Ask me what I miss about term time, after wishing it over for as long as I can remember. I miss my classmates - or rather engaging in occasional ramblings, amidst all the intellectual talk, the mutual lamenting of piling work.. and everything we could possibly talk about. I miss rubbing shoulders with them, making small talk on my way around campus, meeting for lunch, and simply every little thing I could steal out of the busyness of school! In university I play the tricky game of time-management, which I think I'm pretty good at heh ;P
This past term (my fourth :)) has a new lesson, just like every other. But what it signifies is perhaps a gradual change in my priorities and in particular how I look at my studies and relationships. I've had particularly bad times this term, struggling with seemingly undoable work (I've never felt so helpless) and having a deadline-/activity-packed week, among some of the nightmares. And there were several times I've had to humble myself, i.e. not hide my weakness, to some coursemates who shared my struggle with a set of assignments. I found it hard to be upbeat, to have hope, and much less encourage them. And in the midst of all that, I was praying really hard for deliverance. Even when I found courage to give encouragement, I was still struggling with disbelief. How ironic!
But nonetheless I think this time I've managed not to be so swept by my studies to forego the friendships that came along with every opportune trial. I delight in the light talk, sharing of woes at the exam hall, striving together.. I like how I was miraculously strengthened to undergo all that dreaded stuff. On hindsight, all this make me out to be that able women I never thought myself to be! ;) (If I were so bold as to chuckle at myself!)
Now that's satisfaction, which really only surfaces after 'hardship' - sweared against, only to be later missed! Pfft.
I'm having a queer conviction towards my non-academic pursuits, that I think is exciting me too much to study. Now this is no cause for worry (look who you're dealing with), in fact I'm amazed to be increasingly drawn and even making choices to get other things out of the way!
My heart this year is to deepen relationships (I've incidentally made) and satisfy my burden for the girls in my new-found DG :) I want to make good my resolution to spend purposeful time with these younger girls whom my heart is for and share with them my adventures with God. Indeed, God is really meant to be enjoyed!
It's mysterious how He works - to woo and to will me in His way. I would never think of giving my studies backseat in the past, but over the past two weeks I've found myself yielding to God's prompting and my burdens. How many times have I put the lid back on and turn a blind eye? Lord, take me mould me use me fill me. I give my life to the Potter's hand.
"Oh what I would do to have the faith it takes to climb out of this boat I'm in, onto the crashing waves. To step out of my comfort zone, into the realm of the unknown, where Jesus is and He's holding out His hand.
But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me, reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed. The waves they keep on telling me time and time again, 'Boy you'll never win, you'll never win.'..."
I never knew how these words could speak to me until now. It's not so much because I'm lacking in faith or that I refuse to come out of "my comfort zone", but it's how I'm stepping out in faith boldly and gradually, trying to be fearless (or thick-skinned if I may) while it's beating inside. Sometimes I get so carried away I lose myself, and dare not think back on what I'd said or done. Well, it's simply a taste of "stepping out of my comfort zone", a phrase I feel we throw around kinda loosely. It is hard, but I can testify further to say that it is a bitter aftertaste.
I'm growing as I serve in "ministry" and I can tell you off my head how I've met and done things I think I'd never do. Most vividly I remember having to confront my stage fright and speak to an audience - it is the scariest and most nerve-racking thing I would do! But still, how many times have I done it? The thought of people's impressions and expectations never leaves me, but yesterday it was drawn away as I lost myself to authority. I continued to stammer as I spoke, hesitant and embarassed, but it was as if I was subdued so much so to be taken beyond my realm of self-consciousness.
Oh 'tis liberating but profoundly discomforting!
Just when I've thrown caution to the wind during this vacation, I find more trouble in places I least expect. Having studies taken off my mind for a while is a relief yes, but I guess it's all just a dream - a dream that goes "poof" when the worries of another set of activities set in.
