he settled setting up a new laboratory under a Korean Tele-into a landscaping business. He had an artistic communication giant SKT. I tried to visit him astalent. He loved plants. He loved the freedom often as I could, but the visits were few and far inand the outdoor work. He was also a perfection- between. He rejected all my efforts to have himist. So he built a successful business around this live closer to me, but kept his independent ways.starting with nothing. It was hard labor, I know—I I was so focused on succeeding, believing thatspend summers earning my spending money. when I finally accomplish my goals, I will have theHis hands became as tough as leather, and his time and money to lavish on him.face dark from the constant sun. But he put me Not very long after my mother died from cancer,through 5 years of the most expensive private he was diagnosed with a colon cancer. He un-school in the country as I worked on my BS and derwent radiation and chemo treatments. AfterMS in engineering at Caltech. I never lacked the first year of treatment, he decided to stop.anything. He had bought me three new cars by He fought the disease for over five years. In thethe time I graduated from Caltech. Others have end, I received a call that I should come, andasked what he could have become if he had when I arrived, I found his emaciated form stillstayed at his post at CIA in Korea. But he never struggling. For 7 days I sat beside him speech-looked back. Always content and grateful as he less and gripped by the horror of the devasta-drove his weathered van from house to house, tion that the cancer had taken on his body. Hecutting grass, planting trees, and fixing sprin- talked of visions of seraphim picking him up byklers. He was raising his family in a country he his shoulders. The angel said to him, “It is timeloved. All he wanted now was to see me succeed to go,” as they lifted him from this dimension. Yetin life. This was a satisfaction that I failed to give the time did not come, and we waited. He hadto him. pain-medicine, but refused to take them, because 47 48
  26. 26. flashbackshe did not like its power over his mind and will.And I prayed for the stop to his agony. Then Iwitnessed the dying moment of a person for thefirst time.There was no peaceful release that I read aboutin books or saw in movies. My father went inagony, in a struggle to the very end. A spasmcoursed through him, he opened his eyes andlooked at me with anger, then a final long exhale,and he was gone. Before me laid only the wastedremains of a once vibrant man, who was to me apillar of knowledge and wisdom, whose courageand discipline moved other men to extraordinaryactions, who took on hobbies of fishing, garden-ing, and star-gazing with extreme passion. Hehad shelves of bibles, commentaries, and refer-ences filled with his own notes. Yet, he disdainedpeople whom he thought were beneath hisstandard. He forbade me from inviting specificindividuals to the funeral for past wrongs hecould not forgive. These were the darkest days ofmy life: a beginning of a turning point when I wasunder a stupor, too shocked and numb to cry outeven to God. wakeup call restoration 49
  27. 27. a lo n g t h e way “Riley, turn your shoulder this way, and Adelle, move your left foot forward.” “Conrad let’s try putting your hands on your knee ... Good!” As we posed for that perfect picture, I saw an artist at work. Eve’s nudging completed the com- Sentimental Ties position that made the difference between an ordinary snap shot of people and a portrait that captures the essence of a family. I noted that this is how the Holy Spirit works with our lives to give meaning to each event, nudging us to be more like Christ bit by bit. He see now the panorama of my past. He has been transforming the raw “ducky pond” materials of my life into a tapestry of grace that isIt was a cold day. “Slightly overcast dusk makes worthy even of pleasing God.for a perfect light,” said Eve the photographer. As the five of us joked, laughed, and grumbledAlice had arranged for a family photo session, through the photo sessions with Eve, I wasand hired a professional. She selected Oak Hill overcome inside by the sadness of this moment.Park Lake for the site, adjacent to Monte Vista I could still see Riley, then a tiny tot, playing onHigh School in Danville. Riley was a toddler when the climbing structures and the roller slide. Therewe first visited this place. Our children grew up was a sandy play area with water stream, whereplaying in this park. We affectionately called the Riley and Adelle frolicked, laughing as they builtplace, “ducky pond.” some fantastic canyon of their imagination. HereIt was immediately apparent that we picked we were now posing for the photos. The childrenthe right photographer. He put us in a spot he were all grown up now. And some day, in not tooselected, and then contemplated the composition long a future, Alice and the kids will look uponwith arms crossed. With head tilted, and his index these pictures, and remember one cold springfinger firmly planted on his chin, he would con- day when the family was yet complete. A sadnesscentrate with a raised eyebrow. Then he would came over me. I felt that I would be lost if I dweltfine-tune the composition. “Alice, lean to the left.” too long in this contemplation. I stopped. 51 52
