A new day (decade) has dawned

“Hindsight is 2020”, and a lot has taken place in the past decade. Some things, as someone said, “I wouldn’t go through the experience again for anything, but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything either.”

As always, I’m so thankful for the semi-annual training recalibrating me just in time for a new year. There was a lot of shining even as I received not-so-good news, and a lot of repenting on my part. Right from the first message, I was touched with

If we are going to fully possess Christ as the good land, we must beware of having an evil heart of unbelief.

I.B.1

It does make me marvel… after all that the Lord has brought me through and been faithful in (see this and this post), I still don’t trust Him to bring me through the next thing. I really am like the children of Israel…

Then Message 2:

…the Lord Jesus…recognised the government of God, lived a human life that was absolutely under the government of God, and committed everything related to Him to God’s government.

I.E

I’ve been taking br MS’s word and “handing over” to the Lord, but it seems that the matters don’t actually leave my hands. I still hold onto them, analyse them, try to work them out…

Message 3 was especially hard because it was after the news and feeling discouraged because of it… but wow, how timely.

If we contact the Lord, we will experience Him as a grain of wheat, and in Him we will be content with our situation.

III.A.3

And the rest of the outline — on the barley, the vines, the fig trees, the pomegranates, the olive trees — just kept asking me, “How can you bear responsibility, cheer God and man, be a channel of supply and honour God and man when you’re shut in with what concerns you?”

Message 4 is probably the most aspiration-instilling of the whole training:

In the ascended Christ we may engage in spiritual warfare, for in Christ’s ascension there are the peaks of reality (Amana), victory (Senir), and the destruction of the enemy (Hermon).

III.A.3

My weakness has been an easy target for the enemy, and it never works to fight back from the low plane I find myself in. How I need to experience Christ as a land with these mountains!

Message 5 showed me the supply:

Christ is the One who supplies us, sustains us, and makes us those who love God, trust in God, fear God, subject ourselves to God’s ruling, mind the tender feelings of God, and live in God’s presence.

I.C

Lord, do in me what I cannot do!

Message 6 was made practical during study time by br BD…

God’s will is for us to enjoy Christ.

II.A

Paul didn’t wait until he was out of prison to enjoy Christ. Br BD said “Seeking to get out of your situation can become an idol! Instead, in that situation, we should seek to enjoy Christ.” This reminds me of the verse the Lord gave me after coming back from the FTTA in 2016…

Each one, brothers, in what status he was called, in this let him remain with God.

1 Corinthians 7:24

God’s will for me, right now, is that I enjoy Christ!

Christ is rich beyond measure, but the church today is grovelling in poverty because the Lord’s children are indolent.

Msg9, IV.C.2

Lord, save me from indolence! I’d like to live a life of labouring upon Christ.

Last but not least, Message 12 was…solemn:

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today: I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life… in loving Jehovah your God by listening to His voice and holding fast to Him… that you may dwell upon the land…

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Choose life! How? By (1) loving God, (2) obeying His word, and (3) receiving His blessing. The result? Longevity in the land — our days being extended upon the land (30:18).

Lord, You’ve brought me through thus far, but I’d like to extend my days on the good land. For this, save me from passivity — empower me to choose You, to choose the principle of life, to choose what causes life to increase. And I choose blessing…

We all want to receive the blessing, but we may not realise that the blessing requires a sphere of God’s authority, a sphere under God’s administration.

III.B.3

This reminds me of what br DC said at our alumni fellowship:

God’s economy is His household arrangement. You don’t get to enjoy the dispensing first; you have to be under His arrangement!

I’ve been unhappy with God’s arrangement, in rebellion toward His authority. How then can I expect His blessing? And what kind of blessing have I been looking for?

The greatest blessing that we receive from the Lord is not what the Lord gives us; it is what the Lord makes us, what He enables us to become.

III.F

Lord, I care for Your blessing. Bless me with the fulfilment of Revelation 3:12 —

He who overcomes, him I will make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall by no means go out anymore, and I will write upon him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which descends out of heaven from My God, and My new name.

Wrought into me what God is, the nature of the New Jerusalem, and the person of Christ. Have mercy on me that, in 2020 and beyond, I may be able to receive Your blessing unhindered.

God causes the growth

2 weeks ago, CH received the Lord at PS’s place — the 2nd time I brought him there. I really considered it sovereign of the Lord to remind me out of the blue to contact this classmate. Not knowing how to take care of this “newborn” but wanting to practice one-on-one nourishing, I began to send him a paragraph from the HWMR “Topics for New Believers” every morning. Over the past weekend, however, he said that he’s “not that into this stuff”. I guess that broke my heart a little, despite my knowing in theory and from experience that new ones aren’t generally born with big appetites.

PS’s fellowship with me over the phone was basically to take all pressure off. If he’s hungry, that’s the Lord’s mercy, and we do our part to feed. If he’s not right now, there’s no pressure. Don’t put a time limit on someone’s growth — e.g. “before I head to the Training”. We can’t cause the growth. Let the Lord do it.

