Sunday, March 17, 2013

Losing Faith

In a remote town lived a gifted sculptor. His work decorated the town’s streets and parks and everyone agreed that it was extraordinarily beautiful. But the artist was reclusive and remained out of sight. One day a visitor arrived and so admired the statues that he insisted on meeting the sculptor, but no one could tell him how to find the artist he sought.

In fact, it turned out that none of the townspeople had actually met him; the sculpture had just appeared, as if on its own.

Then an old man stepped forward and said that he had been fortunate enough to meet the elusive sculptor.

“How did you manage that?” The visitor asked.

The old man replied, “I stood before these wonderful works of art and kept admiring them. The more I gazed the more I saw. There was intricacy and subtlety beyond anything I had ever observed before. I couldn’t stop marvelling. Somehow the sculptor must have become aware of my rapture, for, to my astonishment, he appeared by my side. I said, “Why did you pick me to show yourself to, when no one else has found you, no matter how hard they searched?”

He said, “No creator can resist appearing when His work is loved as intensely as you love mine.”
-Parable excerpt from War of the Worldviews-

Is the Sculptor really there or is this whole God thing a matter of perception?

Growing up, I was told that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
What happens when you stop being sure of what you hope for and you long for some sort of concrete evidence for that which you can neither see NOR feel? Simply because, believing in something you’ve experienced personally is much more impactful than believing based on what others have experienced or has shared or handed down.

I can hear echoes of “Precisely why your faith should be a one of a personal decision/experience and not inherited from someone else”. At the point when I made a decision, it was personal, but maybe it was not fully tested.

I remember ‘praying’ and asking for guidance* from God but I’ve never experienced the ‘Guidance of God’s Hands’ as some people have shared. My decisions have always been made because it was time to make a decision. Oftentimes it seemed lonely and silent. How then do I interpret the reality that I have experienced? I come to the following conclusions:

1.       I don’t love God genuinely enough hence He hasn’t ‘shown Himself’ to me
2.       God doesn’t want me or doesn’t love me enough to have a plan for my life so it doesn’t really matter what I do or maybe i'm not asking in accordance to His will
3.       God is only real to people He has ‘chosen’
4.       Maybe He did guide me but I’m dismissing it as nothing or no answer
5.       The experiences that people have are interpreted based on the pre-existing belief that they have (That God will guide them), hence whatever outcome that materialized is credited to God.
6.       God doesn’t exist, hence the guidance I seek did not come or will never ever come.

*Guidance includes reading the Scriptures we have been given and supposedly putting time aside to pray about it. Maybe guidance could have come from some form of wisdom realized, some closed doors or open opportunities after all that? I’m not expecting a booming voice to give me direct answers.

How do you deal with the inconsistency of what Faith teaches you with the experience you have of the reality around you?  

Someone then asked, “What kind of evidence do you want to see?” Honestly, I do not know how to answer that=(  What I know is that, the Faith has taught me that there exists  a true God who is personal, loving, merciful and all powerful. But my experience and observation of the world around me has shown me that the world we live in is a cruel place, filled with selfish people propagating their own agendas at the expense of someone else’s rights. Or people caught in systems in which they are a victim of. Disease and sickness eat into us eventually and people suffer. But I don’t see the loving intervention from a God who is all powerful and all knowing. (And again I can imagine echoes of “This is why this world is not all there is and life beyond death is what matters more” being said. Its easier to say things like these when we are not the ones going through the suffering ).

6 days a week we see the reality of the world we live in. On the last day of the week, I am supposed to meditate and praise God for how good He is? It is hard to reconcile the two=( Even more when it seems as if everyone else is okay with the way the world is – so we busy ourselves with other activities, believing that we are making a difference for ‘eternity’.  (I say this with humility and also of shame for I know I am guilty of doing the same).

How do you deal with the teachings which the Faith teaches you when you cannot fully comprehend why it is so?

The foundation of faith depends on how well grounded you are in the faith’s main tenets. And so I thought that maybe my foundation is poor. Let’s try to cement that first. But the more I try to learn about the basic tenets, the more I find it hard to swallow or accept what some of what the tenets say. Can you truly still believe if you can’t even agree with the some of the basic tenets of the Faith? Does being a believer mean accepting everything the Faith says 100% because we might not know any better and He does?=(  Sometimes I listen to people of other Faiths justify their version of “What’s the point of it all” and I think to myself, what makes their explanation less valid than ours?

Why should I continue deceiving myself and say that I believe when I’m clouded with doubt? Where is the guidance of the Holy Spirit or Him who is supposed to be my counsellor and guide me towards belief? This is where some may say that my heart has been hardened.

