Sigh

23 03 2009

A simple favour. Requested by my parents, to my sister, on behalf of me. Something small that wouldn’t take too much of her time, or effort, or anything at all – definitely within her convenience. Something that would help me alot without being much of a problem to her.

I listened from upstairs as my parents spoke to her. Her reluctance was obvious, and out came various excuses and attempts to worm her way out. My dad was obviously reigning in his anger with her, at one point his volume went up. I knew she was reluctant because it is me. Because that’s just the way she treats me. Nice when she requires stuff from me. It was just last week that I told her she didn’t need to replace my property that she had broke while using, without my permission. Yet when I make a request, it’ll be met with an instant disagreement. She won’t even bring something downstairs for me when she’s headed down. That’s why I don’t even make requests to her anymore – my parents do it for me when it’s something important.

But that’s not the point. I have learnt coping mechanisms and ways of making myself scarce, and it doesn’t usually bother me too much. Yet today, I feel so downcast in my soul, because this incident really adds on to all the burdens that have been weighing me down in the past week. The thing is, my sis is 5 years older than me, and a church leader as well. She holds a post in church that is to be respected, and many youths look up to her, and learn from her. I sometimes hear church friends telling me of what a great person she is – and I can only smile weakly, for only I know the truth that could entirely ruin her reputation. Years ago, in rage I typed out a letter to her to tell her blatantly what a hypocrite I felt she was. But it wasn’t right with my conscience to deliver it, so I never did. At that time, I thought that if this was the life of a church leader at home, I wonder about the other leaders in church too. I wanted to quit church.

And now a similar kind of feeling is returning. This merely adds fuel to the fire that has been burning inside of me. Or perhaps fire is a wrong metaphor, because it is more like an emptiness. I have been seeking and searching and trying to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, who God really is and what He really wants of me. It stemmed from learning about false prophets and increasingly discovering that not every single thing I learnt in church may be right. I watched videos of exposed false prophets who caused people to be ‘slained’, believe they are healed, speak in tongues, and give their money believing that they will be blessed, while behind the scenes, the false prophet (who, by the way, does not even believe in God) happily pockets it. The church scenes looked stunningly familiar as those I witness. Increasingly I find that my view of God and Christianity is distorted, and I don’t know if everything is an emotional hype. It is hard for me to distinguish God’s voice from my voice, God’s word from my thoughts, God’s presence from my emotions.

And so I’m searching again, learning that organised religion may not be everything good, and striving to discover God for who He really is, beyond the rituals of singing songs, giving tithes, speaking in tongues and smiling in church. I have questions like “why does God not heal amputees” building up inside of me, and I am confused. I can tell you for sure I am absolutely certain there is a God – but I’m just not sure that the way the church is today is the way that pleases Him. I don’t want any more emotional hypes as we sing exciting or emotionally-stirring songs, don’t want to hear that I’m going to hell if I don’t give 10% of my income, don’t want to blabber out syllabi in the intensity of corporate prayer while wondering if anyone in Heaven actually understands what I am saying. It’s not that I’m against worship or tithes or tongues or anything like that. I just need to know they are real, for me, and not my emotions playing tricks on me.

And then there comes my sister. For someone who’s been in church since young, served for years and years mentoring others, taken on important church positions, responded to altar calls, prayed for many, and gained the respect of many as a mature Christian to turn to, I find it rather odd that she does not seem to possess an ounce of love when at home. It makes me wonder whether church is but a Sunday feel-good facade.

I’m lost.





Shift of posts

25 02 2009

Dear readers,

If you noticed that some posts have suddenly disappeared from my blog, it is because I have shifted them to another blog, one which is open to the people who know me. This blog will remain for the more personal posts and my deepest struggles. (Sorry too if you see only rants here!)





This life is much too tough

9 02 2009

Perhaps it’s because I’m a pessimist. Perhaps I just don’t handle stuff easily. But as time goes by and as the burden of adulthood begins to fall upon my shoulders, I feel increasingly melancholic.

Life when younger was simple and carefree. Perhaps I didn’t think it as simple nor carefree then, but somehow things always look different on hindsight. Perhaps in contrast to the kind of life I experience now. I guess the past was simple in being one-directional – get the best grades, get into the top schools, and get the university course I desired. Now that all that is over and done – now what?

