A Victim into Victor: When You Can’t Trace God’s Hands, Trust His Heart

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And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:10

Not so long ago, there was a continuous spate of events about the breakdown of our local train made me realised that humans grumbled a lot when they encountered the inconveniences of disruptions. Regarded in the same light, we are also quick and inclined to throw a fist at God for the one thing that caused us great disappointment or anger, yet we failed to count the times God has blessed us with so much more. Just one setback can discount everything else.

When things aren’t going in our favour, we are susceptible to strike a protest or stage a long-drawn  rebellion. And before long, we spiralled down to a spiritual “black-hole”. The truth of the matter is, there is always a cause and effect in everything – it all start with an incidence that provoke a thought to engender a decision which in turn evoke our emotion and lead us to an action. Don’t belittle even the little thing because it is often the little foxes that spoilt the vineyards (Song of Solomon 2:15). A small spark is capable to set an entire forest on fire. (James 3:5B)

I once was on a rampage why life was so unfair to me. I felt coerced having to accept my “ill fate” that I did not deserve. Broken dreams broke my heart, so much that I came to hate this God who claimed He was good and everything was in His control. I had been cussing vehemently, “What a joke! There is NO God.” I was so broken that God actually came in person- In a deliverance session of dealing with my deepest pain, I saw myself as a three year old lost, enshrouded in darkness and wailing away. At that instance, Jesus came smiling, held my hand to comfort me and led me out of that darkness. As the back view of the two silhouettes dimmed away, I found my heart touched in a very supernatural way in showing me how much I was loved that He came to lead me out of that black-hole. That was my personal encounter with a living God that I could not deny His existence. That was how God got my little fox- it was the aching void of rejection in the need to be loved.

We all had our past, our former way of life with old mindsets and belief systems. And life in the fallen nature has us on roller-coaster from time to time. Although we may have accepted Jesus into our lives which already marked a new beginning, but some of us are still living with foxes that are nestling in deep burrows. The quality of our lives now reveal traces of what had been once-upon-a-time.

Hollow out the little sly fox(es). Jesus is very near to the broken-hearted. When we can’t trace HIs Hands in whatever situation we are in, we can trust His Heart no matter how you feel. A victim by exigencies can become a Victor by overcoming.

P.S. Today is Good Friday, let’s look at the Cross, again, the horizontal beam demonstrates how wide is His Love and the vertical beam shows how deep is His Grace. And when the two beams intersect in the middle, God affirms that nothing can separate us from the Love of God, no matter how far and how deep we have wandered. Because of His Greatest Sacrifice sending Jesus nailed on the Cross, there is no redemption beyond the impossible. Jesus bore our transgressions, carried the cross for our shame and sting by painful rejection from His own Father, yet He was willing to lay down His Life for our sake, so that we can live. Shouldn’t that give you reasons enough to hand to Him what you can’t handle? Shouldn’t that teach us not to take His Grace for granted?

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Trials into Triumphs: Fear to Faith

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My life is in your hands. Save me from enemies who hunt me down. – Psalm 31:15 CEV

I ever wondered why some of us do struggle with trusting our Heavenly Father with our lives when we can entrust our own mortality to pilots who take us across bottomless oceans and precipitous mountains. Those who love to travel have this unspoken assurance and faith that the planes they are in will arrive at their destinations safely. Such is an absolute trust in finite pilots behind the wheels, but yet we fall short in trusting God altogether who is infinite and in control of the entire universe.

I am one such traveller who is apprehensive about taking flight. I really do not like the idea of floating in mid-air for hours, I felt as if my heart may pop out of my mouth any time, hence, I never get to enjoy the flight with ease. However, I do love the destination. Regrettably, in order to get to the destination, we need to embark on the journey whether we like it or not, and the road ahead is often paved with uncertainties of what is yet to come.

And truth be told, life is never perfect nor free from trials and testings. Many a times we made zig-zag turns or even u-turns in life that mess up our lives. As a result, we unwittingly enter into the wilderness or even the Valley of Baka (weeping). During those times of testings, it is human nature for believers to struggle even in our faith. Trials can incapacitate us with fears physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially, relationally and mentally.

