In a moment of doubt,
or confusion, or despair.

Pause.
Be still.
And listen to your heartbeat.

Listen to its strings
humming, stirring
Those stretches of muscles
Handmade,
with love

Listen to its rhythm
living, kicking
Echoing against your eardrums
Handmade,
with love

In that moment
It is His, too,
living, kicking,
echoing against your eardrums

Listen to His heartbeat
Listen to His engulfing love
softly, yet steadfastly ringing
unfailingly caring

Listen to His heartbeat
echoing against your eardrums
And be still.

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Back in July, me and hubby went to Koorong to look for The Picture Bible for Children. Hubby told me that his first encounter with the stories in the Bible was from this book when he was a kid. Feeling nostalgic, he insisted to search for the book since he lost his original one. As he was looking for that book in Children section, I roamed around Women and Relationship shelves, hoping to find a good book for myself so I could get it for 20 percent off, too. Instead, I chose to buy a devotional. Another devotional. Andrew raised his eyebrow when I handed that book for him to pay, knowing that I’ve got two other books on my bedside table, but he didn’t say anything. Once in the car, he asked me, “you need another devotional?”. I paused for a bit, then I said to him, ‘no, but the book looks pretty’. I rest my case.

As it turned out, God used this pretty book to bash me.

Packed with different themes each week, God led me to get to know Him, and myself, through this book. And many times, as I read and ponder on His Word, I felt like I’ve been hit between the eyes.

A month ago, the theme was about ‘Courage’. This spoke quite loudly to me, since I am generally quite apprehensive. I get anxious over little things. I am careful in everything, maybe way too careful, so I can avoid mistakes or bear any failures. And being a perfectionist, I tend to want to get things done my way. And when they didn’t, I would see that as an offense, and I wouldn’t be too nice about it. A control-freak, in short. As I went through each page, day after day, I came to one brutal conclusion; damn, I really am a coward. It is one thing to strive for perfection by covering all loop holes and planning everything to a T, but it is another thing to be so afraid to start anything because you won’t forgive yourself if you don’t do it perfectly.

My parents know that quite well about me, and have been encouraging, nudging, and badgering me when it comes to my reluctance to ‘come out of my shell’ and embrace new things.  And I know how much deeper my Father, my Creator knows my heart and my character. But it didn’t really stop me from asking, “why does God seem to challenge my weaknesses? Why does He always strike my soft spots?”. D’uh, right? Yet, I found it hard to accept why God had to ‘complicate’ things before I could get to what He’s got in store for me.

The verse from the second day of the week was taken from 2 Timothy 1:7,

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”

As I pondered on this, Holy Spirit kept asking me to look at the word “give” in this verse. I asked Him to elaborate, and He reminded me of the movie Evan Almighty. Nearing the end of the movie, Evan’s wife was so troubled that no one believed in Evan and his mission to save the world. God (Morgan Freeman) approached her, and said this line,

Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does He give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does He give them opportunities to love each other?

I know this was not (the real) God’s Word, but man, such wisdom!

Holy Spirit continued to guide me in understanding this verse. If we truly believe that the Word of God is the truth and alive, that He is our DNA, then it’ll make more sense that God will work from within us first before He changes our surroundings. When He gives courage to us, He will be working inside-out, not outside-in. He won’t necessarily create peaceful, calm, smooth situation for us to feel peace, because what’s the point in giving us courage if we have nothing to use it against? When we claim and receive courage from God, though our surroundings may not look too promising, we can activate, exercise our faith through the courage that He has given us.

Pam Brewer, the writer for this topic, explained that ‘(God) will never direct you to compromise your faith or your integrity in order to accomplish His will… God is always at work in and around us, allowing our needs to collide with others, so that He can fulfill His plans in both. When we are faced with tests, and we are confident that God is with us, we can act with courage that the sacrifice will be worth the blessings for everyone touched by it.”

From the challenges that I’ve been allowed to go through, I learned that to be courageous is not always about being bold and brave, or ticking the boxes and getting things done. Sometimes courage is needed when God asked me to be vulnerable, to let things go, and give up myself (my plans, my thoughts, my pride) though it hurts. Or to open up and write about it, though it means highlighting my weaknesses. One obvious thing I know He’s teaching me is to be compassionate. To exercise love and mercy, and to be persistent about it, especially when I don’t feel like it. His Word didn’t say, “God (give) spirit of power, of love, of self-discipline when you feel like doing it“. Nope. It is an encouragement that despite my situation, God’s gift is abundant for me to do His work.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” [Philippians 4:19]

His grace is enough. Through all the ups and downs, I know He will sustain me. Though many times I questioned how long should I endure the uncertainty and the unknown, I can always look back and declare that all the things that have been happening to me..they were all perfect and wonderful, and there’s no way I could’ve done all that myself. Deep down I believe that my loving Father is standing at the end of the tunnel, smiling widely at me and says, “I told you so! I told you everything is going to be okay!”. I just have to believe, and take the step!