I could put it this way. I’m losing my interest on all things worldly, but yet I have not sufficiently filled up the space with all things eternal. I find the world’s endless rat race senseless, I no longer crave to fly high or earn much. I want my life to be set out for God. I know that God should be my number one priority, and that my entire life’s perspective should be eternal. Yet, I find myself feeling hopelessly lost on what I could do. I see little special purpose for the rest of my life, and I certainly do not want to be just another one who lived as a believer and not a disciple.

To be honest, I sometimes wonder if God gives life direction to those who die young. Since they would die young, does that mean their life needs no long-term plan? Or if they had been given a long-term plan, wouldn’t their dying young seem contrary to God’s plan? And… does that mean that since I don’t see a long-term plan for my life, I could just possibly die young? But I guess that’s just part of my own over-imagination.

But I also know that God wants me to be faithful in the small things, before He entrusts me with the big. Whatever I am doing now, I must make sure I am doing it to my best for His glory. Be it my church ministry, the girls I am mentoring, and even my school work, I must handle these things well before He will lead me into bigger things. I guess I am a person who struggles with staying with the same thing with no end in sight, but I need to learn what faithfulness entails.

Actually, now that I’ve poured out my thoughts in this blog post, I think that life isn’t that tough after all. God really tends to speak to me as I type out each blog post. I have an amazing hope in my Lord Jesus Christ. My joy shall have to come not from worldly means but from the Lord – and when the worldly pleasures fade away, I see how He can then be the sole provider of my joy! What I have to do is to take off worldly glasses and put on the eternal ones… and taste and see that the Lord is really, really good.





What is Faith? (Part II)

6 02 2009

It’s amazing how God answered my question last night, after having typed the previous post and prepared to sleep. I took out my Life Application Bible for some night-time Bible reading. Having finished Acts that morning, I began on Romans, intending to read 1 chapter. And there, near the end of chapter 1, was a section with a title that read “What is Faith?”. I trembled when I saw it!

I learnt that other than the Confident Hope definition I had mentioned earlier, faith had these other meanings in the Bible – faithfulness (Matthew 24:45), absolute trust (Luke 7:2-10), or even a barren belief that does not result in good deeds (James 2:14-26).

I also read of how faith is not just another deed towards salvation, but it is a gift that God gives to us because He is saving us, out of His mercy. Finally, it said that “we must accept His gracious offer with thanksgiving and allow Him to plant the seed of faith within us.” I then realised that rather than striving to have faith and pondering on whether I had made my faith strong enough, I am to embrace the faith that God gives to me, and yes, have faith in this faith.

———-

Have you ever heard about the guy who walked a tight rope across Niagra Falls? Many people watched him do it. To them he asked, “Do you believe I can walk a tight rope across the Falls?” They all replied, “Yes.” They had already seen him do it.

Then he pushed a wheel barrow on a tight rope across Niagra Falls. When he completed the feat, he asked the onlookers, “Do you believe I can walk a tight rope across the Falls pushing a wheel barrow?” To that they replied unanimously, “Yes.” Because they saw him do that too.

Finally, a buddy of the tight rope walker climbs into the wheel barrow and the tight rope walker pushes him across the Falls. Wow, what a daring feat! When they finished, the tight rope walker asked the crowd, “Do you believe I can walk a tight rope across the Falls pushing a wheel barrow with a person in it?” To that they exclaimed, “Yes!” For they were now believers in this guy’s awesome abilities.

Then he looked at the crowd and asked, “Who’s next?”

There you have it… Belief vs. Faith…!

From: http://www.allaboutthejourney.org/what-is-faith.htm





What is faith?

5 02 2009

It’s a simple question but it perplexes me.

I read in the Bible of how Jesus emphasized faith so much. Too many times He said the phrase “what little faith you have!” and in many cases, the lack of faith stopped miracles from occurring. He said that if we have faith like a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible. I’m utterly convinced that faith is of great importance, but it is so hard to perceive something intangible.

I searched the Bible and found a definition: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” – Hebrews 11:1

My worry is that I claim to have faith, but at the end of the race I am found faithless. How do I know my faith is true? What am I hoping for?

