Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Life Really Worth Living - Part II

Remember my rant in the previous article? Now I need to clarify the other side of the coin. I'm not attacking the validity of these points.
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
I'm simply thinking about how many of us just blindly accept that we should thus aim to live out these points. The thing is, these death-bed wishes are all symptoms of thirst.

The problem is, the popular idea how to satisfy your thirst is the notion that "any kind of drink is fine, as long as it quenches your thirst." Thus we drink Sprite and quench the Spirit; we don't just drink Coke, we snort it; we merrily imbibe Absolut while jeering at Absolute truth... "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!"

But as good ol' C.S. Lewis pointed out, "Thirst was made for water."

Living water, just as Jesus promised. Not Sprite, but the Spirit.

Thus, I think the transformed life in Christ should aim to say this on his deathbed:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to Jesus, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard for myself, but to save more lives for Christ.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express more care and concern for others.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends and told them about Jesus.
5. I wish that I had brought more happiness to others.

Will end with these powerful words of Oskar Schindler, a wealthy German industrialist who saved many Jewish lives during World War 2... and died penniless:
Oskar Schindler: I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don't know. If I'd just... I could have got more.

Itzhak Stern: Oskar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you. Look at them.

Oskar Schindler: If I'd made more money... I threw away so much money. You have no idea. If I'd just...

Itzhak Stern: There will be generations because of what you did.

Oskar Schindler: I didn't do enough!

Itzhak Stern: You did so much.

[Schindler looks at his car]

Oskar Schindler: This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people.

[removing Nazi pin from lapel]

Oskar Schindler: This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this.

Oskar Schindler: I could have gotten one more person... and I didn't! And I... I didn't!

A Life Really Worth Living - Part I

I read this article that many people have posted on their Facebook pages.

It's true that these top 5 wishes resonate with many of us, who often have never really thought about these wishes before. In a way, it's an epiphany for us, because we often have been labouring and striving... and I guess this article kinds of provides a catharsis for our inner desires.

The summary of the 5 deathbed regrets is below:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Then I read this comment in the article:
I was like this once. I was married to a man I thought I loved. But I was disconnected from all of my friends, and family. I had forgotten who I was, and what made me love the world. I made a difficult decision to leave that man, and since then, I have gotten back on the right track. Those friends and family were waiting for me when I was ready to be me again. Now I am happier than I have ever been. I have no regrets. I had forgotten just how much I loved me the way that I am, even if my ex-hubby didn't. I am living my dreams, and I am thankful for that every day.

After all that reading, one question bugged me. "Why is this article so popular?"

I think many of us post this 'cos
1. It's a healthy wake-up call as to what really matters in life.
2. We feel that this is something important others should know.

Still, I felt disturbed after reading the comment. I think that perhaps in our good intentions to help others find meaning in their lives... are we unintentionally encouraging others to live Epicurean lifestyles? Meaning that personal happiness is the most important thing in life, even at others' costs?

Initially I jumped to conclusions and wrote a lengthy tirade... but after some reflection, I think I was too one-tracked.

Morally speaking, if we Christians subscribed to this philosophy too, we could just divorce our spouses every time we didn't feel satisfied, that things were working out...

The nurse's article, no matter how well-meant, is inevitably incomplete.

So maybe we could do more, besides sharing the article. I think we need to consider carefully. Many people want to live truly meaningful lives... but in the end we need to help point people to the One who gives life meaning.

Anyway, I did wonder too: personally, do we find the article meaningful because it speaks what our hearts want to hear: that self-fulfillment is the most important goal of our lives?

I really don't think that's the truth. We were made for a cause greater than ourselves. Of course as a Christian, that would be Jesus. Haha.

Still, I ... really think many of us may be on a slippery slope if we start pursuing our own desires first instead of Him who gave us the ability to desire.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Kissing "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" Goodbye

WZ & I talked yesterday about how much damage Joshua Harris's book, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" had done.

But being the thoughtful guy he is, he added, "Well, I think Joshua Harris, after he grew older and got married, looked around, and saw what he had done. That people were blindly kissing dating goodbye and chasing courtship as THE biblical method. So he wrote his second book, 'Boy Meets Girl' to try and salvage the situation, explaining that it's the heart behind what you do, not so much the actions that count. That there can be godly daters and ungodly courtshippers."

Then he paused. "That's what you get when a twenty-three years old guy writes."


And then he said again, "Maybe because many of us looked at the cover, and had heard impressive things about it... and went, 'WHOA!'"

I like Weizhu's insights. He's a slow, slow, slow thinker... but a deep, objective and well-balanced thinker. Thus I respect WZ's insights and value them highly, because he always takes care to look at both sides of the coin.

His view is that both dating and courtship are fine. It's the HEART behind it that counts. Just that a lot of us sway to one extreme or the other.

Initially, I was one of those who took a rather extreme stand. But through the years, I examined my own heart motives, and realized that I had secret motives. Such as, "If I do it the courtship way, I can earn God's favour here and hopefully score points with Him. Then I'll get a nicer wife."

Oh man. That was legalism, pure and simple. There's just so many things wrong with that attitude on several levels. And what was worse, it snuck in under the cloak of "spirituality".

*shakes head*

This isn't really an issue about dating / courtship. It's simply the tip of the iceberg of legalism that is so prevalent among many of us. And more ignobly, blind, unthinking faith that doesn't stop to think why it believes what it believes. Which gets me hot under the collar.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Answer To Our Hearts' Emptiness: Thinking of Jesus More

A dear friend asked me this just now:
"What do u do when life feels empty? Do you think there will always be a hole or can we be fully satisfied in Him?"

