Tag Archives: Christ

God’s got it covered

17 Apr

Rejection, betrayal are the two greatest fears women have. And you have had to deal with both. So many women can identify with you, including me (Let’s have coffee one day and I’ll spill the beans) But this didn’t sneak up on God; He has a plan for your future – I am living proof.

That’s a comment I read on a blog post over at (in)Courage. And it fell into place for me today.

At the moment, what’s on is probably what most other people might not recognise as major in my life. But everyone near me and/or who hear my daily outpourings are generally bringing me flowers and chocolate and little notes. My colleagues too – and one of them has had to go be with her family in London. The rest of us don’t have that luxury. But we get chocolates and visits and all that.

Oxford exams are really that big. Exams generally are a pretty big deal, being Asian and all…

Digression: In some parts of Asia, the suicide rates spike up in April and I have research to prove it. Still, taking as I do, my identity in Christ rather than cultural boundaries, I’m very grateful for my relationship with him and with the family I do have!

In addition though, I’ve had a student affairs spike. I’ve also had to negotiate a petty crime, and its fallout in the community. Plus a couple of personal hiccups as you’ve probably figured from that last post of mine 😉 For the record though, I haven’t had personal betrayal – no, not that.

And yesterday, God gave me a much-needed ‘moment’. I called a friend and prayed with her. And she kinda demurred at the prayer… This is a friend with whom I went to church, and we’ve been to a fairly charismatic (you know, pentecostal but not Pentecostal and a fairly traditional Anglican/Presbyterian church together. We’ve been in small group together. We’ve known each other for nearly seven years now. We’ve travelled together, visited each other’s homes. Um, you would assume that we’d be free to pray with each other. But I knew that she wouldn’t actually be so free to pray out loud, even with her family. She told me yesterday that I was important to her and the least she could do is take a day off and buy me lunch – in another city! I’d depend on her to listen in my horrible moments too. But all of this friendship-boasting to show that – no, it wasn’t the easiest thing to pray together.

But hey, I was feeling pretty selfish. So I got online, grabbed a hold of her and said she had to pray with me. That she had to try, and that doing it out loud was a token to ME not even to God, and that He knew her silent prayer but I didn’t. I was at a point of need. So could we please do that? You know – you get the point. I repeat myself generally, but I think this time you got it.

I wanted her to be there and.to.pray.with.me. It wasn’t a major thing. But it was something I didn’t want to do without – the beauty of communion and shared love for Jesus, the vocalising of trust in His provision.

Still I didn’t think it was such a big deal. I thought she’d stumble and pray but she’d pray and I’d have my… silly little token.

Actually, she didn’t stumble. I prayed. She prayed.

Then she said this:

I think you’ll appreciate a random of sequence of events without which this might not have happened.

And the story was this. Over the weekend, her boyfriend had told her she needed to practice to pray out loud. I mean – we all know she doesn’t. We all know she loves God. So then she was amused and didn’t understand and she probably rolled her eyes at the boy. But he made her practice AND pray about it and then said ‘You never know when you might need it.’

And there I was the next day – I wouldn’t have really grabbed a hold of anyone else, and said friend might well have said no, if she hadn’t been made to think about it and consider it necessary. And God showed her how he’d got me covered. And he showed me how he’d got her covered.

And that brings me back to that comment. While facing rejection, fearing it, or uncertainty or betrayal or hurt or simply even just the unknown – I’ve got to know this…

It didn’t sneak up on God.

And now, I’m sitting here thinking how un-random life is in some ways. How very God-like life plays itself out. And how, in a time I needed Him, He put a hand on my shoulder and said ‘I’m watching. I’ve got you covered.’

Shoqed.

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Still crazy

20 Mar

Sometimes I leave home and there is this funny feeling that I’ve forgotten something.

And it’s really hard to put my finger on what. So I walk through the hallway a couple of times, trying different doors, looking busy. When I’m struggling to remember, I can’t really do much else.

I forgot something today.


I forgot about being in love. Like – if someone asked you – you couldn’t really find a moment in your day when you haven’t been thinking about him. Checking your phone, checking your latest letter. I forget how perfectly he understands and I know it when we’re together. How my heart slumps down in relief like a body after a marathon because I know he’s got me covered.

You know when people are in love. Right? And I flatter myself I can tell when it’s real.