The challenges in student ministry have become more real now when I have the time to sort things out, and thinking deep into the reality of things is a dismay, and that sadly is becoming a discouragement I've been trying to avoid :( I've since learnt to be less self-conscious now that I have to manage and lead a team of writers, but I hate to admit that I still feel dissatisfied and inadequate. No doubt I'm serving a a committee and the larger body of CF, but it seems that many things start and are run single-handedly - final decisions and plans are made by the direct i/c for eg. I don't want to deny the hand of God and the support of my Team, but in practice it is hard work. The finish line is a long way to go (not that I'm desperately hoping for it) and more often than not it's like a marathon. One goes on non-stop thinking of the next move, the next lap, the next destination. So much to even wonder if everyone else is still with me.
I want to confess that because I'm working in a main team that I want to seek affirmation, and sometimes even self-worth from my teammates. It's very easy to lose sight of the invisible when you're so caught up in doing things that must work out, must be practical and down-to-earth. And I think as I say this, I'm getting a feel of how the evil one sneaks negative thoughts into my mind =| Though I've reaffirmed dependence on my Rock, I still can't resist the tendency to fall into self-sufficiency and the pursuit of men's praise more than God's grace. It must be tiring me out...
Nonetheless I'm sure it's another of my Father's disciplinary actions, to humble me by showing me my weaknesses time and again. It's painful, just as it says in Hebrews 12:11, but yet "produces a harvest of righteousness and peace". Lord, try me!
I've been listening to this song by Keith and Kristyn Getty, that reminds me starkly yet soothingly of the reason for Christmas. It then suddenly came to me how I would tell Christmas from Good Friday, given they are two very important days in the Christian's calendar.
Good Friday is when we remember Christ's death on the cross and our sins that bore Him there - it is a glorious picture of salvation and reconciliation. And when we talk Christmas, it may be the day Jesus was born or our Saviour came to earth, or even simply Jesus' birthday, but I recently came to see it as when Jesus our Saviour left the heavenly realms and stepped down into darkness (i.e. this world). It is beautifully expressed in Philippians 2:5-11 where it describes Christ's humble obedience (to His Father God) which led Him to the Cross for the sake of sinful Man like me. In this sense, Christmas is where we find our source of salvation (our Father God!), together with the sacrifice for salvation.
What vivid lyrics! Enjoy ;D
Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.
This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.
Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.
Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.
Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.
This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.
Fate is amazing. I can't imagine how two of my primary school classmates are sharing - or going to share - in my lot. One, in my course of study and the other, in my career. Never thought I'd see them in my future, and so I'm just quite clueless as to how I can unearth old friendships. I'm rubbing shoulders not once, but a few times till I think I'm terribly ashamed to ever say hi again :S
Seriously, it's time for some soul-searching.
It's intriguing how the passing of time buries experiences, feelings, memories, and the relationships these constitute. I find myself less able to make friends with old(-and-nearly-forgetten) ones, to which I see as past chapters in life I can never hope to return to. At this point I may sound heartless, shameless.. stuck-up, but strangely it doesn't bother me as much as trying to save myself embarrassment from unthinkingly 'exposing' myself! I think I'm nuts.
Sorry mon ami, let me summon Courage first. I just hope you won't slip by before that.
Just when I decided it's time to "pass out" and lift a burden off my youth leaders, I'm put in a fix. Today as I sat listening to the younger ones share, and surprisingly pour their hearts out before their fellow youths, I was deeply moved. Moved, simply by the fact that they readily and openly spoke, subconsciously turning themselves inside out in front of everyone. It dawned on me how much must be hidden beneath the exteriors of our youth, how much they must have yearned to pour their troubles, and how much more they needed comfort and healing - both from God and their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They were even ones who had returned after quite a long while, who showed amazing courage for going before the crowd, even in their broken state. Nonetheless what was most heartening for me was the confession for their need for God, and the state of brokenness they were in.
I am stirred because I see that the youths I once served tremendously need protection, guidance, prayer, revelation.. and above all God, and a sustained knowledge that it is only He who can satisfy all their needs. Though I don't know how or whether I can help and address this burden, I simply wish to commit to praying and keeping in mind these precious lives we hold.
Thank You God for setting in them an encounter and increased desire for You, despite it being through trial and agony. But praise be to You that they, in fact we can rest in knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God!