The longer I hold on to this belief and the silence it brings, the more it seems as if what I’ve believed in thus far has been merely a matter of perception.  I cannot continue believing based on the experiences other people have had right? Why can’t God show me who He is if He truly is out there? Is He truly personal?
I share this humbly, acknowledging that I need help. I can’t seem to figure it out. Maybe you guys can share what your experience has been in your own journey of growing up and figuring it out the purpose of this journey.

I hope I do not sound arrogant or all knowing because honestly, my understanding and knowledge is limited, filled with biasness and permeated with assumptions. If I have taken anything out of context or misquoted texts, do correct me. I look forward to having a deeper understanding to what was actually meant. I am not looking for a God or someone to answer my selfish whims and wants. I genuinely want to understand the reason for why life is worth the living because I can’t seem to find any at this point of time.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Our Little Dash

The average human lifespan is about 650 000 hours. It sounds so short when it's put into hours. I read this a few weeks back.

Some mornings as I make my way up to the Satellite Pharmacy, I sometimes see family members huddling around a body as they mourn the loss of a loved one. The black “Van Jenazah” will be parked at nearby waiting to load yet another body to send it back home. Sometimes as I walk pass by, I try to imagine what the family would be going through over the next few months. I think it’s a natural reaction as you recall the time when you yourself had loss someone and tried to move on. Then it's time to think about what I need to do as I walk into the Ward and that family becomes just a distant memory.

There are days in the ward when the blue curtain is abruptly drawn around a patient’s bed. You see the nurses pushing the emergency trolley towards the bed as the doctors rush to gather around the child who’s saturation or heart rate suddenly plunged. Orders will be thrown back and forth as attempts are made to keep the patient physically functioning. After a while, you suddenly hear the sounds of family members wailing as the staff all disperse to give family members their privacy to mourn. And you instantly know that another one has passed on. All you can do is whisper a short prayer hoping that the family will find comfort somehow and move on. After that, you go back to work. As if nothing happened a few minutes ago.

Apparently, everyday 155 000 people die. Just look at the obituaries daily and it’s a sober reminder of our mortality. Then again, those numbers remain as another set of compiled data. Just like how those patients we sometimes encounter become just another number. Until someone we love and know becomes part of that number. Then suddenly reality hits.

Yet we are all busy in our own world’s, busy- trying just make it through another day. There’s nothing wrong with that but in the midst of our business of trying to make it through the day, we often forget for whom we are doing it. Sometimes in the midst of all the stress of daily routines, we shout or snap at those who matter to us. We fight or gossip or complain over trivial matters.

The last few trips back home has been solemn reminder of how short life is with all the news of people passing on. It’s funny how the thought of death can make us re-evaluate what matters from the things that are not important after all.I was going through some of my old camp stuff when I went back recently and I found this poem from one of the FES Camps I’ve attended.

The Dash Poem

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.

He noted first came the date of her birth
And spoke the following date with tears
But he said what matters most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represented all the time
That she spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own
The cars, the house, the cash
What matters is how we live
And how we spend that dash.

So think about it hard and long
Are there things that we could change?
For we never know how much time is left
To change and to rearrange.

Maybe we could just slow down a little
To consider what’s true and real
To try to understand
How another feels.

And maybe be less quick to anger
And appreciate more
To love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

Maybe we could treat each other with respect
And wear a little smile
Remembering that this special dash
May only last for a while.

So when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you’ve spent your dash?

For those who are mourning over the loss of a family member, our prayers are with you. May you and your family find comfort in His love and the support of the loved ones around you. Losing a loved one is devastating, but we have all been left with a special gift - our memories. They are often the only things we have left after that special person is gone. Though at times they may be painful to think about, with them, our loved ones remain a part of us forever. Helen Keller said, "What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us." Take comfort in your memories, for they will indeed be a part of you forever.

As for the rest of us, maybe it’s time to take a break and think about what memories & legacy we are leaving behind for those who matter to us.

How are we investing in our God-given dash-es?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Saying & Doing

I was hungry,
and you formed a humanities group to discuss my hunger.

I was imprisoned,
and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release.

I was naked,
and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.

I was sick,
and you knelt and thanked God for your health.

I was homeless,
and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God.

I was lonely,
and you left me alone to pray for me.

You seem so holy, so close to God but I am still very hungry – and lonely – and cold.

The poem above was an excerpt taken from John Stott’s book “Human Rights & Human Wrongs: Major issues for a new century.” This poem was written by a homeless woman in response to a country vicar after appealing for help.

What is our motivation behind doing the 'right' thing? What is the 'right' thing to do anyway?

Instead of genuinely doing something for the sake of another, sometimes it feels as if we've come to a point where doing good, or appearing to do the 'right' thing, is something we do to make ourselves feel or look good.

Looking around made me wonder whether often times we SAY too much rather than DO enough=(

Monday, May 01, 2006


Our Hands.

Its weariness can tell a thousand stories.

For some , they merely get daily chores done.

For others , they put daily bread on the table.

