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Faith

I’m at my boiling point

by | 3 July 2017, 10:54 AM

I recently graduated, aged 25. My bros and I are at the life stage where things like gainful employment, having found a girlfriend, and engagement are supposed to be on the cards.

Speaking as a man, there’s an undeniable pressure to have it all together.

Everything’s smooth sailing … until you hit the storm. What happens then – when suddenly we don’t get what we want? Or what we think we deserve?

Over the past few months, I journeyed with a brother who wrestled with disappointment in finding employment. After multiple rejections by various companies, he’d spent months in a promising internship; he’d pinned all his hopes onto this career prospect.

Only to be told at the end of the stint that the company didn’t have headcount for him. It left him reeling.

“I just feel like I’m at my breaking point”, he said in tears.

THIS IS SINGAPORE

The floor was pulled from under his feet. It wasn’t just about the pay; he would survive. But it was such a crushing blow because his identity and value were found in what he did – how society regarded him. His self-worth had become tied to his achievements and positions in school and the working world.

You know how it feels. This is Singapore.

This is Singapore! We’re conditioned to feel validation when we attain a scholarship, or clinch that lucrative job. Yes, I’m such a good student. Yes, I’m the man with the skills – I deserve this.

All through life, my friend had been living as a good student, a good soldier, a good undergraduate. Then the world began telling him he was no longer good enough, and he took this personal failure to heart.

He became the failure.

He was broken.

The world began telling my friend was no longer good enough, and he took this personal failure to heart. He became the failure.

But we are not our failures. And we are more than mere workers. We are infinitely more than the sum of our roles and functions. More than workers, soldiers, fathers.

We are His dearly beloved children.

This is our starting point: We are accepted and loved by God. And when we live from acceptance, we no longer have to live for it.

SILVERSMITH AT WORK

I shared words – words I believe God laid on my heart – with my brother gently: Yes, in life there will be valleys so low, and times so rough, we’ll feel like we’re at the breaking point.

But instead of viewing yourself at breaking point, try to see it as you reaching your boiling point.

Consider the case of the silversmith. Silver, in its raw form, is impure and of poor value, until it is subjected to extreme heat. At its boiling point, the silver’s impurities rise to the top. Then the material which survives at the bottom takes on a new and higher value.

Having been purified, it may now be moulded by the master into something beautiful and greatly valuable.

Life’s trials are the crucibles for our purification.

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” (Malachi 3:3)

As we face the heat of fiery flames, the Refiner is with us in the process. In due time, we are purified – ready – when the Refiner sees His own gleaming reflection in us. That’s us but in His image.

That’s Christlikeness.

He disciplines those He loves (Proverbs 3.12). He sanctifies those He loves. I believe God looks at us as we are – and meets us where we are in life. But I also believe that He has an eye on raising us to holiness, desiring to be glorified in us.

THE JOURNEY IS IMPORTANT

I believe God does not merely care about our outcomes. I believe He is more interested in the processes – in the many journeys of growth we undertake in our time on Earth, traumatic or triumphant. Sanctification.

Yes, God waits to embrace us, and celebrate with us, when we triumphantly make it to the mountain’s summit. But He is also with us in the painful trudge up the mountain.

He holds our hand, and is beside us, while we suffer in life’s deep valleys. He is right there with us, in the fiercest furnace (Daniel 3:25).

Yes, God waits to embrace us, and celebrate with us, when we triumphantly make it to the mountain’s summit. But He is also with us in the painful trudge up the mountain.

Because He loves us, God cares about the kind of people we become through them. So, as we endure trials, we persevere in the knowledge that the end-goal is not merely clinching that job, or finally getting a girlfriend.

The end-goal is holiness. For the glory of God.

Back to my friend. Months after that conversation, he returned to me with the good news that he had been offered a job with a well-known company. He’d forgotten that he’d even applied for the position, but got a call-up unexpectedly.

There are no coincidences in this life. The offer came after he was finally able to surrender his will and desires to God.

Life’s trials may bring us to our knees. But take heart: God brings us low for our good. For our refinement. Boiled to perfection.

/ gabriel@thir.st

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.

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I’m a Singaporean who studied in Charlottesville – and I cannot stay silent

by Ling Shuang Ning | 21 August 2017, 9:48 AM

I’m an alumnus of the University of Virginia (UVA), located in the impossibly beautiful town of Charlottesville.