And I wonder if they hear it – this sigh of relief when I’m home not because I have a comfy, worn down, old armchair, or because I have my mug and coffee, or even murukku in it. But because I can hear his voice over my shoulder, by my side, and it doesn’t startle me. It’s old, familiar, loved.

It’s gentle.

A while ago, I wrote this and it turned out to be my most popular post. I called it crazy that I forget about this man who would and did give his life for me, this God who gave me life. I forget.

What makes me cry?

Looking at love.

You

16 Jun

Father, all of my dreams have been, from their inception, out of Your imagination. They have been yours, never mine. This path that I want to take – I want to take it because slowly, when I was ready to hear, you whispered it to me. This path, before me, that is even now so unattainable, so far from the tips of my fingers.

I relinquish control back to you – this desire to photograph the vision you stole into my head, and to force an unwieldy brush in my fingers to repaint it. I’m letting go. You tell me what to speak, and what to do, and what to pray, and how to cry. It’s You I long for, after all. It’s You I long to find along and at the end of every road. And it’s You that hold my hand anyway in this hoping and waiting.

Because when I am holding on to all of these things, I struggle not to let go of You.

Father, I want you to carve out my destiny. Because my destiny is You, Your glory and Your purposes. Carve out my destiny as you see fit. The visa questions, the travel questions, the course questions, the place questions… I am sorry that it seemed to take the ripping away of something close to perfection for me to see that the perfect job was not the answer, nor the perfect sponsor, nor the perfect finances, nor the perfect people.

You.

You alone deserved my trust, and maybe for that one moment when the perfect everything-else shone bright, I nearly forgot. One evening perhaps – or longer. In seeking any of those things, I have been seeking You. In the changes I have made, I have been following You. And then I forgot whom they came from. And I am grateful that even though your purposes are being fulfilled, because You are ready to perform Your word (Jer. 1:12), this moment when I could not see the things I am used to seeing has stripped away the layers before You. Because in my inadequate praying, Your Spirit can break in and redefine parakletos to my dulled sensibilities. He can take the human words and vision that I so struggle with, my humanity perhaps faultier than most – and change them for His. And I am so grateful that You can.

So take this, whatever it is. Give me Your words, Your grace, Your spirit.  Give me You. There is nothing else I have ever wanted, in all my wanting. Nothing beyond You.

The love of God

12 May

The love of God is brutally honest in its claim of your everything. God never wanted a casual relationship – ever. He has never once, in all of history, asked for it. You will never ‘date’ the bridegroom of your soul. He knew, he purposed, he chose, he sought!

When I was a young girl – 13 or 14? – I asked his Holy Spirit to know human love from this example. I wanted purpose from the start of a relationship. I still do. I didn’t want the other way around because we only compare the two loves because God made it a metaphor… And this example was so pure and so perfect and so undeserved and yet so indispensible to me.

Indispensible for survival. I cannot imagine my world without Christ in it.

It has never been a passion of a moment. He knew before we ever remembered him that he would find us. It’s never been the fluttery, heart-warming, giggle-worthy emotion we now, sadly, often associate with love. To show you I am not on a high horse, I will say this – human love is a beautiful thing. It is a metaphor of God’s love for us. No less.

This God-variety of love is a love that courts your utter vulnerability because he has become irreparably vulnerable.

The veil was never un-torn.

The stone was never rolled back.

And in his eternal, willing vulnerability – a God that I can wound, a God that I can reject, a God that I can embrace with all that I am and in whom become fully who I am – I am now always, unchangeably, and forever, myself… slowly understanding there is no fear. Not in such perfect love.

He is strong enough in his desire to prise open my closedness. To draw out the aching, gaping shreds of flesh that I choose to hide under old gauze. There is pain in that release, but only because I hold on so hard. Until, gently as he holds me and unfurls my clenched fists, clenched in fear and unbelief, the realisation hits me that I am home and I can let go of the props of sojourn that I have foolishly turned into my weary foundations. Bag, shoes, the inertia of motion, the tokens of travel – down. I am home.

If, in this love, you will touch and taste and leave behind because you find the pain of release too hard, I have learned this – God would only have your all. It is a choice.

