That made me stop to think. I realised that given how vocal and opinionated I am as a person … I probably shouldn’t be surprised if others think I believe women are superior to men – because I actually don’t.
What I do believe are the words of the Bible. But I’ve always struggled with the part where they talked about how a woman should be. “Wives submit to your husbands” (Ephesians 5:22-23), and to be a woman “working at home” (Titus 2:3-5) were two injunctions I found stinging.
I was on edge about this issue for the longest time, until my mother softened my heart.
My mother shared this simple truth with me: The Bible doesn’t say I must submit to all men – just my husband! Our marriage would model the relationship Christ has with the church, where women would submit to the leadership of their husbands, as the Church (Bride) submits to the leadership of Christ (Groom).
My mother taught me submission is powered by love, not necessity. That’s a higher love I never cared to think about.
It takes strength and grace to submit to any authority, and especially to your husband, especially when you don’t agree. I personally am irked by the need to submit because I often feel my way of doing things is better – I know what’s best for myself.
With God or my husband, I am not my own – we over me.
But the Bible tells us that true love isn’t proud, and it always trusts (1 Corinthians 13). So true love is humble submission and trust in a good God and in honour of the covenantal relationship I am in. With God or my husband, I am not my own – we over me.
The full verse in Ephesians 5 actually goes, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” and “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church”. The message to “submit to your own husbands” was written to the wife, not for the husband to lord it over her.
Similarly, the message to “love your wives” was written to the husband, not for the wife to lord it over him. And each one has a part to play!
When both parties submit to their respective instructions as they submit to God – demanding neither submission or love of each other – marriage works.
I’m still learning what it really means to be a woman of God. But I’m blessed to have a mother who models for me how to be one – a Proverbs 31 woman – while remaining empathetic to my struggles.
“Strength and dignity are her clothing,and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:25-26)
My mum shows me that a heart that is right with God will naturally display His character without. And I’ll always remember her words to me: “Just love God lah – everything else will fall into place.”
I haven’t been on a mission trip in some time. The last trip that I recall was sometime in 2010 to Hatyai, Thailand.
It was such a wonderful experience – one that I will continue to look back upon fondly: Moments of deep intimacy with God and the team, seeking His will each day for what we should do next and how best to do it.
Last year, my wife and I committed to set aside a portion of our annual leave to doing missions beyond our doorstep. Things got slightly complicated when we realised in the middle of the year that we were expecting our first child, as it restricted our travel and movements.
But it was this very turn of events that caused me to consider: Is going overseas the only way for us to participate in “mission work”?
The answer seems obvious, but for some reason most of us still carry a conventional view of missions that paints a picture of overseas travel, crossing cultures and nationalities, eating different food, speaking different languages.
I’ve long held that view myself, and as much as we know that missions begins at our “doorstep”, it somehow doesn’t resonate as quickly with us.
As a compromise, I took a short break from my full-time job instead to spend a three-month stint with Youth With A Mission’s Discipleship Training School (YWAM DTS).
It was a bittersweet transition for me to take a sabbatical from work and have a time-out from the marketplace. I found myself suddenly liberated from the demands of working life but thrust into a community of people that I was not quite accustomed to seeing on a daily basis.
Being a missions agency, YWAM is basically made up of – wait for it – missionaries. Most of my DTS course mates were also full-time church workers, and I was amongst a minority who spent their Monday to Friday (and Saturday) working a full-time job in the marketplace, and only my “leftover” time in Christian ministry.
As a “marketplace” guy, the first few weeks at YWAM was definitely a challenge. Questions like: “Are you planning leaving your job to go into full-time ministry or become a missionary?” were in abundance.
I often found myself embarrassed by these questions; they were of course well-intended, but it left me feeling almost like a second-class Christian – what had I been spending the past 5 years of my life doing? Did it count for nothing?
In an attempt to give an adequate answer to these questions (and to assuage my own internal conflict), I would answer: “I’m a marketplace missionary”. It sounded confident, but the truth was that it was borne out of insecurity.
Faced with questions like these, I grew uncertain of what my role in God’s story was, and I was definitely desperately trying to find my place among this group of amazing missionaries.
Theologians and Bible scholars have long studied and contemplated the meaning of missions – what God’s mission in the world is and what the Church’s mission should be.
