Sunday, 24 January 2016

The fools who let down their fences

We build fences.
The enemy claws at the door of our hearts,
Longing to know our weakness(es),
Eager to strike us with a blow.

We build fences.
Our allies send their spies to camp at our gates,
On a lookout for hidden treasures (if any),
Their ships ready to sail the opposite direction.

We build fences.
The people we love embrace our insecurities;
But they are the ones, who could kill,
If they (unintentionally) strangle us.

We build fences.
We know we are nothing more than weak humans;
And if we let our fears creep in,
It could rob us of our sanity, of everything we are defending.

We will let down our fences!
Everyone! let down your fences!
What we’re hiding merely makes us human…

We are the fools who let down our fences.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Blessed 4th anniversary, my dear

I remember the day that we got together (exactly 4 years ago). I don’t know about you, but I was hella uncertain. It was the year of our “A” Level Examination. I remember entering Junior College with the sole purpose of excelling in my studies. Yes, I didn’t see that coming. I didn’t see you coming. It’s not that I didn’t have any interest in you, or dating. It was more than 2 years since I started having a crush on you. It was just that I didn’t expect anything to blossom out of my unrequited infatuation. Lo and behold, at the dawn of our “A” Level year, you finally began to drop signs of interest.

When you reciprocated to my impulsive confession, I was (to be honest) in a lost. Of course, because I didn’t want to jeopardise what we had, I didn’t tell you how I was feeling. I was euphoric, indeed, but I was at the same time anxious, apprehensive and unconfident. What if he’s not the one for me? What if we end up arguing a lot? What if this relationship doesn’t work out? What if it affects my studies? These were just a few of the many questions that I was bombarded with. After all, I was only 18.

The first person that I confided in was my dad. (Yes, even after we got together, I wasn’t confident in approaching the relationship hand-in-hand with you. I had always relied on my dad’s counsel and I couldn’t let go of the hands that walked me through the 18 years of my life. You knew it too. It wasn’t wrong, I know, but it was hard for you because it seemed like I didn’t trust your leadership.) To my surprise, instead of a relentless opposition, my dad encouraged me to pursue my heart’s desire with wisdom and discernment.

That is how I decided to embark on this ambiguous journey with you – young, inexperienced and full of doubt. The first few months of the relationship were characterised by sugarcoated words, passionate glances and generous gifts. It was as though we could conquer the world – just you and I. That confidence didn’t last too long, though.

The sugar fell off, the passion died down, and the generosity ran dry. Of course, there were still many moments of bliss; but the subsequent months were characterised by petty arguments, irrational insecurities and selfish pride. There were occasions when I was compelled to throw my hands up and walk right out – it was difficult. It was for you, too. And probably even more. Arguments that lasted till dawn when we had exams the next day. Yelling at each other like we hated, rather than loved, each other. Refusing to say sorry until tears were spilled and angry words were lashed out (words that once said, can never ever be taken back). That was the reality of our relationship. Behind the fa├žade of adorable pictures and corny captions, we were oftentimes on the verge of breaking down.

I remember the lesson that you shared in cell group about relationships years ago. I remember the analogy of the triangle. The closer the man and woman in the relationship are to God, the closer they will be to each other.

This kept me going throughout the entire period of trial. This kept us going. Whenever we were plagued with arguments, we would (try our best albeit sometimes failing to) pause for a moment and seek God. Miraculously, by His abundant grace and mercies, we tided through argument-by-argument, and misunderstanding-by-misunderstanding. We never once allowed our anger towards each other to last till the following day. (Ephesians 4:26)

4 years of putting up with my immaturity, self-centeredness and insecurities must have been a chore to you. I won’t lie – it was tough putting up with certain aspects of you, as well. And I won’t lie again that throughout the 4 years there were (still) many moments of uncertainty. You always tell me how you would never want to be with anyone else. You always tell me how you can’t wait to make me your bride. You always tell me how you are so certain that I am the perfect one for you. Each time you said that, a small part of me felt unworthy and undeserving. I was already sure that I love you with my whole heart. I was already sure that no one could be more perfect for me than you are. Yet, I was afraid of commitment. I was afraid of letting go of the hands that walked me through my adolescence and teenage years, just to hold on the hands of a man that I’ve (truly) known for a couple of years.

Today, on the 4th anniversary of our relationship, I want to tell you that I’m finally no longer afraid.

In the same lesson that you shared about relationships, you said that a godly man must fulfill the roles of priest, prophet, protector and provider to his woman. Because of your fervent prayers of intercessions, I am constantly encouraged in faith – priest. Because you seek to love me like Christ loves the church, I see a glimpse of His faithfulness – prophet. Because you care for my emotional, physical and mental well being more than that of your own, I am safe in your embrace – protector. Because you look out for all of my needs, I am fully satisfied with being yours, and yours alone – provider.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For it they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Thank you for lifting me up. Thank for your keeping me warm. Thank you for standing by my side. I am now ready to hold on to your hands and trust your leadership, wherever you will take me.

