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

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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

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.

Diving

It always takes effort.

    I lead a fasting prayer group every Wednesday lunch. By leading, I mean, just strumming the guitar, singing what comes to mind, and saying what I feel God telling me. A small group of believers come and we pray for the school, that believers will be brighter lights and that unbelievers would have soft hearts. The hard thing is that it is a fasting group. It isn’t easy, after waiting all morning, breakfast-less, to realize that it’s Wednesday, and then give it all up for one reason: it’s for God.
I’m a person who can’t say “no” easily, especially to things I know God wants me to do. I can’t simply ignore a calling, so long as I know it’s God’s command. I know this is an incredibly great quality, but sometimes it gets really tiring. Often I say yes to someone seeking advice, still thinking apprehensively about the massive workload I have and the amount of sleep I’ve been (not) getting. These one-on-one private fellowship and mentoring could take hours, and I don’t just do one per day.
I am definitely not a morning person, but I strongly feel God wanting to meet Him in the morning, before everything gets busy, before my thoughts are filled with something else. But waking up half an hour early is not easy. Staying up during that half hour is a challenge. Rushing out to school without breakfast isn’t the best feeling either.

       It really takes effort to make these decisions according to what pleases the Lord. It is like standing at the edge of a 10-meter diving board and looking down into the water. I speak from experience – I stayed up there for about an hour. I watched other people hesitate, jump, then shout back: IT’S AWESSSSOME!!!! COME ON!! And I just stood there being like NOPE NOPE NOPE Nohhhp.
In the end, I jumped. It was truly the hardest decision in my 16 year life. And it. Was. Amazing.
I won’t describe it for you, go try it yourself. My point is, after every single decision I made that pleased God, I never regret it. Once I leave the cafeteria and sit among some of my best friends, who also gave up their food, I feel full. Worshiping together, sharing, and praying together for each prayer request becomes my happiest moment – every time I do it. Once I put away my books and work load and focus on this friend, love pours out from me. S/he opens up to me, tells me all these testimonies, and allows me to point to God! Every time, I become God’s messenger, God’s mirror, God’s vessel of blessing. How precious is that. Once I get up, slap myself out of bed, and open my Bible, I start listening. God would speak to me in His gentle whispers and affectionate words. He would encourage me, sympathize with me, and just hang out with me. It is literally reading God’s personal love letters. All day I would be skipping and bouncing and floating about – I would be filled with His joy.
Yes, I get hungry on Wednesday afternoons, I often stay up very late finishing my work, and I sometimes sleep in class (sorry Mr.B..hehe).

         “Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.'” John 4:34

          We as Christians are being molded to become like Jesus. One aspect of it is in our satisfaction. We will not be content with anything until we do the will of Him who sent us. But once we do it, it will satisfy us like sushi and chocolate satisfies cravings, and it will bring a smile on His face.

So now, JUMPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Watering Life

I was swimming the other day, and had to walk back to a building without a towel. I walked on a grass field, dripping with water. “The plants will grow just by my presence” I thought. And I was amazed. Just by my presence, there can be life. 

This is what happens when we are dripping with the living water. When we drink from the living well, we will be overflowing with God’s grace, God’s love, and God’s faithfulness. People will see God through us. People will meet God. People will be saved.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be overflowing with living water? I can just imagine my Lord smiling at me and whispering “good job, my daughter”.

So let’s do it. Together. Go to the living water, fill our selves, and march onto the world dripping with His unfathomable love. The sun is hot, the grass is many (maybe bring a bucket with you…keep pouring it to yourself so you stay wet). Look at the dried grass around you. They are thirsty, and clueless of the hope that lies so near; that hope is you.

Yes. You.
You know what to do. So do it.

“Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.”                                                              – Ezekiel 47:9

John 4:14;  John 7:37-39;  Isaiah 55:1

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