In my simple and (if I may say) child-like view, missions is essentially this: God’s agenda. And if so, we must certainly accept that God has an agenda everywhere – not just in the out-of-country locations that often form the “missions destinations” in our mind, but also in our offices, corridors, schools, homes, and streets.
We may not realise it, but even being in this “concrete jungle” requires us to “cross cultures”, speak different “languages” and be “all things to all man” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
Imagine the fresh graduate accountant who is thrown into the deep end of the pool, having to navigate a new office culture, adopt a fresh set of terminology and social language for meaningful interaction with his peers and supervisors.
Missions is essentially this: God’s agenda – and God has an agenda everywhere.
What then do we make of this? It may be a matter of mere terminology, but I am reminded by this simple definition that I am in every sense, on a mission everyday.
A mission to seek God, to know what He’s thinking when He sees what we see around us; to understand His agenda for the people around us and places we enter; and to partner Him in what He intends to do.
I can have that same level of “deep intimacy with God, seeking His will each day for what we should do next and how best to do it” in my daily work, as I do on an overseas mission trip. This life is our mission field.
And as His children who seek to do His will in every arena of our existence, I dare say that we are all on a mission all the time; each one no less in “full-time” than the other. Full-time is a posture more than it is a position.
Towards the end of my course in YWAM, the community gathered to pray for those of us who were returning to our different spheres: Overseas missions, church, and the marketplace.
By that time, through the teaching sessions, I had learnt to accept and even embrace my role in the story that God was writing. This meant that I had resolved to return to the marketplace and seek an understanding of the work that God was doing there; to seek the shalom of the very city and office that I had long been placed in.
In every sense, the time of prayer was like a commissioning – a sending out. Many things were said, but what I remember most was the parting conversation that I had with one of the experienced missionaries. Before this, I’d never had the chance to share my thoughts with her.
She came up to me after prayer with a word of encouragement, saying this: “You know, Jon, although you are going back to work in your office, you are as much in the mission field as I am, as we are – in fact, the ground there in the marketplace may even be much harder.”
For those of us in the marketplace, our work and ministry is not second-class at all.
I have often repeated those words in my mind, not because I need the affirmation, but to remind myself each day that I do have a purpose where I am each day; to carry the heart and mind of God to the people I meet and the work I do.
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
The path back to work since then hasn’t been entirely smooth-sailing, but my mind often traces back to moments like this as a reminder that for those of us in the marketplace, our work and ministry is not second-class at all.
Yes, there may be daily tasks for us that may not intuitively fall into the category of “Christian ministry” as some of us have come to understand, but I am learning that God definitely has an agenda for wherever He has positioned me, even in this bustling city.
“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7)
The stark reality is this: There is a group/category of people that is within my specific reach because of my geographical location, profession, skill-set, and placement – and these are people that the heart of God is after.
In an age of technology and easy travel that makes our world a global village, we can easily extend our lives to friends from all nationalities simply by taking a walk on the city streets. Perhaps that is exactly what Jesus longs to do the most through each one of us, to reach those in every corner of the earth, first-world business districts included.
As I write this, my mind returns to a moment when I brought my two-month old daughter with me to work for a visit. It was exhilarating for me simply because I wanted to show her what I was up to everyday.
She may not have completely understood the full picture, but I found myself carrying an innate desire to reveal it to her and help her get it, even if it would take the next few years for me to do so.
I wonder if this is how God the Father looks at us – we think that we are bringing Him with us to work and to the office, but perhaps He is the One bringing us to work with Him.
And as His children, He calls us to partner Him because our mission must be this, as modelled by His Son Jesus Christ: To do only what we see our Father doing – and that He is always at work, everywhere in the world.
My friend sent me a text that a mutual acquaintance of ours had just passed on. From suicide, to be exact.
Is it even possible to grieve over someone you barely knew?
As I spent the next few days trying to process this, more bad news came my way.
This time it was 4pm, again, on Thursday, in that same week.
The sudden phone call was from my mum, which was strange, because she never called me at work unless it was an emergency.
“Your uncle just passed away. He’s gone.”
As her voice struggled to remain calm on the other end, my mind drew a blank.
