I don't know if anyone noticed but Ange did the lion's share of posting this week. She deserves a freaking big medal, especially after the last few weeks that she had (i.e. no sleep, camp stuff, assignments etc). She did it because right now I'm in the middle of a swirling vortex known as film set hell- back-to-back shooting across 3 separate films with 3 different crews and 3 different directors. It's chaos. Barely contained chaos.
Everybody has periods of their lives where this happens though. Some can stand up underneath it. Some crack with the pressure and are never the same again, much like a shattered vase superglued together. Is it even possible to crack a smile during this?
It depends on how you're wired but I've found some useful tips over the years.
1/ Don't take things too seriously.
Arguments, tornadoes, power outages, moving house, 80% assignments- yes, these things are serious but even in the midst of it all- remember that it isn't the be all and end all. There are greater purposes out there, things that will render the current situation a moot point 10 years down the track.
2/ Don't lose your integrity.
This may seem like an odd one but hear me out. Today, I let a lecturer get to me, his incessant nagging and arrogance really pissed me off and I ended up bagging him out, calling him a cockhead amongst other things to people when he wasn't in hearing range. That's until I turned around after whispering to my Art Director that he was a dickhead to discover that he was less than a metre away. I then worried for the next hour whether or not he had heard me. It made for a crappy morning because despite my best intentions starting on set, I let myself get petty and destructive. It made me feel like crap so I'm resolving to swallow my pride and just head down, bum up and work so that my actions show who I am, not my words.
3/ Surround yourself with people who are a) loyal, b) easy-going, c) have the same level of passion for the project as you and d) know what you're going through.
Ohhhh, it helps to have people in the same boat as you. It may not spread the weight of the burden i.e. project or assignment but it alleviates some of the mental and emotional pressure that a lot of the time, is self-inflicted. I've often found that one of the things that can frustrate me to no end is trying to explain what's happening to someone who has no clue what the world you're in is like. It's why I just don't discuss it on the outside anymore.
4/ Revel in the rare opportunity that you're in.
Maybe it'll only be once in your life that you'll be able to overdose on Red Bull and coffee to finish off that group project. Maybe it'll be once in your life that you get to be part of a film set of that scale. Maybe it'll be the one chance you get to talk to someone that you'd never normally talk to in real life (I work on set with a goth next week). Whatever it is, it's not like pandemonium is a normal part of life so how about doing a reverse take on things and seeing the glee in the utter chaos?
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Posted by sodabug at 10:53 PM
I am in a love/hate relationship with the word ‘enough’. It depicts a saturation point, a limitedness. ‘Not good enough’ is even worse, it just depicts that you might have something, but you are still lacking. You might be on your way, on the right path, but nope, you’re not there yet.
Who likes to hear a prospective boss that you are good, but just not good enough for the job? Or that you are good on the keyboard, but not good enough to make it for the band?
I like to think that it manifests so much more with the Asian mindset of excellence in everything, or say, the Singaporean mentality of ‘kiasu-ness’ (the fear of losing). We were brought up thinking that 98/100 isn’t good enough because someone else in class has gotten 99/100.
We seem to always strive for something better. We are always working towards wanting to have or to be something better. To be smarter, be thinner, be friendlier, be better at whatever we are doing. We have to work to get better and one day we will be good enough.
Don’t take me wrongly, not staying complacent is important. But in our Christian walk, we tend to swing from one end to the other. We either think we’re all fine and dandy and that since times are good we don’t need God, or that we’re still needing that bit more to be completely right with God.
We got to pray more, we got to attend more church activities, we got to read the bible more, we got to stop sinning, we got to cultivate more fruits of the Spirit. It seems like what we got brought up learning in church – those unspoken words, the expectations – they lead us to thinking that to keep our salvation we have to at least attend church and youth group every week.
I think it has come a time where we start looking up and realising again the extent of grace that He extended to us. That grace did not only save us from eternal death, but gave us eternal life, and made us coheirs with Christ, by which now we can reign in life.
It is not longer about being not good enough to do something – we can already do it because along with getting saved from an eternity in hell, we have freedom from all strongholds, all bondage. It is like how in bible study class, our teacher pointed out that in Galatians 5:1 it says to “not be burdened again by the yoke of slavery”.
We are already free, why then do we slog for fear of losing our salvation just like that. Why do we go to church as an obligation to the commitments we have in service?
We do not lack anything else, because He has given us everything we need. We are no longer not good enough for anything, we are already good enough because He made us good enough. Man, He even made us “very good” (Genesis 1:31).
Let us not think anymore that we’re not good enough. That we are still lacking. He has given us abundance through His grace. Let us serve Him and live for Him compelled by the love He first gave, and live in that liberty that He died to give us.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s because parts of me have been moulded by so many years in this church environment. It’s funny how the simplest things in life could have change and shifted, or maybe morph into things that are different from what it was intended to be.
Like, why would I ever think that it is not okay to desire someone to love me? Why would I ever think that it is not okay to want a boyfriend?
I don’t know if anyone got through this phase before. It’s like knowing that this is just not the right ‘season’ to be attached. If anything comes, or even when the desire surfaces, you try your hardest to suppress it, thinking “I shouldn’t be thinking about this at all, it’s not the right time.”
The result is rather telling, I think. You get cynical about relationships, sometimes you get jealous of people in love and get turned away by public displays of affection (then again, a lot of times they aren’t appropriate anyway). After a while, you find it hard to get out of that unemotional, stoned state that you started adopting in order to suppress that desire of wanting to love and love.
It is as if you buried all that dreams and that desires of young. Those dreams of being swept up by a prince charming coming on a white horse. Those dreams of being a real princess, or being brave and courageous for love. A friend have put it very well – today I’m digging up from six feet under.
At camp, a sister released the words that God will grant the desires of my heart. The next night she told me that God sees the desires of my heart. I was mixed up about it really. For God to grant the desires of my heart, don’t I have to delight in Him first? (Psalm 37:4) And isn’t the human heart just pure evil?
A slow realisation came to me, that He have made us with these desires and yearnings. And these dreams are dreams He had deposited even when we were just little girls. The dreams and desires He had created us with had been carried over when He created a new heart in us, when we invited Him into our lives.
It is perfectly alright to yearn for a partner. We are created that way – to yearn fellowship. God Himself in the Trinity knew the joys of fellowship, and desires the same for us. Why else did God create Eve for Adam?