I probably need to have more faith in my faith. Does that make sense?





Rushing Water

26 01 2009

As I was worshipping God on Sunday, a thought came to mind.

I saw my life as a dirty and dingy back alleyway that was filled with heaps of rubbish. Not just that, it was dark, dirty and grimy.

I was the lone excavator trying to remove the rubbish. Bit by bit, I scooped up the rubbish and dumped them away.

After I had finished scooping up the rubbish, the place was somewhat cleaner.

But all I had done was to remove the largest and most obvious of the rubbish. The place was still filled with dirt and grime, and leftover debris which my excavator could not pick up. The place didn’t appear dirty, but yet it was dirty. Then I knew my own efforts to clean up my life were not enough.

But then in came the Lord, as rushing water. With a strong gush of wave that swept through the back alley, everything was instantly clean and made new. Even the smallest bit of dirt could not escape the cleansing.

Lord, cleanse me.





Struggling with Sin

21 01 2009

On the many occasions that I ask for forgiveness for the same type of sin again, I feel so guilty. Was I asking for it one time too many? I know God is most willing to release forgiveness, but sometimes I feel like I’m taking too much advantage of that benefit. I am embarrassed when I come before God. I’m apologetic and repentful, and thinking that if He didn’t want to forgive me anymore, I deserve it.

Sometimes I wreck my head in frustration at why my flesh is so weak. In my mind I determine to live a righteous Christian life, but things like my anger, pride, harsh words, and other forms of ungodliness can creep in.

I’m always reminded of the following verses:

14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

-Romans 7:14-25 (NLT)

When I first read this months ago, I was in tears because it was as if Paul took the words out of my mouth, and I knew that God knew the exact situation I was going through. I’ve come a long way since then, but there’s an even longer distance to go before I dare to even think that God would consider me righteous.

I’m so appalled at my humanness. If God plays favourites, there’s probably not even room for me on the waitlist. I am so sinful and so wretched, so terrible in asking for forgiveness again and again, and yet doing again what I told Him I would not do. I would be quick to point fingers at anyone who was forgiven by human and yet does the same thing again, yet I am too foolish to realise that I am doing it to not just mere man, but to the Almighty God.

Where is my respect? Where is my Holy fear? Where is my adoration for the Holy God? Why am I taking his forgiveness for granted? Why, just why am I so human?

The verses tell me that the answer is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Such mercy and love I cannot comprehend. I can only beg for His patience and guidance as I respond to His overwhelming love.





Lonely

19 01 2009

I treasure my church friends alot, for they are the ones whom I’ve always felt comfortable around. I’ve grown up with most of them for the most part of my life, and we’re comfortable around each other. I won’t say we fully exercise Biblical fellowship, but we’re working together on it and friendships are true and sincere. I love them for being the people they are, and I see a load of difference between church and school friends.

Yet, there’s a pain cut so deep into my heart. It was an incident with just one of them, that happened just before Christmas. She is a girl I’ve grown up with, and we’ve been in the same cell group since we were teenagers. Increasingly, I was becoming uncomfortable with a way of interaction she had with another girl in our group of friends. They had had friendship issues, and were now patching back. They made many jokes aimed at each other, and I felt that some of the jokes they made went slightly overboard, and made the situation awkward. What affected me most was that I found myself unable to open up and share with the group any longer, because I no longer felt ‘safe’ or that I would be edified and supported. Subconsciously, I didn’t want to be ‘attacked’, though I knew they would not do it to me. I couldn’t have the fellowship and support among fellow Christians that I sought.

The issue bothered me for sometime, but I kept it to myself thinking that I was over-reacting. I did my best to overlook the issue and to overcome the awkwardness. Then on one occassion, we had two younger teens who joined us for a meal. The ‘biting’, as I called it, continued in front of the two younger girls. My heart sank, and I attempted to draw a younger girl into a conversation to distract her from hearing the remarks. I was distracted and depressed the rest of the day. I remember how older youths in church had always been such role models to look up to; people we respect and learn from. Yet, I felt that we were not setting a Godly example for them, and I was so disappointed that we did not take the chance to build up the younger ones.

