love & fear

When I was younger and brought a new friend home, my parents would always ask me if they were a christian. If I had said no, they would suggest that  I bring them to church, resulting in an argument from me, not wanting me to impose my values, beliefs or at that time ‘religion’ onto my new found friends. I grew up thinking that my parents thought that it was better to go to church, that it was ‘better’ to have christian friends, a ‘holier than thou’, better than you perspective if you will. 

Only now as an adult, as I ask friends and co-workers to come to church with me – do I realize that it is a product of love, and a matter of life and death. I wish I had the boldness and fearlessness of a young child, unafraid and willing to share opinions, reasons, and truth. Now in my adult years, my fear is plagued by the opinions of others – what will people think of me, will I be able to share the gospel effectively, will the result of differences result in a broken friendship? These questions, while prominent and extremely relevant in my life demonstrate and signify how my fear of man is larger than my fear of God – and how often I simply underestimate the power and saving grace of the Holy Spirit.

I am constantly afraid to offend, afraid that I will no longer be ‘liked’. I am afraid to point out truth, and instead, allow for the gospel, and God’s word to be portrayed as a difference of beliefs. I cower at the thoughts and judgements of men, rather than stand in reverent awe of the Lord, the gospel and His miraculous ways. Throughout these past weeks, God has consistently pointed out my inabilities, only to find that my only abilities and strength is through Him and found in Him. I need to fear only Him, and my identity is found IN Him, not in the thoughts of others. I walk away from lunch dates thinking “I should have said this” or “I should have done that”. But it’s not me who saves, but the incredible power and work of a Sovereign God.

For those of you who have ventured this far and have not stopped reading because you realized this was a post about God, please continue reading, because whatever I am writing is a product of love, both the love I have for you, and the love that Christ has given us. I love you & more importantly God loves you. I may not have the strength or the ability to share the gospel with you effectively in person, or even effectively now as I try to write it here. My intention is not to point out differences of opinion, but to share the TRUTH.

God is the creator of the earth and the universe. He is perfect, and he has created us in His image – so that we can bring him glory and be in relationship with Him. But because we are born sinners, our sin (disobedience to God) has separated us from Him, the penalty for our sin condemns us to eternal death in hell. BUT Jesus, God’s son, was perfect, sinless and the ultimate sacrifice. His death paid the price for all of our sins (past, present, and future) of those who believe in Him. He resurrected from the dead, and sits at the right hand of God, His sacrifice accepted as payment for our sins, and we are forgiven. As a result, we need to believe in Christ, acknowledge, confess and repent of our sins (turn away from sin and turn to God in faith). Being in relationship with Him – set free from sin and looking to Christ as our reward and Saviour.  This isn’t a matter of opinion or a difference of beliefs, but of truth and a matter of life and death. I love you and would love to talk to you about any of this.

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you as an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2: 21-24

Waiting…

I was up until two o clock last night, tossing and turning, and then up again at 5:30. I started googling “Can Christian girls ask out boys?” Humorous isn’t it? And of course in a round about fashion, scanning article after article, my question was never answered, but I was left in more confusion and asking more questions. “Was this in obedience to Christ? Is this selfish?” – the list goes on. I woke up from the little sleep with determination, conviction and confidence – I’m going to do it today, I’m going to ask…I’m going to tell him, and then I talked to my mom. 

It is taking more strength for me to do nothing and to say nothing. I am praying, I am praying hard. Not just for what I want, but for the will of the Lord to be done. I would be ecstatic if He would oblige me, but He is God – I receive barrels of His grace freely every day, all I want is to be obedient to Him. And that was my new struggle: my head and my heart was both pulling me in the same direction – BUT MY MOM, she was pulling me in the other. All of a sudden the grey area became more black and white, doing this – telling him that I am interested in him, and wanting to get to know him – would have been going against the will of my mom – not that I haven’t ever disobeyed my mom, because I likely disobey her daily as well (hence the barrels of grace), but the bible does say to respect and obey your parents. She said that she needs time – so time is what I am giving her.

So here I am, writing, or as I put it, stalling? because my heart and my head want to do something, and yet my mom wants me to do something different. She is telling me to wait. So I continue  to wait slightly on my mom, but more so on the Lord, knowing that this is testing my patience, and my endurance. It is taking me much more strength to do nothing, than to type a few words and press enter. It is taking me more strength and more patience to trust in Him, knowing that this was part of His plan to begin with. Man, I’m a mess now, could you imagine if I didn’t have Jesus?

Farewell Olympics.

