Monday, February 21, 2011

In the Moment


And if we remember that, wouldn't we begin living life not merely for the sake of surviving or existing or having a good time for ourselves?
Too often I worry about the future that I spend all my time and energy hoping it'll turn out alright. But what about today?

The only time I've got living is NOW. When I arrive in the 'future', it is no longer seen as the future, but as the present. And its a totally different thing from what our minds have pre-conceived or anticipated that the 'future' would be like.

What can I do NOW?

If I do what I can and must do now, tomorrow will take care of itself. Because by then, I would be ready to take on whatever the 'future' is.

I am always fascinated by the notion of 'time'. Only we humans have this contraption called the 'clock' which tells us the 'time' and basically regulates our daily events.

Animals have no ordered sense of time whatsoever, at least not in detail like we do. The universe 'out there', outside of planet earth, is neither confined nor subjected to the notion of time. Animals live and let live. They survive. But they're happy where they are. And the universe simply exists, out there.

We humans are not simply meant to 'survive' like mere animals. Neither are we simply 'existing'. Don't you think there's more to us? There's more to our life?

Only we live to work, play and enjoy life. Only we have music, art, education and technology. Only we show compassion, and hate, and the lot of it. If we're simply surviving, we don't need all this extras. If we're simply existing, we wouldn't live to enjoy the moment. But we do.

And again, isn't there more to life than just surviving and existing for the sake of it?

Some people live that way. Others, many others, have no choice BUT to live that way. Injustice. Poverty. Victims of crime and corruption and exploitation. Fatherless, motherless children. Can they enjoy life? How? They only survive. They only exist for a short time. Cause' no one cares.

But then again, don't we, the more privileged ones - and the wealthy, the ones in positions of power - ALSO remain only for a short time? In the end, no one cares. The memory of us will fade like snow melting in the sun. And life goes on for the others.

For the moment, we are trapped in time. We think of past, present and future. But God is out of it! He is not confined by the clock, by the times and the seasons. He cannot be confined by our puny ways of thinking.

I know that God knows the agony of His children in poverty, in sickness. He also knows the corruption and selfishness of the wealthy and powerful.

In the end, rich or poor, we all go to the same end - when past, present and future ceases to be and all that remains is what GOD THINKS of you and me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Musings on the Train


Its amazing how we slip into routine so easily. I remember how hard it was when I first had to travel on the train every early morning to school. Then I also had to take the bus and the tram. It seemed a new and strange routine to get used to, having been homeschooled the past few years back.

But now I hardly notice the 'novelty' of travelling on the train everyday. We so easily slip into something familiar that we no longer pay attention. I tell myself not to slip into ignorance and complacency!

Its so easy to see the same people day after day and take them all for granted. Its so easy to take all the daily luxuries I enjoy for granted when it comes too easily and accessibly.

We barely notice it when we no longer ask the people around us important questions about them, about their thoughts and struggles. We get by each day just saying a non-commital, 'How're you doing?' and we don't even wait for the answer. And even if there was an answer, it would be less than genuine or true to what the person is really feeling or thinking!

Its easy to just live through everyday taking care of ourselves. We talk to the people we like to talk to. We often talk about fleeting, casual, unmemorable things. We often talk to the people who would make us feel a little just as popular as they are. We often ignore the people who already have no one to talk to.

Its easy to slip into our own clique and comfort zone day after day. Will we ever change after that? Perhaps we'll just change to fit into yet another exclusive clique, another fixed mindset.

Its easy to live on and on, very selfishly. We are selfish creatures. But I notice that the moment pride and selfishness creeps in, I become a very miserable person. Disconnected. From what, from who?

I feel disconnected from my Life Source. The moment I slip into my own selfish bubble and forget that I've a higher purpose and a greater destiny to get out of my comfort zone and do something that matters for God and people, I become very miserable and lonely indeed. Disconnected.

What is life, even with all our skills and education, technology and achievement, family and friends? What about the people who lack all this? What do they have?

While our lives may be fueled by all the things & people I listed, the fuel will eventually burn out. In the times of utter hopelessness and loneliness, what will spur us on to continue living and seeking our purpose? I am convinced that it is GOD who will give us that enthusiasm and energy to do His will.

Connect yourself to the Life Source. Without Him, everything is meaningless. All our skills & achievements, our relationships on earth, are meaningless. They will come to an end. And if we have not God in our lives and His Spirit guiding us, how can we know how to use our skills and opportunities meaningfully, how can we know who to reach out to and build purposeful friendships?

Our life, as much as it is driven by all these external things, will ultimately be an aimless vessel floating in a windless vast ocean. 