God knows I need to exercise my courage. He knows I’m weak and defenceless, so like a baby needing some vaccinations, He gave me some ‘weak virus shots’, right where they’re needed to stimulate my faith and thus activate my ‘antibody’. It will be uncomfortable for me at first, I might be in pain for a while, but as I continue to hold on to Him, to satisfy myself with His presence, He will make me stronger. And when I am faced with some more challenges in the future, I will be ready. Eventually.

I’m not there, yet. But I will be.

“..for truly I say to you; if you have faith even as little as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain ‘move here to there’, and it will move;..” [Matthew 17:20]

I had trouble understanding this verse for a long time. But finally it dawned on me. The keyword is not in ‘as little as a mustard seed’, but Jesus said, ‘if you have faith’! I’m not sure how we can measure our own faith, let alone compare it to something as small as a seed. But once we commit ourselves to believe in His Word, taking the steps amidst the impossibles and give no room for doubts; that’s when we know that we have faith! and God can work through that faith, no matter how small. Like trickles of water among a pile of rocks; it doesn’t matter how small the size of the gap is, the water will find it and flow through it. Likewise, the size of our faith, or should I say, our effort is not the main component here. It is God who can make the difference. It is God through us that can move those mountains!

Courage. Alongside obedience, it is one of the ingredients of faith. This revelation is a tremendous burden off my shoulders; that when God asked me to be courageous, He didn’t intend to just let go of my hand and let me walk through the wilderness by myself. Like the famous quote that said, “If He lead me to it, He’ll lead me through it”, He is with me every step of the way. Even if I cowardly decide to take my time and delay things and ignore His nudge, like I did many times before, but hey, He will still be here. Right here with me. I just pray that every time I feel afraid and insecure and unsure, I will always remember that it is not my effort, it is not about me. Everything that happens are all working together, no matter how wrong it may seem at that moment, for His glory. To serve His perfect plan. I pray that as He continues to mold (and bash and crack and remold) me, His Word and His love will always feed me with strength and encouragements to keep moving forward, no matter how mentally/spiritually/physically strenuous it may be. A small girl like me can only do so much, but my GOD can do ALL THINGS!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” [Philippians 4:13]

enough said 🙂

Thank You, Lord!!

The world, as we are, are addicted to speed. We are taught to get things done, and find solutions when problems occur. Quickly. With everything moves and changes so rapidly nowadays, pausing and resting will cost us dearly. Japan created the fastest ever bullet train, Shinkansen, running at 500km/hour. I mean, how fast would you want to get somewhere without risking your nose moving to the back of your head? The power of iPhone, in which you can talk, take note, take and send messages and photos and videos, talk to and see your friend, listen to music, read, play games (anything else I missed?), has swept the world. Indomie, kebanggaan Indonesia, requires 10minutes max, some water and a saucepan and a plate for you to enjoy it. And some cutleries, of course, unless you eat mi goreng with your hand. As ‘healthy’ as they may be, people love the quick and simple solution to get what they want. The world demands us, pushes us to be fast and efficient. Straight-forward and yet flexible to changes, following the trend. Bosses don’t wait for workers to feel good to get their tasks done; finish your job, find solution to problems, produce something meaningful, or you’re history.

Now, in contrary, today God taught me about rest.

He saw how I’ve struggled for a while to compete with my surroundings. He knew how troubled I have been, thinking that I was not good enough, I was not productive enough. That I am nothing, because I have done nothing.

But God is a loving God. As I am renewing my walk with God, He has graciously taught me about His heart. He pulled me back under His wings, and nurtured me back to life. The more I spent time with Him, the more revived I was. As I poured my heart to Him, He opened my eyes and ears to receive His promises, to ease my burden, to calm my troubled soul. I believe that He is faithful, He will fulfil His promises.