Now I think it is perfectly alright to dream, perfectly alright to desire to love and be loved in return. Let us just put our hope and trust in Him to fulfil those desires.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
So yes, I just came back from my church’s Youth District Camp. Calling it a mind-blowing experience is too much of an understatement. But I think it is when at the end of the camp it is not only how much fun we had, but the lasting impact God has made in our lives that lasts forever.
We know that how we come back from camp totally on fire for God, and just so ready to go out there and do His work, but give it two or three months down the road, for experienced campers, it seems like a given that it will all fade and the fire dies and we go back to our lives like it has always been.
I hope this one is different. It could very well be. The end of camp doesn’t seem to be the end of it all. There is a continuity of God’s work – like He has only started something at camp, but He is going to keep working till He brings it to fruition. All we have to do is stay for the ride. In our youth pastor’s words – stay on the bus and enjoy the ride, baby. (:
For me, it has been a season of reclaiming what was lost. For quite a while now, God has been bringing back things from my past and helping me realise that He had orchestrated them for this very moment.
There were past dreams, past promises and my very first sinner’s prayer at the grand age of 6 (and it counted!).
There were the times where it seemed like all these years spent at church knowing about God but not knowing God had come to void. But He uses them, it has all been His plan either way.
I received many words throughout camp. Mostly still rather hazy and I don’t know what is it. Some of these words are huge, mind-blowing, and consistent even though delivered from different people. But it made me realise how much God has planned for me, and just a glimpse of the potential He has deposited in me. He is slowly and surely bringing them to past, it has already started happening, even straight after camp!
I suppose I’ll share more in the next few posts in detail. But now, I’m just staying, hanging on, and enjoying this ride. (: It’s good to be back.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I am merry this week because one door has closed and another has opened. You hear a lot about new seasons and fresh starts and changing seasons but it's rare that something physical manifests from it.
With the advent of the new satellite church next week and the decision to go on over and serve there in a new ministry- it can't get much more new season and fresh start than this.
Yes, it'll be scary. Yes, it'll be tough. Yes, tempers will fray, priorities will be questioned and friendships tested. I will conjecture though and say that the very first churches had it a lot more tougher than we will. Hillsong didn't start off as a megachurch either. Riverview didn't always have that huge building and their internal structure from the get-go. FGA from their earliest starts had bickering, trials and dark times and yet we're still going strong. We all had to start from somewhere to get anywhere and that is what's going to get me through this transition period.
I can finally see what they're banging on about when they say that the latter will be greater than the former now.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
When I want to insult someone, I find myself saying "You ____like a girl!" Hands up who's heard me say that to them =P?
Why is that? Why is (example) fighting like a girl considered an insult? I received a book called "Fighting Like a Girl: The Power of Being a Woman" for my birthday from some well-meaning relatives a few years ago and what's funny is that anyone who knows me knows that I fight more like a boy than anything. Willing to hit low and with weapons.
What I've come to understand though is that there's more to fighting like a girl. There are so many positive things to fighting like a girl that I should embrace rather than deride them and in association, my own sex.
Sarah- Who gives her husband another woman?! She screwed things up, yes, through fear that she would never get to continue Abraham's legacy. But she overcame that to bear Abraham a son- changing through fear for faith.
Rahab- Way to go- the Biblical hooker takes a stand against an entire city, her city for God. Rewarded with her name forever in the Bible and part of the lineage of Christ.
Deborah- OK, she had balls (figuratively). She took a tent peg and drove it into a guy's skull. She did it for Israel though- together with her wisdom, I like this one =D
Abigail- I only read about her recently. She went against her own husband when he insulted Kind David and God. She took her household, created a feast to appease David (see!! the way to a man's heart and compassion is FOOD) and appealed to him for her household and to ignore her husband who was a fool. What a woman- who didn't let even such a sacred thing as marriage to get between her and her God.
Yes, I’ve decided to do a review on a movie, as this topic was first intended to be. And what else defines culture and class like Audrey Hepburn and that black Givenchy dress she wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
And then, there’s Moon River.
I wouldn’t go into the synopsis of the movie, or go on about how beautiful Hepburn is, or how Moon River is one of the most iconic songs of the past and how many thousands of covers there are of the song. But its just the idea of it – ever wondered why Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Moon River, seem to become things people associate with class, with dreams (or dreaminess), idealism?
I think its the character of Holly Golightly which Hepburn plays. She portrayed a girl who had dreams bigger than herself, who has a free spirit, who didn’t let her situations and society limit what she can do.
But in the same way, it is about escapism. Quoting lines from the movie:
Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds, you mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you're getting fat and maybe it's been raining too long, you're just sad that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?
Paul Varjak: Sure.
Holly Golightly: Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that'd make me feel like Tiffany's, then - then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name!
I can go about on how the idea or concept of this whole show, or even the story it was adapted from (which has a different, non-fairytale ending, and very much more literary and dark) and how Tiffany & Co. becomes the sanctuary of peace, and everything and how it parallels with how we should go to God instead of Tiffany’s… (yes I’m over spiritualizing it lol)
But I think it’s just how beautiful the whole movie is, and how beautiful the song Moon River is. Or how classic this show is that it touches our heart although made 40 years ago. God has created us in a way where we recognise and appreciate beauty, not only in looks, but in sound, and in feelings as well.
And don’t feel guilty about watching it, and not just only because the “Holly Golightly is actually a social escort” theme in the movie was much more downplayed than in the book, but also I think the lyrics of Moon River can be expounded into a literature essay as well.
Moon River, wider than a mile,
I'm crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
wherever you're going I'm going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end--
waiting 'round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.
So if you’ve not watched it, watch it at least once and know what people are talking about when they talk about Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And maybe you might fall in love with the beauty of the show and the music as well.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
On Star Trek, the character of Spock often has trouble defining where he stands as he is continually pushed and pulled between his rational side and his emotional side. That's cos he's half Vulcan and half human but we'll leave the nerd-speak for another time.
Just like Spock, sometimes I battle between listening to my head and listening to my heart. My head is all rational solutions, logical conclusions and thought-out decisions. My heart takes an AK-47 and likes to blow them all away. It's hard stopping my heart from picking up various weapons to sabotage my head.