Only God, only Jesus, the 'author and perfector of our faith' and of our lives from beginning to end, can give us this intrinsic drive and purpose and sense of destiny. Without Him, we cease to live.
Carpe diem,
Janielle =) 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No Compromise


We live in such a society that is full of compromise. People don't hold to their values and morals and principles. We are so easily swayed by the distractions and goodies of this world.

How can you and I possibly escape?

Everyday we are faced with situations calling for us to make a stand, difficult though it may be. Each day, wherever we are, we are in a position to stand firm to what God has called us to or to stay silent and waver along with the flow of the crowd.

How is it possible to go against this mighty current?

It is hard to stand firm, to hold fast to the Word of Life. It is even harder to step out and make a difference. It is even much harder when we have to do it in the face our fears and weaknesses, the opposition of others, or the opinions or scoffers of this world.

You know, in this world, its easy is to the wrong thing, its also relatively easy & not impossible to do the RIGHT thing. No problems there. But the hardest thing to do in this society that we live in is the GOD THING.

The world will just have none of it. How can we possibly make our stand and voice our faith to do the GOD thing?

We hold on to His promise,

'Little children, you are of God, and have OVERCOME them; because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.'
1 John 4:4

If you and I truly desire to do His purpose for our lives, then we can have no doubt that He will instill His will and desire in us so that we will be so sure of what we must do while Today lasts. And He who is in us will help us to overcome he who is in the world.

Remember, the troubles and troublemakers and scoffers are not the devil. Like Batman said to his enemies, 'You are not the devil, you are just practice.'
We don't have to fight these people who scoff in our faces and give us trouble or stand in our way. We don't have to argue with them. They do not see. We trust God and do what we have to do. Not that we are so good that we can see, because many times we miss what God has for us, but it is that we place our trust in Him. And that's the difference. We have taken that leap of faith.

Whatever it is, we fix our eyes on our Saviour & King, and make no compromise.

Solum deum Timidus,
Janielle =)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Letting Go

I gotta learn to 'let go' and just relax sometimes. We often get so pressed to control things and get the results we have in mind. But what if we're not ready?

I was reading an incredible book by Madeline Bruser titled, 'The Art of Practicing'. One memorable quote was, 'Ambition is healthy. But it becomes destructive when we push ourselves too hard and drive our minds & bodies before they are ready.'

Its true. Often in my piano practices, I find it so difficult, tiring and 'grueling' because I am pushing myself too hard! I don't know how it took me so long to face this fact. I've always convinced myself that I can never get ENOUGH practice. And if I want to achieve the sound I so desire, I have to keep at it, relentlessly. However, I so often, in my zealousness to get the 'sound', forget to LISTEN. Forget to take a break. Forget to relax and just enjoy the sound I'm already making. Forget to LET GO and just play with ease and spontaneity, without tensing my muscles so much - foolishly thinking that it will yield a better sound.

Likewise, I'm learning that even in daily life and unanticipated circumstances, I need to LET GO and stop trying so hard to control the things that I cannot YET control, or the things that I am not YET ready to tackle.

You can't learn to soar like an eagle if you don't first plunge down the cliff.
You can't learn to soar high above if you don't first let go and spread out your 'wings', trusting that it will help you to glide.

Likewise, we can't accomplish some things unless we let go of our tension and fear and anxiety and expectations, surrendering the things that are beyond us to GOD.

'Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass.' Psalm 37:5

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Eyes on the Prize


Why do I wake up every morning? What makes us roll out of bed? Is it because we have to, or is it more than that. Is it because I've got something specific to do today? If I don't get out of bed, there'll be missed opportunities and precious time wasted.

You gotta admit, not everyday holds such 'promise'. Some days I just feel like, Why am I doing this??! Aren't there better things to pursue? Or I'll just roll back into bed.

This morning I'm reminded to fix my eyes on the Prize. What prize?

Many of us drift through day after day. And this year seems like just another year. Perhaps a little more challenges and excitement, but in the end, what?

I wonder, what drives each of us to do what we do, say what we say, and behave how we behave. Our attitudes are influenced by many things out there. Often we go through 'just another day' with no specific drive of our own. We are driven by our parents expectations, our obligation to go to school or work, our desire to gain favor from the people around us. But I think all these 'drives' come from outside sources. Many times it drives us to do or pursue things and become someone that is not truly who we are.

I am talking about a higher purpose. An intrinsic drive. A desire to reach for our destiny with our eyes never wavering from the ultimate prize. Where does this drive come from?
I have no doubt that this drive doesn't come from myself, nor from men, nor from education or religious teaching. It comes from the One who placed the breath of life in us.