Just the way he calls my name

24 Apr

I walked into the garden with a strange emptiness. I wanted closure – the trite rituals of the third day, the cloying smell of funeral flowers, the neatly tied-up threads. Then, I could pretend this was all… normal. All of it. Friday, today – the worlds inbetween.

I longed to be able to weep.

You see, it didn’t even hurt. I didn’t know what to feel. My whole life had revolved around this one thing, and now it wasn’t there.

I remember when it wasn’t there before. But that was different. Then, I didn’t know joy. I thought I did, I laughed and danced in the shadows and thought I found love, and yes, also did find it. The whispers I always heard, it was easy for me to think they were because I was too beautiful, too far removed. Every whisper, whether it was better or worse, than my reality was never the truth. It was never me. So I didn’t even remember to hurt – after a while. I didn’t recognise pain or loneliness. Really.

Because when you’re alone, you don’t miss yourself. You run away from it. And the people who don’t know you, but think they do? In the temple, at the well, in town – I revelled in their knowledge and their knowing grins with this unholy glee. It was easy to escape when you didn’t hear any reminders. The sins they conjured up – those weren’t mine. They were at the door of the village’s official outcast.

Me? I was the only one who knew what I had really done. What I had left undone. What I had said, and the moments I had chosen to turn away from the compelling of my heart, deliberately, uncaringly – because it was easy, and because I was tired. Moments preserved like specimens in ugly jars in the great, churning laboratory of my mind. Nobody guessed my soul-weariness of expected sin, of the convenience to never face yourself because no one knows you and it is easy to forget yourself. Nobody guessed, they had their own wearinesses.

Or so I thought until the day he came. Steady, unfazed and definitely – yes, definitely – looking me in the eye. Few men did that to women, let alone ‘forgotten’ women. It was a long time since I thought of myself as one – a woman, that is. And yet, in his eyes, I suddenly saw my reflection and, for the first time in my life, the brokenness showed. That and compassion.

And he knew me.

When I saw that in his eyes, I got to talking. Really fast. In short, sharp, staccato sentences. Brash talk, the fast kind. The kind that hides any realness, you know. Like you meet a stranger, at a bar, and he’s a little too intense for you when you’re vulnerable. Yeah, that – magnified several times over. So you toss your hair, you laugh at them, you treat them with anything but seriousness. You challenge their assumptions, you say harsh things, jaded observations – and pray he doesn’t notice you’re trying.

Well, you’re obviously a foreigner. Don’t you know I’m not the kind of lady you should be chatting to? So who do you think you are? Seriously, who are you?

No… Seriously, who… are… you? I want what you have with an aching I didn’t know I had.

Because then he goes and says something about water that will never let me thirst again. And I never knew I wanted it – but suddenly I do, with a loud lunge of my heart against ribcage. You know all those times no one ever hears that, and you’re thankful for the privacy of your pain? Well, this man – with his quiet eyes, his knowing eyes – he stripped away all my neatly set-up filters and I didn’t even know until a long while later that they were gone. The tears surprised me. I didn’t know I could cry.

He knew my secrets. My real secrets. It wasn’t that they were better than the ones the town gossiped about. But it was just that they were mine. Old, familiar ghosts that had the right to haunt.

Just like that, he knows me. And I am not afraid any more.

The true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

And, incredibly, he smiled. For the first time, I saw his tears. And for the first time, I was a part of the conversation. He wasn’t talking about someone else. I drank that in. Noisily, all my graces and sophistication in the well with the old water.

When I carried the story, I was so excited the town forgot to whisper.

I want to cry now. To wail and touch the evidence of death, to finish this impossible hole in my heart. I cannot see the body, the stone is rolled away. The tomb is empty and there is just the sound of someone walking, working in the garden.

The soldiers…? But why? The twelve? But surely, surely despite all their misgivings about the ‘strays’ he picked up, they would tell… I… All of us, we miss his voice, we miss his laughter, we miss his sorrow, we miss… Him.

Where is he? Perhaps you would know? Did you see what happened, did they come to take him when you came in to work on the flowers?

Mary.”

Mary.

And just like that, I know Him. The wealth of knowing in the sound of my name, it holds the key to life, my life, ours. He knows me.

And because of that, I know who he is.

“Rabboni.”

