Good versus God

The Straight Path

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
-Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)

It is often really easy to pay lip service in declaring that I trust the Lord… and with all my heart. These two verses are so often quoted that it almost becomes a cliche within the church community. What does it mean not to lean on my own understanding? My understanding is formed by what I had experience and am now experiencing through my myopic worldview. In using the word “experience”, I have also included the process of mental learning with or without practical application which is part of experience though not complete.  I believe the formation of my understanding is a natural process similar to most, if not all, of humankind. This means that both the joys and the hurts in my life play a key role in determining my current understanding, which is almost similar to the process of Pavlovian conditioning. Thus the command of “do not lean” is not a natural instinctive response.

God never takes away something without giving us another to replace the void it leaves. This replacement for our “understanding” is “trust in the Lord”. The question then is, “do I trust the Lord with ALL my heart” so much so that my understanding is completely out of the picture?” This is especially hard when decisions are between good and God. “Good” is what my understanding has assessed as “good” for me. Yet God’s will for me might not include this “good” that is according to my own understanding. God’s will is not “bad” even though it is not according to my understanding. Then is this “good” truly “good” if it is not God’s perfect will for me? The answer is clear. This “good” is not the best since God’s perfect will is better than “good”. Why settle for good when the best is available? Yet human eyes find it hard to see the best in the unknown future based on bleak current situations. The risk averse might just settle for the good, not wanting to risk the good for the best. Is there a risk in trusting God? God’s promises are yes, yes and amen — sure and solid as a rock. NO risk. Since there is no risk, the pride of believing my own understanding does not stand.  Yet this narrow gate is so hard to squeeze through to reach for the best beyond it. Perhaps it will be easier if the excess weight of my understanding and pride is shed before going through the door. It takes complete trust in the Lord to take this seemingly difficult and almost insurmontable path and I need to be convicted of things that are not yet seen (Heb 11:1) in God.

Interestingly, the following verse talks about acknowledging God in all my ways. In the Amplified version, “recognize” is added to “acknowledge” to clarify the depth of the intended meaning in this verse. Many have used this verse to justify their walk that is according to their own understanding by simply acknowledging God like a passerby in their path, without consideration of the verse before. Even when the verse before is disregarded, it is almost incredulous to believe that it is possible for me to recognize God in my path and yet not heed His way. Recognizing God means having the revelation of His goodness, holiness, splendor, majesty, glory, power and all the attributes of God. If I see God as God, it will be sheer stupidity to walk away from what He has for me. It is impossible for me to walk my way as according to my understanding while recognizing God. The revelation of God in my life is so tightly tied to my trust in Him.

O God, help me to know You deeper to trust You with my whole heart. Take away my doubts that are causing me to waiver and do not let me lean on my own understanding. Let me be on the straight path where You are with me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Arise and Shine

I do not like to teach. It is not because I do not want to share what I know, on the contrary I want the persons to learn it well and good. I feel inadequate to teach, the sense that I am never good enough. Let another who teaches better do it so that more people will benefit rather than me being the hindrance to their learning.

For many years, Rev Dr John Tay has been persuading me to teach at his Biblical Studies classes. I used to teach the class in 2005 but it was a really small class of five people. Early this year, he asked me again. I know I cannot run away anymore. Not from Rev Dr John Tay, but from God. So I agreed, and with the teaching it also includes writing books which are materials for the Biblical Studies program. Last Tuesday (26 March 2013) I sat in to refresh my experience of the class since it was almost a decade since I was last in his Biblical Studies class. I was INTIMIDATED! There were almost 30 students and most of them are much older than me, and I can tell that quite a number of them are leaders in their respective churches. Who am I to teach them the Word of God? I probably should be learning from them instead! Rev Dr John Tay is a well-respected man of God who has spent years in studying the Word of God and pastoring his church. People are here to be taught by him and definitely not me! I felt smaller than a mustard seed… Next thing I know, Rev Dr John Tay will be away next Tuesday and asked me to co-teach with another lady. My heart was in my stomach.

Sunday Service on 31 March 2013, my pastor read Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you” and said this is for me and Ben. Timely reminder for me for this upcoming teaching.

Monday night, 1 April 2013, was tough. I did not sleep well at all, freaking out! The next day, the actual day, was even more challenging. To take my mind off, I met up with Christina, had some food, walked around a little, and sat down to run through 1 Corinthians 3-4, which are the chapters to be covered for the class that evening. When it was time for me to leave for the Singapore Bible House where the class is held, I was dragging my feet. Christina decided to send me to the Bible House and got me chocolates! Along the way, she clocked a $11 fine as she forgot to insert her cashcard when passing through ERP (a road toll). =| O God please let her appeal get through and the fine be waived! Thank God for sisters-in-Christ who made sure I get to where I need to be regardless!

Kit Kat Pressie

Dr Susan taught 1 Corinthians 3 while I was to teach on the following chapter and also on essay writing (their first assignment for this term!). I love Dr Susan’s insights and enjoyed her teaching, and I was secretly wishing that she will continue and finish the class!! When she passed the mic over to me, I was trembling inside but still trying to look composed. Something like a duck looking calm above the waters but the legs frantically peddling beneath the waters! One of the students suggested that we should have a round of brief introduction of the class and so I did that. It definitely lightened the atmosphere and made it a lot easier for me to start although I was acutely aware by then that almost a third of the class are retirees with a missionary and pastor on sabbatical.  I do not know if the class can hear the quiver in my voice but I was shaking inside! I faithfully went through what I felt I needed to cover and the class ended. God knows that I needed affirmation and encouragement. Quite a few of the students, some very senior, came and thanked me and said the class was helpful to them. All I needed to know is that I did not confuse them or make their learning even more difficult!!! So those feedback are more than I asked for!

Thank God for friends who prayed for me and did not dismiss my irrational fears. The second class is still not going to be easy but I choose to believe that it will get easier as I learn to trust God more in this. That He is the one who puts the words in my mouth and not me. Praise be to God!