I initially wanted to write a long theological exposition on this, but felt strangely prompted to write this instead:

"Mm... To answer your questions, when I feel empty, I think of Jesus. I think of how much He loves me, and died for me. I think of how he is watching over me, and I think of his promise, 'And surely I am with you always, even to the end...' I think of how good he is, that if everything is gone, he is there. He is more than the world to me, He is my everything, He is my all. I think of how he understands the feeling of utter loneliness... and I think of the eternal scars on his resurrected body. I think of Jesus."

:) my friend smiled.

Then I added,

"I think that's the only answer that the Bible gives us [to our question of emptiness]... but what an answer: Jesus himself is the answer to our hearts' emptiness. 'Our hearts are restless, until they find rest in Thee.'"

Monday, April 4, 2011

What Does "Success" Mean to an INFP?

Personally, I'm what you might call a classic INFP. I found this passage very meaningful:
The INFP who augments their strong, internal value system (Introverted Feeling) with a well-developed intuitive way of perceiving the world (Extraverted iNtuition) can be a powerful force for social change. Their intense values and strong empathy for the underprivileged, combined with a reliable and deeply insightful understanding of the world that we live in, creates an individual with the power to make a difference (such as Mother Teresa - an INFP).

So for me personally, I think it's important for me to make sure I don't start getting all broody, but learn to fix my eyes on the bigger picture - what God wants, not what I want.

I know other INFPs... and when they look inwards, man... they can get all sappy and emo - and super self-absorbed. I'm one of them too, so... *shrugs* think I can speak very bluntly. Because I've had the same self-centred attitude - as my bros and sisters can testify. But when I start looking outwards and living for God instead of myself... thank God, I feel so alive. :D Hee. Like a horse running, like a bird flying, like a fish swimming... I feel so in my element - living for a cause greater than myself - a cause that is REALLY worth living (and dying) for! :)

But... before I get all puffed-up... I have to speak with a sense of gratitude. But for the grace of God, there I go. I see people who really have the same struggle as me... I know one friend who struggles with the same kind of loneliness as me, and I think to myself even as I hear him crying over the phone: "There, but for the grace of God, go I." What is the difference, that I should be so chosen that I can see beyond myself and be rescued out of my previous self-absorbed existence? Really... by grace, and grace alone.


So all the more important that we look not only to our own interests, but look also to the interests of others. If we want to save our lives, we WILL lose it. But since we're natural idealists, giving our lives for a worthy cause is so super-appealing. How much more, when our natural dreams find their fulfillment in the biggest Dream of all: God reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against him.

*pause again*

In the end, it's not about which personality is the best. No such thing. Apples and oranges. It's about knowing and following a Person.

Because God is the one in whom all Personhood finds its definition, meaning, sustenance and existence. He is the most human being in the entire universe... for the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.

We had lost our identities as humans... and we were so lost that we thought we were evolving into better and better humans while we steadily invented new depravities and dehumanizations.

And now, when the Son of Man smashed into history, like a thief in the night... we found out that we, for all of human history, are now just returning to where we were supposed to have been all along - the first page. To be... humans again.

Humanity lost, and humanity regained.

In short, the Son of Man came to teach us what it really meant to be human.


Monday, March 28, 2011


"One day, it occurred to me that it's because I've been taught subtly in my youth that relationship with a girl threatens my relationship with God.

This cannot be further from the truth."

A brilliant post from Shaowei's blog. He's a wise, sharp thinker with a great heart for God BTW (that rare combination of one who is highly rational [he's a MATHS SCHOLAR who was a stubborn skeptic before, for God's sake] and yet also a deep feeler).

I just found out from Dewen that Shawn Bolz just released a book about dating recently, called "The Nonreligious Guide to Dating and Being Single". I have not read it but if it is anything like his blog posts, it should be awesome!

I've been thinking about romantic relationships lately. In my own life, I've often wondered about my resistance to dating and marriage. One day, it occurred to me that it's because I've been taught subtly in my youth that relationship with a girl threatens my relationship with God. This cannot be further from the truth. In the beginning, Adam was alone with God, but God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone." And He created Eve. Don't be mistaken. God did not create Eve just for friendship. He created her for union with Adam. "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."

What about Paul? Didn't he say that celibacy is good in 1 Cor 7? Kris Vallotton gives a very good commentary about this passage in one of his sermons, if you can find it. In summary, Paul was talking to a crowd of people who believed that marriage was the only way. So he says to the unmarried and the widows, who felt condemned for choosing to be single, that "It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do." And when he says, "I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that," he was talking about his gift in not being tempted sexually, not his gift of celibacy. Paul never condemned marriage. He would never say that something is bad, something which God himself says is good. In fact, he talks about marriage all the time in all his books, especially with regards to Jesus as the Groom, and us the Bride.

So now, what about all the young teens who are getting into hurtful romantic relationships and premarital sex and all that stuff? I agree that such things are dangerous, but WE SHOULD NEVER CREATE THEOLOGY TO SOLVE A PROBLEM!! I believe the solution is to teach our youths what healthy romantic relationships are. For instance, we should not get from our girl/boyfriend what we actually want from God, and we should not get from God what we need to get from our girl/boyfriend. That perhaps there is "THE ONE" (who you marry), but it is often impossible to figure that out (i.e. prophetically?) until we start to date that person and get to know that person the normal way (i.e. spend quality time).

So I encourage young people to date. Ask God what it is like to have a healthy fulfilling relationship. It is a great learning experience. But don't date if you don't want to date. There have been seasons in my life where God was leading me into so much intimacy that I did not have any desire to date anyone at all. This is very different from believing that God can only lead you into more intimacy if you don't date. My own dating experience is testimony that there are things that God can teach me only through a romantic relationship.