Because I moved to New Zealand when I was only 8, I do not have a lot of memories of my childhood that I had in my motherland, Korea. So those that have survived in the limited storage space of my brain have a special lustre of their own.
This was when I was around 7 or 8. I loved going to the stationery store that was right next to my primary school. I remember it being always packed with kids before and after school.
With glittering eyes and sticky fingers, they weren’t there only to rummage through pencils and exercise books, but piles and piles of cheap junk food. Oh, how we adored them! With only 10 cents, we could purchase laughter and joy that were shaped in snack-like ramen noodles, crispy cheese-flavoured sticks and sour lollies.
Just as I had always done, I joyfully hopped into the store that day as well to choose my snacks with meticulous contemplation and judgement. When I finally paid for my packet of happiness, I couldn’t wait to excite my taste buds and devour it, but that day, something caught my eye that delayed my voracious dining.
I was never into games, so it’s strange how I got pulled into watching a group of boys huddling over the game machine.
With one hand tightly gripping the handle and the other speedily moving and ferociously hitting the buttons, their hands seemed even more powerful than their Street Fighter characters on the screen. Joining the other kids already lost in awe, I watched rounds and rounds of the ardent battle.
Only when I heard the other audiences opening their ‘popcorn’ did I remember I should have mine too. But in sheer terror, I realised it was missing! I looked up, down, all over and around but there was no sign of my crispy sticks.
Where could it be? I thought I had held unto it tightly. Had I put it on top of the game machine? On the ice cream fridge? Had one of the boys taken it?
I was filled with utter dismay. I couldn’t believe I had lost it. I couldn’t believe it so much to the point that I convinced myself that perhaps… I had accidentally dropped the snack back inside the box I had gotten it from.
I could remember exchanging my coins with the goodies at the counter, but I thought I could also remember going back to the box to look at the other snacks once more. I wasn’t sure, but it was very possible, which meant that I could have done it, so maybe I had. Perhaps I truly did, I told myself.
So, I did go back to the box. I did pick my snack back up, which I had paid for and accidentally did drop back into.
But because I knew the store owner was watching out for shoplifting and because I knew he wouldn’t believe my story, I crept my way in and very carefully, very quickly retrieved my precious possession.
Later on (way after a merry consumption), I thought back about it and realised that I had lied to myself and that I actually had, in fact, stolen the 10-cent-snack.
Though this is something I can now laugh about, back then, my heart sunk, and guilt seemed to squeeze the life out of it. I felt like I had committed the gravest sin possible and cried days without being able to tell anyone about it.
Both memories remain in me like videos I can replay anytime, and they sure did the other night when I was praying before bed. I was repenting about my prideful heart and how I had failed to live for God’s glory.
Showing off my accomplishments and wanting to do things for my own good, I confessed that I was constantly stealing the glory that was supposed to be His.
I had thought that day at the store was the closest thief-like moment I ever had, but I realised I was wrong. I was a thief every time I boasted in anything but Christ: “…He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 31 KJV).
When I had realised that Jesus had bought me with His life, I proclaimed to give my entire self to Him and live only for His glory. But because I am still weak and easily tempted, every day, every moment is a battle to not do things for my own sake. The Holy Spirit has to continuously remind me that I must not be a thief.
Taste and see
As the young me did when I realized I had stolen the snack, I am to daily reflect upon my actions and repent in sincere tears for being a glory-thief.
But the me now knows something that I didn’t then: just as Jesus loved and saved the thief that was nailed next to Him only for believing that He was the Son of God, Christ loves me and forgives me every day.
This is why the fear-stricken little Sunny can now smile. Even in my failings, God is love. He loved me even when I was a ‘snack-pocket’ and even when I am fighting against my glory-stealing habits.
Thus, I am overflowed with joy deeper than what that snack could offer, and I hope you will also “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalms chapter 34, verse 8).
Sunny is as a weak as a broken reed, a flickering candle. But Abba God shows His abundant mercy again and again by incredibly loving this hopeless being. Soli deo Gloria.