27 Aug 2015

Think about it - you may save a life

This morning as I sat with my tea and kaya* toast, I thought once again of two friends who I no longer am able to contact. I have searched for them...but they are now elusive. This isn't the first time I miss people in my life.

Last night when I was at Ang Mo Kio Central, I avoided the huge exhibition on the late Mr LKY.

When you have touched grief, every death reaches a nerve that has been awakened it seems, and it relays quickly to tear ducts and places of loss. It's not a pleasant feeling and I did not want to go there as I am carrying some heartache within.

Eventually though, I walked among the black and white photos, the art pieces, the In-Memory lines penned by those who met, knew, and respected the man.

part of the exhibit at Ang Mo Kio Central Stage

I am not sure if this morning's longing to know if my friends are doing well is connected; but I refused to let my longing go to waste. What was it trying to tell me? This after all, isn't the first time I have longed for my friends.

In this case, these two friends - unconnected with each - had come to me in their time of confusion. They were at a loss about their life and they have tried some pretty rough routes. They were successful in some ways but yet they felt really lost.
I have known them both for years. We were not food or drink buddies and did not have any regular hang out time. One of them lives overseas. I'm probably not the first person they turned to; but along the way, my face and name came to them. As I thought about it, I wondered if they reached out to me perhaps because I was a pastor (even though a young one then).

The memory of their visits returned to me vividly one day. Then years ago I had prayed and left it in God's hands. Today though it seems the Spirit has more to say. As I put myself in their shoes, I realised how sorely disappointed they might have been - because - I could not enter their pain and so failed to offer any real hope. I can see their body language, the many pauses and moments of silence, and yes, the way they left.

Even as I reflected, I feel aware of my emotional state at that time: I was mired in my own struggle and it loomed so large, it was always casting this shadow over me that the Light was not shining freely around. It's hard to see clearly when it's dark and dreary.

As a result, my heart and mind was not engaging the way my friends needed me to.

This morning, this verse came from 1 Peter 1 came to me:

"...prepare your minds for action.."
 "put your mind in gear.."

Interesting that engaging and activating our thoughts is so critical.

Peter is talking about our new future in Christ, building up to His return. The allurements of self and society are many; being faithful and fruitful in our lives requires us putting all our horsepower behind it.

At risk of sounding harsh, sloth is a huge problem for many of us. Otherwise, we are busy over the wrong priorities, such as serving up our opinions on a myriad of things on social media.

What should we apply our minds to?
What should we take time to think about?

2 things:
what is diluting or threatening my identity as God's child
how in my circumstances do I live the new God-given life in Christ.

The answers to these two essential Qs will help move us towards a way of living --
- where we know what matters and what doesn't
- where we realised how immeasurably valued we are that God would send Jesus to die for us
- where what we do now will usher in a whole new existence some day

Back to my friends. I re-imagined the scene. What if we took time to think about how each other is doing, really doing, the world will know a whole new level of peace.

If we dare risk asking the Q: what are you really saying?
If we listen to the heart behind the words.

Instead we live with a lot of assumptions. We assume the family is okay. We assume the church is alright since things are humming along. In some instances, we even pretend; because we have a hunch that things are not fine but we don't feel the energy or motivation to find out the truth.

But imagine if we did.

What will happen if we took some time at the end of each day to reflect on the interactions we had. Perhaps there is someone we need to go back and check on, someone to pray for, some issue to think about. Perhaps we find it's a whole new area we may need to do some research and asking around...Perhaps we will hear fears and anxieties; but we may well hear brilliance, off-beat ideas and passion. Or we may hear pain and frustration, lostness...

...and if we have been preparing our minds, that is to say we have given thought to some of these things in the light of what God has revealed... the Spirit would draw out from the reservoir of our 'homework' and we would have hope to offer.

I cannot roll back the clock. I still hope to locate my friends and apologise for failing them. It is a huge comfort that I can turn to prayer.

You may think I am beating myself up. But this reflection leading to repentance for my self-centredness and my callous attitude towards other's pain is going to save my life and someone else's one day.

I am being saved from a false sense of myself. I see how far I am still from Christ's likeness. This does not make me 'work harder' but turn to God to find security and steadfastness. God is the one who gives the growth and matures us. Our own ideas of growth and transformation are often mixed in with the self's need for attention. No, only God's agenda is pure and true.

I trust that as He does, I will feel and fare differently in the coming days when others turn to me with their need.

* kaya - an Asian bread spread made of eggs, pandan and coconut. yummy! ref: Critical and Explanatory Commentary by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown and published in 1871.


  1. jenni, i definitely believe GOD brings people to mind from former times of ministry if for no other reason than for us to pray for them in a way no one else can. maybe we are meant to find them, but maybe it is impossible. maybe that is what is meant by the term community of faith...even if they haven't come to faith yet. it's hard to know this side of heaven isn't it?

  2. Thank you Martha for this important insight. Bless you.


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