That's what I want to ask though- should I stop my heart from running willy-nilly over my head? What makes me take my head's side anyway? Is it because of sheer habit and upbringing? Because that's not really a good excuse at all. If faced with a situation where it's 50-50 whether I listen to my head or my heart, I err on the side of caution and always take my head's side. I've been thinking for a bit and I've come to the conclusion that if I listen to my heart- I have far more to lose. It's an odd conundrum- I have more at stake but the rewards are greater.
Example: As it usually is with me- WAAPA. When I graduated architecture- all logical conclusions and logic said that I should start applying for firms and go become an architect. Most of my friends started work immediately with companies. My parents expected as much from my 5 years of supported study and my extended family was keen to take my skills on board and develop plans etc. Building dynasty anyone?
My heart was so tortured at this point in time because it knew I had no chance of being happy with such a future. It was the one that won in the end, to spur me to apply and audition for WAAPA and the design course here. Architorture or performance design? I applied and the past 3 years have been a revelation in seeking where my heart lies. I'm not there yet but my heart is a lot happier, I'm a lot happier and my future doesn't cause me to mentally go grey but it ushers in something so bright I can't quite see it yet. Sorry mum, those aspirations of me marrying a builder and getting that dynasty off the ground just vanished. That nice steady salary just vanished as well but ah. It's my choice.
Rebuttal: A few years ago, I had a cell member who was.....a grace-grower. Everytime he had a problem, he'd take it, expand on it, blow it right out of proportion and somehow link it to the state of his spiritual life. He'd then call me, asking to meet up whereupon he'd unload every single worry he had. He didn't want a friend who could listen, he wanted a magical cheerleader who could solve all his problems. I couldn't give him what he sought and when he left Australia, we parted on not so satisfactory terms. About a year or so ago, he emailed me, asking for my forgiveness. My head said yes- forgive him for what he did, forgive him and give him the peace that he craves.
My heart said no. No- he drained you, sucked you dry, took you for granted and you still haven't recovered have you? Why?
At that time- I was fresh from leaving leadership in Agape and still rather tender. It was so much easier to forget him and so I did. I pretended like I'd never received it and now in hindsight- ALL WRONG. I listened to my heart in this case and took the easy road. It's probably cost me far more than I know as well. My head tells me that it's not too late but it's trapped behind glass- yelling impotently as my heart pushes me forward into time.
Which do you listen to more of? Heart or head? How do you listen to your heart- by appeasing it, by indulging it or by massaging it?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I’m not talking about physical gifts today, but one that God gave.
Of course, our first understanding of a gift is, well, a gift. Not profound, but utterly simple. You don’t pay for a gift. A gift is free. The same way if someone gives you a house as a gift, it means you don’t pay the mortgage. Also, when you give someone a gift, especially when the person has accepted it, you don’t take it back, do you?
Salvation is a gift. It’s something God gave, and it has been nothing of our doing (we are sad, wretched, screwed up people). Many times it seems like this fellowship with God is strained, or when we feel far away from God, we will increase our prayer quota, we will attend more church services, tithe more.. all in hopes of getting back into God’s good books, and although we know that its theologically wrong, we still somehow, in our attempt to ‘do something about it’, try to ‘earn our salvation’.
Our salvation is a gift that He gave. Nothing we can attempt to do can pay Him back for what He has does, with Jesus on the cross. No amount of church services attended, no amount of effort to serve in different ministries, no attempts to look holier than thou can earn us our salvation.
The gift of the Holy Spirit, the constant fellowship with God, is also given. I believe, once given, He does not take it away. We may choose to keep it in a corner of our lives, store it in our storerooms, but He does not take it away.
It is easy to lose sight after being in church for so many years. You find yourself ‘doing church’, just doing what you were supposed to be doing. (I used to think that after so many years in church, I got all that ‘protocols’ down pat.) And just with one fall, one shortcoming, it may seem like we’ve got casted down from heaven to hell. Then the doubts come, wondering if we’ve walked so far away from God that He lost us, or were we even Christians at the first place. Human nature says that do something about it, find your way back, work your way through and get back to where you were with God before, or at least look like all is fine and dandy.
But like the lost sheep that has gone astray in Luke 15, we can’t do much, we don’t know the way back. The Shepherd comes for us, the Shepherd comes to rescue us.
I suppose all we had to do is let ourselves be found. And realise that we cannot do anything to pay Him back for what He has done, and that we cannot do anything in parallel to achieve what He has done for us before.
Let us stop trying with our feeble efforts to reach God. We’ve already had Him, we’re already back in fellowship, in an unbroken relationship with Him because of what Jesus has done.
So then, sisters (and brothers), we can start falling in love with Him. (:
Monday, April 20, 2009
When I was a young lad, one of the teachings that had a huge impact on me, interestingly enough, was on marriage and finding the “right one”. Shocking right?! This was when I was 10 or 11 years old, and this is Yu-Min you’re talking about! Interestingly, God planted and set in my heart from a very young age, the concept that if I were to get married someday in the future, I wanted there to be only this one girl that I would love, I would cherish, be romantic with, and pour out all my affections on – this one special girl set aside for me, and I for her. And when I knew exactly who she was, I was going to marry her :)
Deep down inside, I knew and learned that there was no one better than God to point me in the right direction. I mean think about it. This is the God who created me. This is the God who made every single one of us unique, from our looks right down to our little eccentricities. He knows everything. He knows what I like, what I don’t, what I find attractive, my qualities, my talents, my weaknesses, my strengths. It is He who knows my deepest thoughts, my deepest desires, who knows me more than I know myself. He knows what I need and what’s best for me. Who better than He to know who the perfect match for Yu-Min Ong is. After all, He created her too :)
Pastor Ed Silvoso once shared on the importance of praying for your future spouse. Pray for the qualities that you want to see in her, pray for her protection, pray for her salvation, pray for God to show you who the “right one” is, who you need. The more specific the better. So when you meet her you’ll know straight away right! He taught that to his daughter, and God provided the right guy, right down the colour of his eyes! My parents encouraged me to try. And so at the age of 10 or 11, I began praying for my future spouse. I couldn’t put a face to her. I had no idea if I had seen her before or when in the future I would first meet her. Some of us might find this silly, childish or dismiss this as wishful praying, but the young me, with the faith that I had, put that faith into practice. Night after night, she would be part of my talk with God.
The Bible states “ask and you shall receive”, and in Matthew 7 it goes “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?” If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
Isn’t a spouse a good thing?