That was a hard word to take because it savoured so much of passivity. But I needed the reminder — that “it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Rom. 9:16). Lord, I honour and worship You as the Selector. It’s purely of Your mercy that I seek You, love You. Save me from overstepping Your sovereignty. I ask for Your mercy on these ones You’ve put around me — have mercy on them even as Your mercy reached me.

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.

Not now but…

This is the hymn the Lord gave me after I came to terms with not being able to continue the training, and this is what came again to me after the finality of what took place today hit me:

1
Not now, but in the coming years,
It may be when with Christ we stand,
We’ll read the meaning of our tears,
And there, sometime, we’ll understand.

2
We’ll catch the broken thread again,
And finish what we here began;
God will the mysteries explain,
And then, ah, then, we’ll understand.

3
We’ll know why clouds instead of sun
Were over many a cherished plan;
Why song has ceased when scarce begun;
’Tis then, sometime, we’ll understand.

4
Why what we long for most of all,
Eludes so oft our eager hand;
Why hopes are crushed and castles fall,
Till then, sometime, we’ll understand.

5
God knows the way, He holds the key,
He guides us with unerring hand;
Sometime with tearless eyes we’ll see;
Yes, then, ’tis then, we’ll understand.

Chorus
Then trust in God through all thy days;
Fear not, for He doth hold thy hand;
Though dark thy way, still sing and praise,
Sometime, sometime, we’ll understand.

(The beautiful tune here)

But this time I have a bit of a different realisation.

I don’t need to know why. In fact, I don’t need to ask why. Since when did the Potter have to answer to the clay?

“…O man, who are you who answer back to God? Shall the thing molded say to him who molded it, Why did you make me thus?” (Romans 9:20)

God is God. His authority is supreme, and I choose to submit to it. I worship Him as God.

I also don’t need to understand. The only thing I need to know — and I do know — is that His heart is good toward us. Brother MS shared at Poland that we need to repent and believe. I choose to believe — that no mater what the sovereign God arranges for us, He has blessed us (Genesis 1:28).

But I do ask for healing — until there’s really no bitterness anywhere in my being toward Him or anyone else. And I ask for filling — because He who is faithful to strip away must also be faithful to fill with Himself.

Thou Breath from still eternity
  Breathe o’er my spirit’s barren land—
The pine tree and the myrtle tree
  Shall spring amid the desert sand;
And where Thy living water flows
  The waste shall blossom as the rose.

(Full hymn here)

Reflecting on my SP interview

The Communication Skills course got really tough really fast.

Our first round of interviews were with volunteer (real) patients, who were happy to engage with us in the name of education. They were, in brief, cooperative.

Not so with the second round. Simulated patients (SP) are a whole different breed.

I was third up for the day. I had watched 6 of my peers in their interviews and had been relatively critical of most of them. Most of them involved discovering an underlying problem that isn’t immediately obvious from the patient’s presenting illness. Little did I know that I would get the hardest case of all.

Instead of knocks on the door, there were 2 kicks. I shoved down my ominous feeling and went ahead to open the door. In hindsight, it may have helped to take a deep breath and remember what I was doing the interview for — practice and not perfection.

Crystal was an angry 17-year-old who had something dismissive and impolite to reply for everything I said. At first, I tried the “soft-on-hard” approach, with smiles for her glares. When she didn’t warm up, I gave up and auto-piloted to a “hard-on-hard” attitude, which pretty much always results in a “lose-lose” situation. So the interview went on, and I found myself struggling with what to say to this uncooperative subject, ended up asking some probably-irrelevant questions about her asthma, and concluded the interview just around the 10-minute mark (3 minutes early).

When my debrief facilitator asked me, “How do you think that went?”, I tried to be self-reflective. I said something like, “Because she was angry, I reacted by withdrawing and adopting a similarly disinterested tone.” What I wanted to add was, “She was just a difficult patient; I don’t see how that could have gone better.” I don’t mean that in a self-justifying way; at that moment, perhaps partially because of shock, I honestly couldn’t pinpoint what could have made that go better.

Then our tutor said something that was like a sword through my soul. Something to this effect:

We have to remember that we’re there to help. Crystal is struggling with everything in her life. She’s just 17. Yes, she’s angry, but she’s also vulnerable. She needs someone on her side.

That’s when I started to get really flushed and a little teary. Not because I couldn’t take a little constructive criticism, mind you. The thought just exploded in my head that I had let a poor teenager-who-copes-with-the-stresses-in-her-life-by-putting-up-a-tough-front-but-who-beneath-it-all-is-seeking-support-and-care-and-maybe-secretly-hopes-that-this-doc (student)-might-finally-be-different go disappointed.I had let her down. I had contributed to the helplessness that had been piled up on her.

You might be saying, “Calm down; she was just acting.” But I think that was literally the most epiphanic moment in my medical education thus far. I suddenly saw the very real need to be more mature — mature enough to not take personal offence when a patient’s anger seems targeted at me; mature enough to not let my own emotions blind me to a patient’s true need; mature enough to be in the profession with the genuine intention to help.

So, I learned a lot, and I have a lot to learn. Here’s to a journey of learning and making mistakes and reflecting and improving and growing into that model of “relationship-centered care”.

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.