Yet the place of our greatest triumph is usually birthed from our greatest pain- God will use our greatest failure or deepest sorrow as a catalyst for a glorifying end in our lives and the lives of others. Our valley or pit becomes revived springs for ourselves and others, where we will go from strength to strength (Psalm 84:6). Only through ‘death’ can new springs come forth and a new strength emerges.

Recall Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane, pleading at the feet of the only One who can sustain him. How deep was His anguish that He even shed tears in blood. Even to death, Jesus submitted to His Father’s Will obediently (Hebrews 5:8). Ultimately, He overcame His testing, triumphed over His enemies and emerged victoriously.

It takes fear to confront Faith;

It takes Faith to conquer Fear.

Faith and fear cannot co-exist in the same plane.

Only through partnering God, can we be overcomer like Jesus did. (John 16:33) Take heart that in all things God works for good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

A Mess Into A Message: Your Story Is HIStory (“HIs-Story”)

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They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. – Psalm 105:18-19 NLT

In the earlier days as a new believer, I saw myself in a few visions where I stood before a congregation to share about God. Lo and behold, I was requested to share my testimony for a session, “Faith To Heal The Wounded Soul” at my church’s Women’s Encounter. I had to muster enough courage to stand ‘naked’ before an audience of unfamiliar faces just to relate my checkered past. At some point in life, I really hate my life, I always begrudged why my life was beset with issues and challenges that were hard to bear. My life was such a mess up- a broken home, broken body, broken life and broken dreams- health crisis, identity crisis, financial crisis, and family crisis, I had been through them all. I did wonder would my life turn out differently if I have known Jesus much earlier…… If only I stop being so obstinate, I would have avoided much hard knocks of life and saved myself from much bruises and injuries. Perhaps, I am bearing the consequences of my own rebellion and bad choices.

But I must brutally confessed that it is better to go through life with God than without Him. Life will be more bearable with an Almighty than to shoulder it alone.

And my story is HIStory (“HIs-Story”), that took me years of broken dreams and humble circumstances in order to break every ounce of pride and self-will, to come to the end of myself.

If you ever wonder why life can be a series of mess- adversity of failing health, failed career, failed finances, failed relationships, and broken dreams?

Ever wonder why are we on earth for, having to go through such crises in certain seasons of our lives?

Ever wonder why must we go through storms of life?

And ever wonder if we took one wrong turn, we have missed out God’s Best?

Even after much wrestling with God, we can never seem to find those answers with bended fists, brandished arms and clenched teeth. Most of life’s difficult questions are best answered when we go through things that try us the most, for those are the things that God allow to prove by the truth of the Word of God and His Sovereignty. And there is always Light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long, His purposes will always prevail. God certainly desire us to be freed, if only we allow Him a free rein in our lives- changes can only happen when we embrace them openly.

We are made for more than just managing problems in life, that whatever we are going through act as catalysts in experiencing God’s Purposes, Grace, Power and Glory, that unfold a greater story. And the good news is, even if we missed an opportunity, took the wrong turn or made a wrong decision, “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me” (Psalm 138:8). God is much bigger than our disobedience or mis-calculation on our part, isn’t that comforting to know our entire life won’t be thrown off course? Everything in life has His gentle Handprints, but you hold the pen to your story.

Some of the staunchest Christians I know are people who had periods in their life when they questioned the Bible, Christ, and God.  But as they continued to examine the matter, there was overwhelming evidence that only “the fool hath said in his heart, there is not God.” In God’s economy, you must go down into the shadow of grief before you can scale the heights of spiritual glory. You must come to the end of self before you begin to live. When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.

– Billy Graham

When A Dream That Seems Too Big To Even Dream

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“When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.'” – Judges 6:12

A few friends ever asked why I quitted my job to come out of my own eight years ago when it had been comfortable and I loved what I was doing then. Honestly, I didn’t plan for it, nor even dream about starting on my own, as such a decision to face an uncertain future unnerved me. Somehow an opportunity presented itself then, and after weighing the decision with my cell leader and the Body of Christ, I embarked on the entrepreneurship journey with peace of mind.

