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.

Blind Faith

The once confident brain who reasoned “of course” now taper, disentangle, and break away its reasonings that were based – now that I observe it – on simple tellings of the of the simple-minded. I feel deceived, at awe at my ignorance, yet holding unto a string of doubt – that I may not make the same mistake again.

Just before opening a new posting tab, I had tens of theological and scientific sites opened, with debates, information, and apologetics with regard to two controversial theories: Young Earth Creation and Old Earth Creation. Now, I am a Christian who believe that God created every single specimen and substances of earth and the universe by His Word and did not simply initiate a long sequence of evolution. However, after today’s encounter with new information, I am yet to believe in when God created.

I admit that the matter of the age of earth is trivial and does not influence spiritual salvation, but it does bother me to realize that I had been so convinced to regard a perfectly reasonable and Bible-based theory an unexcusable fallacy. (I’m telling you guys – what ever you believe in, make sure you know the other theories before discarding them. You might miss out on the truth because of predisposed, blind faith. Truth can and should always be tested, because if it really is Truth, it will reveal itself to those who seek it.)

And so today I learned that even as a solid Christian I am to continue seeking truth, and acknowledge that God is a wise and incredibly, unimaginably, intelligent Being. This means I don’t have to blindly follow wherever the Christian crowd goes in their doctrines. I have the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and God’s laws in nature to guide me through these belief-decisions.

I hope you learn that too: Faith is not blind. It is remembering what your reason has once accepted and trusting that it remains to be true despite your present moods and circumstances. (A mix-paraphrase of C.S.Lewis’ quotes).

Now I have to deal with the age of earth thing. eeeeeeeeek.

A Back-to-School Christian

Tomorrow, I will be heading to school (OH NO NOT THE SCHOOL!!!) – as a junior. Time sure flies – this is the year I dreaded most. It will be full of study-headaches (APs SAT SATIIs…O.O;;), fundraisings, leading, allnighters… even the things I enjoy doing will seem to last forever. Yet I know that my toils will be fully acknowledged by my Creator, nodding His head and encouraging me as I deemy popen tential for the future to do great things – for Him. Honestly, I am filled with anxiety and apprehension. If I start calculating my 24-hour day into a predicted schedule, I’ll end up with a huge time deficit. But I never finished calculating, because every time I start, God tells me: “Just do your very best in the moment you live in, and at the end of the day, you will have lived it the fullest.” Wise words, God – really! However much I plan my days, the way I can be most efficient is to saturate them with actions, not apprehension and plans. Am I not worried that even if I try my hardest I would fail? Heck yeah. But it’s called trust. God called me into the academic world to expand my knowledge and potential, which, if done to its fullest extent, will enable me to pursue God’s dream for me to tllest extent. Although I do not know His plans yet, I know that when I do, I will gather all of my breath and run as hard as I possibly could in order to achieve it. That means one, Future-I would appreciate it if Present-I touch my limits; and two, God called me to do this, hence it is not an impossible task that requires 48hour-days and 14day-weeks. It just requires grave amounts of dicipline. (*secret sigh*)

Besides that, what would Jesus do? Though cliche, this question never fails to provide an answer. Jesus as a junior in the modern world, in this society, would… haha. He would very well study, as He fulfilled his duties as a carpenter’s son, but would also spend much of His time reaching out to the students around Him – counseling them of their problems and pains, leading them to the Father, showing a good example by reflecting the Father, leading fellowship groups, and rebuking friends when they sin. Okay – maybe we should lessen the rebuking part (since rebuking as a same-status person only exacerbates hatred and stubborness) and do more telling. But otherwise, this is the kind of student we also should be. While our bodies are appointed students, our souls are comissioned embassadors. This means our smiles, our conversations, our actions all need to be so-called “Heavenly”. We are called to do everything the Bible tells – love neighbors, forgive wrong-doers, make mistakes, repent, pray continuously, meditate on the Word, be joyful always, be filled with thankfulness, above all else love the Lord God with all your heart – whether we are at home or at school (or on the toilet seat).

So a shout out to all back-to-schoolers out there: Lez do dis!! Every situation that is thrown at us (or tossed, maybe gently handed) is one that can be overcome. And we are the Overcomers.

“So, my brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” -1Corinthians 15:58

Infatuation

When a simple curiosity becomes an interest, interest an approach, and approach a conversation, playfulness and camaraderie floats in the air. But change comes when conversation starts to be measured like sesaws, waiting and hesitating to produce equal or less devotion, to avoid vulnerability. Yet the more meticulous end of the conversation is the more vulnerable, and she knows very well the danger before her when the time comes to part ways. Inevitably she hides. Inevitably coldness and secrecy dominates the air. Inevitably they part, ending the story that developed a simple curiosity into a surpressed one.