I realised in that moment that grief is all the same. While it can manifest differently and take on different intensities, it is all still the same thing. Grief is … Grief.
The question that lingered over my head then was: Now how?
From a completely logical and human perspective, both of them had left way “before their time”. That friend was in her twenties, just like me and my peers. My uncle was months shy of walking his own daughter – my cousin – down the wedding aisle.
I spent that entire week going through a myriad of emotions. Initially I tried to coerce myself out of what I was feeling, to go on “business as usual”. But the more I tried to pack my emotions into the closet, the more out-of-control I found my emotions to be.
I was shocked. I was angry! I was shaken deep within me. I was in disbelief; I was confused. I was not okay. My heart was … Broken?
The first step to approaching any kind of grief – no matter how silly or severe it might appear to you – is to acknowledge it. There is no shame in grieving. For some people, it might look like a lot of weeping, for some it might be just silent solitude.
Acknowledging my grief was doing myself justice. I wasn’t going crazy; I wasn’t being a wreck for no reason. As I let myself experience the full measure of the sting of my grief, that was when the room for healing opened up.
TALK ABOUT IT
But that being said, our grief, when not handled with properly, can potentially be an agent that isolates us from community. People. Friends. Family. When not managed, it can even walk us into depths of darkness – alone.
Yes, talking about grief to others may be an extremely painful and difficult task, but the body of Christ is called to bear one another’s burdens. People may not fully comprehend the gravity of your situation, but it’s healthy to let community be the safe place for you to ventilate your spirits.
It was difficult for me to bring up my loss to the people around me. I didn’t know where to start, or how to even say it. But once I got it out, the people around me rallied together around me and watched out for me. That made things easier.
REST ON IT
In times of grieving and mourning, it can be really exhausting. Sometimes you think you’re over it, only to find it returning without warning. Sometimes it comes and goes like a wave, sometimes it looms over you like a persistent fog.
Throughout that emotionally difficult week I also found myself going through an extremely packed schedule – work events, ministry meetings, gatherings with friends whom I hadn’t met in months … And even a wedding.
Shuttling to and fro from one appointment to another while trying to keep my emotions under control in front of people took a real toll on me. Not only was I physically tired – my mind was all over the place too.
Eventually I realised that I needed some time of quiet and solitude at home and I did just that.
It is okay to disengage from the world around us and go to rest. Take time to nurse the pain, and find peace in disconnecting with the daily hubbub and connecting with God.
Personally, I’ve found that it is easiest to process my grief when I surrender it fully. It is in surrender that I find that I have no use for answers.
Surrendering my grief, in the midst of all the tears and confusion, means that I can trust God with it and all that other stuff that comes along with it. Surrender means exchanging my situation for God Himself. Surrender turns my what-ifs into even-ifs.
That even if it hurts, I will still choose Him. He is still good, He is still sovereign, and He will carry me through.
That is what we must do in the midst of our pain. And in the midst of the aching pain felt deep within me, that was what I did.
I first meet Melissa (not her real name) at her home. She’s dressed in a white shirt-dress, with shoulder-length hair softly framing her face. Looking at her, you wouldn’t have imagined that Melissa once sported what she calls a “pineapple hairstyle – extremely short and spiky” in her younger days.
“I was always very boyish,” Melissa tells me with a laugh. “My mom said that when I was in Kindergarten, I just hated it whenever they put makeup on me and tied my hair into pigtails for school recitals.”
Growing up, she hated Chinese New Year.
“When you meet relatives, parents don’t want you to be who you are for the other 364 days of the year. For that one day, you’d better be who your parents want you to be. But honestly, I would rather forget about the angpow than to be in a dress,” she confides.
That was when she was still a kid and didn’t have a choice but to comply. But as Melissa grew, she discovered the power of choice and started to make decisions for herself. This included rejecting wearing skirts and dresses, cutting her hair short and getting into a same-sex relationship.
“It didn’t feel wrong to me,” Melissa says. “I mean, I was very boyish and I liked to care for someone in a way they couldn’t care for themselves. And because in school I was like a butch and this girl was super fem, so people would just feel like we should get together.”
PUTTING FAMILY FIRST
Melissa’s first and only relationship lasted for five years. She tells me that during those five years, she was confused if it was right for her to be in a same-sex relationship.