That night, after consulting God and my boyfriend, I decided that it was right to raise the issue with the girl. I thought carefully about my words to approach it in the least accusatory manner, and hoped that she would understand. Yet, it did not turn out too well. She told me that that was her way of interacting with the other girl, and helped them to bond. As a friend, I was to understand. She told me that everyone else understood, including the 2 younger girls, but I was the only one who did not – words that cut deep into my heart. We ended off amicably, but I felt terribly uncomfortable in my spirit.

During Christmas, she gave me a Christmas card that confessed her true feelings – she felt betrayed, because I as a friend should have understood as a friend does.

Since then, we’ve both forgiven, but I feel that a wedge has been driven between us, because of a lack of true understanding. I feel myself drifting from her and slightly from the others, and I feel that I can no longer entrust her with my feelings.

I keep wondering: Did I do the right thing? I know that standing up for God is the right thing to do, but was I standing up for God? Perhaps I was the one who was blind-eyed, who could not see past their jestering and took things too seriously? Perhaps it was not my place to say anything? Perhaps I should not try to remove the speck in others’ eyes without realising there’s a plank in mine? Was I correcting in love, or was I just being over-sensitive? I don’t know.

What I know is, hurting a friendship is so painful, nevermind that I had, sincerely, the best of intentions. I wonder how long more it will be before the aftereffect of this issue would pass away.

Yes, I feel most lonely.





Hearing

13 01 2009

I want so desperately to hear God’s voice. I want to ask for His direction and seek His will at any time in my life, and know without a shadow of doubt His answer to me. I want to live with the voice of God guiding me at all times. Most of all, I want to have 2-way conversations with Him that will draw me nearer than ever to His heart.

Yes, I do have the occasional ‘still, small voice’ or ‘impressions’, but it takes me alot to struggle with whether the ‘message’ is from God or from my own imagination or deepest desires. I’ve been told to ask 3 questions: Is it biblical? Is it out of love? Is it constructive? But I believe I could think up biblical, loving and constructive thoughts without it being God’s specific word for that season. Plus, what’s loving and constructive to my human mind may be otherwise to God, who knows all things and sees the bigger picture.

Maybe there’s a barrier that stops me from hearing. Noise? Talking when I’m supposed to be listening? Sin? Maybe the pride issue is still being dealt with (I’m expecting more testing). Maybe I haven’t asked hard enough.

Probably, I should just concentrate on loving God more, and drawing nearer and nearer to Him, rather than seeking answers. I know that when I’m so close, we can have all the heart-to-heart conversations in the world that we want.





Pride

11 01 2009

I spent last night in self-pitying sadness and anger, finding myself unable to worship and moodless for anything. To me then, my anger was justified. Others were to blame and I had every right to show how upset I was. I wanted people to see how wrong they were and how right I was. My boyfriend suffered the worst of my black face and revolting attitude. I finally ended the night tearfully in his arms, thinking the world would crash down on me for the way I had behaved, if not for God’s love, and his love.

As I look back on last night, I know there were many times when I thought, this is enough, just stop it already. I knew that all it took for me to get out of my mood was to make the decision and snap out of it. Yes, I may have been hurt and sad at the start, but I had dragged it on far too long, perhaps hoping for some drama in which I would have been vindicated. In the end, I suffered more.

There was just one thing that held me back from putting a stop to the negative emotions. A five-lettered word called PRIDE. I have never thought myself to be conceited beyond what would be normal, but faults don’t show up until under fire. I was too proud to show that I was over and done with the issue; too proud to say ‘sorry’ and get on with life; too proud to let go of matters without being proven right.

No wonder the Bible says, very wisely, that “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18; NLT) I had experienced it firsthand and saw how I was definitely worse off in the end, and pulling down my boyfriend with me.

In all probabilty, this pride has been stopping me from hearing from God as often as I would like to. The Bible is clear that God hates pride, and I am sure He will turn His face from the proud. “God opposes the proud, but favours the humble.” (James 4:6; NLT) Many problems I face with others could be a result of pride as well, for “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.” (Proverbs 13:10; NLT)

And so my new resolution, as of today, is to get rid of my pride. I believe that God will send tests my way so that I may show that I am truly over my pride. It is going to be a painful experience, but if Jesus could bring himself down so humbly on the cross for me, I can do this for Him.