Belated amens & retroactive hallelujahs

Dug up this phrase from message 2 of the 2016 Summer Training. I was considering sister R’s story of how her husband was out of the church life for 11 years. She said something that I’ll never forget, along the lines of “If I had known he would eventually be recovered, those 11 years wouldn’t have been so full of suffering”.

That’s the problem, isn’t it? We don’t know. We don’t even know tomorrow, let alone 11 years into the future. So we struggle. We’re bewildered. We ask “Why, Lord?”

I like Jeremiah 48:11 because it explains —

Moab has been at ease from his youth;
And he is settled on his lees
And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel;
Nor has he gone into exile.
Therefore his taste remains in him,
And his scent is not changed.

It’s a sad thing to be settled on our lees, to have our scent unchanged. It’s a mercy when the Lord doesn’t leave us “at ease”. His emptying-from-vessel-to-vessel hand is His transforming and conforming hand. When I pray for my taste to be changed to the flavour of Christ, my scent to be changed to the fragrance of Christ, the Lord is faithful to answer that prayer. He empties from one situation to another situation, from one person to another person, from one matter to another matter. It seems like “things come up” non-stop — that’s because there’s yet another vessel to be emptied into, yet more self to go out and more Christ to come in.

It’s never easy in the situation. A situation like not having our listing sold after nearly 3 months and 2 price drops. But, after the fact, it’s all so clear: “Wow, the Lord really knew what He was doing.” And so come the belated amens and retroactive hallelujahs.

The funny thing is, we forget so quickly. After having witnessed the Lord’s marvellous hand time and time again, I still am of so little faith. Oh Lord! I don’t want Your lessons to go unlearned. How I need You to make known to me not only Your acts but also Your ways (Psalm 103:7), so that I would worship You and Your ways — not just after the fact but before I see the end.

 

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Seigneur, Tu n’as jamais tort

Il y a deux jours que frère PD m’a envoyé un texto étrange, en chinois et avec mon surnom bête, demandant de me parler. J’ai anticipé quelque chose à propos du sujet qu’on a discuté en décembre 2016, mais j’ai anticipé quelque chose de positive parce qu’il n’y a pas de besoin de m’informer d’une mauvaise nouvelle…

J’ai agréé à parler à 19h00 hier, quand la réunion à maison a lieu. Le moment où j’ai entendu son voix, j’ai compris que c’était de mauvaise nouvelle. Il parlait lentement, comme pour m’entendre pleurer. En ce moment-là, j’ai senti de divers sentiments : 1) ce n’est pas une grosse affaire à moi ; 2) ça me fait triste de toute façon ; 3) frère P est trop gentil ; 4) je le mérite pour avoir eu des espérances ; 5) que c’était ridicule de penser autrement !

Ouais, de très divers sentiments. Mais quel «cherishing» que mon père spirituel voulait me consoler. Mon gain surpasse ma perte.

«C’est pas grave», je lui ai dit, «je l’ai anticipé».

Et puis, lui et sœur C et moi, nous avons prié ensemble. Merci, Seigneur. Nous t’aimons, et nous voulons t’aimer plus. Aies la première place en toutes choses. Merci pour ces saints qui m’aiment comme leur propre fille.

Merci que tu sais ce que tu fais. Tu n’as jamais tort. Même dans ma déception, je te revendique vers ton ennemi : mon Dieu a toujours raison. Il fait toutes choses bien. Son cœur est toujours bon envers moi. Sa volonté est bonne, agréable, et parfaite.

