a new beginning for the twenty-third time

Yeah, 23 was a randomly chosen number. It just seemed to fit the meter. Haha. Don’t you ever wonder whether the names and numbers in song lyrics actually mean anything? The answer is probably….sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Not that this is a song, but this time, it doesn’t. Haha.

Anyway. I think I’m over jetlag! Yes! Touched down at 5.15am on Thursday. Came home, bummed around, then went out with some friends from 11am to 1030pm. I took some naps towards the end, but I was mostly forced to stay awake since we were moving around, so that was good! Came home and slept at 1230am, woke up at 9. Last night I slept at 12 and was up today just after 8! I even went for a swim. Feeling gooood.

But it’s not so much because I’m actually physically awake as much as it is because I’m spiritually awake, I think. Relatively speaking, anyway. I feel as though I’m emerging from the desert. Or maybe not the desert. Hmm. From a tiny room fitted with a smoke machine. That’s it. It feels like the smoke is clearing and I can see again. Slowly, little by little, but definitely more than before. How? Cos I’m finally choosing to open my eyes again.

Funny how reluctant I am to do so. Guess it’s easier to have your eyes closed sometimes. Like how you lie in bed awake, refusing to open your eyes cos that would mean you really are awake and you’ve got to leave the warm comfort of your bed. I tried that for the past few months. It’s no good. Yeah, it might seem as though there’s less to think about, less to contemplate. But where’s the fun in that? Really, it just makes you feel like you might as well be dead. Cos lying in bed with your dreams and fantasies is all very nice and good, but unless you get out of that bed and start turning them into reality, you’ve still got nothing.

I watched Narnia yesterday. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In terms of entertainment value, I didn’t think it was that great. It felt extremely choppy, like a few short movies cut-and-pasted into one. They just kind of went from place to place and at the end it all makes sense, but I feel like it could’ve been much better tied together. It all felt kind of…random. Nevertheless, the message was great, of course. There were two big things that stood out to me.

The first was this scene when Lucy cast a spell she’d found in a spellbook to make herself more beautiful. Her standard of “beautiful” is her sister, Susan. Casting the spell turns her into Susan. She finds herself with her brothers, looking as she’s always dreamed of looking, but to her horror, she finds that Lucy no longer exists and her siblings don’t know about Narnia (Lucy had been the first to discover Narnia). After being sufficiently shaken, Aslan comes along and explains it all. She wasn’t happy with who she was, but in wishing to be like someone else, she was basically denying her own creation.

I guess at some level, we all know that not being happy with who we are is like challenging God’s decisions about how He created us, but portraying the consequence of that as ceasing to exist just made it even clearer. It’s something I know I struggle with, so it was a really good reminder that we all just need to be…exactly who we are. Lucy tells a little girl who said she wanted to grow up to be like Lucy,

When you grow up, you should be just like you”.

So true.

I read the first chapter of my dad’s new book, “The Power of Love“, today. ‘Twas good. This is what I took away from it:

We are ordinary people with ordinary problems that, to us, seem overwhelming. Sometimes it seems like the church, and by extension God, doesn’t care about our personal problems, but only about the ‘bigger’, idealistic we’ve-got-to-evangelize-and-eradicate-poverty-and-have-justice-for-all type issues. And that stuff’s definitely important. But if we think that they’re more important than the struggles we face every day, we’re wrong, and we don’t know God. ‘Cos God does care about our ‘tiny’ problems. In fact, as was said in Narnia (this is my 2nd point about Narnia! ha! bet you thought i forgot!),

We can’t defeat the darkness outside of us until we have defeated the darkness inside of us.

There’s nothing to be ashamed about. Everyone has problems. There’s no need to hide them. They don’t make you weak. They just make you normal.

Sometimes we get so bitter and depressed that we can’t show gratitude or appreciation for the love others show us. That’s okay. It’s normal. It’s part of being human and having these problems. Not ideal, no, but normal. God loves us all the same – not grudgingly or obligingly, but with equal amounts of zeal and intensity and warmth. One way He shows that love to us is through other people. For Naomi, Ruth was one of these people. Naomi couldn’t appreciate what Ruth was doing for her, not acknowledging Ruth’s care or thanking her for it. It must’ve been tough for Ruth who must’ve felt unappreciated and maybe even a little bitter, wondering why she was doing all she was doing for someone who didn’t even seem to notice. I pray I will be like Ruth and show love even when it is not reciprocated, or even acknowledged. I pray that when I am in Naomi’s position, I will be able to show gratitude and appreciation. If you are my Ruth, and I do not, I sincerely apologize.

One practical application. Make friends with bitter, depressed, lonely, broken people. People who may not be able to appreciate your love, care and concern. Why? Because to them, you are the concrete presence of God. There’s evangelism for you. Help me to do that, Lord Jesus.

My arms are aching from swimming for the first time in a long, long time. Oh boy. Yet, I give thanks that I am able to swim (:

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thess 5:18

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