Although most of her friends encouraged her relationship, she knew her family had a more conservative stand. And while they never confirmed their suspicions with Melissa, she could feel that her parents were uncomfortable with it. The idea that her family found it hard to accept this side of her always stayed at the back of her mind.
“As much as I loved my girlfriend, I loved my family a lot. I just could not stand the fact that I was letting them down,” Melissa tells me.
“After all, they raised me, even if they didn’t fully understand what I’m doing. So I just felt like I shouldn’t put them through that.”
“I didn’t go to church just to get an answer about my sexuality. But as I stayed, those answers came.”
This was one of the key factors that led to her calling time on her relationship.
“I came out of the relationship because I had enough – not of my same-sex attraction (SSA), but many other things,” she says. “I looked at my temperament and how I behaved in the relationship. There was a problem with my attitude. It was just very destructive. Even without talking about my SSA – I knew I needed to work on me.”
And so she made up her mind to split from her ex-girlfriend. The breakup cost Melissa not just her relationship, but her friendships too, as mutual friends began to take sides.
At this low point, she decided to turn to God.
“I WANTED TO HEAR FOR MYSELF WHAT GOD HAD TO SAY”
“Even before I left the relationship, I wanted to go to church because I was so troubled. I wanted help.
“My friends around me who were Christians – they were just very happy. They are just the friendliest people on earth. So I explored Christianity because I felt like that was the best place to start over … I didn’t know where to seek help but I just knew that church was the best place to seek help.”
Hearing this surprises me. If I were someone struggling with SSA, the last place I’d turn to seek help would probably be the church, which is still learning how to welcome the LGBT community. I ask Melissa if she knew the Christian take on homosexuality when she stepped into church.
“I heard from some of my friends that it’s a no. But I wanted to hear for myself. I didn’t want to just take their word for it,” she says.
“But putting myself in a church was just the start for me – to see if it would do anything for my character. I didn’t go in just to get an answer about my sexuality. But as I stayed, those answers came.”
“What happened?” I ask.
“Nobody told me. The conviction just came,” she replies.
Melissa explains that she sees the Bible not as just another book, but as the original manual for life.
“That means everything I need to know about right living is going to be in there, right?”
“My conviction is that I was born biologically a female, and all these years I have been forcing myself to be something God did not create me to be. So what I had to do was to accept it as it is – accept the truth as it is – and allow the Word to convict me and change the way I think.”
“KEEP CHOOSING GOD”
The change didn’t come instantaneously; it took years, she notes.
“I couldn’t just put on dresses and feel like a girl,” Melissa says. “Too fake already.”
Instead, she began by allowing herself to be associated with her femininity. “My friends in church would go, like, ‘You’re so pretty!’ – Please lah, I had super short hair,” she says, laughing at the memory.
“Maybe people had complimented me in the past, but I just shut them off because I never wanted to associate myself with being pretty or beautiful. But now I was trying to move in that direction, I took the encouraging words and was like, yes, I can be beautiful too.”
Slowly but surely, Melissa also learnt to give up on her personal desires and embrace God’s good will for her. At this point in her life, she has come to a point where she says she is able to yield to God in terms of her sexuality.
On how she would advise someone who finds it hard to come to reconcile their faith and sexuality, Melissa nods with understanding in her eyes.
“I guess my advice would be to keep loving God.
“Some people love God so much and they go like, God can you stop making me gay? But still, they find they are stuck with that. But it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love you as much,” she says, bringing to mind Paul’s struggle with the thorn in his side.
“Today, you’re struggling with being gay; someday else you’ll struggling with something else. Just keep loving God and do what is right. He will give you the breakthrough.”
“Don’t hate God because the church didn’t love you well enough.”
The breakthrough she refers to doesn’t mean to completely rid yourself of SSA. In fact, there was a time when Melissa felt the surge of attraction to a girl – this time in church! So she understood perfectly that there can be times when our flesh rises in mutiny against our spirit-man.
Instead, “breakthrough” is the capacity to keep choosing God regardless of the sin we are battling with.
“Homosexuality, addiction, lies … Who says we can’t love God even when we have all these struggles?” Melissa emphasised.
“Everyone’s capacity to handle difficulty is different. We just need to keep choosing Him.”