What makes the plants grow? Yes, scientists know how it all works, but here's the greater question, WHY DOES IT WORK?
Likewise, we apply the same question to our lives. Yes, scientists and doctors and psychologists can tell us with all their fancy jargon about HOW our brilliant brain and body works, but they often ignore the WHY question. WHY do we go through day after day and 70 years or a bit more? Is it just another day, another year?

This drive to live and pursue and discover and attain knowledge comes from our Creator. Tell me this is crap, you don't believe in God. You prefer the evolution theory. Ok, fine by me. But if you truly want to know WHY, if you're truly seeking, you will find the answer. You will think thoroughly about these questions and if you seek the right Source, the Life Source, you will find it.

Carpe diem,

Friday, February 4, 2011

This Morning, You're Not Alone

Here I am, this morning.

I'm sitting at the bus stop. Waiting for the bus to come, to take me to the train station. And then waiting for the train to arrive to transport me to the city. And from the city, waiting for the tram to come to bring me to school. Or instead of the tram, I might walk with my friend. =)

This morning I woke up early. And then I had this very strange, nostalgic feeling. A poignant thought crossed my mind. Wow, this year is going to be so different compared to last year - the first year in VCASS. This year I'm entering school with new eyes and a very different perspective! Soon, all the pressure of juggling 3 hours practice and finishing academic work at school so that I can go home and JUST practice my beloved piano, will come surging back. I feel a tingly, jittery feeling down my neck.

At the same time, I cannot wait to live out my last year of highschool! My EIGHTEENTH year!

And this morning, as I sit here, I am thankful. My heart bursts with thanksgiving that God gave me two years in this place, in this arts school. I don't measure up, I'm not very capable in many ways, but God heard my prayer and opened the door. I cannot imagine how I'd want to spend my last two years of highschool any other way!

As I sit here, I am thankful. In my weakness and failure, God has showed His strength and goodness. I am thankful for all the blunders and mistakes and failures I've had. Because without them, I would not be placed in the position to have faith, not in myself, but in God.

I thank God for sending me friends, who are like-minded and wonderful altogether. =) I thank God for all the days I felt absolutely terrible because I knew I wasn't good enough and it was so tough to keep up! It was then that I also knew, I could LET IT GO and cast all my cares and anxieties on Jesus.
Once I did so, I could do my part and leave the rest to God with peace in my heart.

It sounds silly maybe, but I will have it no other way!

This morning, is a rainy, gloomy, cloudy summer morning. I can't help but smile and remember the cold, wintry, difficult days of last year. On this journey, I am quite alone. Not just the physical journey, but the incredible journey in my mind and spirit. A thousand times I've took a wrong turn and sometimes gone backwards. But my God, who is near to me when I call out to Him, has heard me and brought me back on track time and time again.

I don't know how the others do it. Do it alone. I'm just bursting with thankfulness that I am not truly alone in this!

And you, you are not, too.

Solum Christum cognoscere,
Janielle =)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

You ain't seen nothin' yet!

The Government's global warming advisor Ross Garnaut said to flood and cyclone battered Australians: 'You ain't seen nothing yet.' Prof Garnaut said climate change caused by global warming would increase the incidence of severe weather features and cause bigger natural disasters.

Yup, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Call me pessimistic, morbid, negative. But you gotta admit, things are not getting better around here. And there. Basically, everywhere. In all areas of life, in every country and people and society, in every school, workplace and hospital, things are getting messier and confused. Good and bad is mixed up and kids nowadays don't see the difference. Although technology is great, scientists are full of new discoveries and medical research is on a high - people remain ever more ignorant and deaf to the truth of the situation.

Sometimes I feel trapped. This world is not right. Its careening off the edge of the cliff and soon about to plunge into the unknown blackness below. People continue eating and drinking and marrying. Studying and working and making a living. Life goes on - in spite of all the disturbing things we read on the news and even witness in our daily lives.

And remember, we ain't seen nothin' yet!

This is the beginning of the end. Am I talking hogwash to you?

In these times, many people bemoan their 'cruel fate' and suffering in the time of natural disaster or whatever other tragedy, and they even point a finger at God and say, How can a God exist?

But let me pose a different perspective to you. I took a walk in the cool evening today and I pondered many things. I wondered, in the face of such calamity, it is inevitable that people will question God or have all the more reason to say that 'there can't be a God'. So how does that tie in with 'God is merciful'?

Then it came to me once again. God IS merciful. In the face of calamity and tragedy, God IS still merciful. How?