Keeping It Wise

20 Mar

I had a Skype date with one of my best friends – she’s pretty close to being best, except there’s God and all that 😉 and there might be a guy in the offing, ya never know! And I’d like him to be a best friend too… I’m conscientious about these things 😀

Anyway, the K-dawg and I got down to it and sniffled our way through her early Sunday morning and my powdery face mask, with video off and on… We talked among (MANY) other things about passive-aggressiveness and intimacy (however minimal) before marriage. Now the one only relates to the other in this: a mutual friend entirely disagrees – or equally possibly, resents – K’s closely held views on the subject, but instead of confronting her disagreement, she makes jibes at the invalidity of her position… And I share it in the hope that any one who reads this will disagree or agree (phew!) without discounting it 😀

Well, before we go further, I shared K’s position. We might have minor differences but in general, we agree on that one. I’m not in agreement entirely with some of the theology in this subject but there is validity, although it is highly personal.

We were talking about a couple at Oxford that we knew that had a no-kissing policy until marriage. I actually know a few others like this – and I think it’s awesome. Quite simply, I do not want to be able to compare an experience. K shared how she was glad that a friend she’d known had held to that policy for her and him, when she was new to Christ. She is so grateful although she wasn’t then… It isn’t just kissing – haha, I am neither so legalistic nor trivial. It is a personal judgement we make for ourselves of course, but it is something we do need to think about and too often we have forgotten to think about it, deliberately. And I think it depends on the person entirely. If you can shrug off the intimacy, and you know that there is a different level of emotional giving that is solely for the woman or the man you marry – hey, go you 😉

I know that I regret every moment I spent not seeking God, before he found me. I know I would regret every moment of seeking someone else, who wasn’t it… I am entirely in favour of relationships with the opposite sex where we get to know them, socially, in mutual contexts, interactionally, as a friend and people we share our thought lives with. These help us grow. I am even in favour of seeking each other – taking one man and woman now – with intention, honouring each other but asking to know more about the every day person, the interests, the thoughts, the ideas and the passion for God in the other person. The relationship they have with God that defines them – because it defines you. These help us grow and mature, and love within Christ, honourably. But to imagine more without a God-confirmation, to give covenantally without a covenant… It isn’t just physical, it’s emotional and to that extent, spiritual.

If the relationship of a man and woman on earth is a metaphor of that between God and us – take it seriously, take it personally. I have to remind myself: Stop abstracting it. He wasn’t looking just for a dating relationship, he wasn’t looking for a maybe. He wanted us and he asked us to choose. It’s God, you know – he’s a jealous God… You just – you just don’t touch that.

Obedience (again)

27 Feb

I read this today over at (in)courage. Always a blessing.

Hurthle cells are mostly benign, but until they’re removed it’s impossible to know.

It’s about a type of cancer that I hadn’t heard about either, like the author – but what’s interesting to me, outside of the thrust of that post, is that one sentence.

How many things in my life are ‘probably’ benign? How many things do I allow to fester because I think they might go away, they won’t cause harm – not really? Sometimes ‘good’ is an enemy of the ‘best’. These are cancerous cells – they need to be removed. Sometimes we flirt with danger, not because we like it but because we think it won’t touch us.

This obedience is also obedience but it takes a lot of work on our parts too.

 

Lord, help me to throw out the little cells that may not be bad but are not good either. Those things that do not give you glory, and I assume are harmless. Those things that seem to have no purpose and therefore seem to work no wrong. Father, help me to be wholly yours. Take away the pain in the pruning. Take away the desires for the things, people, interactions and life that aren’t in your perfect will, that do not seek to give you glory and are not what You want for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Seeing faith

20 Feb

I could have written this –

Questioning Faith.

My thoughts exactly.

Except I might not call it ‘questioning’. I’d call it what I just have. I hesitate to say more in praise of the writer because I’ve just said that could be me 😉 But I will say it is a beautiful post. In its honesty. I find that hard sometimes. The key is to know that you are fighting for your faith, not fighting it. Because He asked you to. And keeps His promise.

Beauty is

17 Feb

Today, I am left without words.

Beauty is having a child run after you because she wants to hold your hand.

Beauty is having a child – a different child from a different home – ask you wonderingly if you would still play with him. Broken beauty, but beauty.

Beauty is an animal who trusts you so completely that she will sigh her frustration into the hollow of your hand, as she lays her head there, and licks you, while the doctor administers painful treatment.

Beauty is knowing that that is what God wants us to be like with him.

