During my super-memorable trip to Shanghai, having set eyes on quite a number of cultivated must-sees, I wondered what it would be like to dedicate one’s life to caring for something precious, like a work of art or a museum, a garden or a national park.
I should remind myself that my own life is something precious to care for. Precious enough not to waste, but not precious enough to prize above all things, subject as it is to the reality of death and decay. Pride can be more important than life for some, though. There’s a saying that goes something like “better to be killed than to be insulted” (士可殺，不可辱).
I’ve reached a point where sharing how the truth reveals itself in my life no longer seems insurmountable — rather, it seems that I’ve been daunted because I’ve looked in the wrong direction all this while (i.e. the mountain that is my self-regard). It’s simply a matter of telling it like it is:
But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.’
(Acts 4:19–20 NRSV)
So what I would like to do now is describe something that happened to me a week ago.
After a time of worship that followed the sermon at a young adult fellowship I’ve been attending (I know I’m emerging from that age bracket soon, like a butterfly from a chrysalis, yeah), the pastor called for those requiring intercessory prayer to come forward, and also anyone with neck and foot problems.
Well, I had a chronic neck pain that once required extensive physiotherapy and had been plaguing me on and off ever since. And I was nursing a right heel that suffered sharp jolts of pain ever since I went a wee bit OTT running a few days back — did 5.2 km after being somewhat stationary for many, many months. Pounding the pavements of Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok the whole of that afternoon couldn’t have helped.
After some struggle, I approached two girls on the prayer team — delightful they were. They got me to sit down, placed their hands on the problem areas, and prayed. As they prayed, I prayed as well, thanking God and asking him to help me believe that healing could happen — in fact, that this promise of healing could be kept:
Immediately the father of the child cried out, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’
(Mark 9:24 NRSV)
I didn’t think much about what happened till I got home. It suddenly occurred to me that my right heel didn’t hurt at all on the way back — hmm. I thought that if I didn’t wake up the next morning with that old stiffness in the neck, then maybe … woah.
The next morning — neck: nothing. Right foot: not a jot of fatigue. The day after: still nothing. My right foot, especially, feels whole and entire. On the third day, I ran 5.5 km, and felt the sheer pleasure of mental and physical gratitude at the 4-km mark.
Even now, I can barely comprehend what happened. I certainly can’t rationalise it away because it’s something that happened to me, not somebody I’d heard of or known about. All I can do is describe what I experienced.
The moment I wake up has taken on a different quality now — I have concrete and compelling physical reminders to thank God with the first thought of a new day.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time on and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the LORD is to be praised.
The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens.
(Psalms 113:2–4 NRSV)
And that’s that.