The Rio Olympics 2016 are over today. As I say a short prayer, and even indulge in a moment of reflective silence, I say goodbye to the endless hours of entertainment, that could be found on 16 different livestreams the CBC website, allowing me to enjoy, any sport at any time, on any day. 

This is the first summer that I haven’t worked, and the first summer that I have limitless access to internet and to a television. And thus, the first summer, where I was able to finally enjoy the olympics in all of its glory. I watched young (Canadian) women swim for gold, feeling a little inadequate as my twenty six year old self sat in the glory of doom of pending unemployment. I watched as Degrasse and Bolt shared a loving look as they crossed the finish line in the 200m Mens semi-final, Rosie McClennan twist and fly in the air as she took the gold for trampoline, the first Singaporean ever to win a Gold medal (and a million dollars) and I also watched our Canadian divers as they missed the bronze by a hair.

I admit, I may have been guilty of skipping past some other international olympians, only to stop and cheer our Canadians on. Except when it came to Gymnastics, because when it all starts to look the same to you, why not just watch the best of the best, in other words the Americans and the Chinese, (If you do not know what I am talking about, go youtube Simon Biles, and thank me later). From synchronized swimming, to Synchronized diving, and when there was nothing else synchronized that I could watch, I watched everything else (minus soccer, rugby, horses, archery, and anything that involves fighting – you get the idea!)

As much as I love the Olympics, I also loathe the amount of money that is spent in preparation for the event, money that could be poured out into so many different and more beneficial areas. I wonder what is next for the olympians after they are past the prime age in their sport, was all the time spent training in vain, especially if they didn’t medal? I could delve more into whatever thoughts enter my mind, but what really stood out to me these Olympics were two American men: Steele Johnson and David Boudia.

After earning their silver medal, they gave glory not to themselves, but to Christ, stating that “Their identity is rooted in Christ, not in what the result of the competition is.” in an interview with NBC. What an incredible encouragement in the midst of competition, pressure, to show glory and praise to God. What a way to make the Lord known, than to broadcast it to millions of people across the nation. Not only did they please and praise the Lord with their words, but before the interview and in learning that they had learned they received the silver medal, they prayed with their coaches. Below is a screenshot of what was shown on CBC, various teams were happy and celebratory, but this American duo (with their coach shown below) rejoiced in the Lord through thanksgiving, worship and prayer. I was so encouraged by this, that I had to take a screen shot of it and share.

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The Lord used two divers, to encourage many, and to glorify Him in front of the nations. Oh that the Lord be praised for livestreams and screenshots as well ; )

The closing ceremony airs tonight at 7pm. Not sure yet if I will be tuning in, mainly because it is never that great, and I’m in denial that it is over. In addition to this, I must also prepare for the for the Rio Paralympics 2016: opening ceremony – September 7th.

3. The feeling

Dear beloved,

I think I am struggling with God – not with unbelief, but with experiencing Him passionately. It feels like I am standing in a splash pad with no running water. I know what I am supposed to be doing – I am ready, dressed and willing, and yet there is no flowing water.

Last week in Romania, we sat in  a packed van and sang our hearts out to the Lord our God, after seeing the way that he worked in the gypsy camp. We left the van and almost all of the girls were in tears – experiencing the depth and the works of the Holy Spirit on their hearts. My eyes were dry, not a tear in sight. I wanted to cry, I wanted to feel the works of the Holy Spirit working in me again. He is working in me, I am learning and my heart is being changed, and yet I don’t feel that passion or that conviction. Rather I feel the heaviness of my prideful heart, while I long for the tears of emotion.

I am searching for that feeling, the feeling of experiencing God and being overwhelmed by his presence. I know that I am wrong to think that this feeling can be fulfilled by you, or by watching a romantic comedy, and yet I would rather numb my mind and gravitate to mindless entertainment than finding rest and meditation in His word. Reading the bible has lately become a box that I check daily and a page that I fill in my notebook. I have read the word and yet where is the obedience and fruit?

I feel lukewarm. I know it is a job that only the Holy Spirit can complete. I need to get down on my knees and yet, I do not know what I would say.

I am a sinner. He loves me. And I am redeemed. Of this I am sure. I can’t seem to articulate much else.

Love,

Your Beloved

Family.

I stood in the office today seeing everyone line up to give their keys back. A sense of DejaVu hit me, as I remembered the familiar picture 10 months ago when we were crowding that same office, lining up so that we could open the doors to our classroom. Little did I know that I would leave a workplace with a complete feeling of belonging, a sadness that if I don’t come back here, I will be missing something great. 

