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Life Lessons:
Shirley Cheng

*Are you happy at the moment?

Yes, I am usually happy. I wasn’t called “the happy baby” for nothing. Despite being plagued by the painful disease, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, I laughed through tears of pain when I was thirteen months old. My attitude has not changed twenty-nine years later. Now, I’m “the Happy Princess” even though I am wheelchair-bound and have lost my eyesight thirteen years ago.

I am able to laugh, I am able to weep; without my life, I would be able to do none of these. So how could I possibly not be happy and grateful to God for bestowing precious life upon me?

All of my life, I’ve entrusted all my hopes and dreams in God’s hands. I let Him take care of my problems as I enjoy life. Whenever stress threatens me, I pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ, and I become so grateful to have and know the Father and the Son that I no longer find my circumstances stressful; I am able to endure any negativity so much better.

I believe challenges are life’s vaccines: they equip your soul with the necessary tools to battle future storms. I’ve received many of these vaccines; the obstacles have left numerous scars on my body in all shapes and sizes, but these marks have made me stronger and more invincible as I wait for the next high mountain to scale. Thus, challenges strengthens my faith in God and deepens my need for His support.

If there were no darkness, how could the stars appear so bright? If there were no challenges, how could I name myself a victor?

*If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

“Live in and appreciate this moment now, girl, for you never know what tomorrow will bring!” When I was sweet sixteen, I was eager to turn seventeen. One girl in my class turned seventeen, and I thought that was so cool. Little did I know that after I did turn seventeen I would lose my eyesight. Life is just full of surprises, the good and the bad. We ought to enjoy and cherish the present, for, as they say, the present is God’s gift to us!

*What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

This year, I’ve learned many important principles and precepts from the Bible as I wrote out the lessons for my online Bible class. I can’t say that I never knew these principles or precepts before, but I definitely understand them better now. Among them, I feel the most important principle of God is: If you draw near to Yahweh God, He will draw near to you. But if you resist Him, He will withdraw from you.

Being a Christian is a lifestyle we live, not a title we carry around. Christianity is a relationship with God, not a religion. A Christian’s aim is to live for the glory of God and always maintain a relationship with Him. God desires for us; He wishes that we depend on Him for all things. He’s always there to listen to our prayers. Thus, when we seek after Him in humility and total surrender, He will accept us. But if we reject Him by disobeying His precepts, then He will not force Himself on us. While He would try to bring us back to Him, He would reject us if we completely reject Him by refusing to repent of all our sins.

As I created my lessons, I see this principle repeated throughout the Bible. If we want God to be with us, we have to seek after Him and obey His commandments. We can’t claim to have God with us if we rebel against Him. A “Christian” title means nothing if we have no fellowship with Him.

*What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

What I most want to achieve next year is to further deepen my understanding of and relationship with Yahweh. As the Bible says, “Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, WEB) Thus, I want to fulfill the purpose for which I was created.

To achieve my goal, I will continue writing out the lessons for my Bible class, as I found that explaining a text greatly improves my own understanding of the Holy Scriptures. Most importantly, I will do my best to continually apply God’s teachings to my life. What good is knowledge if you do not apply it? It is the doer of God’s Law who will be blessed, not the hearer.

*What’s your secret to happiness?

I achieve happiness by satisfying my spiritual needs. The cornerstone of my happiness lies in my knowing of Yahweh God Almighty through the Holy Scriptures, developing and maintaining a sacred relationship with Him, seeking His guidance through prayers, and serving Him through my online Christian ministry, http://www.Ultra-Ability.com Ministry. Whenever I pray to Him, I am unfailingly reminded of all of the blessings He has graciously bestowed upon me. Whenever I serve Him by teaching the Bible, I feel fulfilled, complete, and blissful. Knowing that I am able to share with others the joy I’ve received from my Heavenly Father brings me even greater joy.

Simply put, my love for, faith in, gratitude toward, and hope in Yahweh is my secret to happiness.

*What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

Studying the Bible and living by it keeps me grounded. The Bible is like a mirror that lets you see who you truly are. When I look into this mirror, I can know whether I’m living up to my title as a Christian. It lets me know if I’m pleasing God or if I’m going astray. When I see that I’m going astray, I can find in its pages corrective steps to remedy my error.

*What’s your biggest regret?

