Friday, January 8, 2016

Starting Again

Scripture Reference: Exodus 13
Exodus 13:21-22 (NASB)
“The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”

When God delivered the Israelites from Egypt's bondage, He led them by cloud in the day, and by fire in the night. He was leading them to exit the past and move forward to what He had promised and dreamed of for them.

Instead of taking the short route, that is, the way of the Philistines, He led them around by the way of the wilderness, foreseeing that they may become fearful and change their minds when they saw war.

Many years of staying in the wilderness would have caused them to be convinced by God's power and assuring Presence. But, that generation never entered the promise land. 12 spies were sent out to spy the land, and 10 gave a bad report because they feared those giants in that land. Only Joshua and Caleb had a different spirit. They were full of faith and courageous.

Even though the Israelites stepped out of bondage (Egypt) physically, their hearts remained in bondage (fear). They derived conclusions based on fear; not on what God has said to them.

Deriving conclusions from fear create boundaries that limit one from crossing over beyond that line. Many of us were in bondage before we knew God. We failed in some areas, got into sinful habits, and there remains a fear that we are not able to break away from that past. That conclusion haunts, blocking us from not wanting to step over to try something new, or hinders us from having faith to believe in God's words for our lives.

But this is the truth: Jesus died so that we can part with condemnation and the punishment of sin. What was done in the past was healed by Jesus' wounds. Because of the price He paid, we can start again.

Therefore, never derive conclusions from fear, but from the words of God. His words are stronger and more powerful than your fears and your past. His truth is even more real than your real or regarded fears. Let Jesus conclude the final word over your life today.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NASB)
“Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.
"Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.”

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 In Review; 2016 In Sight

Putting 2015 in review, I felt that this year has passed by so quickly and eventfully. It has been a year of learning, opportunities and preparation for the future. I recalled how I was recovering from a concussion in the early months, wanting to regain my memory as fast as possible. I felt really frustrated over the partial memory loss, and an inability to emotionally connect with people. I believe God can instantly heal because He is powerful enough to do so, but it seemed like His Hand was not in my situation. The impatience led to a spiritual struggle in my walk with God.

I still remembered that faithful day in February when I was newly working as a supermarket cashier. I was required to remember code numbers for many fruits and vegetables to key in the system (till today, I really hope they would implement barcodes). Multiple customers bought eggplant that day, and I was supposed to know the code number by the third time. But, I found myself not being able to remember. Work ended, and I left saddened. I asked God if I will ever get healed. I felt such a lack of faith that I disliked myself. I wanted my faith back.

It was rewarding that God granted me favor from my supervisor and colleagues, but yet agonizing since I was feeling so aimless. I wondered how long more I would need to stay in this job. I knew the feeling of aimlessness too well. I dreaded to be in that position again. In my desperate cries to God, He broke in gently, saying, “For a house is not built within a day. Patience, patience, patience!” These words was such a big lesson and reminder for me through the entire year.

I realized that patience was to be applied for my healing and my life direction. Oh yes, God could have just snap His finger, instantly heal, move time and teleport me to the place when I am living my ultimate destiny. But, He wanted to use the period of waiting to build perseverance, discipline, faith, life and social skills. The job I had as a cashier was part of my walk in moving me forward to my destiny, and I wasn’t to despise that stage. In that moment of realization, I felt liberated from all the unnecessary stress I had placed upon myself. I learned to breathe and enjoy every moment of the day, and look out for opportunities to reach and bless others with His Gospel.

This year is also the year I turned 21, regarded as an adult legally in Singapore. There weren’t any special feelings, like “YAY I AM LEGAL / AN ADULT!” when I celebrated my birthday. I was just happy that my family and friends celebrated together with me. I saw my dad’s selflessness and generosity displayed in booking the chalet, going the extra mile to rush in a cab to get BBQ food and cake for us, and wanting to give us all the best 21st birthday celebration. I saw my mum’s funny and loving side as she stayed with us through the chalet, playing and joking till the wee hours of the night while playing mahjong. I am glad to be able to celebrate my birthday with 3 other siblings. Though we are drastically different in character and life pathways, God brought us together as siblings and family. To that, I am tremendously grateful.

I was given many ministry opportunities and exposures within this year. Just to name 2, I firstly had the privilege of organizing my church’s “Freedom Camp”. Comprising of mostly young adult attendees, 3 days were set apart for us to seek God and His freedom for our lives. The camp blew me away beyond my expectations. Little did I know that He would use this camp to commence my journey towards wholeness and freedom. Till today, I am still feeling the effects of what God has done through the camp! I found myself being able to see the people I once disliked in a positive light. I found myself being able to love others more. Recently, I became reminded of my identity and authority secured in what Jesus has done for me.

In June, I was given opportunities to help out in 2 church camps back to back – 1 children’s camp, and 1 youth camp. Both camps were great times of fun and growth. I felt a little apprehensive participating in those camps initially. I did not know how God will want to use me to bless His people. I did not know if I could handle children well. As much as I was concerned about blessing others, He used them to bless me. The children were so well-behaved and receptive to God’s Word, and the youths were so hungry for more of God. The camp opportunities taught me to rely on God, and ingrained in me a burden to see youths come to Christ.

Wrapping up the year and moving on to 2016, I thank God for placing Pastors, spiritual leaders, great friends and colleagues who have walked me through this year. I am thankful for the favor and learning experiences I received through the 3 jobs I undertook. I believe this is the year where God wants me to “not remember the former things, nor consider things of old.” For He will do a new thing. (Isaiah 43:18-19) I am unaware of how this will look like, but one thing I know for sure – the road of the past has already been cut away; today is a new day filled with hope. There are new opportunities awaiting ahead and attempts I must make, leading me to step into the unknown. I am excited and hesitant at the same time, and I cannot wait to see what is in stored for me in this coming year. I look upon the coming year with great joy and expectancy.