On Friday, August 11, white supremacists marched onto our Lawn, protesting in frightening numbers against the city’s plan to tear down Confederate monuments, which include statues of Confederate leaders from the American Civil War – leaders who fought for the enslaving of and suppression of rights for African-Americans.

The clashes between the white supremacists and counter-protestors, which included UVA students, led to three deaths. Based on my Facebook feed, America is reeling. America can’t stop talking.

When it comes to speaking, I’m a minimalist. Everything is about precision – the right words in the right order at the right time. If I have a choice as to whether to “add to the conversation” or not, I’d rather not.

But everyone’s talking – so here, I chose to talk too, so that we can understand.

There are words in this discourse that could be foreign to my fellow Singaporeans, words like “supremacist” and “Confederate”. I can hear the voices of some church aunties and uncles I know: “Aiyah, America, that crazy place.” And that is where the assessment usually ends.

But if I were to summarise what is going on, what is precisely so blood-chilling, it is that such racism is alive, well, endorsed, and preached as a right.

While the voices of condemnation ring loudly, there is palpable horror that the inequalities an entire war was fought over have not been destroyed.

Clay Cooke of New City Commons, commenting on the protest, wrote: “The evil on display … attacked something that stands at the very core of the Christian faith: An unbending commitment to the fundamental and irreducible dignity of each and every human person, regardless of race or ethnicity, creed or station, skill or ability.

“At the heart of the Christian imagination is that the human person – each human person – is the dignified crown of creation.”

Maybe some of us cannot imagine being like Jesus, who understood the importance of confrontation better than anyone else, even to the point of death.

Perhaps this seems obvious to us, not just in church, but in Singapore, where we’ve been weaned since young on the dangers of racial riots and saying anything that could be remotely racially sensitive.

And yet, as a teacher, I see how my students, after “enforced” Racial Harmony celebrations every year of their schooling life, start to lose sight of exactly what they are celebrating. I hear the unasked (and sometimes asked) question in the voices of loved ones. “She married an Indian.” Why she marry him ah?

We should insist on celebrating this harmony – not because we have fully attained it, but because, in whatever state we have it now, it is precious.

A recent StarHub commercial chose to intersperse African-American civil rights activist Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech with scenes of Singaporeans of different races and religions side by side, going about their everyday lives.

The very fact that these scenes are of such normalcy to us is in itself powerfully touching. It might seem vainglorious for us to imagine that we in any way at present the ideal that Dr King fought and dreamed for – but the truth is how shockingly these scenes contrast with the turmoil in Charlottesville, from just one week ago.

We should move beyond mere celebration, towards action.

There is a place we need to tread, between being afraid to talk about race, and the violent eruption of racist sentiments. We Singaporeans aren’t very good at this. Many see conversation as confrontation, and God forbid that we raise our voices and disrespect our elders.

Maybe some of us cannot imagine being like our saviour Jesus, who understood the importance of confrontation better than anyone else, even to the point of death (Philippians 2:8).

But we forget the likes of Ananias, whose act of faith was to pray for a supremacist who would have killed him for what he believed.

In Acts 9:13, we see how Ananias was afraid: “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, and how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.” The man he blessed – the apostle we know as Paul – repented and was forever changed.

God doesn’t call us to be safe. He calls us to cross boundaries, in order to transform.

We cannot put Charlottesville into the box of crazy, a kind of crazy that can never happen here. And as little as I like to talk, I cannot put my voice away, when God calls me to speak the truth.

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“I felt like the dumbest student in school”

by Denise Soon | 17 August 2017, 2:34 PM

I grew up in a family where I was always taught that “character is more important than how well you do in school”. My parents never pressured me to get straight As. They were okay with failure as long as I’d tried my best.

But I began to heap the expectations on myself when I was in Primary 6. I didn’t do very well for my PSLE and was placed in the Normal Academic stream.

I remember crying when I received my results. My parents couldn’t understand why I was so upset with myself when they were not.

I harboured high hopes for my future, but wouldn’t do anything to achieve any of it.

When I was 13, I realised that I wanted to pursue Psychology. I had it all planned out in my head – I’d go to Ngee Ann Polytechnic, then NUS. But despite these goals, I allowed myself to be distracted from my studies in secondary school.

I harboured high hopes for my future, but wouldn’t do anything to achieve any of it.

I was busy chasing relationships, and often got into disciplinary cases for bullying, truancy and disrespecting my teachers. I became this vulgar, hot-tempered, rebellious kid. I struggled academically.

