28 January 2005

Chronicling the Journey

I have journals stacked up from when I was 13. Till I went paperless with my first PC and then the Palm, pen and paper was the only way to bring the deeper currents of life to the light. Today, journalling for me is a matter of scribbling on my Palm and reviewing them on the Desktop later. It's an exercise of ventilation and of making sense of the journey.

Chuck Swindoll himself has this to say: "I have been journaling for years, and the benefits are more than most would believe. A journal is a splendid way to spend time alone remembering and recording God’s dealings in my life. When I enjoy solitude, it is easy to think that those insights He reveals will stay in my mind forever. Not so. It isn’t long before they are submerged under my daily load of responsibilities and conversations."

He also shares some tips in an article on the Internet:

'As you record your experiences in your own words, you'll begin to see God's purpose working itself out in both times of peace and turmoil. Looking back over the pages, you'll see His hand in decisions made and paths taken.

As you begin your record of God's faithfulness, here are some hints to keep your journal fresh:

Write in it often. But don't feel obligated to make it a daily discipline. Some days you'll have a lot to write about. Other times, you will only need to scribble a few lines.
Keep it private. It's OK to keep this a dialogue between you and God. You'll find greater freedom to express your private struggles, and victories if no one else is going to read it.
Give yourself plenty of time. Writing brings things to mind that weren't necessarily there when you sat down. Deep spiritual insights take deep prayer and thought.
Remember that your life is significant. When you're tempted to think, "I don't have anything to write," write anyway. Your life and times are more significant than you realize. You never know how important your experiences will become.

As in any spiritual discipline, time and commitment are essential to establish the pattern of journal keeping. As this exercise becomes a natural part of your devotional life, you'll cherish both the process and record of walking with God.'

It's true that the real story only comes to light over days, weeks, even months. Every day is like a story within a larger story that is ever growing.

I envy the Abrahams and Noahs of the Old Testament. Their faith was raw and alive. They had a spirituality and community that doesn't have to be politically correct and is not artificially tied up to any institution, structure or code. Out in the desert, under the star-strewn sky, with no church, no bible, no written code. Only a heart hungering for meaning, a God to walk and talk with, all on a journey with friends - on a road travelled behind and a road unseen ahead.

Journalling is unravelling mystery. Journalling is experiencing life and God in our lives in the world that matters - the raw and real stuff of daily living.

23 January 2005

Among Friends

I've just returned from a weekend trip to Kota Bharu. Students there had invited me to meet with them to discuss issues about Cell Groups in their student fellowship. That and an afternoon with graduating students to talk about preparing for their housemanship was the 'official' reason for my trip.

Official or not, all I intended was to meet with friends. And that I did with a minimum agenda and no expectations.

With Yoke Li & Hui Jin over noodles & coffee, hanging around after a church service, dialog with 15-odd leaders over CG issues, long conversations with my old friend Meng Hun, and an afternoon with final years in McDonald's - all were wonderful conversations. I have been deeply blessed by so much honesty and openness. Challenged by their willingness to ask difficult questions that have no answers. Humbled by their deep love for one another and for God.

My life is enriched by the intersection of so many journeys - each of us finding our own way to be true to self and God. I've learnt far more than anything I had to give.

My personal discovery is that the key to unlocking deeper connection is only this - an inner dialog. We cannot dialog honestly with others without an ongoing dialog with ourselves. We can only connect with others authentically when we are in touch with our true feelings. And we can find peace with others when we are at peace with ourselves. When we relate in this way, we are able to respond with true understanding and we are deeply enriched and renewed by every encounter.

20 January 2005


Whoa! Stress & depression rears ugly head today.

The week has been steadily draining me. A couple of marathon lectures to take, an intricate surgery in the neck of a patient, and an ugly car accident and all the procedures that follow (police report, claims, etc. etc.)

Time to call for a TIME OUT! TRUCE. Ceasefire. Moratorium. Whatever.

No to winning fights. Nobody can win here. No to getting my opinion across. Nobody cares.

No to doing trying to achieve anything in coming trip to KB. The best I can do is be myself.

I must tell myself this - I have nothing to gain being fretful or pained or upset. And I have nothing to lose even if the world rejects and loses faith in you.

It's a good place to be - clutching on to nothing & having nothing to lose.

That's what letting go really means. Not holding on or being held by anything. That is real freedom.

16 January 2005

Knock down to rise again

It's the weekend after a pretty high-stress week. Between lectures, track running and some late-night surgery, I've hardly had time for a breather and time for reflection and BE-ing. So I decided to make some bread (?!). Armed with flour, yeast, and a sprinkling of condiments - I am ready to create!

The machine did the kneading and knocking down. All I had to do was let it rise nicely, throw over a bunch of oats, pumpkin seeds and sesame and place the glob of dough into the oven. Then pray it rises nicely and brownly.

It's fantastic to watch yeast do its work, with a little help of heat to raise that lump of flour into a fresh and tasty loaf. It's also a nice way to celebrate the day off.. Now I can sit back, read a little, catch a snooze, and take in the agenda-lessness of the day while my bread browns and releases its fragrance to every corner of the house! yummy!

07 January 2005

Making peace with self

I was asked to lead a home group recently and I said yes, almost without thinking. A couple of week's later I did the most difficult thing (for me, at least) - say 'NO'. I probably have enough challenges in terms of 'ministry' but it isn't that.

I need to fiercely guard my core life - having empty space and time to be. Time to come home to self and God. Time to live in the moment - aware and mindful of the present moment. Being holy as God is holy, being peace.

The larger world is my true ministry. To give of myself to all the world and also be enriched by it. To enter fully into relationship with man and nature. In so doing learning from all the world and recovering my fragmented self.

In order to be PRESENT - to self, others and God - I cannot live in a clutter of commitments and responsibilities. Each task is a voice calling me this way and that (truly like a schizophrenic and his auditory hallucinations.) Tracting to the what if's of the future & ought to's of the past. Anxiety and regret robs us from the joy of the present.

I have damaged myself so horribly in the past by taking on commitments to the max, using every minute to the fullest, driving down life's road like an F1 racer. I have used and abused myself with no regard for my soul & spirit. I have made myself an empty shell of fears, regrets, anxiety, pain and frustration.

I need to make peace with myself.