He wants ALL man to be saved, and that none should perish. While people cruise along and get too comfortable and turn a blind eye & deaf ear to God's word and call, here's how God gets our attention. How can the situation turn so desperate that God has to resort to such drastic measures & allow disasters or tragedy to shake us out of our slumber?

Well, I suppose the situation must be very desperate then. We're all sinking deep and we don't know it. When all these things happen that seem not-so-good or a 'cruel fate', try to switch to the perspective that God's calling us to listen. In the eye of the storm, listen. He will help you to soar above it. If only we remain still and listen.

When God allows these seemingly bad things to happen (yes, I AM saying that He is ultimately in control - things had never gotten 'out-of-hand' for God), he is showing mankind 'a severe mercy', as Sheldon Vanauken called it. On the contrary to what most ignorant folks think, God DOES exist, and He IS in control, even in the face of disaster and sadness and death.

But how about the 'innocent' people who get swept along in the disasters? How about the Christians, and the 'good guys' who get killed anyway, even though they had been listening? No one knows the answer. No one knows why some people have less time. A life cut short. Babies unborn. Children born in poverty. No hope, no future.

Is is our call to judge and question God? While we can, because it makes us think and search, it is really not our part to determine. But I know I'm rest assured that each one will stand before God someday. And we're not going to talk for someone else. We're only accountable for ourselves. God sees every opportunity or lack of opportunity appointed to each one. And He will know who is who and who never had a chance to hear the Gospel.

But to get back on topic, because WE are the stubborn and stiff-necked, hard-of-hearing, ignorant, disobedient folks, God is revealing His 'severe mercy' by allowing these 'bad' things to happen. So we wake up - if by God's grace we do! And it is only for those who wake up and turn to God, who will be able see beyond their loss & grieve and realize that through this tragedy, God can still turn the bad things around for the GOOD of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose!

Carpe Diem,

The Crux of Complacency

People who are aware of the pricelessness of time and the significance of life on earth will not live like the rest of the world lives. Success is redefined in the terms of eternity. No longer must I seek the approval or favor of men. No longer must we grasp at the wind by trying to please ourselves and please people.

I would rather be so to say in lack, than have everything I want. I’d rather not have all the opportunities in the world. I’d rather not have what most people see as “success”. Well, am I settling for less? I believe not.

The lives of my Dad and Mom are teaching me to hold loosely to the things of this world. When the time comes to let go, it must be as easy as a snap of the finger. Let go. As long as you already have what matters, inside you. And in the hearts and lives of others – a continuum from their time on earth, to the next great journey beyond.

While it is Today, we cannot fall into the chasm of COMPLACENCY. Comfort is good. Success is good. Or is it?

Over the past months, I begin to realize that complacency is the underlying, subtle current that drags me further and further away from the Truth – and my destiny in Christ. Complacency is like a sly undercurrent that unnoticeably pulls many, many ignorant souls out to the open sea. Soon they begin to drift, and drift out there, never finding the shore again.

That is a scary thought. No, it is a terrifying thought…

What do I mean by complacency?

It is when we become too ignorant and comfortable – not only with our surroundings, but with ourselves. When we no longer desire to grow our character to be more like Christ. When we no longer pray & live to change our wayward thinking, actions and words.

It is even when we mindlessly think “God is always a good god who wants to bless and prosper me.” Yes, God is a good God. He wants to bless His people. But not when they’re holding on tight to their possessions and not daring to leap out in faith. Not when we’re perpetual sitting ducks. Not when we’re no longer seeking and knocking and asking. That’s when we have to ask ourselves, is God really giving me all this so I can sit here and live my jolly life?

I have to admit, coming to Australia has “dulled my senses”. Although there have been “leaps of faith” with God’s help, it is inevitable that after awhile, in such a nice, comfy land of opportunities, I have become ever slightly so complacent. Once you’re in it, dragged out into the sea, it takes awhile to fight your way back to land.

Here, I have a choice. You have a choice. We can either continue to drift out into the dark seas without even realizing it, or we can choose to wake up and begin the struggle back to shore. It is a struggle – an often unseen, inner struggle that only God can see. Is it worth it? I wonder.

“Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, they will eat the fruit of their sinful ways.

For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.

But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease without fear of harm.”
Proverbs 1:28-33

For sure, I’m listening; I don’t want to drift aimlessly and “contentedly” out there! I’ve got things to do back on shore. While it is Today, I still have time. While you and I are out there in the open sea, still struggling against the current, I am filled with sudden hope & joy that hey, there is someone out there I can reach out to!

We’re not alone. Be rest assured that at least, there is someone out there swimming “against the current” too. Even if we don’t seem to be getting anywhere, take heart – at least we’re swimming. ;)

Carpe diem,

The Visitors