There were times when I really wanted to change and get serious about my studies, but some of my teachers, peers and even my own family would say things like “You’re from Normal Academic, you’ll never get that far,” or “You’re not the studious type, don’t expect too much.”

I remember the worst insult I received from a teacher: “You’re Denise Soon, how can someone like you ever do well in school?”

Was being Denise Soon a bad thing? Was I hopeless?

I came to know God when I was 16 and I became determined to become a better student. But it was hard: I’d never learnt how to study. Only how to play.

So I didn’t do too well for my N-levels and O-levels, and I didn’t manage to get accepted to study Psychology at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. But I was thankful that my O-level results enabled me pursue Psychology at the University at Buffalo under SIM Global.

That meant I would start university at 17. I felt inferior: Most of the students there either had an A-level certificate or a poly diploma, whereas the different path I’d taken meant I was in university straight after my O’s.

I didn’t know anyone else who was under probation. I felt like the dumbest student in school. Part of me blamed God.

Someone told me, “Even if the rest don’t do well, they have something to fall back on, but you only have your O-level cert. If you fail, what can you do? Who would want to hire you? Which other school will accept you?”

I was scared.

According to the requirements of my major, if I were to get anything below a GPA of 2.5 for my first year, I could very possibly be expelled.

I also started to get heavily involved in church at that time. I started to serve as a life group leader, an actor and creative scriptwriter in the kids’ ministry, and as a musician. I was busy juggling church commitments and school for the next 2 years. But my grades were getting worse with each passing semester.

Before my 3rd year of university, I received an email from the school telling me that I was being placed on Academic Probation.

I was scared because I was left with just one more year. I didn’t want to get expelled. I was averaging a D-grade, and my average GPA every semester had been dropping – my GPA at the end of Year 2 was 2.4.

I didn’t know anyone else who was under probation. I felt like the dumbest student in school. A part of me felt disappointed with myself for not managing my time better. Another part of me blamed God.

Where was Your grace when I needed it the most? I served You so hard – sometimes to a point where I didn’t have enough time for my studies – so how could You let this happen?

 

I had to take a long, hard look at the student that I had become. 

I realised that I put in less effort in modules I wasn’t interested in. In some semesters, it was easier to count the number of times I was present in class, instead of the number of times I was absent. I chose to scroll through Facebook, rather than my lecture slides. I’d fall asleep in class even if I wasn’t tired.

All this meant I wasn’t very good salt and light in school. How could I claim to live for Jesus if I couldn’t even show basic respect to my lecturer? How could I say that I’ve been transformed by Jesus, if the way I behave shows otherwise?

I struggled to serve in the kids ministry – I felt like a hypocrite teaching the children about Godly values if I wasn’t living them out at home or in school. I thought about stepping down.

Denise also serves as a cell group leader in the kids ministry.

I had to take a summer semester, but it came between my annual church conference and church camp. 

I had a to-do list that seemed endless. Mid-terms, final exams, term papers, a million readings – while preparing to serve on the worship team for church service and camp, and write sermons for the kids ministry.

There was one week when I had to practice 11 songs; some days I had church-related activities the day before an exam. Every week I’d question whether it was worth committing myself so much to church, at the cost of my grades.

I was afraid of prioritising God because I found it hard to trust that He would provide. I looked at my friends who weren’t in church, with more time to study, getting better grades.

I was angry and bitter. I was desperate. But I also knew that I could let the situation come between me and God – or I could let it draw me closer to Him.

So I bargained with God: If I give up my time to serve you, I expect you to help me with my grades.

I recently got back my results for my first summer semester and to my surprise, not only did I manage to pull up my GPA but I also aced my term paper and my exams with a score of 99.9%.

Looking at the results, I can confidently say that #onlyJesus could help me pull through my academic struggle. I was never one who did extremely well in my subjects; to even ace a higher level module, I knew it had to be God.

Even when I failed to trust him, He never failed me.

At this year’s church camp, what my pastor said hit me hard.

“Have we become such busy people, with so much to accomplish every day, that we’ve forgotten about the brokenness in our lives and our desperate need for a Saviour?” he challenged us.

“When something you desire directly competes against God’s desires, you deny yourself of your desire to pursue God’s desire.”

Denise at church camp this year with her SIM campus group (top) and her cell group (bottom).

I’ve learnt to trust that God will provide everything I need – so that I’m not distracted to do the real work.

