Look straight ahead
Have you ever been to Vietnam? What a beautiful place… but one of my scariest moments was learning to cross the road in Hanoi! Every road was teeming with fast electric bikes, and there were no pedestrian crossings… I’m not even sure there were traffic lights! We asked someone local how on earth we were supposed to get to the other side of the road. They told us to just step out, and keep moving at a steady pace, so that the motorbikes could easily weave around you and predict your movements across the road. The thing was, he said, all the bikers kept their eyes ahead and didn’t look around or behind, and so as long as everyone was doing that, they would always see you coming and there wasn’t a problem. My first thought was…. “Yeah, right! Like that sounds safe!” But my cousin and I decided there was no other way but to give it a try. So, we stepped out… then we just kept moving steadily across the road, trying not to look around us but keep our eyes fixed on the other side. Bikes weaved around us steadily, everyone was calm, and it was all very orderly, despite looking like chaos from the side of the road! It worked!
I often think of this experience in light of the road we travel as Christ’s followers. I think of Peter wanting to walk on the water: everything was fine, until he started looking around. Those waves looked pretty scary, and that water didn’t look too solid! He panicked, lost faith and his confidence in Jesus’s words, and started to sink. I thought of all the things that could’ve happened as I crossed the roads in Hanoi. If I’d stopped, ran, panicked, or started flailing about and making those bikers nervous, there could’ve been accidents! I wouldn’t have got to my destination, and I could’ve caused injury to others. I also found many times in the Old Testament where God’s people were told not to turn aside to the right or the left from what God had already told them to do (in Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Samuel, Kings…).
Then I found this in Proverbs 4:25-27a
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left…”
It seems to be a very important thing to God that we keep our eyes on Him and what He has already told us, and not look around at our circumstances or turn away from the path He has laid before us.
Sometimes I turn aside out of fear. Sometimes it’s because I over-analyze or rationalize things: “it’s not possible to walk on water! Maybe this isn’t what He asked me to do after all!” Sometimes it’s because I forget that it’s Him that gives me the strength, and all I can see are my feeble muscles. Sometimes it’s because, like Peter, I look around and feel overwhelmed by the danger or the circumstances. But then I hear that gentle voice saying, “just step out”, or, like He said to Peter when he wanted to walk on the water… just “Come”.
There’s something powerful about stepping out… I’ve found that as I take that first step of faith, there is suddenly more power, more confidence, more clarity. No one in Hanoi said “well hey, these foreigners are a little nervous, let’s carry them across the road ourselves, or build a bridge, or make some pedestrian crossings…” What they knew from experience was: once you take that first step, keep moving at a steady pace, keep your eyes ahead, don’t worry about what’s around you… you’ll find that you will make it to the other side of the road just fine.
A glimpse of Heaven
Woke up to this amazing sky this morning! It reminded me that no matter what is happening here on earth ….. God is reigning from Heaven. No matter who wins the elections ….. God is our righteous and just ruler. No matter how corrupt our world has become ….. He is still good. No matter what the devil has planned ….. God will turn it for good. He is not at all fazed by the state of the world ….. He is waiting for all to join His family. It’s not His will for any to perish ….. but one day He will say ‘Enough’ …..and we will see Jesus come back through that sky. What a day that will be!
This is a wonderful story from my friend, Yenny…
A Christian's life is a journey of faith, where action is much needed to see God's guidance, presence and deliverance throughout our lives. When we act upon our faith, God indeed moves us to His plan and we begin to experience extraordinary things that we would never have imagined. As this verse says:
Isaiah 40:28-31 “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
In mid January 2020, my family called and told me that my Dad, now 80 years old, was hospitalized due to Alzheimer's disease which he had had for about 4 years, but this time he had internal brain bleeding. My husband and I both come from Indonesia, however for the last 21 years my husband and I have been living in China, where the Lord blessed us with 2 children. We usually visited our parents in Indonesia twice a year. We just visited them last December for Christmas, then 3 weeks later we all went back to Indonesia when we heard the bad news of my Dad. We were not prepared to be in Indonesia for a long time (after 5 months, we are still here in Indonesia!). We only brought 2 weeks of clothing and necessities. However, God had a different plan! Also during this time, in China the Covid-19 coronavirus just started, so we thought it's a great way to leave china and go to Indonesia for safety reasons too. When we arrived in Indonesia, we were sad to see my Dad was already in a coma. Everyone in my family: Mom, sisters, brothers, sisters and brothers in-laws, nieces , nephews, my parents' grandkids stayed at my father's side for 2 weeks in the hospital. We were praying for a miracle. For the first time ever, my family of now 28 gathered together in the hospital every single day to worship and pray for my Dad's healing. Our relatives and my parents' friends were always there too.
