Thursday, May 28, 2009

So that God Be Glorified

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

(John 9:1-3, NIV)

Dinner was good. We ate at a local famous western food corner. As we walked to get our van, a lame man followed us all the way. His body looked distorted in every way and his face was somewhat scary looking. We were cautious though I didn’t think he would be harmful. Yet I had to be careful just in case anything unforeseen took place. We quickly climbed into our van. The man stood right in front of the front screen and looked in with a strange expression, head crooked and an awkward gesture. I must confess it was a little uncomfortable although we tried to be as natural. He was probably in his thirties or forties. As much as we sympathized with him, we were helpless. I could not help but wonder about a lot of things…which turned into a deep discussion with God.

What happened to him? Was he born such? Who is taking care of him?

Why would God create such being in the first place? Why?? Of course, my instant inner response was - God is sovereign. But then again, I faced a battle of my own mind as I questioned God. My maternal instinct reached into the heart of this man’s mum. It must had been a difficult journey to have and raised him…to see his sufferings and fear for his survival. A series of emotions must have overwhelmed her. It must be painful. How about this man? No matter how ugly he looked and dysfunctional he seems to be, yet he is still a person with human needs. He is still a child of God.

It’s really hard to imagine why God would do this. I am sure He can do a better job in creating. Did He make a mistake and couldn’t undo it? Or maybe it was not congenital? But still God must have allowed this? To look at the man and think that “this is God’s beautiful creation” certainly is a challenge. I know these are silly thoughts about God and all my questions may seem valid in human terms but they don’t change the fact – God is sovereign and He is good. His sovereignty and goodness are far too deep for my limited human mind to comprehend.

I believe this man was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and his physiological imperfection is an opportunity to display God’s grace. The words of Jesus reminded me that ultimately God uses all circumstances to glorify Himself. I can only rest in His sovereignty and trust that any form of suffering in life provides a platform for God to manifest his grace and compassion. A man of such disability who knows God may well display the strength and beauty like no other normal person can. The effects of God’s power are magnified through such man when he is surrendered to God. However, if he doesn’t know God, it is an opportunity for him to embrace God’s love. That can be another powerful testimony of God’s salvation and love; and can cause ripple effects.

I may not have all my answers as I thought of the man but I know God cares for him. I do not know him even as I prayed for him this week but my Father knows his name.

Perhaps as we look at ourselves or the circumstances we are in, we see imperfections and sufferings too. Instead of fretting in discontentment or throwing our fists at God, or blaming ourselves and sitting under guilt pile…let us turn our eyes upon the Lord and hear his words ring right into our hearts - "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in [your] life.”

To God be the Glory!

Heavenly Father, You are sovereign and good. Look upon me with favour and love. Enable me to see traces of Your work in my life and empower me to bring glory to Your name. May my life be a display of Your grace and glory. When I see any imperfect person, help me see him as you do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Endless Mess

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.

(Psalm 103:8, NIV)

My days are filled with cleaning. One after another. Yet the house never seem to be clean or in the “order” I classify as order.
Laundry – never seem to finish. When I thought I just cleared the laundry basket, to see it been filled again.
Dishes – quite the same too. Although the girls have been helping but I still have uncleared sink throughout the day.
What happened to spotless floor? Nay, my doctor and nurses’ friends told me to forget about clean floors once babies arrived. One even suggested I wear carpet shoes so that I will not feel the dust. The baby won't die from some dirt. But my melancholy self thought the more I have to clean up to ensure my babies have clean floor to roam around. Babies – you know they are so susceptible to illnesses. But they MESS UP ALL THE TIME.

My baby was wriggling hard to get away while I was trying to get his bum cleaned up. This is the umpteenth time for the day. I hooked him with my left arm and did a quick wash but clean enough to satisfy me. You’ll be amazed at how much energy the little one possessed. It is quite a workout for me daily. Before I could sigh a relief of getting the task done, he wriggled and crawled off. I went after him to find that he just pee on the floor! And when I finished with that, I stepped on biscuits crumbs. “That could wait…” I thought. Then the five year-old called for help in cleaning up some mess. I rushed off, stepped on a toy which squeaked back at me. I moved the toys to clear the path way. My eyes caught another pile of mess which called for attention. “Not now,” I whispered in my heart. I moved the baby to the bedroom to get him ready for nap. He protested and slipped off from my arms. His sister’s clothes’ shelf attracted him. That’s his new “play area” – simply enjoys pulling the garments off, one by one. The list can go on forever. My heart beat faster and I could feel a rush of my blood. My energy level was diminishing. I was about to sigh and give out a loud scream to God when His Spirit whispered to me, “I am also always cleaning up."