Beauty is a train ride through Snowdonia, knowing that my help comes from the Lord who holds the cattle on a thousand hills – and hearing this God remind you in his whispers.

Beauty is telling a friend about a God-encounter and hearing her words echo your thoughts.

Beauty is when someone knows you’re sad when you’re laughing, and no one else knows.

Beauty is the homeless man who will smile at me every time I pass outside the store he frequents. Beauty is when he recognises you and you smile back.

Beauty is when you write a kind email, an email hoping for a coffee one of these days, to someone who has slighted you.

Beauty is letting go of the hurts you’d forgotten you remembered, until God asked you to let them go. Beauty is knowing that an apology might never come, but that you are hearing God’s voice in the situation.

Beauty is pain that nobody else knows you’re holding until suddenly God looks you in the eye and tells you ‘I know it hurts. And I know how much’. Beauty is when you believe that and share the fellowship of his suffering in the smallest measure, that he may grow you into his image in disproportionate recompense.

Beauty is when it draws you closer to the sanctity of the cross and people know you’ve been with Jesus.

Beauty is when someone on a random protest day, in the central square on the shopping street, walks up to you and asks if you are Christian. Then beauty is when you nod and they say they saw it.

Beauty is an old friend’s unexpected call or email.

Beauty is a new friend you haven’t yet made decides to ask you to listen and pray.

Beauty is when God sees the ugliness and decides to use it. Like me.

Today, I am in awe of this beauty. I know His name. And all I can bring myself do is to curl up into him and say one thing. If my words fail, and I choke up inadequately, then I can look at the face I know. And let Him look on as I confess it.

This: Jesus, I am so in love with you.

 

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Crazy love (sorry, Mr Chan)

12 Feb

I wrote this a while ago. In 2009. It is seasonal 😉 But more importantly, it encapsulates my thoughts now – today, another of those times I’ve forgotten to love.

How does one explain without seeming insane that you’re utterly in love with someone? Love that makes you want to hug the person, hold them so long and hard. The kind that makes you stop in the heavy afternoon amidst work and play and intimate conversations with best friends and take a quick, sharp breath from this realisation: God, I love you!

And what makes it crazier is that no one ever sees him with his arm on your shoulder or holding you close or smiling down at you… And yet, if they don’t know him themselves, they don’t realise that nothing ever comes close to this kind of love anyway! The can’t-take-my-eyes-off-you love. While they don’t see him holding your hand on a ramble through town, you wonder if they’ve seen him give everything for you. Obsess about you constantly. Die on a cross for you. And you wonder what it takes.

What’s even crazier is how often you forget how in love you are. Crazy!

public love physical display affection God's love Valentine's valentine intimacy true real love

I cannot get over how much God loves you. Me. I know all the things I’ve done. Worse, the things I’ve thought. I know I have been cold and distant. I know the things that I have – deliberately – left undone, unsaid… gathering the dust of numbed guilt.

And yet. He. Loves. Me.

And I know the reality of his love.

It isn’t the least bit distant or theological or abstract or a logical conclusion. It’s pretty far from any logical conclusion I’ve ever made, that’s for certain. I remember praying, as an early teen, that I wouldn’t have to wait for the intimacy of a relationship to find out what God’d meant by the metaphor of a husband’s love… And he was faithful in answering that prayer as I needed it. Oh friend, how faithful. Even when I least deserved it.

There is a relationship waiting to be had that is all-sufficient, all-encompassing… It is never going to be equal except in that the Lord carries you and holds you up to him… With someone who isn’t limited or bounded by our boxes, who doesn’t need to wait on human experience to show us the depth of his love.

Sometimes someone is so beautiful that you want to cry simply looking at them.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m no freak. So I don’t simply blubber at the Hoff or Mr Firth… Honestly – you might find it hard to believe.

I do cry, however, when a child I love tells me he wants to be a policeman – so that no one else dies in his community from a knife-fight. Just a policeman, no more – but he won’t take bribes. I feel that familiar lump again when a child I love runs up to me from behind and awkwardly snuggles into me. I feel that lump when someone in my family is appreciated, or even when the Tass knows I’m crying…

I read a Father’s Day line somewhere that reminded me of God.

You have your Father’s eyes.

So you know what it feels like to have tears in them.

What makes you cry?

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