  28. 28. s e n t i m e n ta l t i e s a lo n g t h e way bobby but more for his character and his soul, I lovedI met Bobby when I was the head of an innovation Bobby deeply.laboratory for Samsung Electronics. My job then Eight years ago, I left Samsung. I had a partingwas to take a team of 70 hand-picked, cream- meal with Bobby in Seoul. When the momentof-the-crop developers from across all of Sam- came for a final goodbye, he suddenly wept. Hesung Electronics empire and train them in the cried with such honest, open sadness. And myart of advanced software product development. heart broke as I understood that our days ofBobby was the most brilliant software engineer working together were over.I’ve met in all my career. He was a fiery visionary Years passed, and we stayed in touch. In 2007,with a deep love and respect for excellence. He I was hired to start a laboratory in Sunnyvaledemanded and inspired excellence in both the for SK Telecom, another Korean corporation.products he conceived and the people he led to This position required frequent travel to Seoul,build them. He followed me closely as his mentor and I saw Bobby often during this time. Mostand over time I’ve come to know him, and learned recently, I saw Bobby when I was in Seoul for athe history of how he survived a calamity that business trip. There was a happy reunion amongbefell his family at a young age, when his father those who worked for me at Samsung and SKT. Iwent overnight from a successful business owner noticed how Bobby’s health had declined alarm-to a destitute outcast hounded by creditors—not ingly, and he was undergoing treatment for somean uncommon scenario in the volatile business serious health problem. We talked about theenvironment of Korea. He put himself and his ventures I was launching, and we jokingly agreedsiblings through school by his sheer will—a feat that when my business finally takes off, we willforeign to our opulent culture in the US. celebrate together at Disney World in Orlando,When I first met him, he already had several a place that Bobby fancied with a childish curios-successful startups under his belt, but angry and ity. I took time to talk to him about Jesus and thecallous for the wrongs inflicted on him by people, purpose of this life which is to discover His love.especially the superiors who had used and be- I had given him a selection of C.S. Lewis’s books.trayed him. I put him in charge of the most elite His intellect and his soul connected with thedevelopment team in my laboratory, and he never words of C.S. Lewis. Still, he clung to a traditionalfailed to deliver beyond my expectation in every Korean Soothsaying cult called “jum” with whichtask to which I put him. For his exceptional skills, he grew up. He was ostensively drawn to Christ 53 54
  29. 29. s e n t i m e n ta l t i e s a lo n g t h e waybut not quite able to sever the ties with this neer and moved out of the student dorm whiletradition that so pervades the populous, includ- working part time to finish my doctoral thesis.ing many Christians. I told him that I want to see This was a mistake. As I worked intermittentlyhim in Heaven. I demanded that he find his way between my thesis and the job at Lockheed myto Christ. That was the day before I was stricken Ph.D. program dragged on for many years. Lifewith the pain on a flight back from Seoul to San is not easy for the wife of a graduate student,Francisco. especially one that worked a full time job. WhenBobby sent an email when he learned of my con- my first child came, it even got tougher for Alice.dition from a mutual friend. I was looking for the I remember promising her that all will be wellright opportunity to tell Bobby, but missed my when I finished my degree.chance. I had recently confided with Joshua, an- I finally finished my degree, and things wereother former team member whom I loved dearly. beginning to stabilize. I had a good job and aAnd news travels fast in Korea. Bobby’s message budding career. But the ambition and curiositysaid, when he heard about my situation, he wept got the better of me. While I was impressed by“with abandon.” And I saw Bobby crying in the Lockheed and its illustrious history, culture, andcar eight years ago. And my heart ripped again. high-class operation, a life-long career in this rigid defense company just did not suit me. So, when an opportunity arose, I hopped over to anniversary Sandia National Laboratory in Livermore, Califor-Two weeks after the prognosis was our 26th nia. The laboratory world fascinated me at first.wedding anniversary. Alice and I had planned As a project lead, I had the freedom to pursueearlier to spend the weekend in San Francisco interesting projects of my choosing, to work withto celebrate. professors at Stanford and Berkeley, and to takeWe were married in April 26, 1986. Following our long bike rides in the rolling hills of Livermorehoneymoon, we moved to Stanford where I was wine-country each day. This was when the newworking on my doctoral program at Stanford venture boom was at its peak in Silicon Valley.University. We were two young kids, dreamy eyed Everyday, I heard of another startup roaring toand unafraid, bedazzled by the opulence and success. I found my work at the lab too constrain-driven by opportunities of Silicon Valley. I was ing, even stifling.eager to start my career and provide a home for One day, I quit my job and started my first com-Alice. So I took on a job at Lockheed as an engi- pany with only a vision and grandiose optimism. 55 56