However that decision did not come easy, given that it would be an uphill task for me with my present physical limitation, and having to venture into the unknown left me feeling insecure and apprehensive. It was indeed a huge step of faith to take the leap: I had no back-up plans, no blueprint to follow, neither did I have a very sound financial safety net to fall back on should my business encounter some financial hiccups. I literally started on ground zero. Despite all odds, I believed that so long God was with me in this, and had commissioned me for such an assignment, He would provide and supply the means to get me through.

It was a great paradigm shift from being an employee to a self-employed, where more challenges await and fear of the unknown beckoning. I couldn’t count the number of times I felt intimidated, inadequate and unfledged. More often than not, I had been threading on a very thin tight rope, ready to topple any time.

At some point in time, I often remind myself if I can accomplish things in my own strength, where would that leave God? God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called, as such, He requires of us to be in a position of complete faith and trust in Him, more than we could possibly accomplish in our own strength.

That brought me to the story of Gideon (Judges 6:11-8:32). Gideon perceived himself to be the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh and the least in his family, that his own inferiority caused him to be insecure about his divine calling. Even when the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior”. Gideon was threshing wheat instead of rising up to the call to deliver Isreal as the Lord had appointed him. God had to assure him personally and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (v. 14)

God knows our own limitations and how much we can do but He always sees our potential, not the failures of our past or present, nor our current “handicaps”. Only He can see our future, ushering us in His Highest Plans for our ultimate good and for His Highest Glory. He desires to work through us to accomplish His dreams on earth only each of us can do.

Is God birthing a dream within you that is bigger than you? God doesn’t put a dream in you without a purpose. Much less to say, He won’t put you through what you cannot handle. Our life on earth is exceedingly fleeting, be mindful that we may be missing out what God has intended for us. So be open and let God lead you through that vision or dream.

Problems. You Have Not Reached Your Limit Yet!

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Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways. – Proverbs 20:30 GN

A threesome conversation with friends on how our flesh becomes flabby as we age, that we burst into laughter when we were jesting about how soft our “chicken wings” (the area where biceps is located) are. It is a sad reality that women are more prone to donning “butterfly sleeves” if we do not exercise our arms.

I trained with weights almost every day in order to maintain the toned muscles I had painstakingly built since my younger athletic days. (P.S. Trust me, I am not motivated to exercise all the time when I had my times of lethargy, busyness and moodiness. I would try to find lame excuses to resist training….) It takes daily discipline (certainly a lot of dying to the self) and resolution to take the grind. Just as the adage that goes, “No pain, no gain.”

Weights build resistance. By adding more weights to our training, pressure are applied to our resistance which help to stretch our muscles further. Our muscles are stretched every time we add pressure and our resistance gets better with each intensity. As a result, our muscles are toned according to the weight we can handle.

In the same context, pressures of life, problems, challenges, stresses, troubles and trials help to train us towards building stronger faith-muscles, higher resilience and better character. The more intensified our training, the greater the reward to God’s Glory.

Here are some of God’s purposes in our problems to train us:

We can rejoice when we run into problems they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady (Romans 5:3-4, LB). training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. (Titus 2:12)

  1. They are opportunities to stretch our limits and to rely on Him to help;
  2. They add spiritual dimension to our faith;
  3. They are test to reveal our heart and purify our motives;
  4. They offer difference experiences in order to break down our wrong values and belief system in order to change our perspectives and our heartitude (heart and attitude) for renewal;
  5. They help to direct us when we derail from His plans for us or we are threading on dangerous grounds;
  6. They are showcases for God’s testimonies when we overcome them.
  7. They are temporary and can’t be compared to the eternal glory that outweigh them all.

Remember that God is much more interested in our character than our comfort; He is more concerned how we journey in our race than how well we started or how far we go. He will use trials to refine our character, and until we have learnt what we need to learn, God will always bring back the same issue again (and again…). What is God speaking to you through your problem or situation today?

“Problems are inevitable, but suffering is optional.”, for we have the Holy Spirit living inside us to help us.

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)

Turning Over The Key Of Ownership

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“It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me!” – Galatians 2:20

The above verse used to be the mandate for my previous cell group many years ago. I observed the preposition ‘in’, holds the key to a breakthrough we need in our lives- we have Christ who lives in us!

