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)

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Look back on 2015 & term 1

IMG_20151008_064254934_HDR (2)

I have a tendency to write new year’s posts (2015, 2014), so…here’s another.

2015 has been rather eventful: graduation, things that happened in May, the NCT,… but the incontestably memorable event has to be my first term of the FTTA, including how the Lord brought me there after so many years of thinking it’d be impossible to go so soon. There’s a lot of detail that you’ll get only via my email updates, but some of the major realizations are below… Most of these — at least as far as the terms go — are not new, but I think the FTT is in the business of turning terms into reality.

  1. Everything depends on God’s sovereign mercy (Romans 9). All we can do is worship Him. (This is a ministry meeting from the previous term).
  2. God’s economy is dispensing, and dispensing requires open vessels. What we go through is of value and not wasted only when we’re open. I, for one, don’t want my difficult experiences to be in vain — so I choose to open: “Lord, in this situation, make Your home deeper down in my heart.”
  3. The Savior is real. Salvation in life (Rom. 5:10) from every negative thing is real. All it takes is the active decision of the human will to call “O Lord Jesus”.
  4. Everything we need is actually in the Spirit (Exodus 30:25-30), and the Spirit is with our spirit (Rom. 8:16; 2 Tim. 4:22). We think we need something else to live an overcoming Christian life because we haven’t fully seen the compounded & consummated Spirit.
  5. There is a throne in this universe (Revelation 4), and a vision thereof is what will comfort us in the midst of seemingly inexplicable circumstances.
  6. Where you are determines what you are. When we’re in the divine & mystical realm of our mingled spirit, it really doesn’t matter where we are physiologically or what kind of situation we’re in. In the words of RS and NL, this is the true la vie en rose. 

So I’m profoundly grateful — to the family that still wants me back home, to the friends who took the time to write me, to those whose prayers still carry me,… and to the God whose is the greatness and the power and the splendor and the victory and the majesty (1 Chronicles 29:11). Praise Him!

As for 2016, a hymn-prayer that has been stuck for a while is

Lord Jesus, draw me one step further;
…Move me, Lord, I know You can.

Increase the weight of glory in me;
Let Thy Spirit now transform,
That all things would not be wasted,
But would work to save me more.

Jesus, lover of my soul

Had a fresh appreciation of this hymn the other day: Jesus, lover of my soul.

With all its cares, fears, preoccupations, anxieties, peculiarities, idiosyncrasies,… I tend to see my soul as the blockage, barrier, hindrance to whatever God wants to do in me. But He doesn’t see it that way. It matters to Him concerning me (1 Peter 5:7) — spirit, soul, and body. Yes, He wants to saturate and permeate my mind, emotion, and will, but He’s not just a “Man on a mission”. He cares.

The final stanza:

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.

The lyrics are here, but the tune I remember is different: listen here.

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!

Choir & miscellaneous updates

Seeing as it’s now the last of my undergrad years, I decided to finally take a fun, completely stress-free elective: Women’s Choir. (Past “electives” have been psychology and French). I have so far not been disappointed: the music takes negligible effort to read, the grades are primarily attendance-based, and the soprano-2 high notes are fairly attainable. Plus, I kind of get to unearth my love for singing — real deep-breath singing, as opposed to in-the-shower or trying-not-to-be-louder-than-everyone-else singing. And a bonus: almost everything is reminiscent of my faith. A couple examples:

  • Eatnemen Vuelie by Frode Fjellheim (a rendition here). Came into public knowledge through Disney’s Frozen (not that I’d know). The melody (starting around 0:30 in the video) is a well-known (?) hymn tune — familiar to me because this hymn is one of my favourites for expressing longing for the Lord Jesus’ return.
  • Rise Up, My Love by Eleanor Daley (listen here). “Song of Solomon”, as the score specifies. More precisely, on the basis of Song of Songs 2:10-12, which tells of Solomon (the “beloved”, signifying the Lord Jesus) encouraging the country girl (the “lover”, signifying the believers) to come out of her low situation. And this is the tune I’ve sung many, many times.

In short, yet another way the Lord shows up in my daily life, prodding me to turn to Him.

On another note…this is is my first post after a not-so-brief hiatus! I won’t try to catch up on everything that’s worth mentioning since March 22, but just a few snippets.

First, an encounter today gave me a renewed appreciation of a verse that’s written on the whiteboard above my desk (for longer than a month now):

这样看来,这不是在于那定意的,也不是在于那奔跑的,只是在于那施怜悯的神。

Or, in English:

So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. (Romans 9:16)

I’m just reminded again and again that the reason I can call myself a Christian today — and not a nominal one — is nothing other than the mercy of God.

Second, the annual Charis Camp College Retreat was last weekend. I never want a retreat or conference to be “just another” retreat or conference, but it seemed like this was going to be one of those……until the Lord touched me with a portion somewhat “sidebar” to the main burden of the messages (which was to be age-turners today according to the pattern of Noah):

For the love of Christ constrains us… that those who live may no longer live to themselves but to Him… (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

The footnote of the Recovery Version on the word “constrains” says:

The Greek word means to press on … from all sides, to hold … to one end, to forcibly limit, to confine to one object within certain bounds, to shut up to one line and purpose (as in a narrow, walled road).

My God is a bothersome God. He bugs and bothers me until I cannot but give Him what He wants. I wasn’t prepared to give it. (I won’t say what “it” is, but be assured that I’m not talking about physical or material things). But somewhere within I could feel the pull of 命定 (destiny, for lack of a better word) — the feeling that He would inevitably get what He wanted……and it felt so unfair. But what could I do? The love Christ constrains me. So I complained and I struggled, but in the end I guess I’m a little glad that He didn’t give me a choice.