+ quest 12 +

Honey,
I’m sorry to have made you upset. You know that I love and care for you a lot.
Or at least I hope that you do.

I’m sorry that I’m not great at getting across my thoughts and explaining my emotions and how I feel about things. This may sound like an excuse, but it’s just how I’ve turned out to be and it’s something that I learn to put up with. Not that I think it’s something that I don’t want to work on, but it is something in a way that I have come to accept about myself.

My dear,
How do I tell or show you that I’m trying my best?
How do I tell or show you that I am, to the best of my knowledge and to the best of my ability, committing my affections and my thoughts to our Lord?
How do I tell or show you that I want to be waiting upon God and to be trusting Him despite being fickle?
How do I tell or show you that these matters to me the most; even though it might be hard and testing for you and also for me?

I know that I have things about me that you don’t like or you wish weren’t so, but your inability to be patient with me as I try to be faithful to God and to you is hurtful and frankly, frustrating.

I wish I didn’t have these issues either; and I know you don’t like to hear about them, and I know that they worry you because of how they’ve hurt you in the past.
But shall I not remind you to keep trusting in God? I know that you do; but our relationship is in His hands, and when I don’t see that you are praying with and for me about these things, it makes me uneasy. I don’t mean to belittle you or continue in resentment as I say these things, but in a way, I say these things out of concern; perhaps you have made me an idol and you wouldn’t admit it?

Even then, know that I’ll be praying; that we would both be submitting to our Father in heaven that loves us.
You are precious to me, my dear, and I don’t want our pride and stubbornness to come in the way of something that could be of immense joy for us both.

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+ quest 7 +

Lord,

I feel sick.

I don’t know whether it’s something that I’ve eaten today, or whether it’s a symptom of an underlying problem; of a sin that needs to be dealt with and my mind, soul and body is now experiencing grief because of it.

Lord,
What do I do?

I don’t even know where to begin.
Everything has been smooth sailing up until now; from the gentle caresses to the tender words that we have exchanged with each other. Lord, You know how much I trust him, and I’m thankful for a companion like him. But have we stepped incorrectly somewhere?

Have I lost something? Am I experiencing the grief for it though I may not know for what I am grieving? (Could it be my purity? My heart for You, Lord? That I have forsaken You in my pursuit of something good, but fleeting and unfulfilling?)

Lord,

I find it so hard to think straight; the lack of sleep from the previous night, the hormones through my veins, the pounding headache as I try and work out my thoughts. I don’t know if it’s one of those things or all of those things; not to mention the stress from the semester and the fears of being unable to meet expectations.

Lord God,

Where are you?
What am I meant to be learning? What am I meant to be thinking?

I’ve invested so much emotionally and physically in him that this sudden doubt and discontentment has taken me aback.

Lord, is this your way of keeping me in check?

I have no appetite, no delight in anything (for now at least) and it’s terrifying me.
It’s like I’m slipping back into those dreadful dark days in 2015; o Lord, please don’t let it be…

Father,

I’m scared, I’m weak and I feel ashamed.
I need Your comfort more than ever, Your strength and support more than I think I need it. Lord, I know You comfort Your children; Father, hear my cries now.

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?

Lord, what is it?
Speak to me; the one thing that I’m most afraid of is not being able to hear Your voice.
Lord, help me to see You, to humble myself that I may run to You and seek You.

Father,

Forgive my ignorance, for my disobedience and my foolishness.
Guide me in the ways of the righteous; of obedience, of faith and justice.
Lord, help me to discern and boldly act upon what is right with self-control and dependence. Make my heart steadfast, purify my thoughts and help me to glorify You in my actions and in my speech.

Lord,

Give me wisdom, give me a heart that listens for You.

Comfort me Lord, help me to understand what’s going on through my mind.
Deliver me from darkness and temptation Lord, give me the self-control to resist evils so that my heart won’t be hardened to sin.

Lord,

Work in my heart to soften it; You know what it is that is causing me to stumble and Lord, may you deal with it as You may. Father give me the faith to trust You in Your wise sovereign ways.
Be my refuge in this storm; let me hide in the shadow of your wings.

Holy God, hold my heart, and let me trust You in my fears.
Help me discern whether these feelings are honorable; Lord, let me trust You nonetheless.

“Hear me, you who know what is right,
you people who have my law in your hearts:
Do not fear the reproach of men
or be terrified by their insults.
For the moth will eat them up like a garment;
the worm will devour them like wool.
But my righteousness will last for ever,
my salvation through all generations.”

Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength,
O arm of the LORD;

awake, as in days gone by,
as in generations of old.
Was it not You who cut Rahab to pieces,
who pierced that monster through?
Was it not You who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
Who made a road in the depths of the sea
so that the redeemed might cross over?

