Full Story with photos at https://tiaspage.com/my-story-pt-1/
I planned to climb out of my castle and ride my white horse to victory. To me, it sounded simple. Unfortunately, no one told me that a leap from the tallest tower makes for a great fall.
I was born into a Korean-Japanese family. I think the best word to describe my childhood is: extraordinary. My parents met in Tokyo, Japan, and my dad fell madly in love with my beautiful mom. They were 18 years apart in age, but my dad was persistent in getting to my mom’s heart. Soon, they tied the knot and had over a dozen miscarriages before they had me at seven months, as the “miracle child.”
My mom became a businesswoman and my dad, a high-ranking political leader for the Republic of South Korea. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out between them, and by faith, my mom remarried her long-lost friend from high school who was the youngest son from the Japanese Mafia Family.
Fortunately for me, my parents remained great friends. My stepfather looked up to and respected my biological father. I loved them both and was their princess. My biological father was always on TV, and the whole nation paid great respect to him. His words were like gold in many people’s lives, though I never knew why till years later. My stepfather, on the other side, was a very handsome and powerful figure, too. Strangely, I looked very similar to both of them and people often couldn’t guess which one was my birth father.
The unique life got me living in Taiwan, South Korea, and eventually, Hawaii. We had many properties. Our family friends who were famous and noble—including the presidents—would come over for parties at our homes. My friends, however, were only allowed to come over to three of our homes: one in Honolulu, the other two near the Paris Park and Hyundai Tower in Gangnam, South Korea.
My life was above average, but not to the extent that some of my relatives were. To give you an idea, one of my cousins received an entire temple with a golden Buddha for her birthday. Still, I grew up with butlers, nannies, drivers, and bodyguards who treated me like a princess, and I indeed always got my ways. I was also protected from the outside world, but I desired my own freedom...
“It’s so hot!” Cali fluttered a fan in front of her face trying to ease her discomfort.
“It’s not hot you’re just dramatic.” Cole continued to dig, the hole in the sand was a good six feet deep now.
“Easy for you to say, you were born here. My delicate skin isn’t used to such extremes.”
“Get over yourself,” As the shovel went into the sand once more, it hit something and sent a thud echoing through the ancient shipwreck. Both Cali and Cole stood in silence. The excitement vibrated through each of them until Cole finally spoke.
“Hand me the brush.”
Cali scrambled by the side of the hole and tossed the brush to him. He caught it and began meticulously removing the dust from below. A large square was revealed with an inscription written in ancient Greek.
Cole squinted at the characters and tried to decipher the message.
“Here lies God’s temple, beware all who enter. Your faith shall be tested. Only the worthy shall succeed.” Looking up at Cali he smiled, “Hand me the crow bar.”
She did as he asked but was hesitant, “Should we be doing this Cole? That sounded pretty heavy how do we know the legend isn’t true.”
“Every legend has a wisp of truth in it. But we can’t be afraid to try. Think about it Cali! No one’s been in here for a thousand years. We could be the first to explore it.”
“We also could be the first to die.”
“This isn’t a movie, if you’re too scared then I can go alone.” A loud hiss filled the room as the stone was unsealed. Then a rush of wind coursed through the entire ship, sounding like a howl of agony.
“God is with us, I’m not scared. I just don’t feel right about this.”
Cole struggled to lift the stone slab to the side. Then through pants he spoke, “Then don’t come. I’ll be fine on my own.”
“You’re not leaving me alone up here. I’m going.”
“Then hand me a torch and let’s go.”
They entered the tunnel through the hole. The first thing they noticed was the wind, it breathed through the hall as if the place is alive. Cali quickly pulled out her camera to document everything. As they walked down the long corridor, she clicked a picture of the entryway. She glanced at the picture then suddenly grabbed Cole and yanked him back.
“Ouch! What is it?” Cole rubbed his shoulder.
“There’s writing on the stones.”
Cole looked up at the entryway and shook his head, “I don’t see any writing.”
“I can see them on my camera if I sharpen the image a bit. See?”
She held the camera out to him and he took it in his hands. “Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord and He will exalt you. James 4:10”
Cali studied the entrance for a moment, “What do you think it means?”
“They are using humble as a verb what is the action of humbling yourself? To be humble is to lower yourself to someone in dignity and importance according to Webster's dictionary.. Lower… Lower! We have to crawl through the entrance.”
“Why? There’s nothing there.”
