How could You be so gracious.
That each time my questions abound, and I am thrown into a frenzied, corybantic state of confusion,
You lead me back, remind me of one thing, and one purpose above all – that is to know You.
Find myself in You.
The past few days, I had been carrying a very heavy burden in my heart.
So strongly I felt impressed upon me, a calling to go out into the ‘mission field’. Wherever it is, wherever it would be. I couldn’t understand why You would seem to nudge me in these directions, and yet not open the door to go, now. Soon, even. All these signs, all these yearnings. For a few intense moments, I felt like a little bunny running around with a carrot dangling in front of my nose, yet never ever really able to reach it, much less waffle it whole.
Sure, You had been so gracious to let me taste it. Marvel at its orange beauty (very much like the skies You once blessed my eyes to see in June), and these only served to put a deeper longing in my heart. A reason, a purpose. Wasn’t it so, I asked? With all genuinity, in sincerity of my heart. It seemed that it was there in the Land of Smiles, that I found Your ‘purpose’. My ‘calling’.
At first, I had thought it was simply a matter of time, a matter of waiting. Hence the countless reminders, that I must wait, and there is true blessedness in knowing You as I wait.
But today, as I talked through my thoughts with You, as I talked through with one so dear to me, I realized. I realized it was something much deeper.
It was about knowing You.
“The goal of Christianity is not ministry, it is to know Christ intimately”, Timothy Keller once said. I preached that into my heart, I thought I did.
So my thoughts had drifted, immediately, to where I once felt that I had encountered You so incredibly deeply. There, among the children, in the barren school-land, where Your school still stands yet to be built. I see the blueprints, I see the children You are raising for Your Kingdom. I saw, touched, felt, ran in the endless stretch of dewy grass, the gazing mules chewing lazily, and the Sun shone so bright I was completely drenched – the entire place was drenched – in Your sun-lit goodness.
I remember crying, I remember praying so hard, I remember, just how close You seemed to be. If there were any closeness I feel towards You now, that moment, was inexplicably much closer. I am helplessly unable to put that moment into words.
I remember, You had told me so. There is a time when You would guide me through this final term in Durham, there is a time You would see me through my days in teacher training in Singapore, there is a time You would send me out to work in the world, and You would not waste any bit of that time.
The struggles I go through with witnessing here, with having conversations, with thoughts and dreams and desires which now seem so different, so strange, so foreign, so alien to the world. That was what You taught me, didn’t You? You told me a life of following Jesus would be just like that. You had given me, in place of a heart of once-cold stone, a heart of flesh, throbbing, reddened, warmed. Pumping hard and fast and through, like earlier ponderings on the writings of Nouwen on the state of the Christ-centred heart – Beat, pump, receive, send. Beat, pump, receive, send.
Now the world looks at me strangely. It isn’t an easy journey, and that’s put fear in my heart. I had begun to be afraid of what lies ahead. How would I hold my own when I return to a place, once so dear to me, and now foreign in so many ways?
How would I hold my own? Would my dreams – Your dreams – fade away in the midst of worldly concerns, worldly opinions? Would I be swayed? Would I forget how much You meant to me, how much You revealed to me, these four beautiful years in Durham?
I cannot say there is no fear. The fear is there. And the fear grips me.
So I desired that open door. Naïve as it might be, unequipped as I might be, untrained, unprepared… You would equip me if You would send. You had done that for others before me, and You could do that for me. There’s that fine tension. There’s that fine line. Unprepared, but in You, prepared.
When’s the time, LORD? When’s the time? Wasn’t it You who put those desires in my heart? I am sure, I TRUST, You’re not One who puts these in my heart and then tell me No, its not the way You want things to be?
I cried. I teared. This wouldn’t be the You I know. You don’t work that way. You’re not a show-hand, close-hand God. I believe, truly, deeply, sincerely, that Your call, Your beckon had rung aloud so clear. It rings so clear, even now. I fell prostrate before You, limpless, and came round energized like never before. I had found the reason.
That was how I wanted to live my life for You.
And You would open the doors in Your time… wouldn’t You?
And then, this morning. This morning.
