These are three questions from a recent spiritual writing meeting which I was not able to attend. The facilitator Josephine kindly sent me the list via email . I have chosen this set as it is the one that most resonates with me at the moment.
Where am I now? Basically I am now physically in my room typing out this message, but of course this question is asking something deeper than just the physical presence of my being. It is asking where in my life am I in all aspects. So I would answer it from using three words: Faith, Fitness, Family.
F- Faith. Where am I now ? I just attended an overnight spiritual retreat with my wife in JB with a group of church friends. The pertinent take away from the retreat is that I learnt that “Eternity begins NOW”.
In the awesomeness and the wonder of God, we do not need to wait till the end of our life to meet God in His heavenly kingdom. The kingdom of God is close at hand (Mark 1: 15). I shared over the last two days at the retreat how I had managed to spend some precious time with my ailing parents before they passed on. These moments will forever be etched in my memory for a long time.
I asked my dad to retell me the stories that he would tell us when we were young. I held on to my mum’s hands for the longest time that I had ever done so . The kingdom of God was right in front of me in the presence of my ailing parents.
As I gazed on my mum’s broken and failing body one of those Sunday afternoons before she passed on last month, I was overwhelmed by the fact that this was the body that God had chosen to give birth to me so many years ago. A deep sense of gratitude and thanksgiving filled me and moved me to tears.
So in faith, I am now learning to be more thankful and learning to move with God’s time and learning that eternity starts NOW. We have to live daily as it is our last day so that we will not live life with any regrets and not leave any songs unsung or any words unwritten, or any picture unpainted.
So how do I get to this state of mind … It does not require rocket science or deep philosophical understanding or a coveted degree from the Ivy League schools; it only requires our simple Amen.
It is the awesomeness of this simplicity that really startles me.
The secret of all God’s mystery always lies in the paradox.
It lies in the whisper of the wind and not in the howling typhoon.
It lies in the stillness of the morning light and not in the fiercesome afternoon sun.
God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). “For my thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not my ways, declares Yahweh. For the heavens are as high above earth as my ways are above your ways, my thoughts above your thoughts.”
God, help me to be still, help me to live in the present, help me to be grateful always, help me to trust in your timing to bring me all the needs and graces that I need for this life. Give me always my daily bread and do not lead me to temptations.
F- Fitness . In recent days I have increased my running mileage in preparation for a marathon that is happening in exactly one month from today on 4th July. It is my second sundown marathon. It starts at 1am in the early morning of 5th July and I should complete it before the sunrise. Running has become a regular feature of my life since about 10 years ago when I started serious long distance running.
Where do I want to go from here? I want to complete ten full marathons for a start . I am three away from this target. And subsequently I would like to run a marathon overseas before I turn 50. How does running complement my faith ? Well, I would like to share some insights from a famous movie “Chariots of Fire”.
One of the great movie clips of all time is the scene of Eric Liddle running his 1924 Olympic race in Chariots of Fire. He wins the gold medal, finishing way ahead of everyone else. As he runs he’s clutching a piece of paper with a message from the Bible, looking up into the heavens, and laughing with joy! His whole body is exuberant, arms flailing freely while running, as he exclaims, “When I run I feel God’s pleasure!” To some extent, although I am not Eric Liddle, I do feel God’s spirit and the sense of being alive while I run.
Running is praying time and also quiet time with God.
Running for me is a great gift from God
and in recent days, I have the vision of my dad running in heaven with Jesus
as my dad was a great runner in his younger days.
Lastly F- Family. My young family is growing up quickly. The children are 8,12,16 this year and soon Cedric will receive his first Holy Communion and Charlotte her Sacrament of Confirmation and Chloe her PSLE exams.
My wife Anna is integrating very well into the special needs program in her school and though tiring and stressful at times, I can see that she is deeply fulfilled in her work/career. I encourage her to write a book someday about her students and in doing so give glory to God as these special needs children are often forgotten and marginalised. She has given a lot for the family and we sometimes have to look for nuggets of time to spend together. The children are always seeking our attention and time. Anna and I always prayed that they will be imbued with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and lead God fearing lives.
Where do I want to move from here to the future? Someone once said we are only stewards of all of God’s creation ; I believe that includes our children. Some day they will have to lead their own independent lives and that someday is coming sooner than later in the 21st century. I hope to be able to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive and prosper in this world and make themselves also right with God. We cannot do this alone, not even as a couple together; we need the Power of God. We need the blood of Christ ; Christ’s victorious act in Cavalry and his Love is the only Power we need and we seek to protect our children and ourselves as we journey on in this temporal world.
As I end this reflection, I would like to share this serenity prayer which was shared by my vehicle commander ( the person who sits besides you in the front seat of the car, a term used in the army) during our three hour long jam in the causeway.
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.