  30. 30. s e n t i m e n ta l t i e s a lo n g t h e wayAlice did not like this. My father disapproved. But both financially and legally. In less than twoI pursued this dream with a pigheaded optimism. months, the chairman was convicted and arrestedThe company was called Macroscape, Inc. When for fraud, and the CEO all but disappeared leav-Google appeared on the scene, I shrugged it off ing me in charge of the company. This lasted aas an inferior competitor. I managed to build a little over a year before the company folded. Atmomentum and raised the funding to build the this time, Samsung Electronics took notice ofproduct, which I called “Ideastorm.” But as one me from a lecture I had given at their researchwise old man observed, I did not know what I did lab. I was soon hired as a VP to lead a develop-not know. Worse off than a being the wife of a ment group within the newly inaugurated Digitalgraduate student is to be the wife of an entrepre- Solutions Center. Hence, what began as a shortneur. I dragged Alice through 5 years of startup 2 year stint became a 7 year odyssey. As anstruggle. I always told Alice that I will make up for executive, I had the opportunity to come homethe difficulties she endured when the company frequently. The pay was good. The company paidsucceeds. to send our children to private schools of ourThen the new venture market crashed with the choice. But this is no way to build a family. Evenbursting of internet bubble in late 2000. Funding worse than being the wife of an entrepreneur isdried up, and there was no place in the market to be the wife of an expat.for an unproven, underfunded venture. When an After seven long years, I returned home for good,investor invited me to join him as a CTO of his and worked to get back on track. This was notthen thriving Internet company in South Korea, easy. I started where I left off by building a newwith a promise to finish and launch my product, startup company. Then I got a call from a headI jumped at the opportunity. The plan was to hunter in Korea. SK Telecom was looking forfinish and launch my product through his 120 someone to launch an innovations laboratory inman operation, first in Korea to be followed by a Silicon Valley. This had all the trappings of there-introduction into US. I would return to US with dream job I wanted. I named the lab, GSL—fora successful product within two years. Global Solutions Laboratory. I selected an idealI left for Korea leaving behind my family in the location in a brand new building in downtownEast Bay. This was especially hard on Alice when Sunnyvale. I traveled across the country tothe three children were still so little. Soon after gather top talents. And I launched GSL with proj-I arrived in Korea, I discovered that the Internet ects that I was sure would shape the technologyCompany was actually in great deal of trouble landscape. It was a great start, but there was a 57 58
  31. 31. s e n t i m e n ta l t i e s a lo n g t h e waypolitical battle brewing back at the headquarters of Francisco this way, in leisure and without a care.SK Telecom. The head of technology division who I never saw San Francisco except in blurs alwayshired me and created the lab I started was in a life rushing between destinations. This was a fittingand death struggle with the head of business de- metaphor for my life.velopment division. The latter felt that the any new Through this time, Alice, my dear wife was deter-operation outside of Korea came under his jurisdic- mined to make this a happy, comfortable time fortion and so moved to take over the Sunnyvale lab me. The pain started in earnest while we were inas his. This battle resulted in my leaving SKT after San Francisco, but this would not ruin our special16 months. It took me 3 years to get back on stride. time together. We will remember us by this timeI had learned my lessons. I relinquished my foolish together. Alice’s cheery presence comfortedambitions. And finally, I was back on track, doing me. I fought the sadness that welled up in me aswhat I loved, and building a new company. Then just I wondered, what did I do with all those years?when everything was finally looking up, I learned of I lamented the times I lost while I chased mymy cancer. futile dreams. How would I now keep my promiseWhatever God had planned for me, I had shunned to her, that I will “make up for everything.” I’veto follow my own plans. Time after time, I subjected always intended to shower Alice with everythingAlice through hardship and waiting. And now, just she loved. We did have our moments, and Godwhen stability and security were around the corner did bless us in spite of my failings. But mostly, Ifor Alice, I had to tell her the news of my cancer. gave her 26 years of unfulfilled promises, hard-It was a cool bright sunny day in San Francisco. ship, and anxiety. My heart was smitten to ob-We had taken the BART train to the city. Alice’s serve, that after all this, and especially after theface shone flush from the hike up the hill on Jones news a mere two weeks ago, all that Alice caredStreet. She smiled in delight as we checked into a for was my comfort.landmark century old building which is now Wyn-ham Hotel. We dined at a quaint restaurant nearby. the danger of fallingWe took the cable car to the Pier 39. We rode the I realized that there are sentiments that canbus to the shopping district. We took a ferry around drown a man. I must take charge of my emo-Alcatraz Island. We visited museums in Golden tions, as I must subjugate the flesh to overcomeGate Park. In the twenty-six years we lived in the the physical pain. We must not lose ourselvesBay Area, this was the first time that I toured San in the maze of sentimentality that we construct. 59 60
