On May 23, 2013, the Awakening community lost our dear friend and sister Christina C. Tang. While we grieve with her husband and our brother Kirk, as well as Christina’s family and friends, we are reminded that death is not the end. Christina’s love for Jesus carried her far beyond the grave and into a whole new reality. We miss her and can hardly wait to see her again. The following are the closing remarks given at her memorial service on June 22, 2013, posted with permission from Kirk.
This afternoon we have remembered and celebrated the life of a young woman who clearly and undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the lives of so many of us, as well as others who are not able to join us here today. Christina was a wife, daughter, and sister. She was a songwriter, musician, and artist. She was sassy and strong. And even during the most difficult of days, she remained beautiful and brave.
All of us count ourselves blessed and privileged to have shared life with Christina. All of our stories have been changed because of Christina’s story. And hers is a story of embracing every moment, finding worth even in brokenness, and ultimately, an endless hope.
First, Christina taught us to embrace every moment. I remember her sharing with me about her trip to London with Kirk. She spoke of the little things, the things that made her laugh, the things that annoyed her, and the things that she loved. She described people she met and places she saw with vivid detail and color. Christina paid attention to life. She immersed herself completely into whatever was happening at the moment. She wrote and recorded an amazing album shortly before she left us. I watched her work on it one evening. She was a woman possessed, sunken so deeply into the moment of creating her art, it seemed as though she was already living in a different place, a beautiful place, where the thing happening right now is the only thing that matters. In one of her songs, Christina reminds us of the importance of embracing every moment of life.
Be very, very still.
And savor the moment.
Of everything being just right.
Even in our grieving and in our pain, there’s something wonderful about these words from our dear friend. There’s something sacred about stillness. There’s something about stillness that heals us if we would let it. In Psalm 46:10, God whispers to us, “Be still and know that I am God.” Christina understood that every moment was worth savoring, because every moment was a moment in the presence of God himself, and she didn’t want to miss a second of it.
Christina’s story also taught us to find worth even in our brokenness. Christina was honest. Sometimes, brutally honest. My wife and I went to dinner with Kirk and Christina once at a Chinese hot pot restaurant. As is customary for us Asians, we ordered way more food than we should have. As is also customary for us Asians, I was not about to let good food go to waste. So I kept eating and eating and eating. At one point, I looked up and saw Christina staring at me, wide eyed. Her only words were, “You eat a lot.” This was Christina. She said it how she saw it. And she was honest about her doubts and fears. She was honest about struggling with receiving help from others. She was honest about her anger at feeling weak and broken. But she discovered something that so few of us seem to find. She discovered that even in her most vulnerable state, in her deepest brokenness, she was considered worthy of love by God himself. In one of her songs, she wrote:
Why do I keep trying out these tragic endings for myself?
I am found by the King. I am found. I’m found worthy.
Christina came to understand in body, mind, and spirit the words of 1 John 3:1 – “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” While cancer tried to break her body, it could not break her spirit as the discovery of her worth and identity as a daughter of God gave her life in ways that medicine and science never could.
This leads us to what is, in my opinion, the most important thing Christina taught us with the story she lived so well. She taught us that there is an endless hope, available to all of us. Christina believed in the story of a God who created and loved the world way too much to let death have the last word. She believed that the grave was not the period at the end of the sentence but simply a dot dot dot, a to-be-continued. She believed that the grave was only the stage upon which God would present his greatest masterpiece. Christina believed that this masterpiece was Resurrection, new life offered to us through the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. She faced her last days here in this life with courage and conviction because she knew that this wasn’t the end. And her hope was that all of us would live with this same courage and conviction – that we would all embrace the endless hope of Resurrection, offered to us through Jesus. My favorite song on Christina’s album is a song called Friends. In it, she sings of her hope that we would all join her someday in the unimaginable reality she’s experiencing right now. She wrote this:
Let’s sing together cause we’re free.
Let’s sing together cause we’ve got forever.
And let’s hold each other ‘til the end.
Let’s hold each other to the promise of love…
We have always known that we’ll be caught up in the clouds as one.
Before she left us, Christina was very clear that at this gathering of friends and family, she wanted each of us to know about this endless hope she had. It is hope in this life because it is unseen and around the corner. But for Christina today, it is reality. Christina gave her heart and soul to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came, lived, died, and came back to life – all in order to change the trajectory of the human story; to make it possible for us to march right on through the grave and into eternity. Christina is there now, without pain, without worry, full of peace, overwhelmed with joy. She’s probably jamming out a new tune on her guitar. She waits for us there. But while we’re here, may we remember her well by embracing every moment and finding worth even in our brokenness. And may we all give ourselves to the endless hope that God offers us through his Son Jesus Christ – that we might one day all be caught up in the clouds as one.
If you would like to purchase Christina’s album, please email [email protected]