I’ve learnt that I should never feel guilty for serving too hard, while worrying that God will shortchange me.

I’ve learnt that God wants to see how I make my choices. Will I choose to pursue Him or pursue my grades?

There’s a cost to going all-out for Him, but there’s also a cost to not going all-out. When I stopped to count the cost, I realised that if my studies don’t revolve around God, then what’s the point?

Jesus went all out for me. Now I must learn to do the same – not just in church, but at home and at school as well. He deserves my all. 💯

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When dad cheated on mum

by Charlotte Sim | 17 August 2017, 1:36 PM

I first discovered my dad was cheating on my mum when I was 20.

It started off with fishy images I saw him receiving on his phone. Then, he started to make morning calls every day after my mom had left for work.

I was sure he was cheating on my mom but I didn’t dare to say anything. How was I supposed to talk to my dad about this?

I was also afraid of the repercussions if the truth came to light. Knowing how emotionally attached my mom was to my dad, I feared she would mentally collapse and plunge into suicidal thoughts if she knew the truth. I was worried about how my younger siblings would take the news too.

For many years, I kept silent. The secret weighed heavily in my heart but I had no one to turn to.

I was the only believer in my family when I first came to know God in 2005. I was 13 then.

Being a Christian in a non-Christian family wasn’t easy. My parents objected to my faith; I wasn’t allowed to go to church for a year, or even leave the house on Saturdays, during service timings. My relationship with my family was strained because of this tension.

Somehow, eventually, my parents softened their stance, and they began to allow me to attend church services. I wasn’t the perfect daughter, but I believe my parents could see the gradual transformation in me as I held fast to the Gospel and continued to walk with God. 

Then, one of my sisters came to know Christ. It didn’t happen overnight; it took time, over our day-to-day conversations, before she decided to put her faith in Jesus. This encouraged me to persevere with my parents’ salvation.

For many years, I kept silent about my dad’s adultery. The secret weighed heavily in my heart but I had no one to turn to.

In December 2014, my mom attended an outreach event at my church. This was unimaginable, to me – someone who had once banned me from going to church actually agreed to step into the House of God. She received Christ that very day.

I wept as she recited the Sinner’s Prayer. The wait for my mom to know Christ had been long and arduous.

But God was far from done.

He told me – convicted me in my heart – that I needed to do something about my father’s adultery, three years after I had first found out about it.

And so, I gathered up all my courage and confronted my dad. Either he tell my mum the truth – or I would.

The entire family was thrown into turmoil when my dad confessed. My mom was livid. She wanted a divorce.

My dad went on his knees, begging for forgiveness from each of us. There was lots of screaming and shouting. Unable to face my dad any longer, my mom walked out of the house.

Thousands of thoughts flittered through my mind. Where would my mom go? Would she do something silly? What about my siblings? How are they taking the news?

Being the eldest child in the family, I had to step right into the situation and take charge even though I was just as lost, and just as afraid.

I eventually managed to find my mom. Part of me was relieved that she was physically safe. Yet the other part of me was filled with trepidation of what the future holds of my family.

She refused to go home and insisted on checking into a hotel. I accompanied her. With every step I took toward the hotel, I made a little prayer to God.

Please God, please.

I spent that night with my mom. We cried. We prayed. We listened to worship songs. This went on all night; neither of us could sleep.

The next morning, I received a text from my dad. He told me he felt the need to go church that very day.

I was surprised. He had been adamant about avoiding anything related to God and Christianity. At the end of the service, he texted me that he accepted Jesus.

I couldn’t see how God was present in the situation; I couldn’t see how He could deliver my family. But God did it.

“I used to avoid church because I felt so unworthy in front of God knowing how sinful my life was and yet not wanting to change,” he said. “But I’m now truly convinced of my sins. I’ve repented.”

My dad humbled himself and showed signs of remorse. He stopped contacting his mistress and became more involved with my family.

It wasn’t easy for my mom but she found it in her to not only forgive my dad, but also reconcile with him. They are now faithfully serving in the same church and cell group together.

I remember the years I interceded for my parents’ salvation. Many nights I fought on my knees, praying for them despite knowing the circumstances.

I only kept going because someone had once persistently done the same for me. Sometimes the harvest comes quick and easy, like with my sister; other times, so much patience is required as the fruit slowly ripens. There are even times when it feels like the tree has withered and there can be no fruit.

But we have to persevere and believe that God can do the impossible.