The ransomed of the LORD will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

“I, even I, am he who comforts you,
Who are you that you fear mortal man,
the sons of men, who are but grass,
that you forget the LORD your Maker,
Who stretched out the heavens 
and laid the foundations of the earth,
that you live in constant terror every day
because of the wrath of the oppressor,
who is bent on destruction?
For where is the wrath of the oppressor?”

* Psalm 56:8 ESV, Isaiah 51:7-13 NIV

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+ absence – when breath becomes air +

I knew medicine only by its absence – specifically, the absence of a father growing up, one who went to work before dawn and returned in the dark to a plate of reheated dinner. 

[…]

He had reached some compromise in his mind that fatherhood could be distilled; short, concentrated (but sincere) bursts of high intensity could equal… whatever it was that other fathers did. All I knew was, if that was the price of medicine, it was simply too high. 

When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi (2016)

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+ last one +

Lord,

I lack the self-control and motivation to keep going and to keep studying.
I wish I worked harder, I wish I knew what I was doing and just how to get things done.

I’m too complacent, I’m too lazy, too scared of hard work and failure to even get anywhere.
I feel incomparable to my peers, I feel stupid and I feel like I can’t think for myself when it comes to this course.

I know there will always be people better at things that I will ever be;
But this is frustrating and it’s making me anxious (though I will do anything to pretend I’m not worried about it).

 

Lord,

I ask that You would help me to focus and to direct my energy to studying well.
It’s only tonight and tomorrow right?

Father, I’m asking You to give me the wisdom, the memory and self-control I need for this exam.

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+ early morning pre-op sentiments +

2016 feels like such a dull year.
At least last year there was a thrill of meeting guys and thinking about potentially finding someone to date, but this year has actually just slipped right through and we’re already at the end of the year…

I remember this time last year there was (pondering upon) the German exchange student, (dodging) 1605 and the awkward Ph.D. guy and this year…  nothing?
I wonder what I even did during this year besides watch endless documentaries on YouTube and letting anger boil towards Trump. Also seemed like I spent the whole year observing couples with a yearning for companionship; TT and BB, 77 and 32, my friends at church and in Sydney…

It also feels as if this year has been a year of running away and avoiding.
I can barely remember the ‘exhaustion’ from tedious days at uni and I regret not having made those memories I promised I would make…
Not making the time to invest in my character and my relationship with God.

Feel as if this year I played too many games with people only to find that they were foolish and unfruitful.
Feel as if this year set off with high hopes and PUMPED with aspirations that dwindled miserably into nothingness.

How did I let time make the most of me, yet again?

I don’t want to make my uni days flat and dull. If things are bland and all too similar, we will only end up forgetting the days of our youth.

Feel as if my distancing away from 5114 hasn’t led me anywhere, hasn’t grown me or compelled me to do something about the ‘situation’ (being my feelings for him coalesced with childish, unnecessary resentment).
I’ve let them sit there in my mind for way too long and yet I have no idea still what I’m meant or going to do about them. It’s the old dirty sofa in the lounge room that you know you should dispose of but you don’t mind having it there to stare at for a while longer.
Even when I ‘decide’ to do something about/with him, my mind flips the switch almost instantly it’s frustrating and bizarre.

 

At the same time I’ve seen God’s gracious work in my heart; how He has taught me what it means to surrender certain things and to be generous; bit by bit, slowly and surely.
I’m still atrocious at loving people and my spirit is still far from submissive and gentle.

Who I want to be is a woman I can vaguely see in the distance;
and yet there’s quite a long journey for me to get there, for me to become her.
I haven’t quite figured out how I’ll become her, or how I will sojourn; but I hope that the difference/distance wouldn’t intimidate me, but instead encourage and inspire me.

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+ motives +

Lord,

What am I meant to do with impure motives?

I am grieved over and over. I feel pathetic for the ways I have abused the trust in my relationships for my own selfish gain. 

Lord,

I am sorry for how I feed the wicked desires of my heart; and I know that I suppress the truth for the sake of getting what I want… And I do that very well to the point I don’t think twice about it. 

Lord,

I am sorry for the times that I have failed to love those whom You have commanded me to love. But will I remember these apologies and these tears shed when I awake the next morning? 

Father,

Would you help me not to forget the sins I grieve over but instead ever equip me to notice them and slay them. 

Lord,

I am sorry that I commit shameful crimes and still feel ‘OK’ about them; that I persist in ambitious and destructive ways for my own glory. 

Lord how do I have strength?

How do I have strength to fight my sin and to flee from temptation? 

Lord,

Shall I still pray to you when I know my heart isn’t ‘right’? 

Lord,

Shall I still approach your throne unabashedly in my sin?