And as I matured, I learned to pray for myself, that God would change me, to make me ready for her, that I would be what she wanted, what she needed, what was best for her, to love her as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). That we would put God first and He would be the One to teach us what love is.
It was not easy waiting. I would grow up seeing my cousins and friends go dating, find girlfriends, get married, while I still remained single. People began to notice. The teasing started, being linked to girls, being called gay. I was advised to grow up (still a long way to go :p) and then I’ll find someone. At times I would ask God, “How about her? She’s Christian. She’s quite pretty”. “No go,” was the reply and so no opportunity. When I got into Medicine I started to get worried. 6 years of study, followed by 2 years of National Service in Singapore, then a possible 6-year bond in the countryside -_- Who the heck would want to marry me? Do I start searching at 35 once I’m free from all my obligations? Then God spoke in the most unexpected way
A few years back I visited my friend’s youth service in Singapore. During ministry time, someone I had not met before released a word from God to me which went, “Son, I know your cares and your worries about your future partner. Do not worry.” My heart leaped. God heard my prayers all this time J God knew exactly what was on my heart.
To be honest, it hasn’t been smooth sailing. It took a long time for God to show me the “right one”. He had to make me ready for her. I went my own way and forsook God, was disobedient and fell from Him. Though I went to church, my life wasn’t right. By His grace, He never let go and drew me back. He forgave me when I truly repented. When I chose to follow Him, when I trusted Him, when I obeyed, then He opened my eyes. He created the opportunity for a special girl to enter my life. My prayers began to become reality. I remember praying that God would make the love story of finding the right one a testimony of His presence in my life. Now, I have no doubt that He is. I have my proof. I know that He’s still changing me, preparing me, and her too. I want to commit the rest of my life to Him - the courtship, the marriage. I’ve learned that His way is the best way.
So for those out there, searching for the “right one”, it’s not silly to pray, ask Him what you want, and trust in Him. Remember, exercise your faith, believe that He answers, obey Him, follow Him, and trust that He has laid out His plans for you. Who else besides God can write a better love story for you? Start praying for your future spouse. It works for me.
Yu-Min is like a brother away from home. Being able to hang out with him is a privilege and he never fails to bring a smile to my face. Very awesome, very considerate brother who is both smart (Dr. Ong yo!) and funny (should check out his dance moves), and I’ve got new found respect for him for his perseverance and trust in God to find the right lady. (: - ange
Take off about 6 years from his real age and that age is what Yu-Min first appears as in person. However, his writing is proof that a real, amazing man of God exists in his funny, innocent and happy-go-lucky exterior and what a subject to tackle! He has a noble, chivalrous streak not often found in men his age and for that, I thank him. Kudos, respect and a lot of "Bloody heck, you're brave for writing that" is coming your way Yu-Min. - sodabug
Friday, April 17, 2009
This is probably literally ‘How to save money 101’. Certain stuff I’ve learnt in my nearly one and a half years stay in a foreign country managing my own money. (And failing very badly most of the time.)
NB: Using a piggybank is not mentioned, but is a very good way to save bit by bit. (:
1. Take more public transport. Because if you are a student, you get concession. And you don’t have to fight with other students for parking lots.
2. Eat out less often. A box of 100-pack Tetley Tea costs about $3. A cup of tea outside costs about $4. A meal for one outside (in Perth) costs about $8, but if you cook your own meal, its probably about $4 cost price. And buy in bulk (if you have enough storage space) because things are cheaper when you do so (well the supermarkets say so anyway). And if you’re living with your parents, eat with them. Meals are practically free, either at home or outside. :D
3. Fixed Term Deposits. God bless whoever came up with this idea. It’s like growing money in a nursery. You put your money in there, the bank takes care of it, when it matures you get the interest that comes with it. (: So if you have spare (big amount of) money that you don’t have to touch for a while, head to your bank and put them in a Fixed Term Deposit.
4. Rent out DVDs. Video rental is seriously cheap in Australia. Unless you’re the kind that watches the same movies 50 times and not get sick of it, then buy the DVD. Either way, movies at the theatres? Reserve it for special occasions. (:
5. Avoid shopping if you don’t need it. Sales included. A good deal, no matter how good a deal, is still money spent. Unless you need/really want it, it is worth the price, or well, you can’t find it cheaper anywhere else. On that note, I realised that my trips to Harbourtown in Perth last year had me blew over $100 each time. Thus, even though things are cheap, it adds up. But if you have to..
6. Try online shopping. Ebay, online deals. I suppose somehow not having to pay the rental of a shop front reduces the cost of your products. Ebay is a good place to look for stuff if you’re not picky about second-hands, or if you’re looking for something rare. Ebay and online shopping should be a post on its on seriously.
7. Think equivalents. I used to think of prices in terms of chicken rice. Chicken rice in Singapore used to be $2, and thus a $20 top could have been 10 plates of chicken rice which could save me from starvation for 10 meals/5 days. It sounds exorbitant doesn’t it? 10 PLATES!! So yes, I did talk myself out of quite a lot of buys that way.
8. Keep track of your expenses. I don’t do it because I know I will scare myself and get depressed with my spending habits. But it is a good habit, and should definitely make it to this list.
9. Calculate how much you have saved so far. I wouldn’t know about you, but it makes me really quite happy. (: You’ll be surprised how much you can save if you go without a cup of coffee from uni for two weeks (no matter how good it is). If a cup of coffee is $3, two weeks without saves you $30!! 15 plates of chicken rice!!
10. Spoil yourself sometimes. Epic Espresso is a luxury (for a non-income making person), and so is a sashimi buffet (which I am absolutely craving right now). No point being uber rich yet utterly miserable, isn’t it?
11. Tithe. Because He has promised.
10Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty. 12 "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.
Malachi 3:10-12 NIV
Better an investment than the fixed term deposit actually. Lol.
Well, feel free to comment and add on your own tips and thoughts. (:
Have a good weekend! Cheers.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Some of you may be fans of a certain all-singing, all-dancing acting extraordinaire called Zac Efron, or as my sister likes to call him, McHottie. He's got a new film out called "17 Again" where 37 yr-old him turns back to 17 and has a chance to relive his life again. The film taps into every person's desire to go back and redo that one part of their life that they either regret or wish had turned out differently.