My biggest regret is for not seeking after God sooner. While I’ve been a Christian since a young child and sometimes prayed to God regularly, I didn’t truly seek after Him until after I lost my eyesight. Nineteen was the first time I read the Bible–rather, listened to it on a talking book. I had always been curious about the Bible, but never had a chance to read it. But then, if I really wanted to read it, there wouldn’t have been anything stopping me.

But after losing my eyesight, and having not much to do, I began studying the Bible on my own. After having now read it for sixteen times using thirteen versions and written many Bible lessons, I have a much clearer understanding of God and what He desires, so I can better serve Him properly. He gave me my very existence, so should I not do my utmost to show my appreciation toward Him by doing what He wishes from us.

*What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

I don’t have any kids, but when I do, God willing, then the most essential thing I would teach him or her is to love and serve Yahweh with their whole heart, mind, and might.

1) I would tell my child that if they want fulfillment, then they could find it only by knowing and serving our Creator. I would share my own experiences where I would explain that having a relationship with God is my most fulfilling achievement in life. I’ve won twenty-seven book awards, received standing ovation for every formal speech I gave, wrote and calculated chemistry in my head without Braille, but nothing can compare to the rewards and fulfillment I have with knowing God—it brings me lasting fulfillment, unlike the passing fulfillment my fleshly accomplishments bring.

Knowing Yahweh and studying His Word fulfills my every need and desire: it fulfills 1) my curiosity about life—it answers the most pivotal questions about life: Where have I come from? Why am I here? Where will I go? How can I live the best life possible?

2) It fulfills my life and allows me to live the best life possible. The Bible is the ultimate life’s manual. It is the map and compass I use to guide me on the right path to living a positive life that harmonizes with God’s will. Without it’s infinite wisdom, how could I have a peace of mind and a sense of security, or know whether I am moving in the correct direction with the right support?

3) Lastly but most importantly, knowing God and having a relationship with Him fulfills my responsibility in honoring and rightfully crediting Him for His wondrous works of art. Every product in supermarkets displays their manufacturer on their labels and packaging; every automobile we drive is engraved with their company’s name; and every article of clothing we wear has the tag that shows their brand name. When every manmade product has been credited to its maker, should not the most awesome creations—our universe and all it contains—be especially credited to our Creator as well?

*What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

I can’t think of any bad habit I have, so I guess I have none to change!

*Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

If I dare say, I’m proudest of being a Bible teacher, to be entrusted with God’s sacred Word as His steward. But if I have anything to boast about, it would be to boast about knowing Yahweh, as Yahweh Himself said, “Don’t let the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, don’t let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he has understanding, and knows me, that I am Yahweh who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

It is Yahweh who has squeezed my lemons into lemonade by giving me a spiritual vision in place of my physical sight: the purpose of teaching His Word. So all glory goes to Him!

*When were you happiest?

Although I am extremely happy each time I have achieved a goal, I still find that my happiest moments are when I meditate about Yahweh and His Holy Word, the Bible; when I teach His Word to others; and whenever I talk about Yahweh with my mother. Nothing else I do can really measure up to the kind of happiness I experience when I talk about God with others, not even when I had achieved grade level after only about 180 days of school attendance in my lifetime nor my being able to calculate long chemistry equations in my head without Braille. Those achievements do make me happy, but it is still the passing kind of happiness that will not last forever, thus it is not as fulfilling as the happiness I have when satisfying my spiritual needs.

*What ten words best describe you?

These are some of the words that people frequently use to describe me: loving, positive, happy, wise, intelligent, thorough, persistent, gifted, and precocious. I would hope that I am loyal, too–loyal foremost to God (my lifetime aim) and to my family.

Dr. Shirley Cheng (b. 1983) is a blind and physically disabled award-winning author with twenty-seven book awards, proclaimer of Yahweh God’s good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, Bible teacher, founder of www.Ultra-Ability.com Ministry, summa cum laude graduate with Doctor of Divinity, motivational speaker, poet; and author of nine books (including “Do You Love Jehovah?”), contributor to over twenty-five, and an editor of one. Shirley has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. Back then, she knew only her ABCs and very simple English; other than that, her book knowledge was non-existent. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Unfortunately, Shirley lost her eyesight at the age of seventeen. After a successful eye surgery, she hopes to earn multiple science doctorates from Harvard University.