FOCUS ON THE VICTORIES
How can the church support people who are struggling with SSA? Melissa’s advice: “Just welcome them. Don’t say things like, ‘I love you but I hate your lifestyle’. They don’t need another person to tell them their lifestyle is wrong.”
She shares that, from her personal experience, what helped wasn’t that people told her what she should or should not do. What was useful was how the church embraced her and involved her as part of their community.
“Along the way, I updated my friends on how I was doing in this area. It helped that they weren’t very pushy, like, ‘How is your progress?’ They weren’t measuring it, like, ‘Are you doing alright? Let me help you.’
“They could just see the outward transformation,” she says, and they celebrated every victory, rather than harping on the remaining struggles.
As someone who’s been-there-done-that, Melissa has this advice for anyone who is struggling to be accepted in the church and in the larger society: “Don’t hate God because the church didn’t love you well enough. God very poor thing one. Always kena just because we didn’t represent Him well.”
I feel a twinge of sadness in my heart as she says that because honestly, I often find it difficult to love people who are different from me. I’m still learning what it means to truly love unconditionally, and I’m grateful for people like Melissa who would hold space and patiently wait as I figure things out on my side as well.
So, to all Melissas reading this: Thank you for your understanding. It can be so easy to respond to hurt with hurt, and rejection with rejection. Thank you for being brave to share your side of the story openly, so that we can all take a step towards mutual understanding.
We will be releasing a more detailed story on Melissa’s process of reconciling her faith and sexuality later this week.
Young people, greatness is not in power or money, but love
by Isaac Ong | 6 November 2018, 5:25 PM
As Singaporeans, we know how to plan very well. Everything has to have an insurance plan. Everything is about figures – how much you have in your bank, how long have you been doing this, how many people are in your church, how many cell group members you have …
And I think as a young person growing up, I tried to find my security in some sort of amount of money, some sort of job, some sort of reputation, having some sort of partner and all these different things. But it came to this point where everything I found security in, everything I thought I’d built myself upon and tried to brand myself as had to go through the fire, through the testing, the wrestling, the tearing apart.
It was the collective years of rejection from the media industry, not going or getting anywhere; years of youth ministry, loving with all my heart and getting hurt while doing so; it was saying “no” to great opportunities like certain roles and overseas gigs because I felt God wanted me to stay and serve people.
What I knew as building one’s own name and kingdom in this world was confronted by the call to build His name and Kingdom again and again – and it left me feeling very stripped down and naked. It left me feeling like I was nobody because I’d been so trained to make something of myself.
But that also meant that there was no longer anything to my name – all that was left was fully His. And there finally came a day when every song I sang, every prayer that left my lips was life and truth as God intended me to have it. All I need is You. Having Him and nothing else was truly more than enough for me.
We keep feeling the pressure to chase these digits of success, but I really just want to live for the One and stop for the one. Because if you look at the way Jesus walked on the earth, only one figure was really important, and that was the number “1”. He lived for an audience of One – His father God. He would stop for the one – whoever was in front of Him and needed help.
We keep feeling the pressure to chase these digits of success, but I really just want to live for the One and stop for the one.
Sometimes we look at the people doing God’s work and think: “Aiyah, they must be pastors lah” or “Aiyah, they must be holy; they must be anointed” – but when we do that kind of division, we’re just giving ourselves an excuse not to live like that.
What God is searching for is simply laid down lovers of Jesus Christ. He’s not looking for people with abilities, He’s looking for people who are truly available. And when we read Scripture, it has always been the case. God used people who lived with this posture of heart: “Here I am, use me and send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)
God wants to use us. God wants to walk with us. And more than the work we do, the greatest thing is to be able to partner with the God who created the entire universe. The One who made the stars and built the Sun says, “I want you. Out of all that is going on, I want you and I love you.”
And I think this has really shaped me in terms of figuring out what is the truly important number in my life. Is it how much I have in my bank? Is it how many friends I have? Is it how many followers I have? Is it how many likes that I have?
Of course, living for the One is still a decision I have to make every day when I wake up. Some days I even cry, telling God that I feel like I’m crazy for putting aside every other figure that I could be pursuing.