I look back at this year, and I can’t put my finger on what was great, what stood out or what was simply amazing. There is no one thing that stands out to me. Truth is, the past 10 months have been truly exceptional. I am an only child who has been spoiled by her parents, with relations across the world in Singapore. This year, I had the privilege of being part something bigger – a feeling that I am unable to describe. I sit here trying to navigate my mind to search for the words that I am looking for, but can’t seem to pick just one. So the word “family” will have to do.

I don’t think its healthy to love a job as much as I do. It simply doesn’t seem right to enjoy your job this much, or to be able to laugh daily until you cry. And yet this is what the year has been like. This year has been filled with joy, rejoicing, praise, gratefulness, and laughter.  Granted it has also been a year of stubbornness, annoyance, frustration and anger. It hasn’t dawned on me yet that this year is over. Perhaps because I don’t want it to be.

I wonder when I will see these students again- when I will be asked to change the calendar, cover the time with a post-it, sing a Barney song, or escort a student to the ALE room. When I will dance and sway back and forth or have my hand tickled. When I will chase the student back into his room, or be greeted with a “good morning” even though its 2 o’clock in the afternoon. When my hand will be smelled after a high five, or when I have to wonder if those hands are clean. When she runs into my arms, not deliberately, but simply because she cannot stop. When he smiles and tilts his head, grinning, making me wonder what he is really thinking about. When she sticks her hands out because she wants to be massaged or when he looks at my spider man USB with envy. When she turns her head to the sound of my voice, or when I will be greeted with “Hi Ms. Goldy”. When permission is asked for a hug, or when a hand lying innocently by your side gets grasped with joy and laughter. When will I see these students who I care so dearly for? And that is when it hits me. 

I may not know what is coming in the following year. But I know that I have been incredibly blessed to have experienced this one. There was not one person today that I was glad to say goodbye to, speaking greatly of the incredible people that I work with. When the people you have known for 10 months know more about you than some that you have known for 10 years, I know that I can say with authority that I have been truly blessed and privileged to work here.

We sat in the cafeteria in a large circle scattered with maroon shirts, wedged sandals and summer dresses. Noses were sniffling and eyes were watering as people shared about what they were thankful for and appreciative of that year. Love is a powerful thing. I can say for certain that this place was full of it. Thank you for loving me. 

What they taught me.

I have spent the year immersed in a classroom with 3 wonderful TAs, and 6 students – 4 who have autism and 2 who have Down’s Syndrome. This is what I have learned.

Forgiveness. He pinched her, and it hurt. But minutes later, he came to her for help in zipping up his jacket. Without hesitating, she jumped to his aid. 

FriendshipShe does not like to hold hands. But the moment she goes on a walk, she grabs hers, and holds her hand until the very end. Only the very best of friends walk together and hold hands.

Boldness. He got down on one knee at the dance, he took out the ring, and asked her to be his girlfriend. She said yes. 

HumourHe pretends to drink our coffee, and gives us bunny ears when he takes a picture. He chuckles to himself, his friend chuckles with him. We all start chuckling together. 

PersistenceIt was May 1st. The calendar was still on April. This did not bode well. She asked and asked. Then she asked again. She pleaded and whined. She got what she wanted, and my sanity was kept in check. 

Gentleness. ‘How old is Ms. Goh?’ she asked. ‘ You know how old I am.’ I responded. ‘twenty five!’ she exclaimed. She grinned and tilted her head as she gently and carefully brushed my hair out of my face. 

Frustration. She asked to go to the bathroom. We could hear the muffled screaming and crying through the bathroom door. She lay on the ground, stomping her feet, releasing the frustration that she must have been feeling. 

Obedience. ‘Change please!’ She said as she handed him his shorts. So he did – he immediately pulled his pants down in front of the open windows where the busses were idling. 

Compassion. The wind was blowing and tears streamed down my face. ‘Uh Oh, Tears!’ she exclaimed, as she moved her hands below my glasses and gently wiped away my tears. 

Remorse. She had hit her. She had hit her hard. Immediate anxiety set in, knowing that she had hurt someone that she had loved. ‘Sorry, so sorry’ she said repetitively as she blew kisses, in hopes that all would be better. 

Self-controlThe name written in white board marker was wiping off. It was not complete, it needed to be rubbed off completely. ‘Leave it’, they said. So she left it. But she did not forget about it. 

Curiosity. There was a surprise under every day of our calendar. She grinned, hands & fingers waving in front of her face.  We watched her smile gleefully as she sneakily read what was under every flap. 