“My times are in Thy hand”

My times are in Thy hand” — was recommended the transcript of this 1891 Charles Spurgeon sermon by a dear sister. Finally got to read it through today… and I have to say, it’s beautiful. The basis is one of David’s psalms:

“But I trusted in Thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in Thy hand… Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant: save me for Thy mercies’ sake.” (Psalm 31:14-16, KJV)

I hadn’t paid much attention to this precious passage before, but I have expressed similar sentiments in some of my previous posts (like this one and this one). So I quote Spurgeon without comment:

  1. Many are the fiery darts of the wicked one; but our shield is one.
  2. He that can say, “This kingdom is mine,” makes a royal claim; he that can say, “This mountain of silver is mine,” makes a wealthy claim; but he that can say to the Lord, “Thou art my God,” hath said more than all monarchs and millionaires can reach.
  3. To be entirely at the disposal of God is life and liberty for us.
  4. “My times”, these change and shift; but they change only in accordance with unchanging love, and they shift only according to the purpose of One with whom is no variableness nor shadow of a turning.
  5. Everything that concerns Christ touches the great Father’s heart. He thinks more of Jesus than of all the world. Hence it follows that when we become one with Jesus, we become conspicuous objects of the Father’s care.
  6. Thy Father comprehends all things, though thou dost not: let his wisdom be enough for thee.
  7. He has all heaven to worship him, and all worlds to govern; and yet “my times” — the times of such an inconsiderable and unworthy person as I am — are in his hand. Now, what is man that it should be so? Wonder of wonders, that God should not only think of me, but should make my concerns his concerns, and take my matters into his hand!
  8. “It is not my business to provide for myself or for my family: my times are in God’s hand; and his name is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide; and I will not do a questionable thing, though it would fill my house with silver and gold from the cellar to the chimney-pot. I shall not meddle with my Lord’s business. It is his to provide for me: it is mine to walk uprightly, and obey his Word.”
  9. When you have a lawsuit, the opposite side will like to come and talk with you, to see if they can get something out of you. It will be your wisdom to reply, “If you have anything to say, say it to my solicitor.” If the devil comes to you, and you get into an argument with him, he will beat you; for he is a very ancient lawyer, and he has been at the business for so many ages that you cannot match him. Send him to your Advocate. Refer him to the Wonderful, the Counsellor. Ever shelter beneath this fact, “My times are in his hand. I have left the whole business to another, and I cannot dishonor him by intermeddling.”
  10. Why is it, my sister …why do you vex yourself about a matter which is in the hand of God? … Tell me, did you ever make a sixpence by worrying? It is a very unprofitable business. Do you answer, “What, then, are we to do in troublous times”? Why, go to him into whose hand you have committed yourself and your times. Consult with infinite wisdom by prayer; console yourself with infinite love by fellowship with God. Tell the Lord what you feel, and what you fear.
  11. When we get into a difficulty we shall say, “I am now going to see the wonders of God, and to learn again how surely he delivers them that trust in him.”
  12. The future is intended to be a sealed book. The present is all we need to have before us. Do thy day’s work in its day, and leave to-morrow with thy God.
  13. The best way to live above all fear of death is to die every morning before you leave your bedroom. The apostle Paul said, “I die daily.” When you have got into the holy habit of daily dying, it will come easy to you to die for the last time.
  14. God does not answer all his people’s prayers, for he has better things for them than they ask.
  15. Queen Elizabeth wished one of the leading merchants of London to go to Holland to watch her interests there. The honest man told her Majesty that he would obey her commands; but he begged her to remember that it would involve the ruin of his own trade for him to be absent. To this the Queen replied, “If you will see to my business, I will see to your business.” With such a royal promise he might willingly let his own business go; for a queen should have it in her power to do more for a subject than he can do for himself.
  16. Sir Francis Drake, after he had sailed round the world, came up the Thames, and when he had passed Gravesend there came a storm which threatened the ship. The brave commander said, “What! Go round the world safely, and then get drowned in a ditch? Never!” So we ought to say. God has upheld us in great tribulations, and we are not going to be cast down about trials which are common to men. … “My times are in thy hand,” and therefore the end will be glorious.

Just a word on #11, since I haven’t yet written on it. Possibly my biggest take-away from my 2nd term of the FTTA was from a shepherding appointment where I learned that I can prove God’s economy. When I don’t know, can’t go on, have no way out, I have a blessed opportunity: to prove God’s economy. The sister didn’t explain further, but my understanding is this: I take care of letting Him dispense Himself into me, and He takes care of everything else. These 4 years of med school and however many years of residency are for this; the future that Spurgeon called “a sealed book” is for this; the matter that I’m currently struggling with is for this. And one thing I can be assured of: “the end [of this dispensing] will be glorious”.

