Living in The Past Part 2

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This post is part 2 of a 3-part series on living in the past. Stay tuned for more!

Are you someone who “lives” in the past? Someone who is sustained by memories of the past?

If so, you are not alone. Today I’ll be sharing more of the verses I found regarding living in the past, along with some quick insights. If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, I highly encourage you to go ahead and read that as well!

And now for today’s post!

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As Christians, we sometimes view sorrow negatively, because we’re supposed to have the joy of the Lord, so why are we sorrowful?

I used to think like that too. I would hide my sad feelings when I was around others because it would make me a “bad” Christian girl. I still catch myself thinking that way. But during a recent meeting with some friends, we had a discussion on what it meant to mourn, and concluded that mourning can actually be good. But how so?

Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Think about that verse, then put it with 2 Corinthians 7:10. We realise that when we mourn for the same things that God mourns about, we are brought to repentance, salvation, and joy. However, we must be careful in discerning God’s heart, because unGodly grief brings death.

This is true in many contexts, and a literal example of unGodly grief resulting in death would be in the area of relationships. I have been conducting some research in the area of dating, and found that there is a high percentage of people who commit suicide (literal death) due to the grief caused by disappointments and hurts in relationships. Isn’t that tragic? If only we were to take a step back to prioritise God and seek and desire His will in our lives, we would be able to discern His heart in a clearer manner and not have to suffer from the wrong type of grief!

The importance of discerning God’s heart is further emphasised in 1 John 2:15-17.

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Discerning God’s heart and prioritising Him helps us to keep our eyes on Him, rather than lingering in the past. Something I’ve been learning recently is that sometimes, God takes things away so that we can focus more on Him. He takes best friends away so that we can learn to love them with a Godly, sisterly/brotherly love, and to teach us to rely on Him.

At church today, the pastor spoke of how sometimes, God withholds things because He loves us. John 11: 5-7 says this, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

Notice that John is saying that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, and that’s why he stayed two more days. He has a divine perspective that we don’t have.

Don’t dwell on the past. Live in the present, but look to the future. Be encouraged because God has something better in store!

I’d like to share a final passage- a timeless reminder to myself of who I am and what I’m living for.

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And here’s a short excerpt from a journal:

When what was my life got taken away, God tried to show me that my life is Christ. I rejected it for so long, but now I realise that’s the lesson God wants me to learn. He wants me to focus on Him. Oh, how hard it is!

– C.C.

It’s not easy. But all things are possible through Christ Who strengthens us!

And I repeat:

Don’t dwell on the past. Live in the present, but look to the future. Be encouraged because God has something better in store!

Much love,

Szen ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Goodbyes

Goodbyes.

I don’t like goodbyes, because frankly, for me, goodbyes always carry some sort of feeling that’s simply not a happy feeling. The past month has brought quite a number of goodbyes for me.

Amongst the people I had to say goodbye to were two older friends who left for university in Kentucky in July. And just two days ago, my best friend left for Pennsylvania. Halfway around the world. These people have been a big part of my life these past three years – friends who have taught me, laughed with me, and gone through trials with me, so I’d like to take a moment to remember and appreciate them.

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Nate, you were an awesome gor-gor to all of us. I really enjoyed working under you as the assistant media coordinator/historian, and your guidance has empowered me to take on the media coordinator/historian role now and pass on what you taught me to the next person. You’ve taught me a lot about media, photography, and how to think as a public speaker. 

Eliza, you have been a wonderful big sister to all of us too! You always inspire us by your excellence and determination in achieving your goals. And like Nate, you’ve also taught me so much about media, photography, and being an effective communicator!

Joo Yee, thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and with me. Thank you for everything you’ve shared with me about 5.30am, devotions, being a pianist for worship, being a worship leader, being a SetApart girl, and also being an NCO. 🙂 Thanks for sticking with me through my ups and downs and encouraging me, especially this year. And most of all, thank you for being my Jie. 😘

And to all of these amazing people who have made such an impact on my life, thank you so much. All the best, may God proper you in all you do, and never lose sight of the vision He has for you! Hugs from the land of nasi lemak 😉 

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So. Goodbyes. 

