Keep yourselves in the Love of God” (Jude 1:21)
Steve Jobs suggested that hindsight helps one to connect the dots of life. I guess it’s a fancy way of saying that there is purpose in our lives. As a Christian, I know that this purpose is not blind and impersonal, but that it stems from a personal and purposeful God. Above all else he is a God who loves even before we first love him – or even try. While many religions and philosophies teach that we should do things to get to God, God’s Word reminds us that he has done much to get us. The advice from Jude was my meditation for 2017. As I look back, I saw at least 3 things that I’m holding onto in 2018:
1. God loves us practically
Speaking of love, we celebrated our one year marriage anniversary with Jessica in December 2017. She is a physical reminder of how God gives gifts when we do not deserve them. I tell most of our story in my book, but there’s been so much good that I am convinced with God, relationships and marriages can be healthy. We made it through almost 1 ½ years of long distance relationship during our courtship; we’ve been able to find middle ground in decision making in our marriage; our conflict resolution has matured us as we’ve learned to attack the problem and not each other. We’ve made it through because of God’s love in our hearts, which has helped us to be patient with each us and to love on each other. Enough of my marriage 101! Still, Jesus Christ remains the most practical show of outrageous love.
2. We should respond to his love
Sometimes I think that we abuse the concept of grace and forget the place of intentionality. I’ve learnt that “keeping myself in the love of God” means sometimes learning through botched plans and pursuing God when I’ve not felt like doing so. In 2017 I got a Masters opportunity to study abroad only to miss a scholarship then later after receiving a full overseas PhD scholarship, I wasn’t able to find a supervisor. God really disciplined me through this period by pointing me to my hurried-nature. I continue to learn how to respond to God’s love in full trust and obedience, especially through waiting (one wishes we could get this class over and done with . . . Dream on!). Yet somehow God helped me to make a huge leap in terms of “career direction” or calling – a word I prefer because it gets at the heart of things. I resigned from a promising Engineering career to pursue a full-time pastoral calling. So far, I’ve seen great impact and learnt that being in God’s will brings lasting fruitfulness. I guess the proverb “there is a way that appears right to a person but in the end it leads to destruction” fits well. I’m trusting God this year to read through the Bible in 4 months, to pursue more writing opportunities and to see more fruitfulness in the ministry he has called me to.
3. Having God is having all things
Among my new year’s resolutions is to read 3 books a month – I never knew this meant I had to control my tendencies of haphazard reading (my hurried nature again). One of the books I was reading led me to Jonathan Edwards. He’s one of the most respected intellectuals in America (he was a theologian and pastor actually – there goes my vanity!). One of the reasons he’s so respected is that he had such a high view of God. In essence he says that the creature finds his/her greatest joy when God’s glory grips his/her head and heart. Every day I see idols that can cling so easily at my heart: selfish ambition, pride of life and lust of the eyes. Temptations to exchange the glory of God with created things abound. Yet, I am reminded that if God is the highest being, and if his glory is the manifestation of his perfections, doesn’t this mean that pursuing and proclaiming his glory is the summit of human experience? I’m hoping that this year in the face of my desires and dreams, failures and foibles, I would be God-centered and that the glory of God would literally overwhelm me. I know that when this happens, then I will be fully satisfied even as I work, relate, play, love, eat and drink.
Here’s to 2018!