Reflections after my mum’s passing on to glory about life and death.
As a Chinese in Asia, the concept of Buddhism Nirvana where the fires of desire, aversion, and delusion are extinguished, is not foreign. This is nothingness, in Chinese we call it 空 (kong1) which can also be translated as emptiness. There are many stories of men and women who at one point in their lives decide to take the vow and go on this pursuit of nothingness to attain Nirvana. All their desires, dreams and hopes vanished into thin air. Ties with family and friends are cut too.
When there is no purpose in life, there is no reason to live – nothingness.
Living or dying holds no meaning – nothingness.
The existence of a person bears no significance – nothingness.
This sounds like a walking corpse straddling between life and death. The appeal of nothingness is escapism. A state of nothingness means one cannot feel anything, including pain, disappointments and other negative undesirable emotions and stresses. It gives a seemingly valid reason to bail out of life, putting aside all responsibilities. Perhaps it is a suicide of the soul.
Is this how life is meant to be?
Doesn’t life consist of a spectrum of experiences – laughter & tears, excitements & disappointments?
How is life defined without these?
What does it mean when Jesus Christ tells us to die to self? Isn’t it similar to extinguishing our fires of desires, aversions and delusions? People have told me that dying to self is like a dead dog not affected by its surroundings. This also means that this dead dog is unable to react to what is good. Sounds like a walking zombie to me.
Dying to self is only half-truth. Jesus Christ died on the cross, but this is only half of the truth. Living only by this half of the truth represents a powerless and pathetic faith that is dead. The other half of being “alive in Christ” is less emphasised. Here are a few key scriptures about being dead and alive.
Romans 6:11 “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.“
Romans 8:10 “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.“
Ephesians 2:4-7 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.“
Dead in this context is to sin, and also our flesh nature, not dead to God’s design of a human to think, feel and live. How is it that a state of nothingness is a goal? Nothingness is nothingness, it will never satisfy or fill. What deception to get into this goal that amounts to nothing? To be dead scripturally is to “kill” the sinful nature, the very thing that makes us dead. The way to do it is not switching off into nothingness and shutting out God and all His blessings. It is achieved by being alive in Christ. Human is not able to let go of something without grabbing hold of another. Trying forgetting something and the harder you try, the more it will come to mind. Same as the sinful nature, the more we consider it, the more it consumes us. Filling our lives with Christ is the only way to flush out sin. Only Christ is able to kill sin and be victorious over it. As we run towards Christ, we run away from sinful nature that results in death. This end is far from nothingness. It is FULLNESS. FULLNESS to the MAX. 🙂
Light at the end of the tunnel in the darkness gives hope when we are walking in the direction the tunnel leads us to.
If we are NOT walking, and the appearance of light at the end of the tunnel means a full-speed oncoming train or traffic that can be a threat to our safety.
Am I walking or staying still in the seasons of tunnel darkness in life? Being knocked down or killed by a train or vehicle does not sound attractive.
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked God for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for
– but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among men, most richly blessed.
(The poem above is reputed to have been found on the body of a dead confederate soldier during the war).
Lies and deceptions flood the mind
A battle for sanity and what is mine
Groping in the darkness for the unknown
This glimmer of light is the only hope
Deep within the conscience cries
Yet this guile detracts the mind
Tears that flow reflects the life
Of the struggle to do it right
Hanging on tight to my Savior’s heel
His grace unexplainable in me unfold
Girding me to stand and behold
LOVE, it carries me through this field
This was a spontaneous prophetic declaration in the prayer room based on Ezekiel 37 on Shavuot (15 May 2013). I felt it needed to be recorded so I did it on my iPhone. It was raining while I was recording this explaining the background noise. Thought the rain has significance to the song and left it.
Breathe Your Breath
By Pauline Phoon © 2013
Prophesy, prophesy to these dry bones
Hear ye the Word of the Lord
Bone to Bone, sinews formed
Muscles to bones, with skin covered
Come from the four winds
Come O breathe of God
Breathe life on these dry bones
Breathe, O breathe Your breath O God
Breathe on us, Breathe on us
Breathe on us, bring us back to life
Last Friday was the marriage reaffirmation of two couples whose lives have blessed me tremendously by being Godly examples. The first couple, Uncle Seah and Aunty Madeline have been married for 56 blissful years. I am just amazed by how their love for each other grows deeper as the years go by. Just the way Uncle Seah looks at Aunty Madeline, everyone around can tell the depth of his love for his bride and the amount of attention he gives to her is unparallel! Even the zeal and zest of young men wooing their love is not as strong as the love and attention that flows out of Uncle Seah so naturally. The second couple, Tardas and Lenny, is married for 23 years. Although they do not have their own natural children, they have given their lives to so many young people who are now their spiritual children. Their one heart in serving The Lord, even if it means sacrificing their own comforts, blesses me so much. These two couples are godly examples for me of a Christ-centred, loving relationship that cannot but bless the people around them.
I volunteered to help them with their flowers and deco for this special day to celebrate and renew their love for each other. Flowers never fail to cheer me up! So the trips to the nursery and being in the big cold fridge full of all kinds of fresh flowers are already the perk!!! So I made 2 hand bouquets and a table centrepiece, hoping to bring some beauty into the cozy function room. Aunty Madeline requested for red roses and I made a hand bouquet for her with a single cream rose, signifying that she is Uncle Seah’s one and only. Aunty Lenny chose pink carnations but the pink hydrangea looked too good to be missed and it turned out really sweet and matching to what she was wearing!
I had a great time with Christina who was my co-“wedding” planner and we ran around getting all the stuff needed to make the evening special and pretty and also coordinating the logistics. It was a very touching evening especially when they exchanged their vows with words from the bottom of their hearts, and not the usual scripted ones we hear at weddings. It shows that in the increasing rates of divorces and broken marriages in the world, marriages that are genuinely built in Christ and modeled after Christ’s love can still exist and it is a possible reality of faithfulness when couples vow “till death do us part”.
Here are some of the photos for you to share the joy!!!
Such is the beauty of still waters
Reflects the moon and the stars so clear
The night whispers its secrets
The boat glides through the waters
All in the control of a skillful captain
Whom my physical eyes cannot behold
Sun rays piercing through white clouds
Refreshing breeze blows from four corners
With wings spread out all ready for flight
Into the open arms of the heavens to glide
All in the control of a skillful pilot
Whom my physical eyes cannot behold
The Invisible Steerer who knows best
So safe to lean upon His chest
O what peace and comfort
To known that He knows
Fish is good for us, but they have bones. Although we can have deboned fillet, often times in Asia the whole fish is served, with the bones.
Perhaps eating fish is like experiencing life. Some things in life comes with bones that can choke us, and some things in life are so sweet and smooth, just like cod fish. Fresh water fish are known for its small and countless bones. To eat them without choking takes skill and care. When we do not know how to pick out the bones and throw them out, we get choked. Most often than not, life dishes out fish with bones to us. All situations have both the positive and negative – the meat and the bone. The question then is whether we are able to identify the negative and stop it from entering into us, just like how we pick out the bones from the fish. Or do we spit out the the meat with the bones or stop having fish altogether? “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water” is similar to such reactions to bones.
This is never easy with life experiences. To allow the many life experiences, usually those that cost us much tears and sleep, to enrich our lives without being choked by the bones, like bitterness and jadedness, is perhaps a life skill that needs to be intentionally cultivated.