I think in a way saying goodbye is a lesson for me too. Sometimes I just take it for granted that people will be there forever. But goodbyes, especially the most recent ones, have taught me that the only one who’s always going to be there is God. Some leave, some pass on, and still others just move out of my life as I journey from one phase of my life to another.

It’s also taught me to treasure the little moments that may seem insignificant. Don’t pass on opportunities to spend time with people, and serve them. Find time to do little favors. Don’t let chances to appreciate others slip off. 

There are so many more things I’ve learnt and realized. But I’ll keep it short and sweet.

Think about what you want to remember on the day you will have to say goodbye. What will you want to remember? Regret? 

Oh, and one last thing. 

Don’t be afraid of taking selfies, as cheesy as it may seem.

:):):) 

Goodbyes are hard, but they’ve taught me how to value friendships. 🙂

Holding on to Papa’s Hands

Hi everyone! I’m Joo Yee, one of Charis’ BB friends. I guess you should know that I’m not a writer, much less a blogger. I’m not used to putting my thoughts down on paper, and have always admired people who are gifted in the art of expressing themselves through words (i.e. Charis). So you can imagine my surprise when Charis invited me to do a guest post on her blog a few weeks ago. For a rookie like me, to be asked to share on such a talented young writer’s blog is a great privilege! Thank you, Charis, for giving me this chance and for proofreading my work. And a huge shout-out to my beloved dad – this memo is for you ☺

Holding on to Papa’s Hands

When I was small, my dad – or ‘papa’ as I called him – has a special way of holding my hand. I would cling tightly to his pointer finger and he would wrap the rest of his fingers round my small fist. Papa’s hands seemed huge compared to my own small toddler hands, which were small enough to disappear completely in his firm, strong clench. With my hand snugly and cosily hidden within his, I knew that I was completely safe and secure simply because Papa was holding me. After all, in my eyes, no one was bigger than Papa.
As I grew up, Papa held my hands less and less. My sisters came into the world and they needed him to hold their hands too. Even so, he still held me up with his words of encouragement, advice, reprimand, and prayer. He was the dad who would stay up till the wee hours of the morning to help me with my school assignments. The fact that he was severely sleep-deprived didn’t get to him. In the midst of a mad rush to meet his own deadlines, he somehow finds time to do family devotions with us.
Above all, he taught me to hold onto the hands of the Heavenly Father above. He taught me this lesson not only through his words, but with his own life. It is a great privilege to wake up every morning and see my father at his table, bent over his Bible or with his head bowed in prayer, spending the precious first hour of the day with the Lord. He clings on tightly to the Father, and nothing speaks louder of this than his deep humility. He has achieved many remarkable and astounding successes in his life, yet whenever asked about his experience, he boasts nothing more than Christ’s constant presence and grace in the trial behind each success.
Teaching me to hold onto the hands of the Heavenly Father – this is probably the best way Papa could hold me. I guess deep down in his heart, he knows that he and my mum are unable to hold my hand and walk me through life forever. The best thing they could do is to entrust me into the care of the Father above, because He is the perfect Father – infinitely stronger, wiser, and loves me deeper than my parents ever could.
In just a matter of months, I will be leaving home to study in a place far, far away. This is my first real experience of leaving my parents and finding my own way into the world. At times, the fear drowns out the anticipation; how can I ever survive when my parents – my life’s anchors – are (literally) half a world away? I guess this is when Papa’s lesson becomes real for me. Without Papa around, the Father’s hands are the only hands I can cling onto. I must learn to hold onto His hands as I held onto Papa’s all those years ago – with absolute, childlike trust, knowing that I am completely safe and secure because GOD Himself is holding me. After all, His hands are so much larger than Papa’s. And there is absolutely no one who is bigger than God.
Thank you Pa, for holding me the past 20 years. You have given me so much more than I ever deserve. One day, when you may be weak and can no longer walk on your own, it shall be my turn to hold you. And we shall rest in the assurance that the Father above will continue holding us just as He always has, till eternity.