But as time went by, I grew restless. I questioned God’s timing; “If You said that You would do something at around this time, why am I not seeing anything yet? Why haven’t things start to change?”, my heart complained. And then I thought, “if God promised us something, do we just wait until it happens, or do we also take part in making it happen?”.  I started to search for logical solutions to solve my problems, believing that I was ‘doing my part’, alongside God who is doing His. But the more I dived myself into ‘doing my part’, slowly I became obsessed with finishing the ‘project’, and I couldn’t wait to pass the finish line and celebrate. Slowly I no longer running alongside Him; I tried to outrun Him.

And naturally, the struggle floated back to the surface. Like a columnist with a deadline, I tried to push things towards God’s timing. I became so frustrated, because obviously, nothing seemed to work. Like a circle trying to fit into the mould of a triangle, I put pressure on myself, on others, but nothing seemed to go my way. You see, I started to forget that it was God’s way to begin with. It was God’s promise that I will definitely receive what I was praying for. But I obviously didn’t trust Him enough. This reminded me of what Pastor Floyd Ellsworth shared in 3rd service earlier this month at church.

“God has the blueprint of our lives. We don’t have to figure out everything. He’d rather not have you asking about His plan, because we tend to ruin them. We might leave Him, running ahead of Him or try to help Him. No, He’d rather have you take His hand and walk with Him, and let Him show you the fulfilment of His promise.”

Ps Floyd continued with the story of Abraham (then-Abram) and the cost of Sarah’s (then-Sarai) distrust and disobedience towards God. She ran ahead of God’s timing and tried to help Him executed His promise, which resulted in the birth of Ishmael [Genesis 16]. Though God also loved Ishmael, but he wasn’t part of God’s initial promise. God still kept His promise to Abraham by giving him a son through Sarah, but Sarah’s disobedience brought war that is still continuing till this very day.

If only Sarah rested in God.

I learned that resting is NOT the same as not doing anything,  so I should not feel guilty about it. He invited me to learn something different, and I am so happy whenever He is teaching me something. He reminded about a few things we can do while we are resting in Him.

Open yourself up to Him. [1 Peter 5:7]
Soak up, bask yourself in His love. [Ephesians 2:4-5]
Let Him fill your cup, satisfying your soul. [Psalm 23]
Let Him renew your strength. [Isaiah 40:31]
Let His peace calms your soul. [John 14:27]
Drown, immerse yourself in Him. [Ezekiel 47:3-5]
Give thanks for the works He has done in your life. [Philippians 4:6]
Get to know Him. Let Him show Himself to you. [Jeremiah 29:13-14a]
Praise Him, simply and surely because He is worthy to be praised. [Psalm 34, 103]

There’s a time for everything. And this is the time for me to rest. Yes, I have to do my part, because God also wants me to learn to walk in faith. But now I know He’d rather have me do nothing and rest, than run ahead of Him, thinking that I’m doing the right thing and end up ruining His plan. He reminded me to immerse myself deeper in Him, just like the water in the river at the time of Ezekiel. So when the time comes for me to move, I will move in obedience, in synchronise with Him 🙂 So that the pieces of the puzzle – my piece and His piece – will fit perfectly, and bring honour to Him.

Obedience protects. King Jehosaphat obeyed God and rest in the Lord by praising Him with his army instead of running down to the battle ground and trying to fight off the attacking nations. [2 Chronicles 20:1-30]. Joshua obeyed God and circling the wall of Jericho in praises, exactly as how God asked Him to, instead of trying to penetrate the wall and probably got killed by the army of the city. [Joshua 6]. It might seem ridiculous when time starts running out, yet God asks us to be still and rest in Him. Most of our first reaction would be, “But it doesn’t make sense!!”. But He has a purpose in every word He says, He has a plan in every guidance He gives. Our solutions, however logical or sensible they may seem, sometimes are not God’s ways. Obeying God and walk on our own understanding could be a matter of life and death, physically or spiritually. Look at what Saul had done to himself. [1 Samuel 15]. When God asked me to rest in Him, I know He is protecting me. Might be from others, might be from myself. O yes I know how much damage I could make if I was given the chance. And I thank Him for shielding me from the chaos I could create for myself.

When we rest in God, He will freely, abundantly give us rest [Matthew 11:28]. He is absolutely joyful in the idea of giving Himself to us. He delights in us, more and more as we come near to Him. As I learned to know the heart of my God, I pray that I may obey Him; this is my living sacrifice to Him. To trust in His timing and His hand; there’s no way He’ll miss His own timing! As our souls find rest in Him, we may see that He is faithful to us. As I am resting and pausing from things that are worrying me, I may see that God’s timing will be perfect in me.

