Top Stories

Sign Up for our newsletter now.

Faith

I’m not ready to meet you, God

by | 14 August 2017, 1:04 PM

“If the plane crashes, then we’ll just go to heaven earlier!”

We were about to board a plane to Sydney when my friend said it. We’d been talking about MH370 and other recent aviation tragedies. It was meant to be comforting, I’m sure, but I was disturbed.

I was not ready to meet God.

I haven’t achieved anything significant in my life! I haven’t found someone to grow old and happy with! Nor had any kids yet! And I still need to decorate my dream house with the books I’ve been stockpiling for my it’s-gonna-be-epic bookshelf!

My well-conditioned, well-drilled Christian brain immediately hit back: How could you even think that? Does not the joy of meeting God far surpass all these things?

While I had grown to love God’s presence, I couldn’t help but be fearful at the thought of actually meeting Him – coming face-to-face with the One who searches hearts and examines minds.

My instinctive thoughts were all the things I would miss out on if I were to die anytime soon. But in that split second in which my innermost thoughts surfaced, I learnt something about my heart and its true treasures: I was choosing the things of the world over the God I professed to love.

I was still holding on to the worldly notions of what would bring happiness that I’ve had since I was a child, way before I met Jesus.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with kids, marriage and beautiful bookshelves. They aren’t the problem.

The problem comes when we prize these gifts above the One who gives them (James 1:17).

What I learnt before that flight was that God wasn’t my only treasure. I had not captured in my heart the surpassing worth of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8). I was settling for the world.

In reflection, I thought about the sweet moments in my life when God had surprised me with His presence:

  • I was strolling home on a beautiful day. Nothing seemed terribly ordinary, when I suddenly felt His smile upon me. My heart leapt for joy.
  • I opened my Bible in a hurry to get a passage in, before I headed out for the day. I didn’t expect much, but the Spirit opened my imagination, giving me backstage-access to the unfolding drama at the Red Sea.
  • When my heart was burdened and heavy with darkness, He said that He would show me a new way to live: In the lightness of freedom, and in company with Him.

But at the same time, I was afraid of meeting God face-to-face.

I haven’t become the person God would be pleased with. I have so many more things about myself that I need to change; I need more time.

That was how I felt – why I wasn’t ready to meet God. While I had grown to love God’s presence, I couldn’t help but be fearful at the thought of actually meeting Him (Romans 14:12) – coming face-to-face with the One who searches hearts and examines minds (Jeremiah 17:10).

The comfort I have is that, as I grow to be more like Him, He will see the good work He has started in me all the way through to completion.

I was too focused on the truth about Romans 3:23, that as a sinner, I should have no business being in the presence of a Holy God. In my self-loathing, I’d forgotten the truth that follows in Romans 3:24: That all are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

When we think about the sinfulness of our heart and the mistakes we still make, we’re ashamed to enter into God’s light. But the truth is that we only have to be afraid if pleasing God is not our priority.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (John 3:19-21)

God knows who we are – sinners, redeemed by His grace. We have an assurance that when we choose to draw near to Him and live in His light, there’s forgiveness instead of shame. There’s grace instead of condemnation. There’s eternal freedom.

All great dichotomies, none of which make sense. And yet we have them. That’s grace!

The comfort I have is that, as I grow to be more like Him, He will see the good work He has started in me all the way through to completion. So that when I finally meet Him, I will not be afraid, but satisfied.

As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;
When I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness. (Psalm 17:15)

Moments later, the engines in the wings of the plane roared to life. I took to the air — a little closer to God.

/ fiona@thir.st

Fiona is secretly hilarious. One of her dogs thinks so too. She loves a good chat with strangers, store assistants, and fluffy dogs. Say hi!

Conversations

We Recommend

Faith

Are you serving on empty?

by Wong Siqi

Faith

When I didn’t make it into OCS

by Jolene Yee

Faith

Stop pretending that everything is okay

by Christina Wong

Culture

I live to fight another day: Reflections on Dunkirk

by | 11 August 2017, 1:50 PM

Sometimes, after a movie, I find myself walking out of the cinema feeling the same way I leave church services on good days.

