Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beautiful




The Maker
Makes everything beautiful in its time
He is the Lord of seasons
Of Summer, Autumn, Winter and Springtime
He is the God of perfect timings
Of the rising and setting sun
He is King over the high tides and the ebbs
And the many billows and gentle waves that make up the life of a man or woman

He is the Creator of the child in the womb of the mother
The Renewer of strength who brings the youth up into manhood or womanhood
The Giver of wisdom as to whether to embrace or refrain
The Uniter of the faithful husband and the prudent wife
And the Sustainer of both in their silver-haired years.

O, that I were to carefully and earnestly seek out His voice
In obedience, surrender, quietness and trust
To understand His time for everything
And while waiting
To worship and to serve
To honour God, friendship and love

Ponderings

I'm sitting here at home as I type this post.

I just spent half the day at school studying.

It's been a very restful weekend. On Friday I thought I was working myself a bit too hard. So I went home. Besides a little bit of work on Friday night and Saturday morning, I stayed away from studying this weekend. I enjoyed Songfest and the Teachers' Day lunch for CM.

Perhaps there are just three things I'll talk about. Studying, peace and surrender.

Studying. What's the point in studying so hard and trying to build up one's GPA? That's a question I asked myself over this weekend. You see, there are so many people around doing their best to study hard (and that, by itself, is a good thing). In SMU, people are intent on building up their CVs, looking for future job prospects... etc. But will all these count for eternity?

For me, the challenge of faith in Matthew 6:33 remains. Will I seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness?

And while I am in this school, what should I be looking out for? It's something I'm starting to pray about again. I simply don't want my SMU life to pass without God's purpose for me here accomplished.

Peace. It's a topic that's been repeated in my life a lot as of late. Just two or three weeks ago I taught my Primary 6s a lesson titled "Don't Worry, Pray, Enjoy". The key scripture was from Matthew 6 (The whole portion on "Do Not Worry"), Philippians 4:6-7 and Psalm 23:1-3.

Then there've been BSF notes and lectures from John 14 to John 16.

And then there was the preacher this Sunday.

Just last night, I was praying for peace upon many different areas of my life. (There've been a couple of things that've been troubling me / making me concerned lately. And I've been praying for quite a few of these things for some time.) And I just felt God reveal something new about peace to me.

You see, we cannot fully experience God's peace unless we are willing to surrender fully to His will. This means that we must be willing to let God have His way, even if it is the total opposite of what we want. The peace does not come from an assurance that we will have things our own way. The peace comes from a certainty that God is in charge, that He will work it out for my good (not for my pleasure) and that ultimately, He is King over the outcome (even though it might be a painful outcome).

Peace comes from the knowledge that I have an eternity to spend with my Saviour. And that my reward comes when I meet my Maker.

Surrender. Let me give an example. Last week I was praying over many issues right? One of them was studies. I know it's only Week 2, but I'd begun to start struggling in a few of my modules. I just couldn't get what the lecturer was saying. And so I started to pray for God's peace over the matter. I asked that God give me intelligence and understanding over this subject.

But when I prayed for God's peace, what did that mean? It should have meant that I would no longer worry about the issue right? But that didn't happen. I just got more flustered and started to pray even more. But God showed me that the issue here isn't so much about me understanding the subject and scoring well for it . The issue here is whether I surrender this subject fully into His hands. The issue here is that I honour God in how I study as a student and that I give glory to His Name no matter how well or how badly I perform in this subject.

It means that I surrender the process as well as the outcome to Him. It means He has His way and His will is done in me.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Second Week of School

Alright! I'm into the second week of school. It's been a continuous rush of various activities so far. Going for lessons and studying with friends. So far the project work hasn't really started to come in. It's good that I've been able to make time to stay in shape. Heh, I can get fat quite easily.

I guess one of the things I'm learning again this season is patience in waiting on God and trusting Him for His plans and purposes. I guess it's also meekness and gentleness.

Love my Primary Six class. Lately, we decided to set aside time during each lesson just to rest and play. Thought that it was what they really needed. I've got a very studious class this year.

Had a couple of good conversations with Crusade people today. And a topic that came out more than once was regarding the giftings of the Holy Spirit. I'm musing about how lethal it can be when we have both the Word of God and the anointing of God with us. But it often strikes me as strange how we can tend to one extreme and forget the other.

That's all for now. Kinda busy with all the Songfest stuff.

And here're some of the NS Book Project Posters in church!

Anyone else wanna contribute?










Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer

Summer vacation is such a very strange thing.

Having grown up in Singapore, you never really have summer vacations. You have very busy June holidays. (June holidays that are crammed with “holiday activities”, CCA camps, the occasional church camp and holiday homework- a hallmark of a Singaporean student’s life.). Then you have December holidays. Somehow December always seems more relaxed than June.

January to March. Get back to school and study. March holidays don’t really exist. Most people go back to school anyway. April to June. You get small pockets of time to relax in June. School, CCA, church and everything else eat up most of the time. July to September. Back to the same school routine. October to December. Prepare for exams. Take exams. Rest in December.

Ten cycles of the same routine for the JC kids. A slightly different cycle for the poly and ITE grads.

And then the guys go to NS. NS, where you change for better or worse.

And the girls go to university or to work.

Of course I went through NS. Then completed my first year in university.

My first summer vacation. It seems strange to think of it that way.

It turns out that things did not quite turn out the way I’d envisioned them to be. At the beginning of my vacation, I made up a list. Three columns. One was labeled “necessary”. The other two were labeled “considering” and “optional”. Under “necessary” were things such as “find a job-urgent”, “write letter to CM kids”, “exercise, run, swim, conditioning”, “do NS Book Project”, “have more sleepovers” and so on. Under “considering” were things like… well okay, I can’t remember what I put there. Under “optional” were items such as “learn Malay” (which I actually attempted to do toward the start of my vacation!) or “learn sign language”.