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From Charis:
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Joo Yee for agreeing to share with us by guest posting here! She has been a huge encouragement and inspiration to me in everything, be it academics, social life, or my relationship with God. I hope you’ve been blessed by this post! I, for one, have certainly been! 
Note- five more days to go till I fly home! This trip has been super exhausting, but God has been teaching me many things, especially how to let go of things. But that’s a story for another day. 🙂 God bless!

A Painful Lesson

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I remember yesterdays like
Intermittent dewdrops of sweet honey.
I remember them like
Teardrops running down my cheeks.

I remember yesterdays like
An autumn breeze, and gold leaves askew.
I remember them like
An unrelenting fog, clouding my vision.

I remember yesterdays like
A child among the playful, lapping waves.
I remember them like
The angry ocean’s saltine spray mingling with my own.

I remember yesterdays like
Clear blue skies, and cotton poufs of stories.
I remember them like
Dark, gloomy nights, and thunder rolling in my ears.

I remember yesterdays like
Swaying fronds of delicate fern.
I remember them like
Evil tendrils of vine that curl around my neck.

I remember yesterdays like
Footprints in the sand, untouched by the sea.
I remember them like
A mess of sand, a reminder of when two friends fought.

I remember yesterdays like
Windswept hair, and tinkling laughter.
I remember them like
Wild tresses, tousled in the wake of a sleepless night.

I remember yesterdays like
An antique musical box- a refreshing melody to my ears.
I remember them like
A forgotten relic, damaged in the fray, but held dear in my heart.

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When I was eleven, my friend and I became special friends. We had known each other for years, just that- well, it was a normal relationship. We admired each other, and enjoyed each other’s company, and that was it.

For months, a friend had tried to damage our friendship by gossiping about us behind our backs. But both of us were aware of it and determined that nothing would keep us apart.

We shared the same interests, the same hobbies, the same passions.

We could talk to each other for hours about anything and everything.

But at the end of the next year, something DID separate us. 

Just a simple dispute. A simple misunderstanding about a missing item.

And our friendship ended there. 

We stopped speaking to each other. Stopped texting. Stopped emailing. Stopped sending letters. 

Well, maybe not exactly. But it was always one-sided. At first, she continued to reply my emails with short, snappy ones. Two months after our disagreement, she sent me a happy birthday email.

And of course, I replied. But she didn’t.

She never replied one single email or letter after that.

Up to this day, I still don’t know why.

I’ve never seen her since, even though I used to meet her a few times each week.

That was three years ago.

And to this day, when I think of her, tears still well up in my eyes. My lip still quivers. I still feel the pain as acutely as when it first happened.

Today is her birthday. 

She loved blue. 

So many things remind of her. She was such a big part of my life that everything somehow eventually links back to memories of her.

Today is her birthday.

Happy birthday, my dear friend. I still love you.

While that broken relationship still pains me, there is still something I can thank God for.

I was extremely attached to her. I knew she wasn’t the best influence for me, but, um. She was a Christian, anyhow. Maybe if I compromised some things and pushed my parents’ boundaries for me, things would work out?

But no. I refused to let her go, so God forced me to, I guess.

And, let me tell you this. It hurts. A lot.

For countless nights after that, I lay in bed crying and thinking of her. Yes, even after more than a year. 

But letting her go freed me from myself. 

I had decided I would be faithful to her. No one else would be my special friend.

But things didn’t work out. So, my heart was freed from my own loyalty to her. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. She still holds her special place in my heart. But now, I’ve realised the lie I believed in, and I opened my heart to allow God to lead the right friends to me.

