It was my turn to “teach” a lesson from EC’s outstanding handbook, “Mentoring Paradigms”. (Now, I actually don’t quite understand how I was supposed to teach a lesson that is supposed to be self-taught by simply reading the book and reflecting so) I took the liberty to teach outside of the book; after all, the book is supposed to be self-explanatory and the leaders present at the meeting are old enough to digest the wisdom for themselves.
The gist of the paradigm that I taught was on God’s efficacy. (The book is on my office desk, so I’ll update this post again and list the key lessons I’ve learnt from EC’s teaching.) And so I brought everyone’s attention to the three parables placed one after the other in the Gospel of Luke – The lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. I thought it was appropriate for the leaders to see for themselves God’s efficacy at work in a dynamic manner in these three examples. In my reflection, I think it’s common to hear that nothing is wasted in the economy of God; I’d turn that around and say that in God’s economy, there’s no such thing as nothing!
Observe, for the lost sheep, one in a hundred went missing; for the lost coin, one in ten went missing; and for the lost son, one in two went missing – the stakes are upped dramatically. Observe again, the shepherd left ninety-nine and went out to search for that lost sheep; the owner (went in and) turned his house upside-down to search for that lost coin; and the father could do absolutely nothing when he lost his son. Actually, to better phrase it, it was his son that decided to lose him.
Now, from this juxtaposition, I’ve learnt that the closer the missing subject (a person, usually) is to you, the lesser you can do about it should he or she decide to leave you. There are some people you go out to hunt for, some you turn your ransack your house for, and for some, you are simply powerless to do anything about it – and yes, it is extremely heartbreaking because you can almost see their outcome.
Around three years ago, I experienced that with my beloved sister. I remember the two-hour conversation in the car. It was then that I had to let go of her as my younger sister so that she can become her own woman. Letting go of a younger sibling that you protect is a lot more difficult than letting go of a young person that you shepherd. Without getting into details, I basically realised that I couldn’t and shouldn’t protect her in the same manner anymore, for she was old, mature and experienced enough to make her own decisions, and be responsible for them. (Sometimes, I wonder if it’s painful because I am relinquishing my status in her life – I don’t ever want to be a redundant elder brother.)
I had to learn to trust God for her eventual outcome and while it’s painful for me to let go of my sister because I love her so much, I must remember that God loves her so much more than I do and so surely He will look after her well-being better than I ever can. Hence, I shall have no fear for my Lord is in control of my sister. Either way, God has a plan for her and already knows what He is doing with her, way ahead of me. At the end of the day, I’m actually left with no choice, but learn not just to trust her, but to trust Him, whom I’m entrusting her to.
On that note, I believe that parents put so many restrictions on their children in this generation not because they don’t trust them, but because they don’t trust themselves – they are not confident of their own upbringing of their kids. I’m not yet a father so I write this callously, but I’d like to believe that when it’s time for my children to make their own decisions and account for themselves, I will deliberately and gladly let go of them, so that they can grow in an exponential manner apart from me. I will do this partly because I trust them, but mainly because I trust the good way that I would have brought them up. I guess I’d only be able to put my money where my mouth is when my children reach that age of reckoning.
On a side, random and personal note, I am absolutely and unashamedly confident that I will make an imperiously outstanding father. And just like in RD’s “Danny The Champion of The World”, I will become that father with the sparkle in his eye. Perhaps the absence of it makes me pine for fatherhood so much more, but somehow, I have this unquenchable, untamable conviction that of the many things that I will excel in in life, fatherhood is one that I am most certain of because it is something closest to my heart.
I have no idea how this evolved into a piece on parenting but I’m glad anyway.
The older I get, the more I see value in books as gifts. I’m not an avid reader – still am not – but I have made deliberate efforts to enhance my mind. It is in recent years that I delight most in receiving books as well as to spend time in a book store reading or just choosing a book. On a less serious note, this whole idea of buying a book is similar to buying a DVD in Shanghai; it’s therapeutic because you enjoy the idea of watching/reading it, but you may not actually get down to doing it.
Many people boast of an impressive arsenal of books, magazines and films but their purchases are still sitting on the shelves waiting to be devoured. We enjoy shopping for books and films because it makes us think that we actually have the time to pursue it. It’s like the photography outings I’ve convinced myself of embarking on but my archives reflect otherwise. It’s like the massively-innovative home improvement ideas that I’ve yet to implement for my room. My thoughts are incoherent but these things come to my mind when I purchased Leonard Ravenhill’s Why Revival Tarries at SKS today, together with RY and BB.
Without a shadow of a doubt I will complete reading this classic. Actually I’ve read quite a lot this year, well, at least relatively, and I am pleased with my knowledge-acquiring efforts. But I sense it’s just not enough. The plethora of books at SKS remind me that there is no end to acquiring knowledge. Knowledge could either be the most powerful tool or the whitest elephant. Read books represent knowledge. Books were written to be read. No one writes a book for the purpose of not wanting anyone to read it. Okay, I don’t know why this entry has skewed itself into a read-more-books-to-save-your-mind plea.
I reckon that something scarier than untapped potential (in unread books) is unused knowledge (in read books). I pray that I will never get so puffed up in knowledge and argument that it remains only in my head, untransferred to the way I live. Imagine if we actually lived out the instructions of just one book; it may actually change our lives. Imagine the impact of reading one book a month and taking the actions prescribed in it. We would be supremely successful, effective and influential.
But the even scarier thing is how we approach the Word and how we approach sermons thinking that it’s all “old” and “familiar” stuff respectively. We should always be filled with wonder and freshness as we get to know God more, in this instance, through the knowledge available in books. This should enable and empower us to read books, regardless of whether they are Christian, secular, fiction or non-fiction, for the glory of God. May I learn to approach acquiring knowledge with the attitude of knowing God more. After all, there is nothing new (to God) under the sun.