I guess I’ve completed or am halfway through most of what I put under “necessary”.

It’s interesting to me how I started this summer vacation. I had a week or so after my exams. And then, after a few short phone calls, I got a job in a bank. Looking back, I see that it was really God’s providence. So one week after school had ended, I began working hard in my first commercial job. I spent three weeks trying to experience how it was like in the banking industry. I stayed back to work OT on purpose. Partly because of the money. Partly due to the fact that I wanted to find how it feels to work OT. And partly to see how the employees feel so late into the night.

I stopped that after the first three weeks. I knew what I needed to know. It got me thinking about what I’m going to do after I graduate years from now. Will I have work-life balance? Will God fit in there? Will I have time for kids and ministry?

Yup, my walk with God plummeted after those three weeks. But at least I learnt something.
The next few weeks were rather standard. Work, sleepover and past midnight meetings for the NS Book Project. Late night suppers on some days and just going home on others. World cup sleepovers. Just having fun and pushing myself late into the night. A really ironic way to relax.

It struck me as weird how my last few days on the job were. I talked a bit more with people who
had appreciated my presence. I drew up a chart for where I kept all the items because I knew people would be confused immediately after I left. I had a few more lunches with Enos- something which I really miss.

On my last day, I gave out Oreos to people as a sort of farewell gift. Never mind that many people didn’t really care. After all, I was just a contract staff helping out for three months of their lives and probably gone for the rest of their lives.

I got two farewell gifts. One was a box of chocolates from a perm staff who came in after me. I helped her a lot with the transition into the work place. I taught her the ropes on her part of the job, because she was tasked with taking over some of my functions before I left. She wasn’t from my team, but at least she appreciated me.

The other was a cheese/carrot cake from a manager on another team. I often helped her to retrieve files from my side for her analysis. It’s weird that people often take their own staff’s contribution as a given. I mean, I never felt appreciated on my own side despite doing my best for them. But I felt so appreciated by members of another team.

My farewell from my own side consisted of a colleague running up to me fifteen minutes before we were to knock off, and asking me to urgently find a file before I left, and me wanting to say a proper goodbye to my boss but realizing that he was too busy talking on the phone to offer me anything more than a hurried goodbye wave.

So I left my workplace. A rather happy person. I spent one day meditating and packing for Crusade camp.

And then I went for the camp itself.

It was a joy to be at the camp. I mean, I didn’t get much time to talk to people and all. But it was really so awesome to just be there.

But looking back I guess I was a bit distant from everyone. Was still dealing with issues and all. Being part of the crowd has never really been one of my greatest strengths. I’m always different somehow. Some days it gets real bad. (But my comfort lies in the fact that I know God is working on this part of my life. One of my many imperfections. I mean, over the years I've found that apart from hanging out with some very close people, I actually struggle to have fun. I muse that it could be a mix of me setting high standards for myself plus my training in army days plus the feeling that I just want to make sure I achieve something. Well, all those and perhaps a million other things- which leads me to my next thought- that I think too much at times.)

And then came a week of rest at home. With the NS Book Project still going on.

Then last week, which included a very blessed day of cycling at East Coast and a couple of meet-ups.

And there’s this week of course. I’m ready for school in the technical sense.

Oh, what a summer of rest and recuperation. Of reflection and quiet growth. It wasn’t as exciting as all my fellow schoolmates who went on Overseas CIP, Gen 12 and tours. But I would like to think that I came out a better person after this season. A lot of my burdens over the last two terms at school have been laid down before my Lord Jesus. A lot of thinking has been done.

And a lot has changed.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

A New Semester

Here we go again. Another new semester of university. Three more academic years before we graduate. I think I'd do well to enjoy each and every day in this school. Guess when I enter the work force, SMU life is something that will bring back a wistful sigh.

I had a very good summer vacation. It was a time of rest from camps. God also answered my prayers for a good holiday job. Everything worked out pretty fine. I think it was a season of rest and restoration. I prayed a lot. Read God's word a lot (well, perhaps it could have been more than that). I re-thought quite a few of my outlooks on life. So I suppose that I'm quite a different person from one year back.

So many more things to think and pray about in the coming months.

Monday, August 02, 2010

How Firm a Foundation

Here's a hymn that's been ministering to me quite a few times in my life:

How Firm A Foundation

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

"In ev'ry condition— in sickness, in health,
In poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home or abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

"Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
For I will be with thee, thy trials to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!"

Especially the fifth part. The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

This hymn is a mash of many verses (e.g. Isaiah 43:1-3, Isaiah 41:10... etc.)

For the last few days, I've been kind of working OT on the NS Book Project, so to speak. It's been taking a lot out of me. I've been bringing the contributed scripts almost everywhere I go. It's been interesting editing all the testimonies/ stories that we've received so far. But even as I work so hard on all this and face all types of hindrances (both the expected and the unexpected- and those things for which in your heart you are prepared for but yet still HOPE will never happen), I'm learning lessons from the Lord.

In 1 Corinthians 13, we are told that love "always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres". To what extent must one protect? Must one trust in the face of un-trustworthiness? And hope? Must there still be hope if the reasonable mind sees no more reason to hope? Should there be further perseverance when effort after effort goes down the drain?

In this NS Book Project, you would think that I'm learning stuff like editing skills, persuasiveness... etc. But the truth is that most of all I'm learning to love. And I'm struggling with it daily. I look at the love of Christ. Then I gaze back at my own. I see how it pales in comparison.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.



Cycling with Crusade people tomorrow. I'm praying for good weather and good fellowship.