You know how old you’ve become and how serious your life has developed into when what occupies your sleepless nights is the need for a partner in ministry — a.k.a. a “see-mo”. And I am not speaking of this lightly — but as seriously as I am scared to know how, as a future pastor, and if God would allow, the father of “pastor’s kids”.It’s been over a year and a half since I’ve been in a relationship (first and last so far), and it’s been that long also that I have not prayed for a relationship. After the last one, it never dawned on me to seek after God’s blessing and grace of companionship again anytime soon. For about half a year from the beginning of my second last term in university, I prayed only to survive–first and foremost that I would have enough faith to live on, and secondly, to get through school without needing extra time to finish.And then came deciphering, confirming and affirming my call to full-time vocational ministry. Since my experience at Passion 06, most of my time in Scripture and prayer has been spent in seeking the Spirit’s guidance regarding vocational church ministry and seminary. Sure, a couple opportunities came about since that time that caught my momentary attention — but none in so far as requiring my immediate, continuous, undivided attention, prayer and petition to the Lord for guidance and direction.Even in that time, I have often wondered why such desire was not there. Was it because of the huge, thick lead wall that had been erected around my heart due to my previous experiences? Along with focusing on ministry, this was indeed a big reason that I only recognized in retrospect. It was very hard, and still is a bit difficult, to trust anybody else with my heart and its will, goals, purposes and intentions. Opening up to anybody whom I did not know that well was tremendously tasking idea on me, and more than often, I avoided situations where it would be necessary.Sure, I wanted to drop that wall and just be open to friendship, but it was a naturally reflex of my psyche — to defend myself from harm and hurt and pain. I recall, the lyrics from a certain ballad really hit home and I related quite explicitly: Because of you I never stray too far from the sidewalk / I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt / I find it hard to trust Not only me, but everyone around me / Because of you I am afraid.I must say, it has been all of God’s grace and no work on my part to have gotten from there to here. I don’t think anybody ever completely heals from such scaring, but still, Christ’s blood that He shed for us still continually washes over all of my wounds and brings daily healing. In studying and teaching the atonement & Christ on the Cross these past 3 months for my Sunday School class, I have found it particularly helpful for myself to mediate upon His all-sufficient Word and seek to understand what it really means to have Christ as the atoning sacrifice for my sins — the expiation and propitiation for my transgressions.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.(1 John 4:10)For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.(Romans 3:22-25)
It is amazing grace in and of itself, that the Father showed me how righteous He truly is, was and always will be. What righteousness that I am or have has never been from my efforts and my own doing, but it has all been through God’s imputation of His Son’s righteousness to me. And in this very act of imputing Jesus’ righteous obedience into my life, the LORD painted in my head a beautiful picture of divine forbearance over my inequities.So what now? What has changed?
I do not know how to answer either question. I do know that it certainly has been a long process of sanctification, and a process that I will continually go through until I see the Lord face to face upon my glorification with Christ Jesus. It just seems that in these last 10 weeks before I leave Toronto for Louisville, that somehow by the Holy Ghost’s spiritual illumination, I am now certainly able to see His Sovereign grace & providence at work in me over these past few years leading up to my departure to Southern.Maybe it is in this time of acute awareness that I am more apprised of my inability to control what happens in life. And for a self-proclaimed Calvinist who trusts that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him, according to His purposes… it is a scary thing to realize every morning that it is HE who has the whole world in His hand. I am only an instrument for Him to do as He pleases. For some strange reason, I am very much cognizant of my creatureliness right now — my humanness, and my complete and utter dependance on God for anything I do that will edify others and glorify God. Relationships are hard, very hard, every step of the way — and I have not the will or strength to start or sustain wit, but only Christ in me will work out my salvation with fear and trembling.A more specific catalyst for this recently, is my mom and finding out how hard of a time she would have if I were to marry a non-Asian. The cultural differences would be too significant to comfortably embrace, and to strive to do so is certainly not something she wants to consider trying. My mom’s relationship with and reaction to my sister’s boyfriend (who is an undergrad at Tyndale College) is certainly not helping but only pressuring me to strongly take into account how my parents (especially my mom) would be able to live with a non-Asian daughter-in-law. Certainly for myself, I would prefer to have an Asian see-mo so as to better relate to one another, but I also know of the ministerial advantages there is to one that is not.So where does this leave us? Or rather, the question should be “when”. T-minus 10 weeks, left… and I must say, it is quite bittersweet to think of this. Time is short and counting down; I will miss you all very much and I hope to cherish every single moment I have left with my dear friends and family before I leave for a while for Southern. I’ll be back once in a while, for the holidays, but still I’m bracing myself for the long distances that will separate us and test the strength of our friendship. Are there friendships, new and old, which I hope will grow significantly over the next 2 months? Of course. And for this, I covet your prayers – even as the clock ticks, that we may strive to outdue one another in showing honor as we aim to love each other with brotherly affection!
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.(Ephesians 5:15-21)