Mischief‘Hello?’ he says. He’s home – calling the school on a P.D. day. ‘Hello! How are you!?’ I ask. ‘Good!’ he responds. ‘What are you up to?’ I counter. Seconds pass, and I hear a click. The line is dead. 

Enthusiasm. ‘Who would like to do the calendar today?’ I asked. She flings her hand up in the air. Waves her arm from side to side, and is just about standing up. ‘Me… ME!’ She exclaims. 

Tenderness. He sat on the couch, took her hand, laced his fingers with hers and sat looking out the window. 

Patience. The chocolate cupcakes that we had baked were sitting on the counter. Frosted and edible. He must have asked 10 times that day “Excuse me, may I have chocolate cake puhleaseee?”. But he waited until the next day – chocolate cupcakes, macaroni & cheese, popcorn was his reward. 

Joy. He laughed and laughed. He stopped. Then he burst out into laughter again. He ran back and forth in the cafeteria. He stopped in front of the staff, waved his fingers and ran away, laughing again. 

Love. ‘I have two families’ he says, ‘one at home. And one here.’ 

And they didn’t have to go to teacher’s college. What a year. What an incredible year.

2. He is working

My dear beloved,

I continue to marvel and stand in awe of the incredible God we serve, my hope is that you too are amazed by His mystery. He is constantly reminding me of His grace, His anger, His wrath and His patience.  Lately, I have been encouraged by the way that He works, even before we can think of what we want, or know that it is what we want for ourselves.

Last Saturday, a friend of mine and I decided to fast on Wednesday. I was going to initiate a conversation with someone. I wanted to commit that conversation to Christ, that God’s will be done above all else, regardless of my desires or future plans. On Tuesday night, at 9:30, I received an email from him, telling me to come see him sometime tomorrow. Imagine my shock, but more so the peace – the peace that surpasses all understanding. What a confirmation, what initiation by Christ, what a reminder that He is working everything out for our good (Romans 8:28). God was working before I had even begun to fast, before I had begun to think to fast or think about having this conversation. God was working. God is working even when we may not see the fruit, or feel the effect of His work. Oh how God is working now, I will never know – but I trust that He is doing something good, something amazing!

I am comforted to know that He is working in every single part of my life – my job, my future missions trip, the girls in my youth group, the hearts of my students. And in this future relationship, this future marriage, this future union that will ultimately glorify Him. I know that He is working on our hearts and our relationship with Him. He is slowly sanctifying us, convicting us of our sin, and growing the love that we have for Him. He is working. I mentioned in a previous letter to you that the idea of you seems so far away, but to be honest, I don’t even know what to think anymore. Regardless of when the Lord wants to knit our lives together, I know that He is working in your heart and in mine. What a mighty God we serve – have I mentioned that I am excited to worship Him together?

Even though I may not yet know who you are, I am confident that He is working in us and on us right now.He is orchestrating something amazing, adding intricate details to a story that we cannot fathom or even dare imagine. He is writing those run on sentences that we will call our love story, and He is knitting something unique together that only we can call ours.

I am excited to know you, and I am excited to know Him together.

Love,

Your future wife.

 

 

Refining…

In August, I confidently went in for an interview, only to not receive that job. Days later, I was offered another interview at the same school, in addition to an interview that very day for a school that I had previously worked at a school that I had previously worked at. In a simple phone call, God reminded me how rejection & failure is a constant reminder of His sovereignty and His grace.

God has used this year to mold me, challenge me, purify me and refine me. This has been one of the best years of my life, and even though it is only April, I am extremely sad to see this year come to an end. Most days, we start the day off with prayer. I never thought that I would say that while working in a public board, but then I simply underestimated the power of Christ. He turned our prayer group into an everyday routine that has grown and that has gone forth to a Weekly prayer meeting after school – filled with scripture, worship & prayer. We have been praying that God would work powerfully in this school and in the community. Lo and Behold, last week 7 (the number of perfection) students went to the principal’s office and proposed a request to start a prayer group for the student population. It was approved. I have been simply overwhelmed by the community that I have felt at this school, but even more so, the overwhelming presence of Christ that is here and the family of Christ that I have met in this school.

During the Easter season, the ladies decided to put together 40 care packages to give out to the people in our community. At first the package was going to be simple with socks, a gift card, a toothbrush, maybe some body wash, but then God started to reveal to us what he wanted to provide from snacks, free toothbrushes and toothpastes, and most importantly free full-sized bibles. Not only was it incredible to see the generosity and hearts that God blessed these ladies with, but God reminding us of his providence and sovereignty. It was more difficult than we had bargained for, giving out these care packages – especially when people say no – only to be reminded of Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” And how Christ might feel when the gospel is rejected by so many. We may never know what God will do with these carepackages, but I know He has the power to do something great!