And sure enough, the next year, He did. 

2014, in that tent? I was talking with the girl who is now my best friend. We were talking about letting our treasures go- in our cases, our friends. 

Neither of us knew it then, but that “break-up” with my special friend- God had a purpose in it. 

It’s a lesson for me to remember. When things don’t go the right way, I need to trust that He has something in mind. Yes, it’s easier said than done. But it’s happened countless times. When a dream was shattered, He built me a greater surprise. When a door was slammed shut, He showed me other doorways.

But that’s another story, for another day. 🙂

Here‘s something I’d like to share with you- something that gave me strength when I didn’t even have enough to ask God for more. ^^

Blessings, and a big hug from my corner of the world!

Szen

Grateful – 2 Years and Counting

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It was nearly midnight. I crawled wearily into my sleeping bag, but couldn’t help noticing the girl beside me, holding a Bible and flashlight.

Now, who in the world would dream of reading Scripture in the dead of the night after a long, exhausting day of hiking, games, outdoor cooking, and team activities?

So it wasn’t just those homeschooled girls who had been zealously brought up in the faith who had real relationships with God.

It wasn’t just those ministry people who were aflame for God.

It wasn’t just those people who’d had dramatic encounters with God who really had Him in their lives.

Normal people like her could, too.

I wanted to experience the type of relationship that she had with God. I wanted to know what it was about God that meant so much to her. I wanted to feel for myself this God that she had such a personal relationship with, she felt something was missing in a day without time spent with Him.

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She is beautiful. Maybe not to others, but to me, she is simply beautiful.

Beautiful- deep in her heart. Simplicity, honesty, humility, and that love for God. That’s what attracted me.

How much she, in this age, respected her parents, and wasn’t afraid to show it.

How she was willing to admit her mistakes, and share lessons she had learnt.

How she was courageous, standing firm in her beliefs despite the deteriorating moral standards of our culture today- music, fashion, conduct, language, you name it.

That night, we had our first real conversation. An honest, vulnerable, and yet fulfilling one like I had never had before. May 3, 2014. In a yellow-and-green tent, in the middle of the night. Yes.

Her voice still resonates in my mind. I still remember the passage we read and discussed that night.

Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

~Matthew 6:19-24

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Since that night two years ago, that relationship has grown. It is a gem to me- deeply treasured.

She’s stood by me in my happiest moments. She doesn’t waver when I make the dumbest mistakes. She always has a word of encouragement for someone who needs it.

Her spontaneity and enthusiasm are contagious. She’s willing to be vulnerable, and takes correction humbly.

She doesn’t fake it when she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t judge someone for their mistakes, actions, or emotions.

She respects those who tease her, and cares for everyone, no matter how insignificant.

She doesn’t look for admiration- she looks for ways to be a blessing and a light to others in her corner of the world.

She is motherly, caring, and kind. She is willing to sacrifice to help others.

And I know beyond a doubt, no matter how badly I’ve failed, she’s there cheering me on.

I know beyond a doubt, no matter how small my success, she’s happy for me.

I know beyond a doubt, she will be there for me through thick and thin.

Maybe not physically, but spiritually and emotionally, yes.

She is that friend – we don’t need to meet every day, or even every week. Sometimes we don’t even talk when we see each other- we just wave from a distance and carry on.

It’s really true. Real friends don’t need to talk to you all the time to be connected. Real friends are already connected to you.

1 universe, 9 planets, 245 countries, 809 islands, 7 seas, and I had the privilege of meeting her.

All by God’s grace.

Each moment spent with her, each memory that lingers here, each word that echoes in my ear- they’re all expressions of God’s grace.

And I’m so grateful for that.

It’s been two years, and I pray there will be many more to come.

I am truly grateful. 🙂

And as a final note to my beautiful bestie:

You’ve done so much for me, and walked so far for me.

Now, this is the least I can do for you. Love you so much!

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