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would you let go of me?

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.

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living to excite.

Everyone is excited by different things in life. I am always excited to go on a date with HY, to be near her and to just be with the woman I love; I am always excited to partake in my mother’s cooking and it’s almost certain that I’ll finish every morsel of food; I am always excited to converse with my sister (when she’s not moody) because she’s like the best friend I’ve always had (and knowing her, she’d puke when she reads this because she has affection-phobia towards me).

So, what always excites you?

Nowadays, I get excited by learning something new about God and knowing something more about Him. I get excited about preaching because I think it’s something that stretches and challenges me in my competencies. (On that note, I really think that my “season” of worship leading is over, well sort of.) I get excited when I am mentoring someone and imparting what I know and have experienced to him or her. I get excited when I meet my mentors and to learn from their many life experiences and stories.

So, what excites you today?

I think it’s imperative that we all live for a purpose greater than ourselves. It would be pure drudgery for anyone to have to drag themselves out of bed each morning. We have to be internally motivated by goals and externally driven by actions to achieve all the dreams that are birthed in our hearts. There is no salary high enough that could ever satisfy a man if it doesn’t challenge, inspire or motivate him to take a step closer to his given destiny in life. This is why I’ve always aspired to live the mundane in an extraordinary fashion.

You and I are no different. We have similar struggles and have as many victories as setbacks. We get persecuted as much as we get praised. I’d like to think that my life is a fulfilling one because I choose to approach it that way. I refuse to live a life of mediocrity and settling for second-best (unless God specifically instructs me to do so). While life (on earth) is short, it is also the longest journey (on earth) that we will ever embark on. So let us learn to remind each other to live our lives for something, someone, some event greater than ourselves.

And to close a less serious note, I do enjoy very much (“get excited” is an exaggeration of this sentiment) when I make people laugh or when they laugh at my jokes – there’s a sense of gratification bringing joy, fun and laughter to someone’s day. This is one reason why I have baptised myself as Asher – which stands for “blessed, joyful, happy”. I also enjoy it very much when I pull off a stunt that people will remember. Presenting to HY her 22nd birthday gift was one; suddenly deciding to leave Shanghai was another; appearing for the No One Else was something that is etched in my heart forever.

And for the most recent one, it was great to pull off something so crazy in my trip to Shanghai last weekend. Man, the look on people’s faces – priceless. Lovely.

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