How about "I wish?" Ever played that game? I wish I had partied more. I wish I had partied less. I wish I hadn't done that with that person. I wish I had done that with that person. I wish I'd tried that dish. My goodness, I wish I hadn't tried that dish. I wish I'd done something really out there when I still could and now it's too late. I wish I'd stayed. I wish I hadn't stayed. I wish I'd said yes. Why did I say no??
One of my favourite ones is "I could have been..." I could have been thinner if I hadn't eaten (drunk) my way through summer. I could have been successful had I taken that road. I might not be happy but hey, I'd be earning money. I could have been a great many things had I seen them through to the end. Architect, gymnast, singer, wife, mother, dancer, cook, painter, writer, scientist- the list grows and grows. Our decisions shape who we are- but at the same time, our decisions limit who we could be. A thousand and one tangents that will never be realised except for that one path that we choose to take.
And what a path it is when we choose it in line with the path God has picked out for us. See, we don't see the big picture. We see our very short lifespan like a path strewn with rocks. Every pothole, every bump, every glitch (no, it's not the Matrix) that we encounter, it seems massive. HUGE. EARTH-SHATTERING, DESTROYING, LIFE-ALTERING. Each decision takes on the importance of nuclear negotiations with a communist country that is being controlled by a warped leader *coughkimjong-ilcough*, each choice determines our fate- something insanely important to us but to not everyone else.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
There are many times in my life, and I’m sure in yours (if you’ve been in church long enough) where you just want to love God but not His people. It is a big blatant truth that the church is a gathering of less than perfect people, and as my pastor used to say, “If you find a perfect church, don’t go there. You will make it imperfect.”
Even out of church, I have that desire to get away from people. And perhaps because I am more of an introvert than an extrovert, I need to recharge my ‘social capital quota’ by spending time alone by myself.
Thus, many people, not ‘feeling the love’, and being disappointed in God’s people, choose to say, “I’m a Christian and I worship God at home every Sunday”.
I’ve been reading this book titled “Everybody’s normal till you get to know them” (and how true is that) and it brought up points why we need others, or say, why we need fellowship. Here are two points I picked up from reading. (Everyone should read more. Reading is good.)
- It’s innate, it’s built in. God created us for community, giving us a human-shaped void. God knows that well enough because He Himself has the fellowship of the Trinity (sounds like Fellowship of the Ring), and knows how wonderful our fellowship with others can be, well, at least before the fall of man.
In the words of Ortberg,
Sometimes in church circles when people feel lonely, we will tell them not to expect too much from human relationships, that there is inside every human being a God-shaped void that no other person can fill. That is true. But apparently, according to the writer of Genesis, God creates inside this man a kind of “human-shaped void” that God himself will not fill.
- Science proves it. Here are some stats according to the book.
The Alameda County Study (7000 subjects, 9-years study) shows:
- Most isolated people were three times more likely to die than those with strong relational connections
- People with bad health habits (e.g. smoking, poor eating habits, obesity, or alcohol use) but strong social ties lived significantly longer than people who had great health habits but were isolated.
A Study in the Journal of American Medical Association (276 volunteers infected with a common cold virus) shows:
- People with stronger emotional connections did four times better fighting off illness than those who were more isolated.
Community, although seemingly make your blood boil once in a while, still significantly makes your life better.
We all know that it can be hard to stay in a community or a group of friends or in a church group when there have been past hurts and everything. But I don’t think any church has a zero rate of hurt if you get involved in the community. Come to God for healing from the hurts, and understand that all of us live by grace, that everyone who has hurt you before are also loved by God. For me, I find it tad bit easier to love when I see people through ‘God goggles’.
It always seems easier to be a hermit, but ultimately I think not.
Monday, April 13, 2009
There's that popular social belief that women are generally the more emotional, nostalgic and attached of the two sexes. We make scrapbooks, we write cards, we keep mementos.
I like to think that I'm a photographer. Not because I own a big black clunky Canon 400D but because I like to take photos of everyday things that mean nothing to everybody else. That's basically our life right? Things that are important to us but to everyone else, they differ in varying degrees of priority.
With the advent of cheaper, faster, better cameras in this day and age, is it any wonder that our lives are being increasingly documented and archived away in folders and files that won't be missed until a technological disaster that wipes them out? Everyone has done that pose- the myspace one looking up at the camera in different outfits and different locations and events. Now, how do we link the two things mentioned above?
Remember that one summer job, that one class, that one impromptu trip that you wish you'd taken more pictures on? The people, the places, the times and colours that blur with age and memory but with a photo, they come rushing back, even the noises and scents. My friend at WAAPA started taking pictures randomly in class one day of all of us because in her last degree, she wished she'd taken more pictures to remember them by. No-one really regrets taking too many pictures but everyone regrets not taking enough.
Guys take pictures as well (example a: a certain contributor to this blog who can be seen with a black point and shoot every event he goes to) but girls are the ones who seem to place an importance on them, sharing them, looking repeatedly at them, in some, ok, most cases, photoshopping them. Documenting life as it goes by allows us to engage as well as observe. There is a case for moderation though, if you're always behind a lens, you'll merely become a spectator with a permanent growth attached to your hand, making memories for other people that don't have you in them.
I remember my Yr 12 ball photos. I was so busy taking pictures of everyone else, I didn't have any of myself. Granted, I don't really want to remember high school but that's beside the point. Yes, I am biased as a photographer. But there's just something about making memories more permanent for reflection, nostalgia and encouragement. Take a camera along next time. Cameraphone, point and shoot, DSLR, heck a sketchpad and pencil if you're in a tight bind.
- Who are we first and foremost?
- What else are we waiting for?
Friday, April 10, 2009
When it comes to the Easter long weekend, one of the most memorable memory I've ever had is of a Maundy Thursday service we had in church. The pastor had us light candles one by one from a single flame - having the whole church sanctuary glowing (and very erm. emotional high). A friend decided to wondered if hair wax would catch fire, and tested it on the hair of the guy standing in front of him. Well the hair did go up in smoke, creating this bigger than normal flame in the youth section of the congregation, and adding the final climax to a very somber night of commemorating the few hours before Jesus' arrest.
Might be no wonder why our church never did a Maundy Thursday service again after that.