  32. 32. s e n t i m e n ta l t i e s a lo n g t h e wayNostalgic longings can distort and depress our become seeds of disbelief.mind and soul. Emotions must not take prece- The fear of the LORD is the beginning ofdence over our spiritual reference and orienta- knowledge .... Proverbs 1:7tion. Especially at times like this, we must keepour gaze fixed on Jesus. To stare inward to the When our curiosity is channeled, not by humanraw sentiments is to invite the waves of sadness pride and arrogance, but by the fear of the God,and despair that can overrun our thoughts. We we are then given the proper perspective tomust not underestimate the power of emotions, observe the Universe as it was intended. Whenfor they will detract us even unto losing sight we are moved by the reverence and awe of God’sof Christ. We must fight to keep our sentiments achievement, we each have the capacity to finallyunder control when facing trials. comprehend the order of life that God has set in motion from the beginning of his creation. Things work according to the design He has spoken into the order of life existence—unfathomably complex and beauti-We are born with curiosity. How do things work ful. Thousands of years of man’s best effort toas they do? Why bad things happen at the worst comprehend this universe amount to little moremoment, while evil people seem to prosper and than spotted discoveries of this order. Everythrive under the same conditions? Is there an in- field of science to date is merely a structuredtelligent God? If so, is he truly personal? Or is he documentation of these discoveries. What hascold and impersonal? Are we humans mere chess man created on his own? Discoveries and applica-pieces created for his amusement, to be thrown tions based on glimpses of God’s genius is whataside when the game gets tiresome? Or, are we man so arrogantly claims as his own scientificreally products of accidents and are events of our achievements. In the early days, scientists werelives mere series of accidents driven by a chaotic humble men, admirers of this order. But some-jumble of factors? Where luck rules and dog eat where along the way, a group of men decideddog and survival at all cost is the best world view to take God out of the picture, and sought toto live by? Do people believe in God because He explain away their observations on probabili-is real or because people in desperation want to? ties and twisted logic. When scientists were noThese are some of the questions that irritate and longer God-fearing men learning from nature thetorment us ever so persistently. If left unchecked, master’s design, this is when the entire disciplinethese irritations turn into doubts, and doubts of science became something corrupt, queer, 61 62
  33. 33. s e n t i m e n ta l t i e sand irrational, and formed a basis for an atheisticreligion of their own.I often wonder what a marvelous thing learningcould be for a young mind if the teachers onlyacknowledged God’s hand in all the creation.Rather than observing crystalline structures ascold minerals lining up in the direction of leastenergy, or a leaf as a chimerical product of ac-cidental bombardment of protoplasmic ooze overmillions of years, one could explain how the Mas-ter designed these things from nothing, and inHis infinite wisdom, set all things in motion and inbalance which made life on earth possible. Everyelement has a role, every feature or function hasa purpose, and what adventure we would haveas instructors and students both to wonder whatmotivated the Creator to make this Universe so. the creator and his creationWhen I was young, I was filled with wonder ofwhat I saw in the world around me. How themorning turned to day and the darkness of nightcovered the earth as the moon and the starsfilled the sky. Then the morning with fresh airand bright light unfailingly came again. How theinsects moved as I chased after them. How eachanimal with its own unique features filled thediversity of the life. 63
  34. 34. a lo n g t h e way cruise. And this world is a boot camp, not the land of milk and honey. This is where the lessons are learned through the unfairness, hardship, and evil that pervades this world. We are the children of light in this dark world. Jesus said, be the light What is Life? and salt of this world. Why the light, unless the world is dark? Why salt, unless the this world is in need of cleansing and preserving? Our march order is to go out and tell the world of the good news. We are not here on earth to perfume the sewers, but to rescue people out of it. This is not the main stage where the judgements are given life is a training camp and rewards are dispensed. Once we are bornI had many questions that bothered me through- we cannot get out of it. We cannot speed up orout my life. Such questions like, why do the good slow down the process. We cannot jump back orsuffer while the evil prosper? Where is fairness leap forward in time. We are destined to finishwhen a 24 year old son is taken from his mother the training until our graduation day. Then at thein a blink of an eye, when a freak accident para- Beemer Seat, our grades will be given to us, andlyzes a 19 year-old boy for life at a church retreat, we will receive our respective rewards, exactlywhen a loving father and school teacher is struck according to what we deserve based on our per-one day by multiple-sclerosis and confined to formance during the training.the wheelchair for 10 years? If there is fairness When I realized this, my confusions, bitterness,in this world, how can God allow these things to fears, and doubts disappeared. Boot camp is ahappen? Such questions are only a heart-beat place of training, not a retreat. What fairness andaway from other, more fearful questions: Is God creature-comfort can a trainee demand from areal? Does God care? Does He really love us? Or drill sergeant? God’s eye’s are fixed on each ofis God only a figment of man’s imagination in his us—not to check up on how well we are cared forsearch for a sense of security against death and or whether our accommodations meet our expec-inexplicable fate of man? tations; but rather, on how we conduct ourselvesThe questions vanished when I finally under- through each gauntlet of tests. His desire is forstood that life is a training ground, not a pleasure us to grow in spirit; not in our taste for self-indul- gence. 65 66

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