Monday, October 26, 2009

Mum To The Rescue

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

(Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)

“Mum, please help me.” “MUM…PLEASE COME!”
This is a normal plea in my home. Hah, what will kids do without mum?

This time I found her attempting to do some copy work on art pieces. She was determined to get it right, and I mean RIGHT. She wanted mum to help salvage her almost “ruined” art piece.

Drawing and colouring ranked high in my list of childhood hobbies. Art was my favourite subject in school as I always felt it was a therapeutic session in the midst of textbooks and notes to memorize and apply. I always tell my children I love arts because I can never go wrong. Even if there is a mistake, the artist can always play around with the colours and strokes to cover the error and still produce a good piece. After all, it is art. The creative power lies in the hands and imagination of the artist. I absolutely didn’t have such liberty with other subjects, which I’ve to adhere to facts, formulas or grammar.

As much as I desired for her to try it all out by herself, her persistent pleas were too strong for me to shun her away. So I stepped in and asked what went wrong and how could I help. In her frustration, she told me to redraw the cartoon figure because her piece has been smeared by the pastels. It just didn’t look nice to her no matter how I tried to pacify her. Finally, I agreed to help but working in such a way that she could still own this piece. It’s always tough how much to help a child. As my hands began to move through the paper and putting the strokes in, she began ordering me – telling me how it should be. I gently assured her, “Trust me.”

Obviously she did not trust I will do a good job by the way she was still whining and telling me what to do. My patience was tested. I said again…this time firmly, “Please trust me.” She was too engrossed in her own thoughts and ways to hear my assurance. Her ramblings went on. Feeling annoyed, I turned to her and asked, “Do you trust me?”

I almost thought it was God asking me that question. The whole scenario just flipped. I was the little child pleading for help but many times didn’t trust the Father enough. While He is attending to me and my problem, I was too engrossed to see his act of deliverance. Instead of trusting in his wisdom and ways, I was still rambling away telling him what I think is best.

Have you ever been caught in this same predicament?
God promises his help when we call him in our distress (Jonah 2:2) and his coming and wise actions are certain. But how many times we still lean on our own understanding? When he says, “Trust me, child”, it means it is a done deal! We need to learn to sit back and watch him move and act. To God be the glory!

O Trustworthy God, forgive me for not trusting You. Instead of relying on my own rational thoughts and limited understanding, I want to trust Your wisdom and power to make my paths straight. I do not want to interfere with Your plans and attempting to be cleverer than You. Forbid it, Lord. I hear Your whispers of assurance and I am saved. Thank You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My Hiding Place, My Safe Refuge

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

(Psalm 27:5, NIV)

It didn’t feel as though I rested even though I purposely set aside time to nap one afternoon, just to catch up on some sleep. However, I had one of the coolest dreams. I settled down for my nap after pondering on one word, “rock” and singing just one phrase in my heart, “My Hiding Place, My Safe Refuge” over and over again…with a tune I can’t quite remember now. Interestingly, I dozed off and I saw myself getting ready to preach on this title based on Psalm 27. In the dream, there were a lot of disruptions which had given me some clues in pressing into prayers.

Certainly the Lord had heard my cries and reassured me through the dream. As soon as I woke up, I read through the psalm and found right there in verse 5 which clearly states that God will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. What can be more comforting and assuring to know he has spoken so clearly!

I’ve been thinking deep on God being the Rock of my salvation. For a long time I see the rock as a concrete strong platform. One which is unmovable and unshakeable. In the book of Psalms, God is liken to the rock. The imagery is repeated in many verses in this poetry book. I sing of it. I talked about it. I claimed it. Then I discovered the rock as mentioned in the bible is referring to the cleft rock. It is not any rock that I had envisioned. Cleft rock is a hideout. It secures from different angles but has a crevice for one to flee in and stay away from danger. This safe shelter is a grandiose natural monument. There is something about rock that when I look at it speaks of incredible strength and durability. As I thought further on God being that sort of dwelling place for me, it opens up an invitation for me, “Come, come right in…” My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. (Song of Songs 2:14, NIV)

Under his mighty protection and sweet presence I stand on sure footing too. Whatever the trouble that seeks to send me running away, God provided the shelter of his loving arms to receive me, and comfort me and broaden my path so that I can tread upon. When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:4, KJV)

We are beaten by the harsh weather of our fallen world which seeks to destroy us in different forms.
Whenever we are afraid, let us run to our Rock.
Let us echo the psalmist prayer when our hearts are overwhelmed.
Never forget the invitation to flee to the Cleft Rock. We will see his lovely face and hear his sweet voice. Oh what a lovely thought! What a promise!