Thank you, Father, for teaching me. I am humbled by Your love ❤

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken [Psalm 62:5-6]

Find rest my soul, in Christ alone
Know His power, in quietness and trust [Still – Hillsong]

Funny how God teaches us about life. Sometimes He teaches through His Words in the Bible, sometimes He teaches through someone else’s life or testimony, or He can choose the most special, most effective (and most of the time, the hardest) one; teaches us through our lives.

I’ve been good at running. No, not physically running, have never been a sporty, anyway. What I meant was running from problems. When I saw a problem that I sensed would demand a lot of work from me, physically and/or emotionally, I would simply apply the mantra; ignorance is bliss. Let that be about my family, my loved ones, friends, acquaintances, church, community, yada yada, unless I do really care for them. If you want to learn on how not to care, you might gain something from me. I’m genuinely not proud of it, but at times this attribute of mine have proved to be effective. There were some cases where my lack of response prevented the situation from becoming explosive, damaging. Unresolved, probably, but at least it didn’t cause any prolonged harm. Or so I thought. 

Until I was slammed into some problems with ‘a point of no return’ tag attached to them. I’m trapped, so to speak. I tried to turn my best trick at first, I even ran away from God because I knew what He would’ve asked of me if I stayed. But when I realised that it just didn’t work, it dawned on me. Finally, I had to face my demon. I had to care. I had to, or I would lose everything.

God told me a story of a cracked vessel years ago, when He first revealed Himself to me. This vessel made out of clay was carrying perfumed oil. The perfumed oil was going to be used to anoint people, to bless them. But in order for the oil to reach others, the vessel has to be cracked. It has to be damaged. But no need to worry, the Potter Himself will fix the vessel with His special clay, so the vessel will be back to its perfect form. But when the time comes for the oil to come out, the vessel will have to be cracked again. 

Sometimes we have to go through that cracking stage in order for God to use us. He doesn’t do it to hurt us, but He does it so that His purpose and plans become perfect and His glory is revealed. Ever since He told me about this, He cracked me so many times. But as you have read at the start, most of the time I chose to run away. Reaching out and care for others could hurt me, and I didn’t want any part of it. I ended up hurting Him, because I refused to love Him by loving others. 

But no He didn’t give up on me. When I was exhausted from running, and in shame I came back to Him, all He did was loving me, wrapping me in His loving arm. God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, is answering me when I call. He satisfies my soul, quenches my thirst, and shares His secrets with me. When I came to Him with my open heart, He filled every corner of my being with His love, and I can’t help myself to not love Him back. I can love Him, because He first love me [1 John 4:19]. That morning in my bedroom, He opened the eyes of my heart and taught me that I shouldn’t strive to love Him, because loving Him is not my choice; it is only by His grace. He created human with free will because He longs for a true relationship based on love, not out of fear. An-‘it takes two to tango’-kind of relationship, where we are also desiring Him. That’s why He loves us first, because He knows that our sinful nature is against it. His love enables us to love Him back. 

And here’s where my running has to come to an end. He loves me so much He let me go through tough times for a purpose. The vessel is brimming with oil, it has to be cracked or it will be useless and ends up in a furnace at the end of the day. I know it’s going to be tough, I may be looking around for my ‘running shoes’ again at some point, but all I need to do is taking the first step. I have, and I know straight-away that this ‘caring journey’ is going to be a looong one. 

One thing that I can ask of Him, is a new heart. It’s impossible to care if I still work using my careless, ignorant heart. I ask for a new heart full of His love that will enable me to love His people, to see them as He sees them, and not get easily irritated by them. When I seem to lose hope and want to give up, may I always be reminded that it is His love that enables me. I really need His help to not wrestle Him when He needs to crack me, to learn to give a part of me for others. I’m praying that the people that God put in my path will not see me as nosy or weird or patronising, and may God works in their lives mightily. I’m praying that this small vessel will be worthy to be used in His glory. 


And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. [Ezekiel 36:26-27]

 

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Here I am again, coming back after a period of dryness and confusion and ignorance. I’m thanking God for His unending patience with me, waiting for me to get to my senses and returning to Him. I don’t think I can go too far away from Him, but funnily He let me. It might not make sense but He let me strayed away from Him, so I might see and feel the difference. The difference between being in His court, and refusing to come in. And though I might classify those times as ‘outside God’, I’m sure He never let me out of His sight. I understand it now; He shapes me continuously. Despite my ignorance, He showed Himself faithful. Despite my refusal to acknowledge Him in my everyday life, He still showered me with His love.