It took 9 years before my mom crossed the line of faith, and another 2 more before my dad received Christ. The events leading up to their conversion wasn’t easy – I couldn’t see how God was present in the situation; I couldn’t see how He could deliver my family.

But God did it. He did it. Out of adultery, and into a relationship with Him.


*The author’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

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God is at work

by Abigail Dawes | 17 August 2017, 11:35 AM

Go to work. Get frustrated. Feel like quitting. Receive monthly salary. Don’t quit. Repeat.

As a young professional barely out of university, my existence seemed to be quickly confined to this endless loop.

What had happened to all the dreams I dreamt in university as I sat in lectures? Where was the impact I was supposed to make on the world through my job, the like-minded colleagues I was supposed to have, the patient boss who would mentor me?

The reality I was living out seemed to be the polar opposite of everything I had hoped for.

I had a dream job in mind – but I failed miserably at the interview, so I ended up instead at a firm that my idealistic college self would never have considered applying for. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?

I was relieved to be offered a permanent position, but the condition was that I’d have to accept work in an area of law that I truly despised. As the job market for lawyers was so bad, I stayed.

The reality I was living out seemed to be the polar opposite of everything I had hoped for.

It was not long before I turned these frustrations on God. Why had He placed desires for greater things in my heart? Why was the road to becoming a Joseph, Daniel or Esther – purposeful overcomers in their secular realms – smoother and faster for others?

Was I not as special to Him as His other children?

I concluded that God was not interested in my career. He cared about whether I turned up for prayer meetings, cell group and served in the worship team faithfully, but when it came to my workplace, I was on my own.

This conclusion on God’s intentions for my life meant that a line in the sand had been drawn between my spiritual life and work. God’s power was available for one but not the other.

One Sunday, I heard my pastor recount a season in his working life, before he became a full-time minister.

As a young employee, he did not have any influence over policies or directives, and was surrounded by senior officers who operated with a very different set of values from his.

They did things that were not ethical and also persecuted him for standing his ground. But as my pastor began to pray and intercede for his workplace, doing his best at his job as well as church ministry, he began to see changes.

He found favour with his bosses, saw “toxic” colleagues transferred to other departments and started to receive God’s direction for his day-to-day work, which gave him an edge over his peers.

It struck a chord in my heart. I wanted the same for my life – I needed God in my here and now. The God of the desert and the valley, the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.

The Heavenly Father who gets right in there with you, in the muck and dreariness of life, and in His still small voice whispers hope for each new day and faith for the final prize of life (1 Corinthians 9:24).

From that day, my perspective shifted and my heart opened again.

The Heavenly Father gets right in there with you, in the muck and dreariness of life, and in His still small voice whispers hope for each new day.

I started praying for my bosses and my colleagues. I would get to work early to pray over my office space – declaring that the whole place belonged to God. I would sing over myself the call of God and His desires for my life. I found strength to serve the boss that my colleagues despised.

Was it a struggle? Sure. But I found myself able to do something that I could not even have imagined doing before.

Every piece of work that came my way, whether or not it was my cup of tea, I would undertake with the revelation that I was serving the unseen God behind my boss.

I accepted each piece of work, every interaction with a difficult colleague or superior, as a stepping stone to my destiny.

In the struggle to find meaning in my workplace, I learnt that we don’t always have to be Prime Minister Joseph to have influence (Genesis 41:37-41) – we can be Prisoner Joseph too (Genesis 39:20-23).

The Lord needs change agents in every echelon of the corporate ladder.

You don’t have to do anything super Christian to shift the atmosphere of your workplace. It’s as simple as living out our faith as Jesus taught us to, such as loving those who are difficult and unloveable (Matthew 5:43-48) or lending a hand for a project that will never be credited to you (Matthew 6:1-4).

We can be change agents of the spiritual and physical climate of our workplace. Our colleagues may never expressly say it but they most surely will feel it.

We should also be prepared for opposition wherever we’re placed – but we should only move when the Lord tells us to. Every job change should be a Spirit-led decision, not a frustration-led one.

We can’t delude ourselves into thinking that God only leads us to beds of roses. Remember Joseph’s prison cell, or Daniel’s den of lions.

Why? It’s not about the circumstances we find ourselves in. God is more interested in shaping our character. We can be used only to the extent that we have been moulded – and the marketplace is one of the best places for this to happen.

When David was anointed as the next king of Israel at the age of 16, what ensued was not a straight and easy path up the “corporate ladder”.