Many of us can’t seem to stop worrying, kick certain bad habits, stop throwing temper, or to forgive a person who hurt us, simply because we hold on to a key that we have refused to turn it over to Christ because: (a) we think, “I have the right to do so……”, or (b) we have allowed the self to take control instead.

Now you see who rules with authority? The culprit is the big “I”, who holds the ‘key of ownership’, allowing one to rule with authority.

Many of us fail to live out this truth which has the power to: deliver us from challenges, restore a dying faith, overcome fears, ignite a lost hope, accomplish great plans God has for us, realise the Promises of God, grow in Christlikeness, and many other living power of Christ, through the Holy Spirit.

The moment you deny the self (and all the rights), let go of this ownership, and let God, only then can Christ rule and reign. He lives within you- in you to be precise! It is no longer “I” who live, but Christ.

The Pain Of Denial (Part 1)

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P.S. I will be sharing in parts as it will be too much to share at one time. I was prompted to share my convictions, and hope by sharing this entry in my own spiritual journal, it will bring illumination in a new light.

“If any man will come after me, let him (a) DENY himself, and (b) take up his cross DAILY, and follow me.” – Luke 9:23 KJV. 

We all have heard this verse far too many times. If we are honest, we also switch off many times. This has been the mandate of my previous cell at one time till a time it became alive to me– I went through a very difficult transition in my life two years ago when I was impacted with a physical condition, although not life-threatening, that a surgery could not fix and a healing miracle seemed implausible — Dashed dreams. Crushed hope. Wretched self. Menacing fears.

The first few weeks upon receiving the check-up report, I wasn’t able to worship in church– I was incapacitated to sing nor clap along. All in my mind was, “Why??” and “God, where are you?” My ex-G12 cell and my mentor had showered me with inordinate amount of concern, but I wasn’t grateful. I just wanted to be left alone as I justified the rights to my disappointments and lamely to confess my anger with God too. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to attend the weekly G12 meetings, and I even withdrew myself from the cell. But to my surprise, I couldn’t abandon my open cell that I had to lead every Friday. I still fulfilled my duty, shared the Word, and put on smiles (though I was struggling very badly as if a hypocrite).

Was I wearing a mask with my open cell? No. It was one method that helped me- “Deny myself.”

I couldn’t count the number of times “I didn’t FEEL up to it or FEEL like to”, “I didn’t WANT to…”, “I hate to be forced to…”, “I have the RIGHTS to…” I merely trying to cook up excuses as justified reasons. Till I came to a point that I realised I was actually very self-centered, very consumed with “I, me, myself” and very inwards-looking, focusing on myself only. I put my feelings and emotions before God as how I feel and what I want is more important than Him. It was a constant battle to deny, deny, deny, deny myself in the pit. It was even a scarier experience when I was enshrouded with darkness, alone, and found myself drifting away spiritually over six months. I was aware of such a downwards spiral, but I refused to yield as I was wrestling with God like Jacob. What really jolted me was- I began to lose myself while threading on a very thin tightrope, and any moment longer, I think I had tipped to the other side. That was unthinkably scary.

So how did I climb out of the pit, and back to the Cross? I have to simply keep denying myself daily, yes, EVERY DAY- deny my mood for the day, deny my emotions, deny my rights, deny my will, even to denying my convenience (my own time, my own pace, my own freedom…), and surrender to the Cross.

If we are honest with ourselves, it is by NATURE we follow what our flesh leads us. It is unnatural for us to contradict our flesh and that takes SUPERNATURAL intervention with the help of the Spirit. Aside to taking action to deny the self, we can draw reinforced strength from these verses:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. – Galatians 5:16-17

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:7-8

There is no change in my physical condition, but I had stopped asking all the whys because there will never be any answer- and who am I to question the Sovereignty? It was a decision whether to continue rotting by being my own god or to let go of all and let God be God. And letting go doesn’t mean to remain status quo. Just like bible says, “Faith without action is dead”, so I had to force myself since it is unnaturally of me to crucify my flesh to weaken its desires. It is simply to put to action in denying myself.

No doubt it is an uphill task because our flesh gets stronger when our Spirit is quenched by sins. It is a humbling experience to call upon God for help in this area.

So first thing first, get right with God. Face it honestly- Overcome it with God far easier and better than letting what consumed you and lose yourself.