I remember, as I trekked up the hill to visit her, I tried to think about what You had been impressing upon me in the days of recent. Burdened… Weary. You would think that that 100 marks would have made me rejoice and clap my hands. No. I found myself unable to. At first, only a few knew. Now, you must know, too. A 50 would have brought equal joy to me, 50, 100… these made no difference. I found no joy in that anymore. I could not. If it had been a fail… that might have just brought the greatest joy to me. That had always been my silent prayer. If anything on this path doesn’t work out, I’d dive headfirst into ‘the field’. Clear calling. Green Light. Speed. Go.
But, no. Again and again, You tell me: “Wait”.
That 100 marks, was You telling me, Wait.
What was this burden I had been carrying on my shoulders? I had learnt so deeply that there was no greater joy, indeed NO JOY, outside of knowing, loving, serving Jesus. That was what I felt called to do, what I had to do, where I could meet You so dear. I wanted to go so much. I wanted to break away from this all. When is, when would be, when You would open the door to go? That, and all the multitudes of life decisions which came with it? What was this heavy burden I had been carrying, and that persistent message You tried to work in my heart, to let things go and to find true rest in You? I could not understand. Perhaps I refused to understand.
Then You brought this to mind.
There is None who could ever love like You do.
I remembered the time You had romanced me, as I walked the streets of Montmartre three years ago. The rest were having a second round of duck confit and escargots, and I did not want any. I wanted time with You, and so I took to the streets in solitude. Gone are the days when I had loved to travel. Those cities, enigmatic to me… I had seen enough of what I felt I wanted to see. You used those times well – if I had not been to Bosnia-Herzegovina, I would not been able to relate to Dorina on the streets, to get closer, to understand her homesickness and her pain. You’ve changed my heart. Money could be spent more meaningfully, for others, for Your kingdom. For Gospel work. So that is where my money went. Some understood, many didn’t. Only Your grace alone would move my heart in this manner, for if not, my totally depraved self would have pulled me in an entirely different direction altogether. Gone are the days of mindless, selfish, purposeless travel. I saw no reason. That’d be for the rest of my earthly life, til I meet You in glory.
I wanted to leave this altogether; I wanted to run. I loved You, I yearned to do what You would have me do – GO TELL THE WORLD OF YOUR LOVE, You said – and I wanted to leave, and Go.
It wasn’t a “LORD, I’m willing to go.” It was a “LORD, I am going. Now tell me when.”
All of a sudden, I remembered that moment in Montmartre. When I met You.
Then again, in the June 2011 summer house on the church weekend away. There in the hills, I met You.
Just like I did when I sat at the top of Durham, and You told me “Be still, and know that I am God”, and that changed the rest of my life here in Durham, forever. That Easter term. Four years have passed so quickly, haven’t they, my Lord?
In these times, ‘L’amourese’ rang beautifully in my ears. It was Your love song to me.
There was You, and there was me.
I felt beautiful. You made me beautiful in Christ.
There was, is, no deeper, greater Joy in knowing You, Loving You, serving You.
You are God, and I am Your Beloved.
So I wondered why You would bring that song to mind.
And then, a couple of moments later, I had my answer.
Strange, this. I had arrived early on the hill, and You made me pause in my tracks.
I stopped, looked up, and stared. The Wednesday skies were moving, shifting, metamorphosing, drifting, beautiful.
I remembered, You are God, and I am but dust.
How Great are You, LORD! And what is mere man, that You should even look at him!
A deep embrace, a welcome.
In that little warm apartment, I sat, and we began with a quiet prayer.
Like a flood unleashed, bursting through the gates which had held fast, the words tumbled forth from my heart. The yearnings came. They came, and they conveyed I was frantic, I was lost, I was confused.
Why? Why not? Could He? Would He? How could He?
And yet, she could tell, it was because, I loved Him.
I loved Him dearly, and that was why I felt, thought, reasoned, spoke.
I was helpless. “LORD, why?”
And with great patience, she, she whom You had so graciously blessed me with, listened deeply. And she spoke.
She spoke the words You had for me.
God doesn’t put desires in your heart and take them away. Missions, a Christ-centred endeavour. It could not surely have come from the devil. God put them there, and there’s no place for the devil. I believe, they are surely, surely God-led.
