Sunday, September 30, 2012

Finding God in the... [What]?

For the past couple of weeks, I've gone through a rush of varying emotions which ranged from a peak of elated joy and happiness - you know, the kind you think will just never end, as though you will never ever come down from such a high; to a trough of despair and confusion - the kind where you think you are in the wrong place and maybe for the wrong reasons. The trough was mostly me freaking out about my lack of time for myself and slowly coming to the realization that I've chosen a line of training that of course demands time and all of myself and more time and more of me than I would have liked to imagine. It's one thing to have thought of it abstractly and another thing when your feet are drenched in it. However, as I sat in that state, I made a mental note to have personal goals to accomplish through the week, and amongst that was upping my G-time, literally that is how it's written in my journal  (personal time with God). In the midst of my busyness, I've found that it's easy to spend 10-11 hours of my day in lab or wherever your place might be and forget that there is a Sustainer that webs the galaxies for His purpose... bends stars at His will and loves me so passionately to die in my place... it's easy to forget that. In upping my G-time, I was scavenging through Jeremiah, trying to feed off His breath of words to my "supposed" trough. A couple of days ago, I came across this:

 4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 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 (NIV)

So here are the Israelites in Babylon, carried away by King Nebuchadnezzar, against their will. I can't even begin to imagine what that must have been like - in the midst of so much confusion, despair and regret, they were probably expecting to hear a word that God would send a deliverer to propel them out of captivity. But instead, they hear the opposite. They are instructed to: "Increase in number; do not decrease".  I was challenged by that verse. For some reason or the other, I have often found myself standing at a cliff-hanger… almost like I think I’m in an intermediate state waiting for something big to happen. I neglect the fact that the big is happening now, like right now as I speak, walk, sleep, eat, talk, write… the big is now! In my present state, I must find satisfaction and contentment in my territory.
Note to self: I must increase. Yes, I am blessed where I am. Even in my lack... even in what I don't have... I must still increase. They were instructed to also pray for the city that they were in, because if it prospers, they too would prosper. 
Note to self: If your lab prospers, you too will prosper. I don't even need to tell you what I started doing next. 

The next verse that came to me as I considered things in my trough was Esther. Remember her? A girl who during the exile of Israelites and the reign of the King of Persia, although an Israelite, became Queen in a foreign land. A classic syndrome case of: from grass to grace. My favorite line from that story is what her Uncle tells her when he comes to her for help due to the verdict that was out that all Jews should be killed. He said to her:

            And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
(Esther 4:12-14 ESV)

Esther was brave enough to move from victim to victor. She was challenged to realize that part of her bottom-line was happening now… not later. Not tomorrow or in a few years… but now.
Note to self: I was born for such a time as this. My life, my timeline... everything has been leading me to a bottom-line. Where I currently am is part of my bottom line. Never mind the sweat. Never mind the tiredness. Never mind the lack. Never mind the things I covet. All of my life has been leading towards this... and even beyond what I had ever imagined. I was born for such a time as this!

Now my next job is sitting back and basking in that for… the rest of my life.

            I don’t know what you are in the midst of…
            Busyness or downtime,
Joy or sadness,
Abundance or lack,
Pithiness or Nebulosity.
Whichever the case, bask in the fact that:
1)    You must increase wherever you are.
2)    No matter how your life came to be, or where you currently find yourself - You were born for such a time as this.

Have a splendous week of ecstatic joy and present contentment.

                                                                                                                                       Mwajim Al. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sharing 11

 That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust himendless energy, boundless strength!

Ephesians 1: 15-19 (The Message)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

In between the Crevices of life

        One of my favorite poems as a young beady-eyed  teenager was Ulysses. I can still remember the first time the teacher read the poem during SS1 English Literature. You can read it here. I had forgotten the exact line that struck me, but I always remembered the explanation: Ulysses would rather live than merely exist. That lesson had been pushed back to the end of my memory... well until recently...
        So far, it's been a year and a few months into graduate school. I'm currently a second year whhhooohoooo!!! It's funny because I can hardly believe that it has gone by so fast. It feels just like yesterday when I was on here asking you all to keep me in your prayers through the application process... or rather, me ranting about how I need to keep focus on Him through this process. Through it all, while I now can't imagine not doing what I currently do, I also find myself in a place where I want to frivolously plan for the next step.... Mind you, I won't be finishing up with where I currently am for at least the next three years... so where on earth am I rushing to?
         I've had to re-learn the art of sitting still all over again.
         Sitting still. In contentment. Glad with where I am. Re-trusting that there is a purpose associated with where I am. There is a plan, a Master Orchestrator directs my path. The rest of it is having confidence in that.
Pretty hard, and all because I forget. The Psalmist in Chapter 103 had to write the benefits of who God is to him to remember that indeed, He can sit still wherever he is. The hardest has been learning to strike the right balance between becoming consumed with what I want to do in the future vs living in the present tentacles of where I am. It's good to plan, I know. But, it's also bad to live in the plans of tomorrow... I'm a dreamer who feeds on the possibilities of tomorrow... learning to live in the present is coming at extraneous costs of mind re-training. I'm getting there.
       In learning to live in contentment, I've also realized that it is so easy to get stuck in the rut of
daily duties. You could be a 9 to 5 worker, a stay-at-home mom, or a student, and no matter the amount of excitement you had in the beginning, there comes a time when you just go through the moments. There comes a time when you just get into the automated drive of existing through the tasks... Painfully mundane. And then of course, there is the occasional burst of rejuvenated strength... that is if you pinch in church/TEDtalks/[insert your source of inspiration] on the regular... You know what I'm talking about - you just had a crappy week, you to to church and BAM! You feel the word is directed right at you and you feel that you can face the week with all the might in the world. But then Monday morning, you see your pile of work papers and to do lists, and all of Sunday's fever is gone. That's just the thing - the feelings. The fact that we can live though the mundane things exponentially as overcomers is a fact and not an occasional feeling we fester off the pulpit on Sundays. Even if I spend the rest of the days of my life doing some menial task every single second, it is still worth it to approach it as though as my life depended on it, rather than merely trying to get through the task just because it has to get done... In a way, this realization is part of me learning to live larger than life... living larger than myself... and into living abundantly as I'm called to. I've been freed into a life of abundant liberty rather than mundane get-bys.
       My second realization from the past couple of weeks has also come in the form of how I relate to others. I found that I have a thing for "seeing" service in other people... but not in me. How do I use my most precious preserved gift to serve other people? For you, it may be money or belongings... for me it's time, and money. While I won't write about the money aspect on here or (now?), I will expound on the issue of time. Because I'm a self-proclaimed recovering introvert, time is probably my most treasured gift... and probably most selfishly used. I've been challenged over the past couple of weeks in sharing my time, not just with other people but also in things that I should be doing for me outside my professional goals. To that note, there are two service-related projects I will be planning to work on by the end of the year, and when it is all in fruition, I would love to share it with you all :)
I guess my request is to ask you to keep me accountable and ask me in a couple of weeks about how the project(s) is going!
          Here is to living rather than mere existence!!!

Have a great labor day weekend and remember to smile back, HE is already smiling your way :D

OH and P.S., this is totally random, but I just realized why heartbreaks hurt so much... it's the absence of the crazy state of elation you once lived in! I know this is totally random as I don't discuss matters of the heart on here, but yes, bask with me in this moment of realization lol.