The Creatures Within Me

An untamed creature

makes my heart its abode

A creature which roars, rolls over and cries,

melts down, rises, then explodes…

Sentiment, they call it,

this separate entity which lives within.

It duels Reason, clawing it like a beast,

and Reason, standing firm and strong,

bears the pain; it shall not give in.

The dichotomy is torment,

the tearing of what must be one.

Hark, ye Sentiment, submit to Reason,

And ye Reason, tame Sentiment

and place him at the highest servant position.

Yet how can they listen

to the voice of a distant spectator.

How odd, how curious my personhood,

that I am not one but three,

and the third with no voice.

A Journal Entry: From Self Deprecation

“Once again I am pulled down from a place of material confidence regarding my talent for writing. It does not bother me so much, however, that I am not skilled in this particular earthly element, just as I do not make a huge deal out of my cringing voice. At the very least, for now I am able to ignore them and deny it power to effect me.

It ties in very well with the trust-and-obey theme God appointed to me this season. I do not have outstanding talent; I do not have a single innate gift that surpasses those around me. I do not impress the public with my earthly ornaments. And there lies the magnificent beauty: All that is beautiful about me comes wholly from my LORD. All that is talented about me comes from my dependence on the LORD. I am thus extremely beautiful.” 2016/02/16

I wrote this some five months ago, but it deeply encouraged me today. I am once again struggling with self esteem, questioning what worth I have in this world. I searched for qualities in me that are beautiful — am I pretty? talented? skilled in any way, or even kind and loving? — but I found none according to my standards. I knew that God’s standards are the only ones that matter, and that I am valuable according to His standards, but I found myself continuously pushing away this fact and frantically searching for beauty inside me. I discovered worthlessness, sin, imperfection, and a lonely, wandering soul.

When I read this entry after feeling inclined to read my old journal, it finally clicked: I was focusing on myself and blinded to God. Finally lifting my eyes from myself, I caught a glimpse of unbearable beauty, unlimited strength, unimaginable glory. Who am I to consider myself beautiful or valuable –even if I were talented or kind — at the presence of—-God? Who am I to pompously march out unto the world when the great and awesome God walks beside me? The image of a silhouette came into my mind: a darkened, slender figure, having no visible eyes, smile, or character, completely surrounded by beams of glory, blindingly bright. That’s me. That’s you. We are only beautiful because God is beautiful, because we are darkened for His light.

Offering Dung to the Holy God

The offering of pride turned out to be a spoonful of dung. It’s an awful joke to the King of kings, Creator of the universe, the Great Wisdom and Holiness.
And yet this great God looks through the putridness of pride and finds a grain of humility. He then uses it, and makes it beautiful.
I cannot fathom.

God, the Beauty in the Beautiful

“You are everything that is beautiful” – Keep Me Near by Rend Collective

A person is beautiful. The deeper you know a person, the more beauty you discover, the more you love. Nature is beautiful. The more you linger in the green and blue, the more you sink into its depths, the more you love. Ideas are beautiful. The more you venture through the maze of thoughts, the more you are intrigued, the more you love.
But these things are beautiful because Beauty is in them, because God has taken essential part in their existence and identities.
Thus I love perhaps the person, perhaps nature, perhaps ideas; but without doubt, I love the God who manifests His beauty in them.

You gat this!…?

The marvelous truth is, it is far better that I don’t have this together, that I am incapable of handling my works, for it is then that the Almighty takes complete control, and then that I depend completely on Him. It is then that I am absolutely certain of the good that will come, for Goodness Himself is working with His hands. It is also then that I am unquestionably certain as to whom the glory belongs.
Hence in my weakness His power is more glorified.

So Sarah, you gaaat this?
nohp.
I don’t gat this.
He’s gaat this.

—-2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Focus on the Present

A runner runs. Sweat, dripping down his forehead, dampening the ears and lips, salty, hot, and cold. The runner runs. Pain, crawling up his thighs, his waist, then chest. Breathing harsh, the runner runs.