That aside, I think I am slowly, day by day, coming to grasp the meaning of Jesus' death (and blood and tears and everything) and Good Friday (and why on earth it is good). It's mind-blowing about why He came to die, and save us all from eternal damnation. And it hurts so bad to think about what He had to go through even prior to hanging on the cross - the flogging scene from Passion of the Christ comes to mind. But what continues to hit me day by day, is the extent of His love that compelled Him to go to the cross, to save us through His death. And knowing that love never decreased over the 2000 years, and that love continues to be showered upon me even today. I can only be thankful and grateful.
To quote a song I've been listening to on repeat:
Cries in the desert, My child, I hear them.
Tears in the valley, My lovely, I count them.
You’re so precious; you were on My mind as I died.
Thank you for dying for us.
1) Who is God?
For me, God is most like a massive diamond. Rare, precious, mine and multi-faceted, each facet contributing to the whole that is the glory of Christ. There's so many different sides to Him that whenever I need Him, to Praise Him, to ask something of Him, to worship Him, to grieve before Him, to want healing from Him- I find another side of God. The benevolent God, the jealous God, the Healing God, the wrathful God, the saviour God, the God who stands in the way of evil and protects me wherever I go, God who laughs and chuckles at my foibles, God who picks me up when I fall. So many different facades!! He's still so undiscovered and yet ever-constant.
2) Who am I?
Gee, that's not a hard question.....not. Although, compared to the next, it's a doddle. I'm still finding out on so many levels who I am. I'm a work-in-progress. On the outside, I design but as any sane designer knows- it's what I do, it's not who I am. I can be many traits, both positive and negative but take away human traits and what do you have? God in me. Well, some level of God in me- I'm not perfect, come out for beer with me and you'll see just how far I still have to go.
I'm not yet finished but I'd like to think that progress is still happening instead of stalled works. I know that I look up because that's how I'm growing- like a beanstalk. I have to grow up to grow into my skin, to become who I was truly meant to be. Like a beanstalk that needs vertical support in order to bear fruit, I need to look up otherwise I end up useless and floppy on the ground with no knowledge of the potential heights I could have achieved. I can go into a lecture about Gothic architecture at this point and how the primary architectural motif of the medieval ages was the pointed arch, like hands together praying and always aiming upwards but I'd bore the lot of yo....zzzzzzzz...
3) What is the meaning to life?
42. That's honestly the first thing that popped into my head, thank you very much Douglas Adams. No, it's not 42. The meaning of life- I don't know. I do know however that the journey there will be far more interesting than actually arriving at the destination. We won't find our fulfillment by struggling and fighting to understand and to gain a modicum of knowledge of the meaning of life. Our satisfaction, happiness and commune with God comes as we walk, as we jump, as we leap forwards towards that goal, with no hidden agendas or human constraints as we find ourselves in God.
Have a blessed Easter filled with unity, family (not necessarily your blood relatives) and peace!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
A while ago, I wrote a post on the effect of Christmas. Today, I'm going to talk about the effect of Easter.
I'd like to know when the bunny rabbit became a stronger symbol of Easter than the cross. I guess one of my friend's on Facebook, his status gives us a bit of a clue as to how the world thinks. "Fred: Happy Passover to all those who observe it, Happy Easter to those who are that way inclined and to all the secular folk Happy Long Weekend."It makes me kind of sad that that's the view of the Easter from the world's perspective. So many telling signs, from friends looking up retreats down south for the long weekend, to the lines and lines of chocolate eggs and everything under the sun made of chocolate, to the ads on TV about Easter savings and the encouragement of gluttony over the holiday break. When my friends ask me what I'm doing over the Easter break and I say church, I can see their silent judgements of "BORING."
What's boring about someone who was betrayed by one of his best mates at a simple cook-up, wore a crown of thorns, got the biblical equivalent of a nail gun through all four main appendages, got shafted through the ribs whilst hanging up in the air, managed to rip into two pieces one of the temple's most holy curtains and to top it all off, beat up Satan at his own game and returned from the dead thereby saving a population of people who didn't even like Him in the first place.
They really don't get it. I suppose that's where we as Christians come in. My observation about secular culture at the present however, tells me that most people have to be approached using the Boiling Frog method. Stick a frog in a pot of boiling water and he'll jump out. Stick him in a pot of tepid water, slowly heat it without little froggie realising and before you know it, you have Boiled Frog (disclaimer: this is theory, I have not harmed any frogs in the past). In the same way, non-Christians (mostly) have to be approached with the idea that someone could love them that much to die for them pretty slowly. Bible bashing= no-no. Feeding them (Luke 10 principle in it's most basic form), talking to them, planting seeds of awareness about Who and why we do all of this- dare I say it's a form of yes-yes?
I used to eat Easter eggs in the past. I'm not saying that it's wrong to eat them if we're Christian (or is it....? Hmmm) but I do get sick of how supermarkets and consumers commercialise Easter. I don't suppose chocolate figures of Jesus dying on a cross sell as much as cute little chickens and rabbits.
Random questions now. Why do people say "Happy Easter"? Is it because Christmas has the "Merry" market cornered? Do we as Christians say Happy Easter because we're happy that Jesus died for our miserable criminal selves? I wonder if I could start up a movement to change "Happy Easter!" to "Have a Glad Easter!" because while I'm not necessarily happy that someone blameless took my blame, I'm certainly glad Jesus died for me and my worthless hide.
Last night I stared at the possibility of the decline of a much treasured friendship. I suppose it would have been worse if it was left unspoken, but a deep stirring prompted me get back online, and it ended with a DMC that was much needed, and placed us back where we are supposed to be.
I suppose everyone had their own experiences as to losing friends and sometimes, recovering them as well. I have my own experiences in that, and am very very thankful that this one last night isn’t making its way downhill.
A friend and I were talking about losing friends - whether putting the friendship ‘on hold’ is going to only pause the friendship or will lead to a decline. And whether the frequency of catch-ups is inversely proportionate to the distance between the two friends. (Okay we didn’t go into the inverse proportion part)
We didn’t draw into much conclusion with the intellectual debate, but I think just the interaction through the conversation and going back to talking our own friendships, it might had just added on with the foundation of our friendship as well.
I think the ‘pause’ on the friendship will not determine whether or not the friendship starts declining. It is why the ‘pause’ was hit at the first place.