This deer is coming back, Lord. This deer can’t live without Your living water. She was suffering outside Your house, she was tormented by the world. This deer is coming back to You.

“..I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You, You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth I desire beside You. My flesh and my heart fail, but GOD is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalms 73:22-26

photo credit: John Dominis, from allposters.com

“Know something, sugar? Stories only happen to people who can tell them.”

Allan Gurganus

In my own words, new experiences only happen to those who are willing to be vulnerable before one can become strong. To be tested but not crumble, to be bent but refuse to break, to be challenged but won’t give up.

The willingness to be exposed to the elements of life, the ups and downs, the pain and joy, will lead to a closet full of experiences that will help you and others in the future. Our stories can become living testimonies for those who are in doubt, discouraged, or in weakness.

Stories only happen to people who can tell them. New experiences only happen to those who are willing to continually get out of comfort zone, to grow, to improve and to be brave.

What stories do you have in store?

This is an entry that I wrote on my iPod Touch on 30 April 2011.
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My life has taken a huge turn last year. I wouldn’t have thought that it would lead this way. But one thing that remains is that my fear of failure. I resent failure like cats resent getting rained on. I jus’t can’t stand it.

I could say that I have failed the longest relationship I have ever been in . Even though I refused or never admitted this but yes,  I take this failure personally. God might tell me it’s meant to end but I just can’t resist the thought that I was responsible of putting a full stop to a very long story. And though I know it’s far better this way but it still hurts. Not the ‘losing-the-person’ part, but the ‘feeling defeated’ part.

I like to plan things, and when I know what I want I make sure I get it. It sounds quite arrogant and demanding, but it’s part of my perfectionist personality. After that blow last year, and the new relationship I’m currently in, I came to realize that the fear of failure is still lingering around the corner of my heart. I often boldly said that my fiance is a gift from God, because I just didn’t think that I deserved him and I’d never thought that I would have a chance to start a new page with anyone else. I boldly claimed that it has been God who has lead me and him to where we are now, but I just can’t shake off the thought of my past failures.

It was a mistake to hold on to something too tightly, knowing it wasn’t right. Dragging it for too long didn’t help the case, either. I ended up hurting everyone  too deeply. When I decided to let go, there came rescue from above, and everything was changed because my God brought hope.

Now, I’m doing exactly the same thing like I did last year; holding on too tight. Sometimes I don’t realize how thin it is between hoping and insisting, surrendering and nagging, having faith and being bossy. When we pray strongly about something, are we being faithful or are we pinning down God’s hand to give what we pray for?

Just like last year, I find it hard to pray and ask for His mercy and grace upon my plans in life, because I still remember how it felt not to be supported, to be told that my choices are wrong and my ways are ill-chosen. KD said, “when not appropriately addressed, the abundant grace that God has given you can turn into your curse”. With all these plans and arrangements to be made, and the help and support God has given me and my family, I still find it hard to surrender everything to Him. Because I am so afraid that He will not approve of my choices again, and yank everything away from me again :”( I’m sorry, Lord..

He reminded me about giving my trust to Him, to actually believe that He was there before everything started happening and He’ll be there when everything finally ends; He’s got everything under His control. The Bible said, you asked for this and that but you don’t get it because you asked the wrong thing. It’s not the right request, or it’s the wrong timing, or maybe He’s just holding off because He knows that way you’ll grow closer to Him. One thing I do know is that our Father will do anything and everything to bring us back to Him. Sometimes He brings joy to show how generous and loving He is. Sometimes He brings pain so that eventually, after several attempts of looking around us for solutions, we will finally look up and call upon His name.

It all comes down to one question; do we really believe He loves so much? Do we really know that we can trust Him completely over our lives because He is the One who design it, anyway? Do we really believe that whatever He’s got in store for us is far greater that we could ever think of?

I can choose to believe, but the problem is not whether I can or not, isn’t it? Do I choose to believe? Will I choose to believe, and reminding myself every day of my life of His love and promise?

It’s a long and hard race You’ve put me in, Daddy, and I may find myself falling and falling again. But I want to choose to believe in You and Your grace. Help me to believe, because I can’t do it on my own.