I wonder if normal Christians find it strange that I feel a special sense of duty to China from sharing my grandfather’s birthday. His birth date is recorded to have been in October, and mine in December, but seems his month and day were in fact according to the Chinese lunar calendar, in which case mine matches his in the solar.
If I were to ask for the intercession of departed saints, I would certainly be inclined to solicit his prayers, not because of any long and exemplary faithfulness to Christ but because of the circumstances of his becoming a Christian. It was nothing short of miraculous, I felt, that the Lord saw fit to convert him to the true faith in the last months of his life on earth. For decades he had resisted this faith, and when my father had converted to it he even had told him not to go to church – with which, being clean contrary to the commandment of God, my father dared not comply. My attempt to ask him about his religious beliefs had elicited a memorably clever reply but nothing of substance. Years later, as he lay dying, his defences stripped from him, with nothing between his soul and the eyes of God, he was compelled to bend the knee of his heart to the one true God by the mediation of Jesus Christ. When I heard the news, I think, I was in the shower on the other side of the country, and it was as if something had washed my family clean. His death, when it came, was great sorrow but also great peace for a man who had been carried by angels to meet his Maker. To a man who has been shown such extraordinary favour for the sake of Christ, will not more favour be shown?
Even today, whenever I go up the hills of Oakland to the land of the dead, to the darkness of death and the memorial of a great cleansing, I feel the holiness of God manifest. When my eye passes over Oakland and Berkeley, over the Bay to San Francisco, and over the ocean to the land of our fathers, it is as if God has given us possession of the earth because he has sanctified this family. No matter what happens in our family, this is the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy, granting that we may eat the flesh of his dear Son, and to drink his blood, to the cleansing of our sinful bodies through his body and the washing of our souls through his most precious blood. When I am there, I am assured as if by a promissory note that this family, sanctified by Christ himself from my grandfather on, will serve God even to the end of the world. By the power of a God who can convert the most stiff-necked people, and who made a noble pagan but a deeply flawed man into one of his saints, there is nothing that cannot be done. To see the land of the dead is also the hear the promise of life.
And Luminous Authority begat Nation’s Hoisting-up, and Nation’s Hoisting-up begat Walking in Righteousness.
And so, marking to what dangers my grandfather once submitted himself in service to China as a spy, my heart wants to do the same in Christ. The line of providence from my grandfather to me seems too great to cast off as coïncidence, since the all-wise Lord knows no such thing as luck or chance. In 1949, he had left China as an exile; near the turn of the millennium, ad te omnis caro veniet. The new millennium in China belongs to the Lord, and what things soever he has ordained for that nation will come to pass. And the power that turned the heart of my grandfather to his children, and of his children to him, that same power is the Holy Spirit in me to magnify and bless.