the wider life

an excerpt by J.R. Miller –

We should never be content with a narrow life. We are made for breadth and fullness, and we rob God when we fail to reach our best. 

Some people assert that Christianity’s ideal for life, is narrow. They say it cramps and limits us. It has no place, for example, for physical or intellectual development. It says nothing about art, music, science, or the many phases of human activity. It presents only the moral side—conscience, obedience to heavenly laws, spiritual attainments and achievements.

The answer is that while Christianity may not definitely name the things of the intellect, or distinctly call men to noble achievements in art, in exploration, in invention, in research, in the culture of the beautiful, it really includes in its range everything that will add to the fullness and completeness of life and character. It excludes nothing but what is sinful: disobedience to law, impurity, selfishness, uncharity, and these only narrow and debase, do not broaden and enrich life.”

on hardship and ease

Shatter the myth that easy is good,
and hard is bad

we all want a comfortable life,
bathing in ease and luxury.
at least, that is what we think we want.
if comfort and pleasure is the main (unspoken) aim
of life –
to enjoy nice things and to not have to worry about anything –
then we would be Epicureans.

and then when we finally have all these
material possessions that we want,
we wonder why we are not happy,
and feel a certain void within,
a certain meaninglessness.

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity

we were not made just to pursue
a comfortable existence,
but for God our Creator.

The persecuted Christians
who had nothing,
and really nothing,
no savings, no house, no future –
landed up and died in jail –
those that ‘wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins;
being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

know more about solid joys
and lasting pleasures
than men whose main aim
is to live as comfortably as
they possibly can on this earth.

if we try to insulate ourselves
from the vissicitudes of life –
“bubble-wrapping” –
however well-intentioned these efforts may be,
we will never develop true
strength, courage, grit.

it is the hardship and the pain
that forges our character:
why do we try our best to avoid
any form of pain and discomfort?

but if we have a purpose
that extends beyond just eating and drinking
before we die –
and we do –
comfort is not a priority.

Ease is not good,
and hard is not bad

get rid of sloth

Slothfulness

stupefies men, and makes them senseless, and mindless of their own affairs, as they were cast into a deep sleep, 

dreaming much, but doing nothing. 

Slothful people doze away their time, bury their talents, live a useless life, and are the unprofitable burdens of the earth.

-Matthew Henry

speak, Lord, in the stillness

The necessity of being still before God

Be still, and know that I am God:
(Psalm 46:10)

Often when our hearts are tossed
here and there by fleshly feelings –
by selfishness, by anger, by discontent –
we cannot hear God.

When we read His Word
with an unsettled heart,
we often mishandle the Scripture,
using it to support our twisted ideas.

*

It is not in the tumult of passions
where we can contemplate who God truly is,
and seek to adore Him for His majesty and meekness.

Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
(Psalm 131:2)

Only with a soul as a weaned child
can we even begin to
know that He is GOD,
the eternal and infinite Being –
begin to grasp His infinitude
and gasp in awe at it.

Only then can we hear Him aright,
subjecting our twisted ideas
to the unbending rule of His holy Word.

Be still, my soul.

triumphs at my cost

For the longest time, I was idealistic.

But that is an euphemism for naivety. My brother bluntly told me once that he thinks I live in an universe of my own.

Though it’s exaggerated, I know what he means.

Airy, dream-like, almost ethereal.

*

I had ideals. Ideals impossible in this fallen world of sin.

God had to pull them down, one by one.

He did, this year.

By the mistreatment and the eventual break.

By working life, which officially marked the start of adulthood.

*

Were not the ideals wholesome and innocent?

That I should be loved, cherished, treasured by one who claims to do so?

That I should not have to go out and fend for myself in the corporate world, and be trampled for my lack of assertiveness and dominance?

But these are still my own ideas.

And any ideas that stand in opposition to God’s
are ideas stemming from self-will.

*

Thy will,
not my ideals,
be done.

My ideas were
shattered.

Yet I am not.

I survived,
and emerged stronger,
having come face to face with reality.

I can laugh the more joyfully,
smile the more steadily
because whatever comes my way
in God’s Providence,
I’m ready.

*

There are none of my ideals that God’s future for me must conform to anymore.

And that is good, for His thoughts are higher than my thoughts.

Buy a HDB flat/condo at the age of 35 to live with my pet dog for company? Sure.

Be wife to a wealthy businessman and mother to seven children? Sure.

Die, poor and lonely, in a remote third world village whilst doing missions? Sure.

Just as long as it’s God’s Will,
My soul is assured of the victory.

And the will of God becomes so dear to him that he loves it best when it triumphs at his cost.
(Stepping Heavenwards)

conquering self-will

As self-will is the root of all sin and misery, so whatever cherishes this in children ensures their wretchedness and irreligion: whatever checks and mortifies it, promotes their future happiness and piety. 

This is still more evident if we farther consider that religion is nothing else than doing the will of God and not our own; that the one grand impediment to our temporal and eternal happiness being this self-will, no indulgence of it can be trivial, no denial unprofitable.

Heaven or hell depends on this alone. 

– Susannah Wesley