“We have to have faith.”
Cali nodded and they both got down on their knees and began to crawl toward the entrance.
As they came closer, Cole discovered a thin wire just above his head, it was knee high. “Careful, I don’t know what this does and I don’t want to find out.”
Cali got down even lower, “You don’t have to tell me twice.”
On the other side, they stood and let out a breath. Together, they continued on, Cali took pictures and checked every entrance before they came to a great hall. It was filled with all kinds of treasure made of gold and silver, embedded with jewels of all kinds.
“Wow! God is definitely tempting us. Look at all this!” Cole exclaimed.
Cali shook her head, “James 1:13-18 When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.”
Cole lit up, “So what you’re saying is we should take all of this?”
Cali looked around, suspicious of everything. Looking down she discovered another stone with writing on it. “1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Cole’s shoulders sagged. “You’re right let’s stay on task. It’s real treasure that we seek.”
They walked through the gold filled room and reached a wall with a keyhole.
“Wouldn’t it be terrible if this was the wrong key?” Cole laughed.
“Don’t even joke like that. This has to be it; we went through so much to get it, I’d cry if it didn’t work.” Cali took the key from around her neck and inserted it into the slot. She gave it a turn and heard a bolt move. Then she heard gears turning and more bolts moving until a light pop came from a crack in the wall and the stones suddenly moved together to reveal a door.
The room on the other side was dark and almost empty. A table rested on the opposite side with a box. The floor was all stones with verse locations written on them in Greek.
Cali stepped forward only to be pulled back by Cole in the nick of time. As her foot stepped on a tile, a slew of poison darts flew out from the walls towards her. They both ducked and narrowly missed a slow death.
Cole swallowed hard, “I think I should go and you wait here. I'm better at Greek and I’ll ask for help when I need it.
“How are you going to get across?”
“You stepped on 1 John 3:8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.’”
“So, All these first verses talk about either evil or good, Satan or God. You need to step on the ones about God and good.”
“Fine you can go but tell me which ones you’re about to step on beforehand.”
“Will do. The first should be Psalm 121:7-8 The Lord will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”
Cole stepped out onto the corresponding tile and nothing happened. They both exhaled with relief. He looked over his shoulder at Cali, “2 Corinthians 11:3, Acts 5:3, or Proverbs 3:7-8”
“Proverbs 3:7-8! ‘Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.’”
Cole nodded and landed on the next tile safely. “Ok I’m not sure about these three, John 8:44, Matthew 16:23, or Genesis 3:1-5.”
Cali bit her lower lip and shook her head, “I don’t know they are all about Satan.”
“Wait the next row has Psalm 34:14 ‘Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.' I think I can make that if I jump.”
“But it also talks about evil what if you’re wrong?”
“If I am, let God judge me for it.”
Cole squatted down and then leapt into the air aiming for the tile a row ahead. He made the landing and was able to stop himself from falling over. He stepped off the tiles onto the stone stairs leading up to the table. Cali watched him make his way up the steps to the box. He lifted the lid and smiled back at her.
Cali sighed in disbelief. Cole pulled out a large book and put it into his sack then hopped down the stairs preparing to come across the tiles once more. But as he stepped on the first tile, a clicking sound began under the box. The table began to rise and the room began to shift.
Cole turned to Cali and jumped to the next tile as quick as he could. Then making it to the final tile he grabbed her hand. The two ran into the treasure room which was filling with water rapidly. By the time they made it to the corridors, the water was to their knees.
They quickly sloshed to the final entrance and forgetting the wire, ran through it. A large stone dropped from the ceiling and landed behind them, unsettlingly close. They scrambled up the opening and made it safely into the shipwreck. Cole and Cali laid on their backs breathing heavily. They looked at each other and laughed nervously until they were finally certain they were safe. Then Cole pulled the book from his bag to inspect it. It hadn’t gotten wet thank goodness.
“The first complete Greek Bible.” Cali smiled.
“Worth so much more than money.”
A voice came from behind them, “That it is. And I thank you for retrieving it for me.”
When friends praise you, they are showing that they are loving people and secure within themselves. They are also showing that they have learned that criticizing others right off the bat does not lead to a subsequent build up of themselves. Instead, they have learned the value of making time to nurture relationships and actively listen to their friends before criticizing.