If the friendship seemingly stopped moving because life got busier and it’s harder to find time to catch up, I believe that once you do meet up, you can pick up where you left off. However, if it stopped because somewhere along the road, either party has stopped caring, stopped working on the relationship, there are unresolved issues that none of the parties want to confront, the friendship would probably tend to drift off faster.
I was reminded of the truth that the work God has started, He will bring to completion. While I despaired at the seeming state of an important friendship, He reminded me that the friendship started and took off because of Him, and when He starts something, He intends it to be exciting, bigger than ourselves, and He will bring it to completion or fulfilment. It is all in His hands, and going accordingly to exactly how He planned it to be – no matter how fast or slow-paced, in whatever time and season.
I learnt that a friendship may seem like its not moving at all, but if the commitment is there to invest in the friendship, busy schedules, personal inhibitions, issues – they will not stop the friendship from moving on. It might be going really slowly, but it’s not stopped, and it’s not declining either. Clothe it with prayer as well – we can’t handle and juggle all that life demands by ourselves. God empowers, God makes ways, and when is at the centre of the relationship, makes it flourish, and glorifying unto Himself.
Another thing I’ve learnt is that honesty matters a lot in a friendship. If everything gets swept under the carpet, one day the undercurrents will surface, and things might get very ugly or the friendship will fade into oblivion. Being able to be honest with each other about your feelings and thoughts, while respecting each other’s, will launch you in DMCs that bring you closer to each other.
I’ll admit that I still have much to learn about human-human interactions, and there are only that much we can learn (and retain) from books. I think part of a great friendship is where we teach each other how to be better friends. Also, I take comfort in knowing that God IS interested in my life and my friendships and He takes control and directs the paths they go.
I thank God for giving me awesome, awesome friends.
And thank you, all of you. <3
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
If you've been following my personal blog, you'll know that I've made more than a few decisions lately- ranging from small to life-changing. We make so many of them in one day that sometimes, their impact on us can be discounted, overlooked.
The decision to have toast or cereal for breakfast? Chosen within a minute. The decision to change uni courses? A good solid three months. Why is it that some decisions, like deciding to marry someone are so easily made by some people and others waver in indecision over what shoes to wear that day? Of course, it's an issue of priorities and there are times where, to quote my pastor- "You know and you know and you know". Of COURSE you have to marry this awesome man of God- there isn't any way that you'd say no. Of COURSE you have to wear the silver shoes with that outfit- there just isn't a choice =P I know, I take this all very tongue-in-cheek at times but that's what you like about me. Ahem.
Other times though, the thoughts go whirling in your head like a tornado and you're playing Devil's advocate with yourself. Yes, No, Maybe, Depends- they go swirling around and around and you don't know up from down. To borrow from the format of a friend's post on Facebook, more often than not, the scenario inside a head can be like two people playing verbal ping-pong. (Jess is my rational side, J is the side that runs rampant with dreams, imaginations and hates drinking water.)
Jess: So, we have a decision to make today. Let's weigh out the pros and cons shall we? Got a pen? How about a roll of that yellow architects paper you love so much? Let me just draw up this list...where's that ruler...ah yes, there we go, now we have a list. What's number one J?
Jess: Pay attention! My goodness, your attention span sucks.
J: What decision? I don't know anything about a decision. OK, fine but do we have to do this now? Sorry, I'm just in the land of denial. What decision?
Jess: . . . . . .
J: FINE. I'm just going to say the opposite of whatever you think because this sucks and I don't want to make the decision. However, you can't make the decision without me either.
Jess: *grabs a knife*
J: Oi, it's called playing devil's advocate, leave me alone.
On and on it goes, where does it stop, nobody knows. That's where social customs like eeny, meeny, miney moe come from. Don't want to make a decision? OK, let's leave it up to chance and take what's dealt to us. The church tells us to wait on God for all decisions, however, both you and I know that very often, God sounds exactly like that inner voice of yours. Or you sound like God and the lines become all blurry.
I'm not saying that all decisions are like this- there are plenty of decisions I've made because I could see so clearly that it was the direction I had to go- God couldn't have made it more clear than if He'd placed a giant green neon arrow going YES! I'm asking about those decisions that are so murky you can't see the sun through them. What do you do? How do you handle it?
For me, one step at a time. Sounds morose but even the greatest leaders of the world, making huge decisions every day- they still start off their day by putting one leg at a time through their pants.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Wow. Crazy weekend. It’s been a long weekend, and judging from last Friday’s post, you can imagine how amazing stuff can happen once we choose to hang on to Him during the tough times. The weekend was full of a tangible sense of God’s presence, continuous mind-blowing experiences of where I stand and who I am in God’s kingdom and in Christ.
If I were to use one word to describe, it would be “empowering”.
I thank God for a crazy yet wonderful girls’ cell. Because there’s something very very powerful when a group of girls come together and pray. As another group of ladies just got back from the Colour Conference in Sydney and testified in church about the sisterhood in action, and empowering each other to do more good works for His name and His glory. It’s been all so uplifting and encouraging. How very apt that this blog is started with the sisterhood in mind!
Bible study class on Saturday gave me a fresh perspective on my salvation and position in Christ. Our position always stays the same, we are always on the road to eternal life after salvation. But although our position doesn’t change, our mindset can – and thus translating to the way we feel and act.
I identified with the teacher in class as he related how growing up in church helped him see how it seems as if we need to earn our salvation and eternal life all over again, and ironically the number of meetings we attend in a week determines our holiness quotient. But the truth is once we are saved by grace through faith, we are saved. Salvation is a gift, and gifts are.. gifts. You don’t pay the person back for it – it will not be a gift otherwise.
Thank God that He speaks all the time, and it only depends on ourselves whether we are open to listening to Him speak. He’s always whispering that He loves us, that He’s around, that He is always for us.
I’ve never felt so loved before. (:
Friday, April 3, 2009
I admit, it’s hard finding something to write about in these situations. Sometimes I stare in amazement (maybe a lot disbelief) how much of my life, or myself I expose while writing SFTW posts. It seems easier to write about the positive stuff, to write about happy stuff, the encouraging stuff, and definitely those wonderful revelations and realisations that God reveals. Writing these posts can sometimes be nothing short of a miracle, but today, after a week of ups and downs, and pent up frustrations, a needed miracle isn’t happening as yet.
It was time to get angry with God, to cry out that I’m THAT close to breaking down. There’s this crazy storm raging inside of me, and even after waking up this morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and just saw nothing but chaos and unrest inside of me.
