A Prodigal Hike

I've been a Christian for over 30 years. I wasn't born into a Christian home, but brought up in a dysfunctional foster family, with a couple who weren't married to one another. My foster mother was only 17 when she was forced to take me into her charge. Though she tried her best to take care of me, being a child herself, uneducated, orphaned and abused, she wasn't at all a role model for my growing up years, still, over here I would like to give her credit for having cared for me as well as she could.

I knew no peace while growing up. My foster mum had a foul temper (she has changed after receiving Christ 11 years ago), and my foster dad had another family with 7 children. There were 7 to 8 idols in our house and I could feel the spiritual warfare happening everyday, nightmares, bad dreams and totally unharmonious relationships. My foster parents were hostile to each other and after every episode of quarrel my mum would direct her anger and hurt towards me.

In school I lacked confidence as I was weak in studies, especially in English. Teachers never paid any attention to me. I felt transparent and made only a few friends. My childhood years were spent in loneliness, day-dreams, sadness and anxieties.

The pressures at home mounted when my foster dad cohabited with a 3rd woman and fathered an illegitimate child with her. He was then supporting 3 families, 3 disharmonious families. How did he, being a man of little education found such wealth to support 3 families? He did so by running a syndicate which collected illegal gambling bets. Despite his flaws, I'm grateful to him for raising me, and being very kind to me. He supported my education all the way to the University (while none of his own made it), got me a car (where 7 of his own kids shared one) and walked me down the aisle when I got married in Church (though he wasn't a believer). Tension ran high at his funeral when all 3 'wives' met. Those were bad memories which I've no intention to remember really.

In my twenties, God blessed me with a very good spouse, a gentle loving and patient man. Together we build a Christian home and have 2 sons. Through the early years of building a family, I've had to deal with various baggages and issues in my heart and God dealt with them one by one. I tried not to repeat the mistakes of my mum, but I did nevertheless because of my temper (which I have no idea whether it was a natural trait or a learned one). But I beseech God to change me and He did, I have my temper under control after 7 years of conscious struggle. I love my sons and brought them up to the best of my knowledge and in prayers. The Bible teaches to bring up a child in God's ways and when he is grown he will not depart from it. I believed and claimed this.

Although I've tried my best, being human, I know I have not been a perfect mum. But I love my children and there's no shadow of doubts about it. My spouse and I lived our lives with our children as our main concern. Much of my adult life was spent nurturing them and their needs and I've no energy left to build a career. I took on ad-hoc temporal part-time jobs now and then to fit them into my family schedules.

Thanks be to God that our sons grow up to be balanced individuals, having a healthy sense of self-esteem and confidence, excelling in their studies (having better academic results then their parents) and to top it all, they're faithful followers of Christ. I am so proud of them, not being prideful but being glad and relieved!

Into my 50s, I felt God's calling to witness to my colleagues who are foreigners and heeded God's call. I left my comfort zone, humbled myself and poured myself as sacrificial libation upon the altar in order to reach out to these unsaved souls, souls whom God loves and whom Christ died for. Out of 3 people, 2 were saved, thanks be to God. While serving those 2, I was often hurt in the process. Serving God is entering into the battlefield and we can be hurt in the process. I'm not perfect and I find myself grumbling at times, I wish I hadn't but I did. However, despite my failings in this, I have no regrets for the trouble taken to present them to Christ.

While I was happy and contented with my life so far, something bad happened and caused me much pain...

What pain me most now is that after my diligent and whole-hearted service to God, satan has infiltrated into our family and attacked one of our family members, causing serious doubts and unbelief in him. As a family, we could only advise that member to hold on to what's remnant of faith he has left with and not give up fighting for his faith. I've beseiged God to rescue this family member and entrust his soul to a faithful Creator. However he has his freewill and if he finally choose to undertake this prodigal journey and squander away his spiritual inheritance, I pray that like the prodigal son, he will still wake up to his senses and have the spiritual discernment to humbly return to his Heavenly Father one day. Somehow, deep inside me, I feel or I hope that like Job, God allows this prodigal trip to happen only because after he is tested, he will return stronger to guide others in the same dilemma; living your own life or submitting to a loving omni-potent, omni-science, omni-present God who knows us personally. I hope and I pine for this outcome.