Isn’t it wonderful when someone reaches for praise rather than criticism? I believe it was Alex Haley (author of “Roots”) who always said “Look for the best in someone, and praise it.” Much more productive than immediately criticizing, and much more fun to watch the potentially amazing results!
After all, our speech should be edifying. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another.”
What Loving Criticism Can Accomplish
On the other hand, when we criticize a friend, we are judging the merits and faults of something they have said or done as either good or bad. Criticism can, in fact, correct another person in a Godly way, if the criticism is given with that intent and in that spirit.
It was Norman Vincent Peale who said, “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” And he was right. We usually don’t like criticism. I know I can tend to take it personally, but I also take it to heart and try to learn from it, especially constructive criticism in a work situation.
The Reverend Charles Stanley said, “Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They'll stay faithful as long as it's safe and doesn't involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.” However, a true friend will speak the truth even when it’s hard to hear: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." (Proverbs 27:6)
Since God loves people and wants the best for them, He points out faults, shortcomings, and sins. The Bible gives several examples of criticism:
Hebrews 10:24 says, "Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds."
And Galatians 6:1 gives the primary motivation for criticizing - with a warning: "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."
A Personal Story: Preferring Praise to Criticism
Whenever my friends praise me, it makes me feel like a great success. I am encouraged and heartened by their words, which come as such a blessing. This is one of the main reasons that being around Christian friends is so edifying for me, and so necessary for a peaceful heart! I would rather listen to their encouraging voices than to the negative voices that are sometimes in my head, that’s for sure. Those voices might not agree with the praise! I might not feel too successful or uplifted at times, but my focus becomes redirected with praise from my friends. I start to see myself as God sees me – wonderfully made.
In my mind's eye I can see him standing imperiously upon a high altitude plateau. Towering behind him is a siege artillery piece, an engine of destruction, what some called a planting for the display of God's splendor.
This otherworldly scene is embalmed in gray ambiance; an image that is dying, yet of grandeur.
The properties of this film of spellbinding light are dreams, my thirsting for destiny.
It would seem that as my hope in this destiny is deferred, so does the light of this image fade.
Cyrus is tall and handsome. The midnight blue uniform he wears is decorated with medals from campaigns the world over.
The General's large eyes scan the distance thoughtfully. Perpetually sad in his youth, the brown orbs are now a facade of strength. He turns, appraising his old talisman, Martha.
The mythical forty inch bore cannon weighs seven hundred tons and is more than capable of destroying any fortifications withstanding the U.S. army. She is the progeny of the likes of Schneider Obusiers, super guns that traversed the Great War's battlefields. With a perceived audible sharpness or mayhap power glow dredged from that sliver of Filippo Marinetti within him, her barrel gleams rousingly in the sunshine.
In some ways she's a tribute to the love of the machine espoused by that futurism movement of the early 20th century, a symbol of man's triumph over all.
"But does my glory, symbolized by this machine to many, give me a triumph over the brokenness of my youth? Have I really proven all my old tormentors wrong by "making it big"? It was an act of peace rather than war that saved us all." He whispers.
With the mark of a rare intellect, his eyes flash over her framework, rung by a maze of conduits, then at her lengthy barrel; noting the quality of the maglev tracks supporting this behemoth.
Cyrus's own groundwork is substantially sturdier. He stands securely on the Holy Mountain. Though he often questions it, the joy of God really is his strength and victory.
At the very least he recognizes what had to be done before his opponent's armies are routed. Their satanic principalities, posing as gods, roam the firmament. Having transmogrified themselves into those diabolical lights carpeting the sky, they mislead so many, perpetuating a doctrine where humanity can achieve deity and fix its brokenness in its own strength.
Satan's legions are empowering this massive force coming against Cyrus's people. With spiritual warfare he knows the demons are as good as defeated, God took care of it. This was the first task to be completed.
Now that its foundations are incinerated, a few calculated blows will bring the hierarchy of this Commonwealth of Nations crashing down...
And yet a growing doubt haunts the man, a feeling of futility in this warring enterprise. Why all this death? Clothed in his regalia, would the Spirit of God do as he does and slay these souls?
He steels himself and with an almost ritualistic intonation declares:
"When I walked into the thick of battle, you kept me alive in the angry turmoil. With one hand you struck my foes, with your other hand you saved me. You've finished what you started in me. Your love is eternal—you didn’t quit on me."
His face softens, reflecting on what could have been had life gone differently.
Touching a hand to his visor cap in a salute, the General walks off.