I got this same feeling again when I saw Dunkirk. Nolan’s latest masterpiece centres on the desperate struggle of Allied soldiers against the German advance at Dunkirk.

Their only hope lies in a mass evacuation from France’s beaches – so they can live to fight another day.

I saw myself reflected in the faces of the defeated soldiers.

It’s been a difficult year for me. I’ve been struggling with my self-worth. I’ve asked myself endlessly: “Who am I?”

I’d been going to church, worshipping Father God for almost a decade – yet I didn’t really feel like I was His child. My identity remain centred on the things I did and the roles I played.

I knew that He loved me, but I felt like I wasn’t enough.

I still wasn’t as pretty as her. I wasn’t as talented as him. I felt I had to prove myself: Be more driven in life, have a better heart, say the right things …

There was no end to this performance treadmill. I could never get off. It was a losing battle from the start, because at the core of my being, I didn’t believe that I was loved.

The bitterness of feeling unworthy ate away at my heart, a potent mix of pride and shame.

Like the dying soldiers on the coast of Dunkirk, I needed to be rescued. I needed a saviour.

But I believed I was beyond God’s reach – too unworthy.

What I hadn’t realised was that that wasn’t an obstacle to God’s love – that is precisely the point of His love. I am entirely unworthy. And yet God in His grace reached out to me in love.

I had been fighting my own battles for a long time. At some point I was barely surviving, and in turn I started dying. At the lowest point in my walk, I heard God’s voice again.

I came to the end of myself, with nowhere left to go.

Ashamed of my sin and rebellious heart, I broke down before the Lord and asked for forgiveness.

I felt like the soldier in Dunkirk who boarded the train headed home, embarrassed at having to be evacuated from the front line, fully expecting to be met with ridicule by his countrymen.

Instead he met an blind old man who was handing out blankets to the rescued soldiers at the train station.

“Well done, lads. Well done.”
“All we did is survive … ”
“That’s enough.”

The soldier was humbled at the old man’s gesture of kindness; it all felt so undeserved, I imagine. Which was exactly how I felt when God quietly said to me:

没事, 回来就好. It’s okay, you’re home now.

I imagine that when God says “it’s okay”, he’s not just saying it. I mean, He’s God – His word is life and truth. I see Him saying it as He raises His mighty hand, lifting the crushing weight of all that weighed us down.

Then I see His other hand, reaching out to us.

“When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.” (Psalm 138:3)

In my weakness, God gave me strength. He led me through the fog of confusion as we sorted out my life.

God spoke to my heart, and told me that He loves me. I had always known it in my mind, but He said it again for my heart.

My spirit surged in response to it. I was alive again. His voice dispelled all my fears. It quenched the flaming arrows which had kept me down for so long.

He helped me recall who I was in Him. I put on the armour and took up my sword (Ephesians 6:14-17). I knew how to fight again.

But Dunkirk was one episode in a long war. We may feel safe now, but we must expect other blows to be struck.

In response to the evacuation at Dunkirk, Churchill said: “Our thankfulness at the escape of our Army must not blind us to the fact that what has happened in France and Belgium is a colossal military disaster.

“And we must expect another blow to be struck almost immediately at us or at France.”

Soldiers on the front lines, deep in battle, won’t know when victory is theirs – all they know is that they have to fight for as long as they’re told to.

As Christians, we are in that unique position. We know that at the end, we win – Jesus will return. But for now, this is wartime – we have to stay alert (1 Peter 5:8).

We live to fight another day.

/ fiona@thir.st

Fiona is secretly hilarious. One of her dogs thinks so too. She loves a good chat with strangers, store assistants, and fluffy dogs. Say hi!

Conversations

We Recommend

Faith

A letter to my (still) single self

by Wong Siqi

Faith

Maybe the green pastures aren’t all that green

by Gabriel Ong

Do Good

Everyone deserves a moment with God: Special needs and the Church

by Gabriel Ong

Article list

I’m not ready to meet you, God

I live to fight another day: Reflections on Dunkirk