Blessed 4th Anniversary, my dear.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Why the wilderness?

The thought of the wilderness sends shivers down my spine. It is a place where you’re isolated from the rest of the world. You walk on and on, clinging on to the desperate hope that you will make it out. Day by day, your legs start to give way, your throat is parched, the hunger pangs start eating you away – your resolve, your hope, and then, your sanity. I don’t ever want to go to the wilderness. I don’t ever want to go back.

But I know, I know, there will be a day that I will be thrown back into the labyrinth – it might not be the same one, maybe one that’s even more agonising. Each day that passes is a day closer to the wilderness. I’m afraid. I’m in dread. And I know you are, too.

2014 was, and still is, the worst year of my entire life – albeit not a very long one. They say that there is always a rainbow after the rain. For me, it seemed like the rainbow came before the rain. No, before the damned thunderstorm. My life was rainbows and butterflies. And when its rainbows and butterflies, you get comfortable, you get confident, and you raise your expectations. What came after the rainbow made me never ever dare to set high expectations for myself. (Yes, not even today. You’ll never hear me say, “I can do it.”)

But what you’ll hear me say is, “I think I understand why the wilderness.”

1. To prepare you for the promise land

“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.” 
- Exodus 13:17-18 

While 2014 was the worst year of my life, I can now confidently proclaim that I am – at where I am right now – the happiest that I have ever been. And that is because of the wilderness. The wilderness that stripped me naked, revealed my insecurities, and left me with almost nothing. I would never have thought that I could one day look back and be grateful for it. But here I am today, saying that I understand. I understand why I had to be thrown into it. I understand.

When I was in the wilderness, I gave up all hopes of the promise land. All I wanted to do was to get out. Yet, here I am today, with nothing in my pocket, in my promise land. I made it.

Yes, if I had arrived at where I am today without walking through the wilderness, I would probably have accomplished more (materially), been more self-assured, less emotional and less pessimistic. But of all things, I wouldn’t have been joyful. When I say that I am the happiest that I have ever been, I do not mean that the flowers in my garden are in full bloom. I do not mean that my harvest is ripe. I do not mean that I am confident of tomorrow. What I mean is that I have understood what it means to be happy despite adverse circumstances.

The promise land is not void of war, famine and droughts. I would not have been worthy of the promise land if not for the wilderness. I wouldn’t have learned courage, faith and perseverance. I wouldn’t have been in a place of joy, despite living in the promise land. I would have been living in fear, afraid of the Canaanites. The wilderness prepared me for the promise land.

2. To discipline and to humble

“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell this forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you.” 
- Deuteronomy 8:2-5

The promise land is called the promise land because it is promised. Obvious as it is, I couldn’t comprehend. And neither could the Israelites. God had opened up the red sea and brought me into a place of grace. I experienced it first hand, saw it with my own eyes, and knew that the rainbows and butterflies were absolutely undeserved. Somehow, despite having experienced His faithfulness, my complacency got the better of me. “I can do it. I can do it. I must do it.” I became ambitious, I worked hard, and then I became afraid. Insecure. “What if I can’t do it? What if I can’t do it?!” It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. 2014. I went hysterical when everything came crashing down. I lost it, as soon as I stepped into the wilderness.

“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.” 
- Exodus 13:21 

“For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.” 
- Deuteronomy 2:7 

And it was in the wilderness that I, step by step, learned to rely on Him. With absolutely nothing, I was forced to rely on His providence. Finally, I realised that He was all I ever needed. And it was the moment that I realised, that I took my first step into the promise land.

3. To remind us of God’s faithfulness

“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His rules and His statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.” 
- Deuteronomy 2:11-16 

Here and then, I tend to catch myself off guard. I get complacent, again, now that I’m in the promise land. But then, I remember the wilderness and His faithfulness and how I would never have been where I am today, and who I am today, if not for His grace and mercy.

If you’re in the wilderness today, Jesus understands you. He was thrown into the most tormenting wilderness that could ever exist – the cross. And because of His wilderness, we can have courage when we walk through our wilderness. We can have the certainty that the promise land is what lies ahead.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

I need a hope

I want to fly.
I want to soar like the eagle,
My playground is the limitless sky.

My heart burns with fury.
The justice of the world,
Not in my hands but that of the jury.

I want to know.
The well-kept secrets,
That the world is ever shy to show.

I want to love.
Stretch out my selfish arms,
To the unloved who (too) came from above.

I need a hope.
My dreams are ever before me,
Only seen through a telescope.

I need a hope.
I need You.
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