I breathed. I rested. I saw truth in her words; they resonated my own.
What do you think you are going through now? Is it not a test that He is preparing you for, dear child? Is it not a test, and that you must expect that He would continue to test you?
Is this not a glimpse into how it’d be like in Singapore?
This is a time of great testing. Your dreams for Him, they must go through the test of time, they must stand the test of time. This is how your faith for Him would be refined as fire. Think of Abraham and Issac. The object of sacrifice – Isaac – did not matter. God wanted Abraham’s heart.
Above all things. He wanted Abraham’s heart.
I thought to the moments I’d had with You on the hill. Lots of little papers, little notes, hidden and wedged between precious stone, answers to be revealed in Your time.
When you return to Singapore, the tests will be there. And you must – you will – be triumphant.
Your faith must be tested. It must be refined like fire. You are going through a test now. And you must survive this. You must survive what He’s letting you go through now.
I thank Jesus, that He is the Author and Perfector of my faith. In His Strength, I find my own.
But LORD, this are my best years! My youth! ‘Remember Your creator in the days of your youth’, You said! Here I am! My youth! My years! My life!
I even told Him, I would die for Him. I would give my all.
Don’t You want to use me now, LORD? Isn’t it a great time to send me into the field? I could do so many things for You! Why not now?
Because, My child, I want your heart.
Your heart, not for the work that you desire to do for Me,
Not for what you are willing to give up to follow Me.
I simply want this,
Even if you are doing a little thing, or nothing for Me at all.
I simply want your heart.
It was then that I understood.
I desired for my life to have so much Meaning. Having found You, I thought I understood what it meant to have a meaningful life. It would be one led for You, it would be one consecrated entirely unto You. My self, my strength, my youth, my time, my energy, my all. And so it seemed that in giving myself wholeheartedly into missions, I would be living life meaningfully, for You.
Made sense, did it not seem to?
I should not be desiring to lead a meaningful life for You. Above and beyond that, I must remember that I live,
To Know You.
There is a subtle, but very, very huge difference.
I could have gotten so lost in the business of what, when, how I wanted to sacrifice myself for You, that I forgot why I wanted to sacrifice these in the first place.
I wonder if you understand.
There is a difference.
You don’t want my passion for my work (that is work for You), You don’t want my time, my youth, my strength, my wisdom, much as I want to give these to You.
You just want my heart. A simple, trusting heart, that You know what’s best.
And You tell me this: To Bloom where I am planted.
I think I understand now.
I became quiet.
I understand now.
God has made me a flower.
Flowers, they look lovely don’t they, as one clothed in Jesus, as one filled with Jesus.
But sometimes flowers don’t seem to anything, do you understand? Sometimes flowers are just there. Sometimes they’re really useless, when you think of it. I’d rather be the soil, I say. At least I can nourish something, I can help something grow. Flowers? They simply exist. They don’t seem to do anything.
I remember that this is the LORD’s field. I would never find myself outside of His will.
And God has just told me: I have made you a flower now. So do what a flower does.
Walk with Me, and I will show you.
Do not worry, do not think ahead, do not worry about the future, or how I have planned for you to serve in My Kingdom.
I know what is Best. And here. Take My hand (I will take yours), and walk with Me.
And I will show you.
Don’t worry, don’t be frantic, don’t think ahead, don’t worry ahead. Don’t be frustrated. Don’t be worried.
Where I have planted you now,
and wherever I will plant you,
Trust Me, and
As I conversed with her, things became clearer, much more and ever clearer to me.
Has not God been good to allow you to do what you love, when you do return to Singapore? Had He not given you a glimpse into serving in the field, in the in-betweens? Has He not placed you among your sisters – Chinese, Filipina, Indonesia, all races, all ages! – to love? Isn’t that missions in and of itself? Is that not God’s work? Has He not placed the aunties you see in the workplace, everywhere – in MOE, in NIE, in PSB, everywhere – in your path, to love? Has He not kept Aunty Guizi waiting for you, as you begin to school in the summer? You just sent her a card last week, pictures of you, her and Elder Mei Li – how could you leave and not say anything? How could all of these have been a coincidence? Had He not planned these? Has He not been good, to allow you to do, just what you love for Him?