I was sure by now,
that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again,
I say amen and it's still raining.
As the thunder rolls,
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.
I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away
I suppose it is to first acknowledge that following Christ doesn’t guarantee a life of smooth-sailing. The disciples went through a literal storm, even when Jesus was in the boat with them. It is okay to go through trials, and it’s okay not to be on top of the world, not be jumpy and happy all the time.
But it is to realize that He walks with you through the storms. He is always there. I don’t know how powerful it is to you, but that knowledge that He holds every tear that I’ve cried just blows me away every time. And in the famous story of the footprints, it says that the tough times were the period with only one set of footprints because Jesus was carrying me/you.
The difference between thanksgiving and praise is this – thanksgiving is about what He has done, praise is about who He is. Who He is never changes, and thus even through the tough times, when it seems as if there is nothing to thank God for – there is plenty to praise Him for.
And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
Looking at what is eternal – His character, Him, it gives hope, it reminds me of the promises He gave before. And knowing Him, we know that it stands.
My storm can still be raging inside of me, but I can still praise Him amidst this storm.
(Lyrics from Praise You in This Storm by Casting Crowns)
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Warning: I'm blatantly going to steal off stuffchristianslike.net today (Thank you Jon Acuff).
Most of you would know that my favourite song of ALL TIME is Wonderwall by Oasis. My personal blog is named after it for goodness' sake. That song, ever since I heard it in full for the first time in 2000 has been my mainstay, my constant aural companion, giving me support in my times of trouble, being my comfort in times of distress, adding joy when I was feeling ecstatic for one or another reasons. I've always told my sisters that I'm going to be playing it at my wedding, my funeral, most probably after the birth of all of my kids etc. They roll their eyes at me but I know that they each have a piece of music that is as irrevocably them as Wonderwall is mine. Music has that power, to bring back long-buried memories, to act as a catalyst, to inspire and to be as tangible to some people as a physical blanket of warmth.
Art and design is a double-edged sword sometimes. This is my own personal argument so feel free to disagree or whole-heartedly agree. When you're in a good mood- art and design is creativity- something that makes you realise how awesome it is that you're alive and that you've been blessed to be a human- animals can certainly be creative but only we have the awareness of the impact of our abilities and imaginations. When you're feeling bad, creativity is the noose with which you hang yourself. You're not saving lives, you're not fighting for justice, heck, you're not even feeding people to keep them nourished. You feel like the most insignificant, pretentious, arty-farty, useless, selfish dot in the world for wanting something to be blue instead of blue-green. It's probably why a lot of Asian parents want their kids to focus on something tangible, like medicine, architecture, accountancy, law etc. Arts doesn't put food on the table.
Sometimes I agree with myself, other times I don't. I was in one of those "Yes, I'm embroiled in a useless pursuit" moods yesterday and one of my friends at WAAPA told me "No!! Art is so important to people! We educate, we contribute to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of humanity- without art and creativity, life doesn't exist."
This is where Jon Acuff swings in to defend the artists. He realises that in Exodus 30 and 31, after God anoints the priests of Israel- He anoints the artists.
"I had to read that a few times until I believed. There in the desert, as God establishes His people, as He sets into motion His very heart, the artists fall directly after the priests. Maybe that's mind-blowing only to me, but I find that stunning. Of all the professions, of all the people in the desert, it is the artists He speaks to next. Is there a more beautiful reflection of the importance He places on art and creativity?
We've made God military in a lot of our culture. We march in God's army. We have men's groups that are based on battle, but He doesn't focus on the warriors after the priests. He doesn't say the strength and might are most important after Aaron and the priests. He says creativity is."
When I read that post, it felt like God had spoken directly to my own doubting heart. He still speaks to my doubting heart. The power of arts and music is God-given, not merely an additional side dish that accompanies the main course that is life.
This came to me at a prayer meet for our church’s youth district camp yesterday. Following JustWallpaper’s initiation on a discussion about why don’t we just get saved before we die, I knew that there is much more to life than salvation and then just waiting to die to go to heaven. Responses following the post reflected that definitely salvation is not just a ticket to heaven, it’s the start of a relationship with Christ through to eternity.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)
“.. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men..”
That yearning of eternity in our hearts leads us to the ONLY One in the world who can fulfil that yearning. That only an eternal God can fill.
I can’t remember where I read it, or who said it to me, but it came to mind last night. The question was asked why we are made to live for eternity, and the answer came back that because God is so.. God. There are infinite things that you can learn of Him, from which you can know Him, so much that you’ll probably need an eternity to know Him.
And eternity starts at the point of salvation. And the earlier you start knowing Him, the more you will know of Him before meeting Him face to face. And so far, from what I know, from people who have truly believed and truly experienced Him, no one ever wishes that they’ve known Him later, but only to have known Him earlier. Once we taste that bit of eternity where God dwells and find that it is good (Ps 34:8) , it will be no wonder that we will crave for more.
But I suppose we always have that nagging thought in our lives, looking at others who seem to have a better time in life, or a more enjoyable life as compared to one on the narrow path. There was days that was particularly hard for me, where the cost of discipleship, of following Christ, just felt so.. heavy.
It sounds okay to give up reading romance novels, listening to Linkin Park or even *gasp* coffee. But when it comes to having to watch your actions which comes normally, changing your lifestyle to one that is more God-pleasing, having to guard my heart and others instead of just letting it all ‘flow’, having to choose people to spend time with that will matter and impact my life positively, it sounds like a different ball game. I’m dealing with internal stuff, stuffs that can possibly impact for eternity.
Damn right it’s hard. It’s effing hard. Christians were never promised an easy life, even Jesus himself said that the cost of following Him is high. I want the “But we will not give up hope, we will not give up persevering!” appropriate at this time to be resounding and convicted, but life, reality, always makes theory harder to apply.
The only consolation to me is that this tough hand life deals at us will be insignificant in the light of eternity. And the choice we make now to honour God despite the circumstances will echo through eternity as it shapes us, mould us, refine us, to be more like Christ everyday.
To my dear brothers and sisters who are stuck in a rut, who are struggling (just as I am), hang in there. Choose to develop that relationship with God and make becoming Christ-like a priority in our lives. Take comfort that we can return home to a familiar God if we choose to know Him better right now, and we’ve got an awesome eternity ahead of us.