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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 4, 2002

Embracing God brings clarity

By Russell Stephen Pang

Several years ago, our two oldest grandchildren returned to Hawai'i and spent a weekend with my wife, Debbie, and me.

As we were driving back to our condo, John, then 12, and Keith, then 6, started arguing and harassing each other as only brothers can.

After a minute or so of this banter, I began my grandfatherly spiel about being nice to each other. The peace lasted a few minutes before the less-than-brotherly-love exchange started again.

Another reprimand. Another two minutes of harmony. More bickering. Me again. Another truce.

Obviously my efforts to persuade were less than successful and certainly not producing the results I had hoped for.

During a silent moment, the Holy Spirit gave me insight and I soon found myself in conversation with the boys, asking them about God and Jesus and "Whom do you want to make happy?"

"What do you think would make Jesus happy now?" I asked.

There was a pause, followed by a "Sorry, John," and "Sorry, Keith."

Whenever a disagreement arose during the weekend, all I had to do was ask, "Whom do you want to make happy?" Tensions would quickly ease.

We actually had a very enjoyable weekend and I was raring to volunteer at children's Sunday school.

Scripture says that when Jesus was baptized, a voice from heaven declared, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased."

Through John and Keith, the Holy Spirit taught me a lesson that fully solidified my thinking about my purpose on planet earth, i.e., conforming to the image of Jesus by living a life pleasing to God.

Renewing my mind with this one motto — "The reason I live is to please God," — has brought clarity and priority to my thinking. Despite the ongoing freeway of thoughts and feelings zooming through my mind, I now have a spiritual thought home base, where I can safely return. Whatever I may think or feel, if I first ask myself, "Is this thought or feeling pleasing to God?"

Then I will know how I should proceed and how I should act.

As the Holy Spirit faithfully encourages me, another motto is added: "Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling." As I embrace the cross daily, the Holy Spirit keeps my sinful nature under control so I live not to please myself but to fulfill my highest calling of pleasing God.

Russell Stephen Pang, a former deacon, is a member of First Presbyterian Church.

Expressions of Faith is a column that welcomes submissions from pastors, priests, lay workers and other leaders in faith and spirituality. E-mail faith@honoluluadvertiser.com or call 525-8035. Articles submitted to The Advertiser may be published or distributed in print, electronic or other forms.