In the beginning it was with heavy hearts that we saw our Dad in a coma, but with lots of prayer and family unity, our faith became stronger, and we were at peace, even though we knew he might not make it. In the beginning we prayed for miracles of healing, however as time passed we saw that it's better to let our Dad go back home (in heaven) since he is in a better place since he is a believer, so we prayed for God's will and felt peace about that. We got to spend time in hospital with our Dad for 2 weeks before he passed away. During those 2 weeks, God was amazing in allowing us to see my Dad to have tears rolling down his checks: even though he was in coma he could hear all our prayers, singing worship songs and encouraging words from the bible reading. We even got to see our Dad moving his hands and blinking his eyes a few times each day showing and responding to us that he can hear us talking, praying, singing and reading the bible to him! It was a beautiful bonding relationship between our families. On the last day, February 5th early morning around 4:25 am when our Dad took his last breath, all 28 of us were with him praying and singing and telling him, “It's ok Dad you can go home now, we let you go.” He was in perfect peace with the Lord. We had a beautiful 3-day-long memorial for our Dad, there were about a thousand people (friends & relatives) who came to pay their last respects during these memorials where we have singing & worshipping, prayers, testimonies and sermons. It turns out it was the best time of spreading the gospel to many of our Dad's friends and relatives where they were moved by the preaching, prayers, testimonies and worship. We could feel the presence of God and His angels around us. It was a miraculous moment we will never forget. God was wonderful to take our Dad before the Covid-19 Corona hit in Indonesia in early March. God's timing was perfect. If my Dad was to die in March, we were locked down by Covid and we couldn't do any visitation and the memorial ceremony would not be possible! God gave us the best time and we had a very memorable & blessed time during these 2 weeks and the 3 days memorial ceremony to spread the gospel. God is so amazing & faithful.
Our original plan was to go back to China in early March because we wanted to spend some time with my Mom going through her grief and loss. Never did we know that by early March the Coronavirus would hit Indonesia, preventing us from going back to China. The Chinese government has closed their border, other than Chinese citizens, we (foreigners) are not allowed to enter China. We were anxious and worried. I have questions: what about my husband's job and my kids' school in China? We don't know when we can go back there. My husband can't go back to work, nor can my daughter go back to school. In addition, we haven't had any income since February. Our faith is being tested. Every day we prayed and put our faith in the Lord. My Mom and other family members and I started a routine of bible study and prayer. Surely enough, after just a month waiting for the Lord, my husband found 3 new projects in Indonesia that he has never done before. God opened the door! My relatives which we have not kept in touch with for a long time suddenly gave my husband a project to buy a face mask and covid test. They made lots of orders as they are the biggest pharmacy in our home town in Indonesia. In addition my husband's friend introduced him to a person whom we never met before and he and my husband made a business deal regarding organic herbs. Thirdly, another connection came from other people connecting my husband to find electrical appliances! All these 3 projects came from people that we don’t know and a cousin that we have never done business with. It’s amazing how God connects us to these different people! Our God is a great God, who can always amaze us. Now we can pay both my children school fees, house mortgage and daily expenses.
When my Dad passed away, my Mom felt lost. She missed him so much and had a hard time sleeping at night. She has been using a sleeping pill, and yet she couldn't sleep well. She felt helpless and down, and continued to have anxiety and was emotionally unstable. Through this lock down and being at home, my Mom and I spent time having our own bible study every night and listening to online sermons, praying and worshipping together. After these 5 months, my Mom is stress free: she has changed! She is no longer taking sleeping pills and she sleeps well without taking pills. Her face is more radiant, she is much happier and joyful! Her faith in the Lord has grown so much and she loves worshiping and bible study.
Through the experience of my trials, this Covid -19 has turned out to be a blessing for our lives and strengthening my family's faith. The world might shake us, our situation might scare us, but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
I want to share with people that as believers we should not be afraid when our situation is scary – God is faithful! He always delivers us. Our hope is in the Lord, not in our situation. He is our rock & fortress. When God allows things to happen in our lives or like this covid-19 , it's because he has a reason and purpose behind it. Trust in Him and seek Him with all our hearts and HE always has a way out for His children and He always helps and delivers His children.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV.
God's timing is always best! When we have to wait please remember that God is working in all our situations. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 NIV
Be patient when we wait, for God is patient with us, and His timing is best for us. Though we've been waiting to return to China since January, the past 5 months in Indonesia have proven to be a blessing. Three weeks ago, my husband was notified that his job in China is temporarily stalled, due to the COVID-19. However, God has provided him many projects in Indonesia. God knows that if we were to go back to China in March, then there will be no income for us.
I do believe that when It’s time for us to go back to China, (hopefully this August because my daughter's school opens in early September), then God will open my husband's job. I hope this story will give you strength while waiting for the Lord's answer!
Are you living with regret for mistakes you’ve made in the past? If only life had a ‘delete’ button ….. or a ‘rewind’! Most of us would be going backwards more than forwards! The truth is ….. we have all done things that haunt us. That’s why Jesus came! There’s no way we can erase the past ….. but through the Cross we are forgiven. God’s grace and mercy are the greatest gifts because we can’t earn them and we certainly don’t deserve them. Now ….. if God says we are forgiven ….. who are we to dispute that fact? He has ‘blotted out our transgressions like a cloud’ ….. and we can move on to see His promises fulfilled!
I’m Sorry, Lord (Sequel to “I can do it, Lord”)
Oh Lord, I am so sorry
That I only thought of me
I wanted all the glory
But it’s You they need to see
Today as I was reading
Of the branches and the vine
You said we must abide or fail
The plan and pow’r are Thine
And now I see that all these things
That I had planned to do
Were useless, fruitless, empty, void
Of anything of You
For when we do get in the way
And go out on our own
We nothing can accomplish
If we’re doing it alone
The devil, he was cast away
For wanting all the praise
So how could I conspire with him
By following his ways?
It’s to the one and only God,
Through Jesus Christ our Saviour
Be glory, might and majesty
From now until forever Amen.
Jude v. 25: “To the one only God, our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendor), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen”