Forgiveness

It has been a very reflective 2016 for me thus far, at times poignant. If there is a key or prominent word that keeps occurring, it would be Forgiveness. There has been many quotes from the bible about how we have received forgiveness, especially with Good Friday and Easter recently. After his resurrection, when Jesus appeared to his disciples, he said, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47 ESV). I am ever grateful for his love and forgiveness for me but I realised it is not that simple. The other key word is repentance, without which forgiveness would not be in effect.

A big shopping mall is giving away a free gift to the first 100 customers who walk in when it opens tomorrow. Even though the gift is free, the person has to go there to get it. Of course, there will be other considerations like whether it was worth the effort and time, etc. However, it is clear that you need to go to the mall and meet the conditions to get it. In a way, repentance is the condition, the state of heart, mind and spirit that will enable one to receive forgiveness.

When I was younger, I have always thought that I was not good enough and weak willed. I find myself guilt ridden because I thought that I was not able to overcome temptations. Every time I fell, I would ask God to forgive me and somehow it would be like a hopeless vicious cycle that I would once again be asking God to forgive me for the same sins. It was even worse when I realised that my list of wrong doings kept growing. Eventually, I gave up. I gave up not only from asking for forgiveness but also from believing that I would ever be able to overcome. To add to this sorry state, I would not forgive myself for all that has happened and considered myself a hopeless case.

Many years later, I realised that as hopeless as I thought I was, it was really my pride that was the real problem. I have placed the judgement (sentence) on myself and made the decision to go it alone blaming it on my `hopeless’ state. It was I who chose not to believe in the saving power of God for my weaknesses and failures and went ahead on my own schemes and ways. It was I who decided to be the judge and controller of my past, present and future in my so called hopelessness, ironic isn’t it? I thought I could ride through my life with all my imperfect and sinful nature and carve out a decent life with some christian values thrown in. I cringed when I think that I could have gone on the rest of my life in that state.

All the years of growing up in a christian family and environment means nothing if I never really experience repentance and forgiveness in its true sense. It is like what Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36 ESV). A repentant person would be like this, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 ESV).

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV) and he said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV). I came to this point like Martha, “Do I believe?” Will I be like Martha who said she believed even though her brother Lazarus has been dead for four days? Clearly my situation was not as drastic as hers but to believe that God will deliver me from my perceived hopelessness was drastic for me. I found it really, really hard to believe as it has been so long, so very long that I am weary just thinking about it.

I realised that my inability to forgive myself stems from my thinking that I can be the judge of who is deserving of forgiveness. This seems utterly ridiculous as who am I trying to be, God? Not only was I unrepentant, I was high and mighty too. It’s like I am stuck inside a deep, dark and murky well and someone came to rescue me by lowering a rope for me to hold on to but I said, “No need I’m fine, just let me rot in here”. This is a prime example of foolish pride.

To truly believe in God, I need to repent – acknowledge and recognise my sinful nature and the need for deliverance (to be rescued) through Jesus Christ who has paid the price for me and through him I can receive the forgiveness of sins. I believed and stopped judging my hopelessness and lay myself down before God, warts and all. I received the forgiveness of my sins whom only Jesus can wash clean and I am set free! I am forever grateful for his love and grace for me and that he will continue the work in my life as I press on to live this life in his light and joy that I may be a blessing to others and let them know that indeed, Jesus saves and is coming again. I can now testify the verse quoted earlier, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”!

Now I can say with much joy and gratefulness, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV) and Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10.10b ESV).

Reflection

Well, I am forgiven but it does not stop here as being forgiven also requires that I forgive others, among other things. It makes sense doesn’t it that as we have been forgiven, we should also forgive others. However, it is not so simple yet again. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;” (Luke 6:37 ESV). This should be covered next.

 

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Sweet Little Lies – Bitter Truth

As kids, we’re told, time and again, that lying is wrong. Do you believe that’s always true? In your book, are there any exceptions?

Born and raised in Singapore, the smallest country in size in South East Asia, I cannot recall being told that lying is wrong. I think the older people around me then had more pressing concerns than dealing with my truthfulness.

Growing up in a rustic village was more action packed than wordiness. We did not spend time talking much and ran around playing games screaming our heads off more than anything else.

If I were to come home dirty, bruised or with bloodied knee or elbow, it will be an earful of scolding and dagger stares from my grandma. No room to lie. The common reaction of adults who see me at the end of an adventurous day was the shaking of heads or eyes rolling.

I do feel that they had given up on trying to communicate with me. On calmer days when I was not let out to play due to family dinners or festive occasions, they would say very few words to me like, “How are you girl?” or “Study hard ah?”

So until I was able to hold decent conversations perhaps teenage years onwards, that’s when the issue of lying became a matter of right or wrong. I know it clearly from the Ten Commandments that Thou shalt not lie. I know that lying makes me dishonest and made me fool another person.

Till today, I cannot comprehend the term white lies, half truths and gray as a description of lying being right or ok. The truth hurts, it is hard and may make things worse. That I can understand. It is the choices we make that determine where we stand.

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Sweet Little Lies – DP

Finite Creatures

At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?

“Why is uncle in box and wearing a suit? Why is everyone looking so sad and solemn?” The thoughts than ran through my mind when I was about 10 years old. No one really explained to me about my uncle whom I saw wasting away in hospital due to stomach cancer. He was less than half his size before he passed away. Strangely, although I had seen death, it didn’t cross my mind that I was not immortal.

It must be due to the few earlier experiences that made me unable to link to this event. When I was 7 or 8 years old, I loved to play by the beach and swim near the shore with my cousins. They all had some kind of tube or float around their waist or arms but I ventured further without one and was caught under a strong wave. I recalled being under the sea and the water churning and swirling above my head. It was rather quiet. Suddenly, I was pulled up and out of the water by the hair! It was my aunt who was still holding me up by the hair in front of her and she was scolding me words I can’t hear and was frantically waving a finger at my face. I was coughing water out from my mouth and was trying to breathe.

Another time was when I was perhaps 9 years old when I climbed up my grandmother’s cabinet to drink what I thought was a potion that she took to make her strong so I wanted to be strong. I drank what would be considered 2 shots of brandy, I think it was a Remy Martin. Of course later it would cause the whole family to go berserk calling a doctor about what to do with a super red faced little girl that can hardly talk or walk.  Yes the doctor ordered a water parade and then wait and see if I would survive which I did after a huge barf.

So, when did I know I was not immortal? When I grew up and some fun got lost along the way. It’s not that I want to be immortal, it’s the fun of not realising you are but a mortal 😂.

Finite Creatures – DP