A gentle touch conveys encouragement.

A clenched fist tells of resentment.

They create master-pieces.

Yet , they destroy indiscriminately.

Our hands can express a lot more than we realize.

Watch how preciously a mother holds her newborn in her arms , while gently whispering lullabies into his/her ears. Or how a father leads his frightened preschooler by the hand into school? Just look at a pair of lovers holding hands , and you'll see how an intimate touch can say more than a thousand words. Remember that gentle squeeze on the hand someone gave you , telling you to "Hang on in there!" when words are of no use anymore? Or the pat on the back a proud parent gives his/her child , applauding his/her achievements? We often offer a hand to someone in need and we give generously.

In times of distress , we hold them out helplessly in submission. We bury our faces in our hands to hide our tears. We may pull someone back , begging them to stay by us. We fidget restlessly , impatiently waiting for that important piece of news. After years of hardwork , we begin to see the scars and lines of toil on our hands.

Yet , the same hand that we use to love is also used to hit and propagate violence. The same hands that create master pieces can be used to vandalize and destroy creation. The hand that leads and calls forward is also capable of pushing away. Hands that unite may also tear apart. Fingers pointing in all directions , blaming everyone else , but ourselves , for the problems we have.

There are many things we can do with our hands. It really depends on how we choose to use them.

Our hands can represent us and the fingers we have are the different roles we play, some more prominent than the other, but just as important. We may be a parent , a child , a sibling , a friend , a teacher , a student or merely an acquaintance. The lines on our hands represent the experiences , both good and bad , that God has allowed us to experience , moulding us into who we are. Every 'hand' has their own story to tell and there will never be 2 hands that are exactly the same. That's how creative God is! Everytime we come in contact with another person , we leave our 'handprints' in that persons life. Metaphorically speaking , if we began life with an empty white canvas that God has provided us with , by the time we're done with life , we would have a colourful canvas filled with handprints! A brief encounter may be a light-coloured handprint and a lasting memory may be intense and clearly printed. Its up to you what colours you would want to colour those handprints=)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

He has been here.

There are children standing here,
Arms outstretched into the sky,
Tears drying on their face.

He has been here.

Brothers lie in shallow graves.
Fathers lost without a trace.
A nation blind to their disgrace,
Since he's been here.

And I see no bravery,
No bravery in your eyes anymore.
Only sadness.

Houses burnt beyond repair.
The smell of death is in the air.
A woman weeping in despair says,
He has been here.

Tracer lighting up the sky.
It's another families‚ turn to die.
A child afraid to even cry out says,
He has been here.

And I see no bravery,
No bravery in your eyes anymore,
Only sadness.

There are children standing here,
Arms outstretched into the sky,
But no one asks the question why,
He has been here.

Old men kneel and accept their fate.
Wives and daughters cut and raped.
A generation drenched in hate.

Yes, he has been here.

And I see no bravery,
No bravery in your eyes anymore.
Only sadness.

-James BlunT-

Friday, April 28, 2006

I love you , Whoever you might have been...

Please accept my apologies, wonder what would have been,
Would you have been a little angel? or an angel of sin?
Tom-boy running around, hanging with all the guys?or a little tough boy with beautiful brown eyes?

Paid for the murder before they had determined the sex
Choosing our life over your life meant your death
And you never got a chance to even open your eyes
Sometimes I wonder as a fetus if you fought for your life?
Would you have been a little genius, in love with math?
Would you have played in your school clothes and made me mad?
Would you have been a little rapper like your poppa the piper?
Would you have made me quit smoking by finding one of my lighters?
I wonder about your skintone and shape of your noseand the way you would have laughed and talked fast or slow,
I think about it every year, so I picked up a pen

Happy birthday,
I love you
Whoever you would have been

Happy birthday,
What I thought was a dream
Make a wish
Was as real as it seemed

I made a mistake

I got a million excuses,
As to why you died,
And other people got their own reasons for homocide
Who's to say it would have worked
And who's to say it wouldn't have
I was young and struggling, but old enough to be a dad,
The fear of being my father has never disappeared
I ponder it frequently while I'm sipping on my beer,
My vision of a family was artificial and fake
So when it came time to create I made a mistake.

Now you got a little brother, maybe it's really you,
Maybe you really forgave us knowing we was confused
Maybe, every time that he smiles, It's you ,
Proudly knowing that your father is doing the right thing now
I never tell a woman what to do with her body
But if she don't love children then we can't party
I think about it every year
So I picked up a pen

Happy birthday,
I love you
Whoever you would have been

Happy birthday
What I thought was a dream
Make a wish
Was as real as it seemed

I made a mistake

From the heavens to the womb
To the heavens again
From the ending to the ending
Never got to begin
Maybe one day we can meet face to face
In a place without time and space
Happy BirthdaY.

-Flipside feat. Piper-