There are days where I literally have no money in my bank account. I remember there was one time I only had a couple of dollars left, and I had no idea what to do next. It was in a season where God had been speaking to me about trusting Him, even asking me to empty my pockets for the offering in church.
A couple of weeks before this, a pastor had come up to me and said, “The Lord is going to put money in your bag!” And of course I didn’t believe him. So fast forward to that day when I close to penniless and telling God I didn’t know what was going to happen to me, I felt Him say: “Isaac, I want you to open your bag.”
I was standing at a bus stop when this happened, and I hesitated slightly – why would I open my bag? I already knew what I’d put in it. But when I obeyed and opened, I found $500 worth of cash in loose 50-dollar notes, just lying inside. And I never forgot this lesson that I am always provided for – not just in finances but in the favour God brings to my life as I walk with Him.
So to every young person who wants to pursue God and be used by Him, Ephesians says it perfectly, “For we are God’s masterpiece, He has called us for a good work.” (Ephesians 2:10) That is the truth. Not the excuses we make for ourselves that we aren’t holy or worthy enough.
God doesn’t need us to make excuses. He doesn’t need us to highlight what we think is wrong with us. And we do that far too often. If I were to ask you today, “Hey, what’s wrong in your life?” You could list me a thousand things. But if I begin to ask you who you are and what you already have, it gets very hard.
I mean, a man-made phone already has so many applications, so many uses. What more a person that is created in the hands of the ultimate Maker? The last thing anyone should do is compare. God did not ask you to be second to any other person; He never compares between His children. Every one is unique.
I find that one of the greatest things that I get to do is not so much found on the stage or any social media platform, those are just vehicles in themselves – it’s getting to talk to that one person who is listening, ministering to the one person who needs it.
Truly, the greatest value – what we have that is the greatest – is found in the Word of God that says, “the greatest of these is love”. (1 Corinthians 13:13) The best thing that anyone can offer is love.
There was once I was in India for a mission trip, and we were visiting Mother Teresa’s orphanage. There were children who were physically disabled and others who were mentally challenged, and I remember getting angry with God and asking, “God, how can You be good if there are children like that? What kind of God does that?”
Immediately, God corrected me, saying “Isaac, you are looking at them with your earthly value system. Because you define success as being smart, being talented, you have now deemed this person to be of no value to you.
“But if you read the Scripture, I have said that the greatest of these is love. And if somebody can love and receive love, that person is the greatest. He is not defined by his intellect or talent or skill – but simply by the fact that he has love, and can give and receive love.”
Every human being can give and receive love.
The minute I find being on stage the “more important” thing, I have missed the point – I would have defined the greatness of my work by the size of my audience or the talent that I have.
That’s why the devil is so adamant about destroying the image of what love truly is. We take sex, which is absolutely beautiful, and we turn it into lust. We take love, which is absolutely beautiful, and it becomes controlling and abusive. We can be depressed by love. How crazy is that? The devil is working overtime to make sure we don’t understand what true love is.
Because love is where the power lies. Today, my vehicle, my medium to carry this love is simply singing. Tomorrow, it can be speaking. Tonight, it might be saying “hi” to somebody. The other day, while I was cycling, a drunk man fell into the drain and was yelling for help, so I helped him out.
That moment of love in action is just as important as being on stage. The minute I find being on stage the “more important” thing, I have missed the point. I would have defined the greatness of my work, or the power of my work, by the size of my audience or the talent that I have – not the love that I am tasked to carry.
The ability to love and receive love every day is the most exciting thing ever. It is the most powerful thing that all of us can do it right now. We can show love any time we choose to, and that makes us incredibly powerful. The devil doesn’t want us to realise that, or walk in that power.
I feel that if we understand this truth, we will no longer give excuses. So where does one start? It says in Scripture that God is not like love, God is love (1 John 4:8). And therefore, we look to Him, the God who is Love, and ask Him to help us to love.
And finally, the Bible shows us that “people know we are His disciples by the way we love one another” (John 13:35). Not by the way we sing, not by the way we preach, not by the way we act, not by how much money we have, not by our job credentials.
People will know that you are My disciples by the way you love one another.
And that is absolutely what we are called to do. That is absolutely our power and our strength. Having love who is God.
