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An act of love

Knowing this is the Valentine Day's week, I was planning to write about the book "The Five Love Languages" by Dr. Gary Chapman in this week's column. However, three days before the deadline, something unexpected happened. And it changed my plan.

During our Sunday service at Spirit of Life Bible Church on Feb. 3, a fellow church member named Julia who was sitting next to me took the necklace she had on and handed it over to me.

"I want to give this to you," she said.

She did it quietly and for no apparent reason.

Looking at the beautiful necklace with a big cross pendant and a small cross pendant, I was totally surprised. This random act of kindness, more exactly, this random act of love, was overwhelming. I was deeply touched.

Julia and Jeff started to come to our Sunday service a few months ago. I saw them on and off in the church. Since Julia is from Taiwan, we have one thing in common: we speak the same mother tongue. So we talked a little bit, but we don't really know each other very well.

I am an introvert, quiet and reserved. I can't sing and dance. I even have a hard time raising my hands during worship.

On the other hand, Julia is social and talkative. She likes to dance and sing for the Lord. Her worship is full of expression with her hand signing and body movements. She shows excitement in giving thanks and praise to the Lord.

Julia and Jeff have been married for many years, but they are still deep in love. They come to church together, holding hands.

On the first Sunday in January, Jeff came to the church alone, distressed and sad. He asked our congregation to pray for Julia who was very sick and in pain. She had a tumor the size of a football and would undergo surgery. The future didn't look good.

"I don't want to lose the love and joy of my life," Jeff said, almost in tears.

After that Sunday, I hadn't seen Julia and Jeff again. I asked the congregation to pray for them. I called them at home once and left a message. Nobody had heard anything from them.

Meanwhile, a church member happened to bump into Jeff as she took the elevator at United Hospital. She took the time to go back in the elevator and find Jeff to give him a few words of encouragement. That's exactly what Jeff needed to hear at that moment.

On Sunday, Feb. 3, only three days after Julia went home from the surgery that removed her football-sized cancer tumor, Julia walked slowly into the church, with the help of Jeff.

I was very glad to see her again, but so surprised to see her back so soon. She looked pale and skinner, yet the inner love, joy and peace that radiated from her being hadn't changed a bit.

I asked, "Julia, why did you come back so soon? Why didn't you stay home to recover from the surgery?"

Her response was, "The Lord wanted me to come. I have to come to praise and worship, and to give my testimony."

A few moments later, she took her necklace and handed it over to me quietly.

When it was time for praise and prayer request, Julia stood up, walked to the front and shared her testimony. Even though she spoke very softly, her message of healing and miracle, forgiveness and reconciliation was very powerful. Like many, I had tears coming down my cheeks.

I was touched by both her act of love and testimony.

I don't know what thoughts prompted her to give me her beautiful necklace. I think as someone who had just experienced life and death situations, there is nothing more important than to live in the present, to live in love instead of fear and separation, to live in abundance instead of scarcity, to show love and kindness to others, to give freely your love and material things.

It's not either "me or you" or "mine or yours." We are all part of one universe.

I am thankful for the lessons that Julia taught me on this Sunday.

I also realized that love lived in real life is more powerful than loved taught in the book. God's plan is definitely better than my own plan. I'll save my original plan for this week's column for a future date.

Happy Valentine's Day! May you experience real love in your life.