David had to work under and submit to an insecure King Saul, have his kindness repaid with ungratefulness, deal with “office politics”, and prove his worth in leading military missions – for us, it could be unwanted assignments our boss sends our way.

It was only 14 years later that David became King. Before he set foot in the palace of the kings, he had to be moulded in the valley of death.

The path to greatness requires endurance, perseverence, knowing the ways God can work at every step of the process.

Eventually, the work that I had once thought would get me nowhere led me to taking up a position I never dreamed would open up for me – in a government Ministry, practising the type of law that I had dreamt about in those lectures.

Am I the boss now? No. Have I been tapped as the next big thing in law? No. Am I drawing a six-figure salary? No.

But I feel and believe that I have unlocked so much more than just that. More than mere title, prestige or money.

What is the more that you’re searching for?

I am part of the committee of The Vanguard Movement Conference, a half-day conference for young adults who want to know the plan God has for them in their career.

We are just like you. We don’t profess to have it all together, but we are on the same journey, the same struggles, the same crises of identity – but most importantly, we are all sons and daughters of God.

We desire to see God move in even mightier ways in the workplace than what we have already seen.

The Vanguard Movement aims to equip every believer – to bring God into their place of assignment and sphere of influence.

To help you know God’s heart for your future, career and ministry, and shift your perspective on how to be a follower of Christ in the marketplace.

To help you move from survival mode to becoming a movement leader.

From surviving to thriving.


To sign up for The Vanguard Movement or to find out more, please visit their event details page.

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Why is it so hard to have Quiet Time?

by | 16 August 2017, 4:49 PM

Imagine you are doing poorly at a subject in school. (Maybe some of you don’t have to work too hard to imagine this.)

Maybe you keep failing your exams. You may even be thinking of quitting school – to put you out your misery. Maybe you’re forced to attend tuition in the faint hope that something might change if you would only go through the motions.

Yet you refuse to put the quality time in. You take the textbook out of your schoolbag, and almost immediately put it back in again. The Teacher hasn’t even opened his mouth, and you’ve already upped and left the lecture theatre.

If I love God without knowing what is on His heart — without even knowing Him — then what is my faith really made of?

For so many of us, this might be the picture of our Quiet Time. How many of us can really spend unhurried time with God? I’ll be really honest: There are many days where I find it incredibly difficult to just sit still. I often can’t wait to get QT over with — can’t wait to depart to the day’s next thing.

“Desire without knowledge is not good — how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” (Proverbs 19:2)

In such times I might feel like I’m walking with God. But in truth, if I love God without knowing what is on His heart — without even knowing Him — then what is my faith really made of?

Just like we can’t build strong relationships on one-liners, rather than deep conversations, we can’t know God when we give Him just 5 minutes a day. If at all.

FAITH IS LIKE A MUSCLE

Quiet time is about discipline. You know the jargon: Faith is like a muscle — when we use it, God makes it strong.

To extend the metaphor, quiet time is like going to the gym. Some of us can’t wait to get in there — we need that hour. That time in the room strengthens us for the day; indeed, for life.

But some of us aren’t quite there yet, and I’m one of them. There are many days where opening my Bible and being still before God feels like dragging myself to the gym in the morning. There’s just such great inertia. Why? My faith-muscle feels too small to lift the weight of discipline and really seek God.

“Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.” (Revelation 3:2)

This warning to the church in Sardis jumped out at me as I read it. There are days where my faith-muscle feels so dry and shrivelled up, you might think it’s atrophied. Dead.

How desperately I need God in my struggle against laziness and sloth.

Perhaps I look at the other facets of my faith — active service in the body-life, vibrant prayer-life — and count them to myself as righteousness. In truth, and it pains me to say this, I might often be just ticking boxes elsewhere. The Laodicean church reminded me of my own heart:

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)

I lie to myself: This is good enough. How Satan loves to lie to us, telling us that mediocrity is good enough. “Good enough” isn’t good enough. Lukewarmness isn’t good enough.

How desperately I need God in my struggle against laziness and sloth.

ALONE AND AWAY

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.” (Matthew 14:23)

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place.” (Mark 1:35)

I feel like the least qualified person to talk about quiet time. Ultimately, I can’t make you spend unhurried time with Him, any more than you could make me.

But I’ve resolved to spend unhurried time alone with God. Just Him and I.

I must.

/ gabriel@thir.st

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.

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