O Mighty Rock, I run to You and seek Your safe refuge. In this secret hiding place, I rest and be restored. Show me Your face. Let me hear Your voice. Oh Lord, I come…In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dance? What Dance?!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

(Galatians 5:22-24, NIV)

She was ready. All geared up to demonstrate her moves to the teacher.
She squatted as she looked on the older girls rehearsed their steps for the last minute dance performance in a week’s time. The teacher called upon each of the five girls to repeat their movement as she combined some of their individual choreography to form a new piece of dance.

Every now and then Chrisa turned to me and whispered, “When is she ready to see mine?” I gave her the same respond every time, “Wait for a while, dear. You will get your turn.” Then gestured her to watch and continue waiting. She obediently heeded my instruction. The time ticked away. She was still waiting.

Finally, the teacher gave her a quick glance and asked, “Chrisa, are you ready now?” and Chrisa showed her moves with a little pride hidden in her shyness. Unfortunately, the teacher was still concentrating more on the older girls. I could see the little girl’s sadness that she has been overlooked. She ran back to me and voiced her disappointment. Trying not to interfere with the practice, I managed to pacify her to give it another try later when the teacher is done with the rest.

She collected herself and leaned on me for a moment for comfort.
Another chance came…she ran into the group and positioned herself in the formation. When the team was moving in accordance to their formation, she was left confused. She was lost in the commotion. Although the girls were giving her some directions, the teacher obviously didn’t include her in this upcoming dance. She dashed towards me with tears in her eyes and slumped right on me, totally upset! My heart ached with her as she did wait. She has been patiently waiting but was left clueless how to be involved. I calmed her down and wiped her tears. Personally, as I watched this last minute making of dance, I wasn’t too sure if the teacher was going to put Chrisa in as she was the only 6 year-old amongst the older ones, ages 10 and 11. I reckoned the teacher was doing some impromptu planning that she had overlooked the little one’s participation. After all, there was going to be two practices only before they perform in a week’s time. Perhaps she had given Chrisa hope without really considering her role and effort required in the creative piece.

The practice ended. Chrisa was still not in the picture of the dance. I chatted briefly with the teacher and she had thought Chrisa is too minor to catch up with the last minute plan. She realized she didn’t make it clear to the child. An explanation from the teacher pacified Chrisa. She told Chrisa that she is still part of the regular dance team and could work on future pieces. This particular one was too demanding on her due to the shortage of time.

We walked away that day recalling on a verse God has been challenging us to believe in the course of waiting - Hosea 6:3 (which I posted on Aug 18). In the car, I asked her, “Do you know you’ve learnt a great lesson today even though you may feel like you didn’t do anything at all? You waited! That’s a long time waiting for a little girl. That lesson is more important than the dance piece.” Two hours is forever for a minor. She gazed at me with a smile and was proud she passed the test of waiting. She exclaimed, “Yea, we’ve been talking so much on waiting these days in church.” She thought for a moment and knew God had taught her an important lesson – being patient.

Patience is a great virtue. It is a gem in our impatient society. Like “God” (Morgan Freeman in the movie, Evan Almighty) challenged Evan’s wife, “If you prayed for patience, do you think God will make you patient? He will give you an opportunity to be patient.” Here, Chrisa had a great opportunity to learn to be patient. Indeed she made a dance unto the Maker. She demonstrated different moves in her waiting. In her dance, there was an entirety of silence but her heart was trained. Patience was developed. And surely more room was created for further lessons.

We headed for a nice dinner of her choice to reward her patience. She sure enjoyed delayed gratification.

How many times have we waited and it seemed they are all in vain? It seemed like nothing has been achieved.
It seemed unproductive. It was meaningless.
It was tiring. It drained our energy. It muddled our vision.

Seem. Yes, it seems that way. But not the case. Most often than not, we learn many lessons in the waiting. Amongst the many, I am sure patience is one. Patience needs to be cultivated as a child of God because it is part of the fruit of the Spirit.

Are you waiting for an answer from God? Does it drive you nuts in the silence of waiting?
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:14). Our waiting on him always guarantees return – probably not the forms we envision but certainly heavenly blessings. Do not even think that whatever we do in the waiting is not important. God is watching and he will honour accordingly. A surprise may just be at the corner when you least expect it and you’ll enjoy delayed gratification.

Abba Father, grant me patience and give me a trusting heart knowing that my waiting on you will never be in vain. Cultivate in me this prized gem which is so lacking in our world so that others may see Christ in me. In Jesus’ name . Amen.