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I sat on a lawn chair in a cottage in Arden and stared up at the sky, with its billions of stars, and the universe in all of its glory. How can I not believe in the God who created the earth.  I… sat… amazed by His glory, the splendor and His creation, and the general revelation of God revealing himself to me through his mighty works – Both in school, in my life, and in the life of others.

His complex creation is astounding to me. I continue to be amazed by how he is using me, and how he STILL loves me. He convicts me, but more so – he refines me like silver. I know God is at work, but sometimes the fruit is so hard to see in our own lives, and yet I compare my heart to how it was years ago, and I see the refining process at work in my life. I am set free from sin, but I admit – it is hard to feel that way. It is a daily struggle to put the Lord first in my life, no matter how much I claim to love Him. I feel like I am constantly battling, wishing that being a Christian was easy, that I would actually turn to Him in temptation. Easier said than done, my friend. But I am joyful, and incredibly thankful that being refined is a continuous process. –  Thank you Lord, for refining me. Thank you Lord that “he who began a good work in me will bring it to completion”. Thank you Lord for saving me.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. – Philippians 1: 9-11

 

“Let Me write your love story”

In recent conversations with co-workers and friends, discussions about significant others and persons of interests often reveal themselves. In honesty, I admit that there is someone that I am interested (not invested) in – someone that has intrigued me and that I could potentially see myself in a relationship with. Then comes the advice that says “Ask him out for coffee”, “Tell him how you feel” – and the more I listen, the more I entertain the thought in my head… What if I ask him out for coffee, what if I message him on facebook, What if I reveal my interest and take the risk of making the first step. I ponder and I ponder, and the recurring thought comes to my mind: “Let Me write your Love story” He says  – ever so gently and ever so lovingly.

This thought is not new to me, but years ago, I wanted Christ to write my love story with the ending that I wanted. I thought “Oh, but wouldn’t it be glorifying to God if the boy I liked comes to know Christ… but really only so that I could date him?” I bet you know the ending to that story – God did not answer that prayer with a “yes” (though I still pray for his salvation). But now, I am more open to a Christ-written love story. My desires, my longings, my yearnings – all fulfilled in the ultimate love story that just so happens to be the gospel. I say it is enough, and most of the time it is – there are many days where I desire marriage and a loving spouse more than I desire Christ – only to be reminded of being joyfully content and the sufficiency of the love of Christ.

I watched a wedding video a few hours ago (posted below), I absolutely love marriages and weddings that put Christ on display as their first love, complementing each other while understanding that they are only made complete with Christ. This, THIS is what why I want to be married. If my marriage does not exemplify the love of Christ in my life, and does not push me to fall more in love with Him – then forget marriage. Yes, forget marriage. I want my marriage to not only glorify Christ, but to push me towards Him. I may regret saying this later on, but I want my spouse to help me see my sin, walking with me along the process of sanctification & righteousness. In the wedding video, a bridesmaid speaks of the providence of God and His Hand in the relationship. That line gave me chills – oh to think of how I can speak of the providence & sovereignty of Christ in any future relationship that I have, and use that to testify His glory and His grace!

Lately, I have been struggling with doubts – another voice that says “that man is too good for you”, “Why would he like YOU?”, “you think you have a chance with him?” I have to constantly remind myself that these thoughts are not from Christ. And today during my reading in Isaiah, I come across the following verses:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9.

Immediately thankfulness overwhelmed my heart today during my quiet time. Could you imagine, if His thoughts were like ours, oh how much more corrupt, disgusting, perverted and evil would this world be? I am reminded then of what God thinks of me – beautiful and saved, made clean and righteous by His blood. This was not the first wave of thoughts, nor will it be the last, but His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways higher than my ways. What a high bar to set! The bar of Christ himself.

I will admit that this is the first time that I have prayed that these feelings for this particular person are not in vain, and if they are that they will disappear quickly. Ultimately my hope, my trust and my faith is in Christ, not in a future relationship or marriage. I do want Christ to continue to write this love story, the love story between me and Him, and the love story between me and whoever else He chooses for my life. I will wait patiently for Him to work in my relationships, rather than try to take the reigns in my own hands. And I hope that when the time comes, that he will see the love of Christ in me, I hope that is all that he is looking for, because that is all I truly want to be known for. But I am content in my singleness and in the sufficiency of Christ in my life as truly being all that I need.