“My Soul Surrenders”: Sidney Mohede’s story behind the song
by Sidney Mohede, JPCC Worship | 31 October 2018, 5:13 PM
When I first wrote this song with our friends in JPCC Worship, it was for our previous album More Than Enough.
The chorus was pretty much set and we loved that chorus. But for some reason, during that songwriting season, the verse didn’t really connect with the whole theme of the More Than Enough album. So we decided to just keep this song aside.
While we were writing again for our latest album – Made Alive – I was diagnosed with a condition in my left inner ear called Meniere’s disease.
It’s a disorder that creates an imbalance between my left inner ear and my right inner ear, and there are three symptoms.
The first is hearing loss: The hearing in my left ear is now down to about 14%. The second is tinnitus – I’ve had a constant ringing in my left ear for almost three years now. And the third is vertigo, I’ve had severe vertigo attacks where everything just keeps spinning.
It was during the time of my diagnosis with Meniere’s disease that I picked up the song again. I rewrote just the first part, and included a bridge at the end: “Where would I be, if not for Your grace that rescued me, my life surrendered to worship You.”
I realised that no matter the situation we’re in, Jesus is still the one who saved us. No matter the situation, no matter what challenges we’re facing – He is still a good and gracious God.
That December, when I first experienced sudden hearing loss syndrome, my left ear suddenly just went kind of dead. And in the first few months, I couldn’t sleep because the tinnitus really bothered me. I still hear a constant and sharp “feedback” noise in my left ear.
And my first initial response to that was to question, “Why? God, why? I’ve been serving You, I’ve been doing this and that.”
Our God is able. He can heal me, but even if He doesn’t, I’m still going to be grateful anyway. I’m still going to worship Him anyway. He is still a good God. I will choose to surrender.
I always tell my team that we are born to worship God with every single part of our being. And whenever I preach or teach, I often say that God could take my voice any time, and I would still worship Him with everything I’ve got.
Now it’s as if He has this sense of humour where He says: “What if I take your ear? What if I take your hearing?”
As a musician, listening with our ears is actually the biggest part of what we do. 70% of being a musician is actually listening and hearing, the other 30% is just playing the instruments.
It’s just like being a vocalist. You can have a perfect pitch, but if you can’t hear the pitch, you will sing terribly.
Now I can’t enjoy music the way I used to. Now I listen in mono instead of stereo, because I can’t hear in both ears.
The song Even If by MercyMe really impacted me. The lyrics in the chorus helped me to realise that my God is able.
I know You’re able and I know You can Save through the fire with Your mighty hand But even if You don’t My hope is You alone
I know that God is God. He’s able to heal me in a second. I just faced this question a lot – and I think it’s an age-old one – “But what if He doesn’t?”
I’ve been to so many healing events, where you see 50 people come up and say “I’m healed, I’m healed”. But I would wonder about the 2000 other people who are still struggling and weren’t healed during that night. Because that’s me now. I’m in that situation.
There are so many testimonies about people being healed, but what happens when you’re the one in the valley?
We surrender not just when things are going good, not only when we’re winning or when we’re healed. We surrender all to Him in the good and the bad times.
All simply means all. We surrender not just when things are going good, not only when we’re winning or when we’re healed. We surrender all to Him in the good times and the bad times.
Our God is able. He can heal me, but even if He doesn’t, I’m still going to be grateful anyway. I’m still going to worship Him anyway. He is still a good God. I will choose to surrender.
And if you believe that with all your heart, and go through each day in the knowledge that God is with you, for you and fighting your battles – you could face any challenge.
Whether it’s physical or financial crises, relationship or family issues, know that God is for you and that God is on your side. Even though you may not see the answer to your situation, it doesn’t mean He isn’t working behind the scenes.
That is the mindset I wake up with every day.
My every waking hour is not about when God is going to heal me – it’s about what can I do to surrender myself even more.
Being grown by the Lord is not the result of trying harder, but the result of surrendering more. This is a huge lesson for me. It’s not about trying to be good, trying to be perfect, trying to live a holy life. However hard we try, we will fall short because we are imperfect.
But when we surrender, this is what we say: “Alright God, here I am. I’m not perfect, there are many things that aren’t perfect in my life, but I trust in You. I trust that You know what You are doing, that You are in control, and that You are always good.”