How true! God is in a cleaning business. How many times have I messed up – the words I said, my action and reaction towards people and situations, decisions made, negative thoughts, and ill feelings; and He patiently cleaned up my mess. Instead of striking a hard blow on me, He administered His dose of merciful love. Instead of saying, “Look at you again,” He helped me through without shame and guilt and gave me a clean slate.

Human race is messed up. God in His grace and mercy is cleaning us up all the time. When He is done with one area, He still has many more to deal with us. What a comfort to know He is slow to anger, otherwise we will all be wiped out from his presence!

Do you have anything which requires some divine cleaning? Acknowledge your need of the Divine Helper. Allow Him to clean you up even if it hurts. Don’t struggle and wriggle off his clutch. Stay put as He gently and patiently does the cleaning process. Sometimes it may hurt more because of the consequences we have to bear but trust in His abounding love. He doesn’t jeer but cheer us on.

Loving Father, I come…with this…...(specify your mess). Clean me up. Grant me grace to go through it and soothe where it hurts. I trust You. Thank You for being patient with me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In the Comfort of My Father’s Arms

As a mother comforts her child,
So will I comfort you…...

(Isaiah 66:13, NIV)

Finally my baby settled into dreamland. The sight of a sleeping baby in a calm state is simply speechless. All the squirming and cries eased into a lovely sort of stillness and peace…right in my arms. I can now slow down for a while before he awakes to explore again. He just turned one year-old. So much had happened in the short one year – growing from a tiny helpless babe to an inquisitive little creature engaging in endless explorations and discoveries.

Gratitude filled my heart as I reflected on the past year. On the table, a photo of another baby with a big smile brought a flood of memories of more than a decade ago. They look so alike though of the opposite sex. She was my firstborn. People say to me, “It must be easy for you. It’s your fourth round now.” Is motherhood ever easy? I wonder.

In a world of significance equals success, where does this vocation fit into the picture? Yet no one can deny that “the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world” – an extract from the 1800s poem by William Ross Wallace. Wallace recognized the preeminent force in the maternal contribution throughout the generations. And we all know with power comes responsibility. I will never forget the very first time I held my firstborn. Tears flowed. I was struck with ambivalence – unspeakable joy mingled with an overwhelming anxiety. Suddenly I was thrust with an enormous responsibility – a life! So fragile yet so full of potentials.

Amongst many things, the years of mothering are spent comforting the child in one way or another. Right from birth, the infant is comforted in the arms of the mother – being nursed and soothed. Then there are the pains and challenges of growing up as the years go by. How many times we run back to mama’s arms when things don’t go right? Somehow, we find consolation in her. Mother is the icon of comfort.

The female gender is born with the maternal instinct. Irrespective of age and married status, we are gifted to nurture. I watched my own daughters grow. From a tiny tot to preteens now, they naturally have this nurturing behaviour in their play as well as their relationship in the family. So don’t take lightly this inborn trait nor underestimate the power to nurture – whether your own children or spiritual children.

I always believe God extends extra portion of grace to mothers. In the course of nurturing, we are constantly drained from every aspect. We have to receive in order to give…and there’s where Isaiah 66:13 comforts me whenever I feel my energy sapping. Personally, in this season, I am always shifting gears – caring for a baby’s physical needs, to a kindergartener’s inquisitiveness, and to preteens’ emotional development. By nightfall, my tank is empty. In the mentioned verse, the picture of God is painted as a “mother” to his people. That image gives us the feel of gentleness and loving comfort. We have to learn to run into His arms and be rested there. God is the Ultimate Comforter and He fills us afresh the moment we are rested in His arms. Present our burdens, cares and worries. Express our joy and pain. Hear His heartbeat as we rest upon Him.

Today is Mother’s Day. As we reflect on our own role, let us remember to give thanks for the honour to have the power to nurture and be a source of comfort. Perhaps you are thinking of your relationship with your own mum – whether good or bad, give thanks too! There are always the open arms of our Father whenever you need a place of comfort. Don’t stop running into His arms of love because He promises, “…so will I comfort you…”

Loving Father, how good it is to know You are always present in time of need. Thank You for Your open arms. I will run to you - always. Receive me and refresh me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.