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February 14th, 2021

Mark 9:2-9

Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.

“A Turning Point

I want to talk to you today about “a turning point” in our lives. I guess that most of us have experienced a turning point in our lives. Some experienced a new life after recovering from a certain illness. For some, it was, perhaps, marriage being a big turning point in their life. For some, perhaps, it was a life event such as when you got a new job, entered a new school, moved a new place, or meeting a certain person, and so on. For some, perhaps, it was when you experienced being born again in Jesus Christ. For some, it was when you recognized something new before that you never knew.

For the Apostle Paul, his turning point in his life was when he met Jesus on Damascus’ road. He persecuted Jesus’ followers because he didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah (Christ) at that time. However, after he met Jesus on Damascus’ road, he recognized that he was the Lord and the Messiah (Christ). He changed his mind and life totally from Jesus’ persecutor to an Apostle of Jesus. For me, as I mentioned several times, my turning point in my life was when I received a pastor’s prayer in a hospital due to a broken spine injury. I experienced a new life from hopelessness since I accepted Jesus as my savior.

In today’s Scripture, we see Jesus and his three disciples, who had an amazing experience on the mountaintop. Jesus transfigured and met with Moses and Elijah before three disciples, Peter, James, and John. It was a dramatic event for the three disciples to see Jesus’ transfiguration and heard God’s voice directly, “this is my son, the Beloved.” You may remember that when Jesus received baptism by John the Baptist, it happened the same way. But, they were not there because it was before they became his disciples. This event was the turning point for all three disciples and Jesus in their lives. Jesus finally spoke about his identity as Christ (the Messiah), such as his suffering, death, and resurrection. For the three disciples, this event caused them to be the best disciples of Jesus.  Peter recalls in the Second Letter of Peter, “We had been an eyewitness of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the majesty glory, saying, ‘this is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:16b-18). It was the time that they confirmed Peter’s confession that “You are the Christ, the Living God” (Mark 8:29; Matthew 16:16).

I want to share with you the story of a man’s turning point. I met him when I was a chaplain in a hospital. On the night, when I was on call, I got a phone call from a nurse asking if I could visit a patient. According to the nurse, after hearing the news of a colorectal cancer diagnosis, he refused to eat, receiving treatment, or even see the nurses or doctors. Of course, he rejected seeing several chaplains. The nurse told me, “If you could do anything for him, please do whatever you can.” However, I was not sure if I could help him because I was just a beginner as a chaplain at that time. Before I visited him, I prayed that God might help him and me. When I reached the nurses station, the nurse said with a serious voice, “I hope you can help him.” She guided me to his hospital room, and she smiled at him and introduced me to him kindly. However, he didn’t respond to her and continued watching the TV. The nurse smiled at me and went out of the room. I introduce myself to him again.

As soon as he heard that I was a chaplain, he said to me with a rigorous and bold voice without looking at me, “I am a one hundred percentage Christian.” At the moment, I knew what he meant. However, unconsciously I laughed at that and said, “well, I think you are not a one hundred percentage Christian. Hmm. Maybe, you are a Christian of about 50 percent, or maybe about 30 percent.” He finally turned his long face to me. I smiled at him and continually said, “If you convince me you are a one hundred percentage Christian, I will leave this room.” His face changed like a tiger, looking at me for a while. Finally, he turned off the TV and asked me, “Are you an Indian?” I said, “No, I am a Korean. How about you?” He answered, “I’m a German American.” I said, “See, even though we don’t know where our origins were by our appearance, how do I know if you are a one hundred percentage Christian.” He said, “You might be right.” He seemed to like to recall something for a while.

Unexpectedly, he started to talk about his life story and his family story. I listened to him with respect and an empathic mind. He was the third generation of a German immigrant and was a Christian from birth. His grandparents were planters of a Lutheran church. He never went out of the church life. From childhood, he was involved in a children’s choir and Sunday school. After he was confirmed, he served the church as a committee member, choir member, and Sunday School teacher. It sounded like he was a one hundred percentage Christian. I couldn’t say that he was not a one hundred percentage Christian anymore, not because he was a real Christian, but because I felt his anger toward God. In his every word, I felt his crying out to God. For example, I felt he cried out to God, “I did this, this and this. I never went away from you. Why me? Why me? What did I do wrong?” Amazingly, he had memorized all the verses of the Beatitude. After he talked about his long story, he kept silent for a while. His face seemed like he was about cry. I said, “If you feel upset with God, you may express your anger to God. If you want to say anything to God, please say it to God. Who knows, God may want to talk with you.” He looked up at me curiously. He seemed to ask me, ‘how dare we express our anger to God.’ I said, “You know what, Job was blameless and upright. He feared God and avoided all evil things. However, he lost all he got suddenly, such as his sons, his wife, his possessions, and his health. Finally, he argued about his righteousness with his friends and even with God. His conclusion was that he doesn’t know anything before Almighty God. When he recognized it, God recovered him and blessed him more than seven times before losing everything. We don’t know about God. We don’t know why you. But we know only that God is the living God.” Suddenly, he screamed and cried out, taking an IV shot off and standing on the bed. Nurses and doctors came into the room and made him calm down. I stepped out of the room, standing out of the door.

After the doctors and nurses left the room, the nurse called me, smiled at me, and said, “You may go in.” As soon as I came into the room, he said, “I thought you left.” I asked, “Why did you think I left you because you screamed? I think you did a good job. Sometimes you may express how much you are angry with God.” And I told him about my story: How I suffered from hopelessness in a hospital due to broken spine; How God sent me a pastor into my hospital room; and how I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior: And I asked him, “May I pray for you?” He said, “Yes, please.” I prayed for him that God might visit him and explain why God gives him this difficulty even in his dreams. When I left his room, he asked me to call a nurse to get some food. He finally began eating food again.

The next day, in the early morning, the same nurse called me again, saying, “Please come over to visit him. He asked me to call you. He is crying out now. Please come in a hurry.” I ran to him. He was crying and said to me, “I met Jesus in my dream. Jesus came to me. Jesus came to me. I’m born again. I’m fine whether God heals me or not because God is with me. I’ll receive Chemo. I’ll receive whatever my doctor suggests me.” He talked to me non-stop, crying out like a baby. It was a turning point in his life. Even though he was a sincere Christian, he experienced being born again in Jesus Christ at that moment.

What about you? When did you experience a turning point in your life? Why don’t you share your story with your family members, especially with your children and grandchildren? They may have some point to turn in their life. Remember, you are the channel of God’s blessings. God may want to use you as his means of grace. As God called you at a certain point, God may want to call someone through you. Thanks be to God. Amen!