This recent incident has awaken me to these truths:
  1. That we must always guard our hearts for out of it flows the issues of life; LIFE - the physical and eternal!
  2. That even as we minister to others and have God's stamp of approval and blessings in our ministries, we must always keep watch over our own family because the devil will try to distract us.
  3. That we should never take our faith for granted, we have to be serious with God. Don't try to be a Christian, live as one!
  4. That none of us is ever strong enough to stand on our own, we need God's people and there is nothing wrong with that. A baby needs his parents, a man his spouse and we all grow up in families, so it is in our spiritual lives, we need God's family.
  5. That we need to choose our friends wisely. You can have unbelieving friends, but be careful of developing strong binding relationships with those who'll draw you away.
  6. New experiences and knowledge are fine but as the Bible admonishes, we should always be alert to the wiles of the devil for he can confuse God's children with puff-up knowledge that brings confusion, dissension instead of peace.

At the end of the day, we have to decide whom to follow? Choose this day your 'god', is it God, Jehovah Jireh our Provider, or the world? It does not matter how we begin with God, it matters how we end. Life is a sum of all choices.

Despite the pain and sadness I'm experiencing now, I will not give up ministering to others whenever I'm in the position to do so. I will not be intimidated because God will win finally. God is sovereign. I shall continue to trust God for His goodness and mercy, and my family, yes my family, each and everyone in my family shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever!

God who had rescued me when I was sold away in infancy, God who had safe-guarded me during those unhappy days in my dysfunctional foster home, God who gave me a wonderful spouse, who blessed us with two lovely sons, this God will not fail me now or in the future, He will keep us in Him for eternity. In tears I plead...


A Life Turned Upside Down

The following is an exerpt from:
Upside Down
January 27, 2011 — by Joe Stowell
Read: Matthew 5:38-48 (NIV)

If you were to ask me who I am, I’d tell you that I’m a follower of Jesus. But I have to admit, at times following Him is a real challenge. He tells me to do things like rejoice when I’m persecuted (Matt. 5:11-12); to turn the other cheek (vv.38-39); to give to someone who wants to take from me (vv.40-42); to love my enemies, bless those who curse me, and do good to those who hate me (vv.43-44).

This kind of lifestyle seems very upside down to me.

But I’ve come to realize that He’s not upside down—I am. We have all been born fallen and broken. Being twisted by sin, our first instincts are often wrong, which inevitably leaves a big mess.

We’re like toast slathered with jelly that has fallen upside down on the kitchen floor. Left to ourselves, we can make a pretty big mess of things. Then Jesus comes along, like a divine spatula, scrapes us off the floor of our sinful ways, and turns us right side up. And as we follow His right-side-up ways, we discover that turning the other cheek keeps us from getting caught in a brawl, that it is more blessed to give than to receive, and that dying to self is life at its best.

After all, His ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8), and I’ve come to realize that His ways are always best!

Isa 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

My thoughts: As Christians we will come across times when our faith is seriously challenged. My ways or the Lord's? The Christian life is indeed a life turned upside down because many of the things required of us seem to contradict human nature. Yet God meant them to protect us. He can see our future, He knows beyond the physical. May the grace of God keep all of us and not let any single one be snatched away. He has paid the price for our sins, may we stick with Him even when we can't understand. What is seen will pass away, what is unseen endures. Oh God, I plead for your mercy.


Your Life Is What You Choose

"Life is the sum of all choices."

This strong message was preached on the first Sunday this year. The pastor said, "It matters how you end (your life)!"

I was stunt! I expected him to preach on the importance of having a good start for the new year, on the importance of planning etc. But he talked about the end instead of the beginning! And I'm so glad he did!

Believers come from all walks of life, some are more blessed than others and some have harder lives, but it doesn't really matter how you begin your journey in life and in your faith, it MATTERS MORE how you end it! What's the point of begining faithfully to find yourself totally sold off to the world and compromising whatever you've learnt from Jesus in your last days?

As we journey through life, when we come to the cross-roads, what do we choose? The way that point to the Promised Land, or the way that points to the Good-Enough Land?

Every step of the way counts, one wrong turn can bring countless miseries. God's commands are not meant to stifle us, they are given to protect us from hurts and destructions.

Give careful thoughts to your choices, especially on those significant milestones in life. How will the sum of your life adds up finally? I sincerely hope that it'll be a pretty picture and one that gives glory to your Creator and Saviour. God bless you. :)