Revision/addition: I just went and watched the recording of br BC’s memorial meeting (2016 Feb 27 in NYC), where br Dennis C spoke the source of the sister’s fellowship. I’m so glad I found it — so I don’t have to live forever in my own interpretation. Here it is in his words:

There was a time in my serving here when I was passing through something. It didn’t seem like it was that light (2 Cor. 4:17), but it was some affliction. I came to brother B, and I kind of expected him to sympathize with me and say “Yeah, yeah, that’s tough.” But he didn’t do that. He said “Brother, you have a golden opportunity. You will never find yourself in this situation again in the rest of your life. Now is the time you have to apply God’s economy to this situation. Test it! I’m a scientist — we have to test it! If this is God’s economy, it has to work in this environment as well as that environment.” I was shocked by this. Somewhat like Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 — don’t try to change your status. Don’t try to change your environment. Just remain there with God. And I practiced this. And I was so happy — it works! It really works. Even though the environment didn’t change, I was enjoying the Lord.

This is golden. That latter verse was my rhema from P&J’s wedding (2016 Oct 22 in Surrey) and pretty much my anchor through the first term of being stuck back in school. (I thought I had a post on it, but guess not until now…)

Each one, brothers, in what status he was called, in this let him remain with God. (1 Corinthians 7:24)

“Don’t be so quick”, the Lord was saying, “don’t be so quick to get out of your current status. Learn to remain. But don’t just remain in the status — remain with Me.” So I’m still learning to remain. Again and again — first term, second term, during the summer — I asked the Lord, “What about now? Is now the time for me to finish the training?” His response was just the same: “Remain where you are, with Me.” And it’s true — I’ll never find myself in this situation again in the rest of my life. So now is the time for me to apply God’s economy. And test it!

Methinks He’s happy to be tested in this way.

Undergrad in review

This morning, I wrote my last final exam for my degree. I’m not quite sure what to feel…

Relief? I suppose. After spending the last 2 weeks at the library, 14 hours a day. After 4 years of trying to do well.

Accomplishment? Somewhat. I’ve learned a lot academically. (Whether I’ve retained that learning is a different story). But somehow it’s not the same feeling of accomplishment as when I got my IB diploma after high school. That was a landmark, whereas this — I’ve always seen as just a stepping stone.

Regret? A bit, I have to admit. Of course there’s nothing I can change now, but there’s that course in first year that I shouldn’t have given up on; that o-chem requirement that I should have taken during the summer; that 1 extra credit that should have gotten me into the specialization I wanted, which would have allowed me to do co-op, which would have gotten me some useful experience,…… etc. etc.

Fear? Trepidation? Anxiety? Made that much worse by all the “What are you going to do now?” that I’m getting? There’s just so much uncertainty. I knew it would be this way before getting to this point, but all the mental preparation is to no avail.

Bewilderment?

I think that’s it. Not knowing what to do after 16 years of going through the education pipeline. Deprived of routine and the ease that comes with it.

In moments like these… I just have to turn and call.

In moments like these,
I call on the Lord,
I call, “Oh Lord Jesus”,
He saves me.
In moments like these,
I call on the Lord,
I call, “Oh Lord Jesus”,
He saves.

Calling “Oh, Lord Jesus”
Calling “Oh, Lord Jesus”
Calling “Oh, Lord Jesus”
Jesus is Lord.

Just that little change in circumstance — from being in school this morning to being done school this afternoon — has turned my world upside down. That’s how easily tossed about we human beings are. But what really has changed? In the spiritual realm, in the realm of things eternal, nothing has changed.

Has the throne of God been shaken?

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever…” (Hebrews 1:8, Psalm 45:6)

Has the promise of God become less trustworthy than before?

“Therefore God, intending to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His counsel, interposed with an oath” (6:17)

Has the status of Christ undergone modification?