The runner has a hat. It is a strange hat. It is a wide, round one, like a flat sombrero, and has dangling objects shifting side to side every time the runner pushes out for another step. The objects – a barbie doll, a piece of chocolate cake, a model car, a diploma, a picture of a special person, and many others all around the hat, rotating every now and then, dangling with charm.

The runners eyes move. Almost mechanically, his pupils run from one end of the eyes to the other, tracing the shaking of the object directly before him. The charm before him is a picture of a road, resembling that which he is running on at present, but with different curves, different flowers, different spectacles to view. He sees unfamiliar mountains, purple and white, ditches and puddles, dirty and dark, and a field of sunflowers down the side of the road, smiling and dancing about. Oh how exciting, he thinks. I wonder just how many of these flowers I will see, how harsh the climb of that mountain will be, what adventures await, what wonders I will see!

The runner stops. His foot is wet, heavy, and stuck on a pool of mud. He takes one more glance at the charming picture, looks down and sees his foot. Pathetic. I could have avoided that, or at least had some fun with the mud, what thrill it would have been, had I glided over the shallow areas, or ran with lifted knees and thumped the mud!, he thinks.

So the runner gently removes his foot from the mud puddle, scrapes the dirt unto the dry road, and takes a breath. He looks around – a breathtaking view. The two mountains at a distant, side by side, blue, but clothed with yellowish trees, and around him, green bushes and ferns, tinted with gold of the sunlight. The sky is blindingly white, or rather, very brightly blue.

The runner remembers the adventure he is one right at this moment. The beauty, the wonders, the breathtaking moments he is missing out on!

The runner runs. He runs, slips, slides, glides, and jumps over the obstacles before him, all the while enjoying the view. Sweat, coating his arms and legs, streams down to his ankles. As he runs the wind, cold and fresh, tingles his skin, and he smiles. He breathes in. His lungs, filled with hot air, feels sweaty from the inside, but warm, and lively.

As he runs, the enchanting picture of another road lost its color. It was no longer enchanting, but rather gray, and too separate from the road he is running on now. The picture dangles loose, and then falls off. It lands on the road, unheard, unseen, forgotten. The road it depicted will someday meet the runner, but not now.

It’s Okay to be Untalented

When we were kids, my sister and I would each get allowances from our grandparents for Lunar New Year celebrations. According to tradition, I, the older, receive more money than my younger sister. So we each did our bow and received identical envelops. At home, we excitedly opened the envelops and pulled out the money inside: to Sarah (me), a ₩50,000 currency, and to Sam,  ₩10,000. I, being the boastful child I was, bragged about how “bigger” my money was than Sam’s, triggering her tantrum. At the sight, our mom came and tried to comfort her. “No, Sam, you received the same amount. Look! Sarah got one money, and you got one money. It’s the same!” Sam quickly recovered her happiness and waved her currency at me. “See! I got just as much as you did!”

Our society is quite like this childhood tale. We all receive talents from our Creator, but not all equally. There will always be someone above and below you in any talent. I like to write, but I am obviously not the best, nor the worst. I can play the guitar quite well, but I will never achieve “the best”. This means that the levels in which we place ourselves for comparison – “she is better at this than I am” “he is stronger” “I am fatter” and whatnot – do actually exist, contrary to what we would like to say: “Oh no, it’s not that she’s better, you’re just different.

How long will we tolerate such lies? We must admit that there are people who are just untalented in any aspect while there are people who really do have all the talents a human being could possibly have (*coughcoughAsianscough*).No? These so called “untalented” people must be good at something – we would like to say. However, through experience, you and I both know that sometimes, it isn’t so.

So how do we deal with that? Do we get proud or self-deprecating? A lot of us are on the self-deprecating side. “Why am I like this, with no special talent, with such simplistic skills and rudiment knowledge? I can’t even work efficiently to learn new skills.” I personally jump back and forth between the sides, but neither of them are places we are called for in the Bible.