What about even as you are here in Durham? Your Chinese sisters? Your unbelieving friends? Your sisters? Your teachers? People you don’t even know?
Bloom where you are planted.
That a Sovereign and Loving God would even rescue me from the crutches of eternal hell. Me in my utter wretchedness, me in whom the spiritual battle and war wages daily against sinful flesh, me in my total depravity.
me who is but dust.
AND THAT HE SHOULD DECIDE TO USE ME… Well, the truth is this: He could well do ALL OF THESE without me. He could rescue every single child in Cambodia. He would be the One watching them grow up, grow in Him. He could move them towards Him without my being there. How He could accomplish ten billion trillion things in a moment more than I could in a lifetime. He could move the mountains and the valleys and unearth the whole earth the entire universe the entire galaxy and HE DOES NOT EVEN NEED TO INVOLVE ME!
And here I was! Thinking how ‘useful’ I would, could be for His Kingdom! And wondering why He would decide ‘not to use’ me there now! And being so impatient! And fidgety! And being so confused!
What a stark revelation.
A stark reminder.
I loved God dearly… but I loved Him so dearly that I forgot that all He wanted was my trusting Love. And that was enough for Him.
I do not earn my way into His Kingdom at all – that for me is impossible, and Christ has done ALL that is needed. Yet not my work, not what I could do for Him, not my time, not my youth, not my energy, not my strength…
Just Knowing Him. Loving Him. Marvelling at Him. Praising Him.
Resting in my Abba Father.
In worship, in gladful praise, in heartened thanksgiving. For what He has done for me in Christ Jesus.
Just my heart, surrendered unto Him.
That was all God wanted from me.
My yielded heart.
That He knows Best. That He really, truly does know best.
Knowing these, realizing these,
Has helped me to keep a quiet heart.
A heart surrendered, a heart calmed. A heart, finally at peace.
I would bloom where He would plant me.
I don’t know. I don’t know how, I don’t know where, I don’t know when.
But I’ll walk with my LORD.
I would love Him with my heart.
And that’s walking in obedience, even if I cannot understand.
And that is all there is.
“AND THE LORD SHALL GUIDE THEE CONTINUALLY”
And to which He added a second promise,
“I WILL NEVER LEAVE THEE NOR FORSAKE THEE”
I took a long winding path, you see.
I took a long winding path which took me in swirls and meanders and twirls and whirls…
But I have finally found Peace.
As I walked home from her place, as we closed in a blessed time of surrendered prayer and praise, I threaded up my little hill. Our hill. Yours, and mine. I emerged underneath the gentle shade of arched leaves, and as the path before me lit up again, You tell me this, “The future will be glorious.” Joyous, I ran to the very top of the hill, consecrated myself, and rededicated myself unto You. I had found it harder in the past days, to rejoice at the beauty around me. The light that shone so incredibly brightly on me but which I could not find my smile, because I thought I would only be able to smile elsewhere. Today. When those towering, skeletal branches which marked the cold winter greeted me, I watched them and I rejoiced again. I could see, I could wonder, I could love Durham in all its beauty. Again.
You have planted me here.
And it is here for now, where I would bloom for You.
Running speedily down from the hill, I came across a little old lady heading home. Compelled, I called out “I just wanted to say, God loves you!” in a cheeriness I knew, which came from You. She looked back, and she waved, and smiled and watched me as I weaved my way through the garden. Real joy, there was. Real joy. I think she might have found You, too 🙂
I skipped all the way home. My heart leapt, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I couldn’t stop grinning. It wasn’t myself.
It was You.
And I had finally, finally, truly understood.
Here’s my heart, LORD. My heart for missions. Take it, and do as You wish.
You know Best.
I desire to know You. And that’s all that’s important.
Take me, lead me, where You will.
And Because I Love You,
Wherever You plant me,
I shall Bloom.
I shall bloom for You.
and only then,
may Your flower
so begin to
There’s no fear, no longer.
The Battle is the LORD’s, and in Christ, I have the Victory!
My LORD is with me!
So this, in jubilant song! 😀
It is incredibly lovely in the Acapella!