OK, so according to my pastor, I am the sort of person who can report having an eventful week — not because my life is particularly dramatic, but because the propensity for reflection leads to seeing the significance in the everyday.
Sure enough, last week was an eventful one:
- Monday night, I caught a terrible chill, replete with massive joint ache and feverish mumblings. Horrifying not because it would have meant missing school (next day was Hari Raya Puasa), but a full day’s worth of writing — a huge reading summary paper was due on Thursday and I simply would not have got it done on time if Tuesday was spent writhing in agony. Cue paracetamol and prayer; the fever broke at 3 a.m.
- Wednesday–Thursday, I experienced grace. Firstly, an unexpected full marks for a test I thought I’d lost some marks on — was told it was because I’d done more than was required to get the marks (I’m still wondering about that answer), and was advised by a classmate to accept it as an act of grace. Then, despite feeling I was going to dieeeee two days ago and being rather frail the day before, I somehow had the energy to forgo sleep and finish the darned paper. (Yes, I should have started earlier.)
- Friday, I got the paper back with full marks — before you get too excited, everyone received full marks if they made the deadline and the work was reasonably fulsome. The purpose of the paper was to get us reading Longman and Dillard’s An Introduction to the Old Testament (and I did learn so much about the wonder-workings and character of God from Joshua through to Esther) so if we showed that we did that with with the summary, we were in the clear. But the best part of the day was International Night, the finale of Missions Week at school. It was a horizon-expanding event with performances by a selection of the 22 nations currently represented at Singapore Bible College, and I found myself drawn especially to thoughts of possible service in Malaysia and bowled over by how students from three genetically conjoined but politically divided nations were willing to lay down heavy political baggage for their love of God.
- Wednesday to Friday also saw Dr Tan Lai Yong, a medicial missionary who served for years in Yunnan, speaking at chapel and sharing his thoughts on missions. Cool guy, making a difference the way he’s wired to. One anecdote that sticks in the mind — diarrhoea is often deadly amongst village children, but its treatment is pretty straightforward. Dr Tan taught the villagers how to concoct the oral rehydration solution themselves by comparing the correct mix to the taste of tears, which they understood immediately. But when he imparted the same technique to visitors from a foreign land, they asked what tears tasted like. Dr Tan’s point was that the affluent have lost the memory of what it means to cry — but God cries along with us. We can take heart and learn from David in the Psalms by putting before our God all the evil we witness and experience.
- Saturday afternoon was the first small group session I participated in at the church I’m serving at. Through an unexpected turn of events, instead of jumping straight into a book study, we started off by sharing testimonies, worshipping and praying for one another. Highly recommended! Inspired by the people in the group, and hope and pray that they will be fed well yet stay hungry.
- Sunday, I was reminded of an image from my baptism that has always stayed with me. A little toddler girl was baptised alongside me. When the baptismal bowl was brought close to her, she reached out and held onto it so sweetly, smiling up at the elderly elder holding the bowl. My heart felt yearning and stirring all at once. Did I want a little girl like that? Did I long for the purity and innocence in the picture, which had not survived adolescence (or a literature degree)? I shared this memory with a churchmate during our Sunday roast, and she suggested that this was perhaps how I’d like to be seen by our Father — and is actually how I’m seen by Him. A real gift of a suggestion — the seed it planted blossomed into deep affirmation at a low-ish point of self-esteem.