Lord,

Shall I mock and make refuse Your splendour, honour and glory by failing to see Your holiness in my arrogance to want what I would want?

Lord,

Shall I foolishly blanket my selfish thoughts and desires with thoughts of ‘Oh but it’ll be better that way anyway, trust me, God!’. As if that would give Your due glory, as if that would acknowledge Your unsearchable sovereignty. 

Lord,

How then shall I pray? Help me not to pray ‘My will first’, but search my heart O Lord, that Your Spirit might show me my sin and my reasons. Help me to love my friends and put their needs above my own. Help me to be praying not only for ‘good things’ but more importantly to trust in Your Sovereign will. For the Lord knows what is the best, for His ways are higher than mine. 

Lord,

Let me confess my selfish desires and impure motives in humble confidence; knowing that nothing can turn Your love away from me and through Christ, I have been graciously made new. 

Whatever it may take.

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+ mobilizing God’s army for the great commission – david platt +

TLDR:
If the thought of giving your life away as a blank cheque is frightening to you, don’t forget who you’re giving the blank cheque to.
If you can trust God to save you, then you can trust God to lead you.

If you can trust God to save you for eternity, then you can trust God to satisfy you on earth.

What we really need to be afraid of is any condition we might put on obedience to God.

 

 

Lord,
If it is Your will, I pray that You would give me courage and boldness so that You may send me.
I ask that You would strengthen me to surrender the things I love and take pleasure in so that I may learn to trust You enough to make decisions like these.

Lord,
Even in these moments, help me to be praying for and thinking of those unreached people groups. I pray that You might help me find contentment in the small things I do, that You may mature me in my thinking and in my faith.

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+ when we were young +

– Adele

Everybody loves the things you do
From the way you talk
To the way you move…
Everybody here is watching you
‘Cause you feel like home
You’re like a dream come true

But if by chance you’re here alone
Can I have a moment?
Before I go?
‘Cause I’ve been by myself all night long
Hoping you’re someone I used to know

You look like a movie
You sound like a song
My God
This reminds me, Of when we were young

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song

I was so scared to face my fears
Cause nobody told me that you’d be here
And I swore you moved overseas
That’s what you said, when you left me

You still look like a movie
You still sound like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song

When we were young…
(When we were young)
When we were young…
(When we were young)

It’s hard to win me back
Everything just takes me back
To when you were there
To when you were there
And a part of me keeps holding on
Just in case it hasn’t gone
I guess I still care
Do you still care?

It was just like a movie
It was just like a song
My God, this reminds me
Of when we were young

When we were young…
(When we were young)
When we were young…
(When we were young)

Let me photograph you in this light
In case it is the last time
That we might be exactly like we were
Before we realized
We were sad of getting old
It made us restless
I’m so mad I’m getting old
It makes me reckless
It was just like a movie
It was just like a song
When we were young

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+ for we ourselves were once – titus 3:3-8 +

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy,

…by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to/having the hope of eternal life.

This saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.

These things are excellent and profitable for people.”

– Titus 3:3-8 (ESV + NIV 1984)

 

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+ adorn +

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

– 1 Peter 3:1-4

“…likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”

– 1 Tim 2:9-10

I struggle with these commands to live as the Bible calls me to; especially when it comes to the ‘beauty’ that women ought to adorn themselves.

I like consider myself as someone who will be fierce to the very end, even if it means that I’ll come through the other end scathed. Culturally that is at the crux of being a ‘Shanghainese woman.’
Peter though tells me that what is very precious to God (what is very precious) is the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.
Oh, how I lack in this regard!

I’m someone that craves attention and longs to be noticed.
And yet the gospel calls me to adorn myself with respectable apparel with modesty and self-control (1 Tim 2:9). I’m used to showing off and showcasing; what a difficultly different way of life that the gospel calls me to.
Along with modesty, self-control; with good works.

Of course this would be what ‘godly women’ look like.
Often I would make narrow the margins of such women, so that I may exclude myself from a group I have esteemed to be ‘incredibly holy’ as if it is a Spiritual gift that God has bestowed upon them.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

Timothy here makes it absolutely clear that this is how I should live because of who I am now.
How I should live because of who I am now.

I am a woman that has been adopted into the kingdom of God by grace and grace alone.
Nothing I have done or will do or could do can diminish God’s love for me in any aspect because Christ’s righteousness has been imputed upon me.
For this reason, I profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and as a result, Timothy instructs me to live a life that is distinctly different from the rest of the world.

What are my excuses, then, for not submitting to these words from God?
What are my excuses, then, for disregarding these instructions on holy living?

I have none.
Christ has died for me, giving His life as a ransom for my many sins.

The rightful response – the only – response would be to live in a way that glorifies my Saviour God.
And how I need His help to do this.

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