Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Season of Rest

Been focusing on resting in God this season. Realised that it's not only been me, but also my friends who've been so busy running around. It's so important to slow down and wait upon God. It's so important to sit down and read His word once again.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where was God? - An explanation of the NS Book Project

What it is:

-The idea here is to gather enough testimonies to write a book. Not just testimonies alone, but also tough experiences and personal accounts. The word testimonies is misleading in that it makes it sound like we want to hear only the good, polished and filtered stuff. Well, we don't.

-A book focused on God.

-A book that will present NS in as real a form as is palatable for reading by the majority of our church-goers.

-A book with contributions from all types of people who've been through NS. Any of the three services or the Police or Civil Defence. Across all ranks and all vocations. It doesn't have to be spectacular sharing. But it has to be real, heartfelt and introspective. I know that we often mention it as "God in army", but I guess the reason for that is that it's easier on the mouth. Trying to say it more as "God in NS".

What it isn't:
-Some book sharing just the most spectacular testimonies and miraculous encounters. (We would at this point, want depth, insight and spiritual sharing rather than theatrics)

-A book about ourselves. (It's not and never should be about how good we are. Neither should it be so much about what we went through. It should be about how God has brought us through.)

-Some shallow sharing with God super-imposed. (It needs to be real. For example, if you feel God wasn't present then, say so. If you felt bitter against God, say so.)

Just wanted to share a bit about the spirit behind this project. I guess the fact that it's never been done before makes it potentially ambiguous. Jeshua, Caleb and I have more or less the same motivations and objectives for wanting to embark on this project. But I guess my sharing here will be skewed towards my personal reasons for wanting to do this. Hopefully I can make this thing a little clearer.

The seeds for this project must have been planted a couple of years back. It takes no genius to realise that National Service can become a rather long discussion for any table talk amongst Singaporean men. If we want to, most of us can spend hours talking about it. (I've done it a couple of times myself). Amazingly, it was only about 2 years or so of our lives. (That also means that we've been repeating the same old stories many times.)

Well, so there I was, an NSF. Sitting at a table with a group of Christian brothers. Most had been through NS. And then the talk began to centre on NS. Yes, the same old familiar stuff, funny anecdotes and all. The boredom and feeling of being left out for the girls. The curiosity of those who hadn't enlisted. The knowing smiles and feelings of masculinity for the enlightened ones who'd been through NS.

It was fun. It was funny. It was entertaining talk. But I can tell you, I went home that night, talking to God and asking questions... I wondered why if we were all Christians, if we all had gone through army as Christians... Then why don't we talk about God in the army? As in, why does all our conversation centre around ourselves?

It was not the first night that such thoughts entered into my mind. There were many other nights. Many other dinners. The same questions popped up in my head. "Where is God in NS?", "What is God doing in our lives during NS?", "Why don't people talk about God in NS?"

Where was God?

So I went through my fair share of army experiences. I got posted into an infantry unit. I wasn't an outstanding soldier. Some days and some experiences were very painful to me. (I'll share more in the book). The dinners continued. God was still seldom brought up during those dinners. I'd end up laughing and talking about NS with many Christian brothers. But God was seldom there. We weren't building each other up as we went through these tough experiences together. (Of course there were some very God-centred conversations with close friends, but I'm talking about your average conversation here).

Where was God?

That was a curious question to me during mealtimes on weekends.

Where was God?

That was also a painful question for me during my darkest days in the army.

Where was God?

I often wished to communicate my struggles to other guys who'd been through army in church. I often wished that the ladies would better understand what exactly we went through.

Where was God?

God was always there, right beside me. God was changing me, tearing me down and building me up in my NS days. Looking back, I see all the good things He's done for me. That's one of the main reasons I want to do this book.

I want all of us who've been through NS to have a platform to share what God has done for us in NS. I'd like very much for what God is doing in the lives of NSFs and regulars to be a constant table topic, in place of just the very superficial army talk we have. I want to create an opportunity, however small a stepping stone it may be, for female friends, girlfriends, wives, mothers to understand a bit more of what we go through in NS. A bit more of the challenges we face as Christians in there.

That's the focus of this project. One that builds up a community around God. Sure, I know it seems small. It's only going to be a book after all. But it will also be a legacy. Oral traditions die out easily. One might be able to say, influence people to talk about how God moulded them in army. But for how long? For how many people in his generation? And then what about the next generation? A book, can be passed down, however torn and tattered it might be. A book can be stored and dug out, originality of flavour and accuracy well-preserved, whereas mind and memory fail.

If you ask me, it's just another part of life that I want to see God magnified and discussed for mutual edification. Building up each other. I'm not the one doing God or anyone a favour here. God has in His grace helped me so much through NS, and to take a step back, in life. This is just one of the ways I want to encourage people to come together and proclaim His goodness.

Friday, May 14, 2010

4th Week is over

And that's the view from my workplace, as I wait for the shuttle bus in the evening.

However, this is the more common view. Well, I have a desk too, though will need to vacate it when the perm staff comes back from vacation. Following which I guess I'll be relegated to a more obscure corner.

Today I felt so tempted to work overtime again, because OT pay is 1.5 times your basic. But I was just thinking to myself and telling God. That hey, it's already the end of the fourth week of the holidays. And I don't want to spend my whole holidays working so hard for money. I really do want to spend some time sitting down at the feet of God.

So I made myself leave work on time today. And honestly, for me, that was quite something.
Yes, I came home, managed to spend some time on QT and all. And thought about my focuses in this season of my life.

NS Book project (guess it'll be known as this till we have a more inspired name) is rolling along and yes, I am quite excited.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

After another week at work

Work's been involving large amounts of voluntary OT lately. Been wondering to myself whether it really is wise to work so much. Been wondering whether it'll lead to me burning out. (And a good friend was telling me today that "well... there's only one way to find out for sure"). Also been observing that I haven't been spending that much time doing QT... etc.

Perhaps I need to relook my focus this Summer. I may not be spending it correctly.

What's the point of earning more and acquiring new skills and hanging out and watching movies? What's the point if at the end of all that I question myself and find myself wanting? Wanting in that I had extra time to spend and invest and it didn't go into what God wanted it to go into?

Here's a re-write of a reflection I wrote down as I was doing my QT today.

"It's no use getting angry, hurt or upset over other people. I'll get tired easily if I allow hurting words to bog me down for long. Don't let insults and threats get to you. But also be careful not to allow flattery to cause you to become pride and lead eventually to your downfall. Simply in life, what really matters is what God says. And also, what is His will?"

Been reminded today that I shouldn't focus on people and issues, but on God. Also was reading Mark 12:29-30.

" "The most important one", answered Jesus, "is this 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' "

That's like something I don't quite think I'm doing right now. In fact, I wonder if I truly understand what it means. There we have it. The greatest commandment and I need to figure out how to obey it.