When I became a Christian...or at the point when I realized I was sinner, I realized it was all done by Him...
As I grew to become a better Christian, I use my own strength and rely on myself to get close to Him...
When I choose to follow Christ, one that I would give up my life to follow Him, I realized I can't do it on my own. I need His Strength. It's all Him...
It's funny how things sometimes turn in full circle. And in life, we often think we learn the lesson until our faults realize that we are off the course and have to relearn it again.
I had the privilege of attending an African Service yesterday at Cornerstone Community Church. I went there for a few reasons.
One, the pastor and wife leading the congregation is also my relationship's mentor.
Two, I spoke with the pastor to see where I can serve and he suggested I check the congregation out and see if I am interested.
Three, I never been to an African service before. Since I am here in Singapore, outside of my comfort zone, I should discover and experience how worship is done in a different cultural context.
It was a great time. There was a lot of singing and dancing. It was happy and it was joyful. I felt more like in a party than in a service.
The message of the service was on do not worry.
Stranger in a Strange Land
The theme was a stranger in a strange land. Obviously, those attending the service was from Africa. Thus, they are very far from home in Singapore. I am far from my home. The pastor is American and he's also far from his home. So this message connects well to everyone.
The pastor was a missionary in Philippines. He married a Singaporean and shared how in the first four years, they moved six times. There was one time when they were close to buying a house. Then they realized they were con and they had two days left with the place they were staying.
He talked about relying on money. Relying on PR (Permanent Resident is a pass you need to apply in order to stay in Singapore).
In one point he said, 'if you think a bigger bank account will solve your problem, you are wrong. The problem is not a bigger bank account. The problem is internal.'
How true, how true. For the past few weeks, I've been watching my bank account very closely. At OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship), they give me a monthly allowance. I have to be careful to not overspend or I won't have money period. He too shared about how as a missionary, those who give to pledge in the future, by the time they suppose to give, only 50% comes through. Very scary.
It seems life is so insecure.
And we don't need to be a missionary to know that. People, even Christians, worry whether they are saving enough to ______ (car, house, kids education, retirement etc.) In return, what often do we do, get more education or get a higher pay job. It is almost an endless cycle. Once we think a job with a higher pay will solve our problem and we toil ourselves for it. That we MADE it! We forget about it and the next problem comes. Maybe more bills. Maybe this or that. Then we pray and pray and wonder why God is not helping us. And we work harder and harder.
And so yesterday, I thought about going back to where can our security comes from? In Christ.
It is not a matter of just saying it, go to worship on Sun, tithe a bit and spend the rest of lives figuring out how our strengths can get the dream or lifestyle we deem right. And I know sometimes I have such expectations in life. Like if something is not met, I cannot survive.
For me, it is simply having internet at home. I purchased an Internet stick in Singapore. The irony is that I can use the Internet stick anywhere except at home. There's no reception. Even at now, it is quite inconvenient to type this post as I was in a park and it was raining. So I walked over to a mall to finish this post.
What the pastor preached yesterday hit home in a number of fronts. I think sometimes the worst is our own expectation we have to ourselves in what we need to live. And just as I think I need Internet at home to live.
One thing I learn from missionaries is that living in a cross culture, we need to stay flexible. What we think is the 'right' way might not be the norm of things done. And I am learning too. I am learning to let go all those expectations I had once thought I need in order for me to live. Internet, haha, such a simple thing. But yes, need to stay flexible. It is an inconvenience, it is not life and death.
I think a sign of a truly mature Christian is to rest in Him not in the good times and in the bad times. In times when we feel we are inadequate, we keep moving. In another words, can I rest in His security when I have no money? Or not knowing when the next meal will come? or no home?
**Side note, if you are reading this and I know myself too, sometimes I think we worry we don't have money, more so than the eternal standing we have in the Kingdom. Perhaps Salvation is become just a cliche in Christian circles that we think our next paycheck is more important than it.....***
And so yesterday, I leaned back in Him.
Yes, I do not know what tomorrow will be like.
Yes, I do not know where I will be after two years in Singapore with OMF.
Yes, I do not know where my career or my retirement will be (haha, I really haven't given these much thoughts).
And yes, I really have no clue how I will provide for my family when I get married.
But I rest everything in Him. His Grace has been good to me. He gave me a liver transplant. He freed me from the endless cycle of drunken-ness. He gave me life.
Surely, if Jesus died on the Cross for me, the highest price a Father can give, He will no doubt take care of me.....in all the days...
Though OMF gave me a budget, I am working even hard to live simpler. I realize that I have a lot more, compare to the rest of the world. For every dollar I save up, I am giving to those who need it. And yes, sometimes I feel like I need it too. And yes, sometimes I do feel like I should splurge on myself because it was a hard day at work. And yes, some days I do ask God why do I have to skimming on life.
One of the things I can do with the money I saved up is to sponsor a child in Uganda. Surely, $180/year is what...3-4 meals in a fancy restaurant? Maybe a good date? (Heck, I rather I don't take my date to a fancy place and give it to those in need)? Or maybe a new mp3 player or a good gadget?
But those things feel good and won't save a life....let's spend it where it makes a difference in the Kingdom!!
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
- Matthew 6:25-34
More side note: Yup, still sitting in the mall. Actually in front of a bus station, surfing the net. What I experience is not something new. I am sure all missionaries gone through this. Many gone through even more so than what i am going through. And it is their examples, their faith and how God provided for them that give me hope and solidify what I am leaning on.