“You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (5:6, 7:17, 7:21, Psalm 110:4)

Has his qualification for ministering life to man been altered?

“But He, because He abides forever, has His priesthood unalterable.” (Hebrews 7:24)

Has His ability to save been diminished?

“Hence also He is able to save to the uttermost those who come forward to God through Him, since He lives always to intercede for them.” (7:25)

What then? Are my feelings real, or are God’s words?

“In order that by two unchangeable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us, which we have as an anchor of the soul…” (6:18-19a)

Should I not be encouraged? All I have to do is flee into the safe haven of my spirit. Why should I shipwreck on a stormy sea? I have an anchor of eternal hope.

2015

新的一年。似乎昨天才写14年的开头篇…这一年就过去了。

新的一年。新手表、新手机、新工作…更是新挑战、新机会、新盼望。从很多方面来说,这是一个很关键的新开始。一些该结束的终于结束了。一些期盼许久的即将发生。一些多年前的祷告、奉献似乎就要得着回应、成全。

刚从冬季训练回来。这次的经历乃是主增加祂的要求。曾经想都没想过的、到周三我还说不可能的,周四晨兴时还是不得不说阿门。谁知道当年初中的我作的奉献,后来大一公开确认,如今会向我出如此的高价。此刻的我还不甘愿,可是我想祂终会得到祂所要求的。因为,就如服侍姊妹说的,祂在这个时代的紧急需要使祂不得不把握住何一个交出自己的青年人。

主啊,我的得救并不精彩,甚至我都记不得,可但愿在逃脱世界捆绑这方面能有一个卓越的见证。愿我在4多年前挑选的诗歌成为我实际的经历:

My choice is made forevermore,
I want no other Savior;
I ask no purer happiness
Than His sweet love and favor;
My heart is fixed on Jesus Christ,
No more the world shall blind me;
I’ve crossed the Red Sea of His death,
And left the world behind me.

全词

主啊,谢谢你,我用不着害怕未来只充满难过:

Why do you fear the future
Will only be filled with pain?
You’re in His hands,
Trust in His plans;
He will take care of you.

(CD)

主啊,我爱你。今天比昨天、今年比去年爱你多得多。

Above this frenzied earthly land

I learned this new song about a month ago, and it’s been stuck with me since. I couldn’t find a recording anywhere, so I made one myself here.

Prod me with Your loving hands,
Stir me from my deep impasse.
I long to flee this stagnant rut;
My soul, my prison, deadened lot,
Which end is just to taste Your wrath;
So set me on the narrow path;
Thorns and thistles may line this road,
But it leads me to the mutual abode.

Lift me up with Your mighty hands
Above this frenzied earthly land;
Set me on the mount to see
What the world can offer me;
Till I see the vanity from on high
And earthly desires I bid goodbye
And set my eyes on You.

This somehow reminded me of what David says in Psalm 8:

When I see Your heavens, the works of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained… (v. 3)

And the footnote:

…In looking away from the dark earth to the moon and the stars in the heavens, David saw God’s creation and the divine order in the universe. The Lord’s aim in His redemption is to turn our view from the dark and troubled earth to the bright and ordered heavens.

I guess the sentiment from my last post hasn’t changed — I need my eyes and my whole being to be lifted up and above.

Turning my eyes upon Jesus

An experience today put me into a state best described by these lines from a hymn:

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?

When I find myself in this kind of a state, I must turn. Or the brooding disappointment will become embitterment and, even worse, disillusionment. So I don’t even give myself time to think — I just call “O…Lord Jesus”. And when calling isn’t enough, I sing. The rest of the stanza with chorus:

There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

(listen here)

Just look at Him! See Him only! Everything and everyone else will disappoint. Another 2 lines from stanza 3:

His Word shall not fail you, He promised;
Believe Him and all will be well.

What He says in His Word, He will do and must do. In one place, His Word says

…I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18b)

So I just believe. I don’t believe in what I see or feel; I say amen to His word and believe that He will build His church. Hallelujah!