I would like to remind you of the Sunday-school story, The Parable of the Talents (unit of money) (Matthew 25:14-30). Once upon a time, there was a guy. He was rich and had several servants at hand. One day, he called his servants and told them he was going on a journey. He then entrusted them with his property. “To you, my Servant #1, I shall entrust FIVE whole talents! And to you, my Servant #2, TWO talents! And lastly, my Servant #3, I shall give you ONE talent. I shall be back someday. Good bye.” Then he went away. Servant #1 immediately traded his five talents with wisdom, gradually doubling it. Servant #2 did so too, and produced two more talents. Servant #3, also did….oh. No, he feared that he would lose the one talent he had, and instead of investing, buried his talent in the ground. At least he won’t lose it. Years passed, and the master finally came back (with a long bushy beard). He called the servants, and they presented their talents. To the first servant he said, “Great job, Servant#1, you are amazing! Let us feast together!”Then he said to the second servant, “Great job, Servant #2, you are amazing too! Let us feast together!” So it was third servant’s turn. “WHAAAAAAAAAT. You buried it? Might as well get the 0.03% a bank would’ve given me if you had it invested! You are so foolish, slothful! Get outa here!!”

Yes. The poor Servant #3 was kicked out, into the outer darkness, where there were “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Sad. Quite pitiful. But what was so wrong about what he did?

You see, the master entrusted the servants with his money with the expectation that they increase it. Notice how Servant#1 and Servant #2 received identical praises, despite the fact that Servant #1 produced more than half of what Servant #2 produced. The master did not measure how much was produced, but instead how much effort was produced. Had Servant #3 generated another mere talent, he would have received the same praise.

Likewise, we are entrusted with the talents we have – our ability to do anything, really, with the expectation that we use them to please our Creator to the fullest extent. We must simply do our best. If you have no other ability than thinking, even that can be used to glorify the Lord and be praised for.

So don’t be afraid to know your place in abilities and talents. Don’t be angry at God for giving you seemingly worthless talents either. Whatever is given you, use it, with the best effort, for the best cause.

Hezekiah – Man of FAITH and OBEDIENCE

I was doing my quiet time on 2 Kings 18-19, about Hezekiah, king of Judah, who, after a longggg chain of displeasing, wicked kings, finally was deemed righteous and pleasing to the sight of the Lord. I just adore him! Hezekiah was compared to David (I am a huge fan of David. And it is rare in the Bible for anyone to be compared to him. He was called “Man after God’s own heart” – God dearly loved this man.) in that he pleased the LORD (18:3). He is known for his trust in the LORD, his faithfulness to the LORD, and his obedience to the LORD’s commands (18:5-6). Hezekiah carefully observed Moses’ laws and obeyed them. He removed pagan shrines and various idols and did not lead the people to ungodliness. When the Assyrian king blasphemed against the LORD and insulted Him, enticing the people to lose hope (18:19-35; 19:10-13), Hezekiah did not falter. Both times he immediately went to the LORD’s temple (19:1; 19:14) and prayed to the LORD (19:2-4; 19:15-19) and then, praised Him! He did not doubt the LORD; he had faith – he knew that even if all other gods fail, his would not, because all other gods are vainly idols, and his God is the living God (19:18-19). He prayed for victory not for the sake of himself, but for the sake of the LORD (19:19). Yes – he did not after the bombardment of insult and disgrace talked among other people to discuss whether their LORD is real or the damage done to other nations by these Assyrians. He went straight to the LORD in faith and worshiped Him. He was thus rewarded with the comparison to David (18:3), the great, timeless acknowledgement by the LORD Himself – that there was no one like him among the kings of Judah (18:5), His presence, and success in all things he did (18:7) – Because the things Hezekiah did was according to God’s will.

Hezekiah is another great Bible example of Faith manifesting itself through Obedience. I am especially thankful for him because his firm faith and immediate response to pray is very relate-able to us in this generation – the world will bombard us with crap about God, telling us that He is not real and unable. Atheism is the new trend, and a real faith-life is viewed as some archaic lifestyle, deprecated and insulted. But we as Christians must follow Hezekiah: stand firm in faith. Be assured that God is real and working. Worship the LORD in the midst of trial. Pray for His name to be glorified. Study His word and carefully obey its laws. Help those under your authority to find God. And the LORD will call upon your name in the end: “(name), wo/man of Faith and Obedience, you have done well.

“Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.” – James 2:26

An Entry from My Diary – on Unworthiness

“I am a useless crap. A piece of moldy cake. I cannot do anything well: I have no special talent, no good ability, nor the focus and concentration to better myself. I thought perhaps my mind is special and has a chance to excel, but it proved not. No matter how much I understand my duties and be reconciled to righteousness, I lose it all too easily and never make the action to make real my desires and determinations. I am a useless crap. 
But that is the point. I remember praying, in the midst of subtle pride, that I be weak, foolish, completely worthless, that You (God) may use me to show Your glory. That because I am so weak, so imperfect, Your strength and perfection will be revealed.” 2015.09.29

context: I was looking through my journal and read this one, from a few weeks ago. I was realizing more than ever that I am unworthy of anything, that I am not in fact beautiful. But I also realized that it’s okay to not be beautiful, because the One who matters most, the LORD, love me despite my ugliness. He doesn’t love me because I am beautiful; rather, His love makes me beautiful. This is a follow up:

“Incessantly a voice chatters in my head – subtly, with dimmed sounds… ‘nobody loves you, so you are not beautiful. Nobody makes you beautiful….so you are not worthy.’ 
So I will speak to you, Voice. You are incorrect. There are many, many people who love me. You seem to define ‘love’ as obsession, or an over-passionate eros. That is irrational. Love is not obsessive, love is not only eros. These are facts well founded in the Word. And who do you mean by ‘nobody’? If you define ‘nobody’ as the collective group of people, mum, dad, Sa***, Do***e, Aunt J***, Uncle G***, Wa****s, Ka***, Jo****, K**, and all others in my circles who, I am sure, loves me very much, then sure.
And I think that you do not understand the value of being unworthy. My worthlessness is not a conception, it’s a fact. I have fallen, I am very filthy. I am sinful. This fact cannot change. I will never be righteous until the end of days and I return to my Home. However, I am DEEMED worthy. Not only does a mass of lovely people on earth LOVE me to make me beautiful, the King of all kings, the Creator of ALL, the God of infinite glory, loves me and takes pleasure in me. HE SAYS THAT I AM BEAUTIFUL. And there is no other authority that can challenge His word. I am BEAUTIFUL and you cannot take that away from me. And besides, the fact that I am unworthy proves the extent of God’s love, how selfless and loving He is. That is my honour to glorify Him. -2015.10.07

I just thought I’d share. 🙂

A Trace of Fragrance

“I fear oblivion.” said Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. To some extent, we all can relate. We often wonder if our absence will be noticed and sometimes secretly envy the great individuals who manage to leave their names in history books. Wherever we are, we try to make ourselves distinct enough to be remembered. As Christians, however, should we fear oblivion? Colossians 3:3 says “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Instead of fearing it, Christians are called to embrace it.

  Consider a juicy, bright-red coffee berry. Each of these delicious-looking berries endure the process of being picked from its tree, dried under the scorching sun, stripped of its outer beauty, sorted out individually, roasted in peircing heat, ground into pieces, and finally, brewed.This berry started as an exquisite fruit and ended in grains that are thrown away and forgotten. What was the point of the entire process?

  It was the core, the essence of the berry, that needed to be revealed. Coffee would not be special without the aromatic drink it produces. Likewise, we too must be stripped of color, broken apart, and forgotten so that our core – the Holy Spirit – may be unveiled. “But thanks be to God, who…through us spreads the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere.” – 2 Corinthians 2:14. Our Farmer has planted us intending that we spread His Spirit, and that He may resonate in the hearts of those who surround us. He wants us to leave a trace of His fragrance, drifting from hearts to hearts, generations to generations, nations to nations, until the Lord returns and establishes His Kingdom. Until that day, we are to conceal ourselves in the glory of the Spirit, allowing Him to emanate joy, truth, and love as we live according to John the Baptist’s confession: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)  and, beyond that, according to Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me…” So let the pleasing fragrance of Christ be the remnant of your life – one that never perishes, and that will always be remembered by the Lord.