Love Of A Lifetime

There was a wedding this morning. The groom was my mother’s friend’s son and I told my father jokingly, that a lot of hearts would be broken all over the world today because he was getting married.

And my Dad made an interesting point.

‘I don’t think a lot of hearts would be broken. There is a difference between boyfriend-material and husband-material. People are willing to play around, but when it comes to settling down with them for the rest of their lives, it becomes a serious decision.’

As much as I had heard such statements before, it never struck me so much as today. Not to mention, I attended my younger brother’s high school funfair, and as I sat in his high school, it reminded me so much of the time when I had all those desires and ideas about dating. High school was a time when all us girls wrote down checklists of what we wanted in a guy, and considered boys as prospective boyfriends. And it got me thinking about the whole idea of singleness, dating and marriage. Yes, I thought about all this at a funfair. Hahaha!

Being single, I have a few thoughts that I would like to share. I’m sure these thoughts have been reiterated many times, but I suppose it’s worth mentioning again.

1. Husband Material

Personally, I think that dating should be taken seriously. As my good friend once put it, ‘when dating, we should work towards marriage‘. It does not mean that whoever we date will automatically in time become our husband, but we should date with the idea that our partner could possibly become our life partner in the future.

When I was 16, my friends asked me why I couldn’t just date someone ‘to gain experience’. But the thing is, there is so much emotion and effort put into each relationship. We invest emotionally, physically and psychologically into relationships that we treasure. So, I want to take dating seriously. I want to consider it carefully because I want to be able to say that the relationship (whether or not I marry the person or not) was one that was worth it, and was one that I had taken careful thought before entering into.

Furthermore, I want to take marriage seriously – To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. Yes sure, it’s cool to say ‘we can always divorce’, but I think it’s cooler to say that I want to wholeheartedly commit to one person for my whole life. And that is why I want to look for husband-material, because I want my marriage to last.

In this respect, it’s good to look for someone with husband material. Sure, he has to be fun but do I think he fits my criteria as husband? Does he have the emotional maturity to protect and guide me through life’s trials? Does he have the spiritual maturity to inspire me to grow closer to God?

2. ‘The One’

As we all know, we girls love to make lists and criteria for our future boyfriends and husband. However, it never struck me that in a way, we girls were being hypocritical and blind. What about us? Do we ever write a checklist on how we are to be suitable girlfriends or wives?

It is as if I am so perfect and desirable that every person wants me, and that I have the liberty to choose and write a checklist on who is suitable for me!

Just recently, my friend quoted from a pastor –

Don’t just wait for ‘The One’ to come along. Make sure that you are also ‘The One’

While waiting, we need to grow in wisdom and maturity as well. And I pray that I would learn to do that.

3. Focus On God

Enjoy singleness. I do sometimes joke about wanting a boyfriend, but I’m not lonely. I like my me-time. I like my time with God as well.

I want to be able to love God wholeheartedly – or as much as I can first – before entering into a relationship. I want to be able to put God first above my partner.

I have always been astounded by a boy and a girl, who deeply love each other, but love God even more. I am amazed by the image of a couple standing next to each other in church, yet totally focused and overwhelmed by the presence of God. Worshiping together side by side, yet unaware of each other’s presence because all they want to do is standing in God’s presence and worship Him. What a wonderful and beautiful picture of love and a Greater Love!

And I suppose this image is ultimately transformed into one where the bride and the groom stand in church at the altar and sing praises to God before they say their wedding vows. They are ecstatic to get married in a few minutes, yet their attention is wholly given to God in those moments of praise.

What a sight. What a love.

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How beautiful the radiant bride
Who waits for her groom with His light in her eyes
How beautiful when humble hearts give
The fruit of pure lives so that others may live

‘How Beautiful’ by Twila Paris

God’s Plan In Our Plan

I still remember clearly having a group conversation with some of my good friends, and one of them said in a half-joking and half-serious way – I think I need to talk to God about what “best plans” mean. 

That person was a Christian just like me, and yet, had failed to realise that what we perceive as ‘best’ and ‘desirable’ may not necessarily be what God wants for us.  God does not live for us. He does not serve us. Nor does He owe us anything. He does not fashion His plans according to our will. 

Yes, He lets us do what we want – free will. (Which is why God let Adam and Eve eat the fruit) But it does not mean that God is a cash machine, in which we can draw money or make a wish anytime and anyhow we want. If we truly live according to His will and truly walk the journey with Him, then we will voluntarily listen to His gentle nudging and steer along the path that He would like us to follow. 

You see, God is not a pushy, bossy God. He gives us the options, yet at the same time, gives His opinion. ‘Child, I think the best path would be this one right there. You can take the others, but I have designed the perfect plan via this path. There may be a climb, but the view up there is great’. 

And yet, all my friend could say was that God’s plan was not in alignment with his/hers. It hurts even more because we’re Christians who placed a Higher Being above our own interests. 

To add to this, I was talking to my mum today and she recalled hearing some Christian in church talking about how it was meaningless to study outside of Singapore unless those schools were Oxbridge, Yale, Stanford, Princeton or Harvard. They would look disappointingly at people who studied abroad in what they perceived as ‘nameless’ or ‘brand-less’ schools, and then talk about the big schools that their children were going to. 

Yes, be proud of your children, but do not put others down in your ignorance and arrogance. 

What I do not understand is that quite a few Christians tend to leave God out of the picture. Yes, so what if that kid did not go to that school? Do we not have a God who guides us in our paths? Each person has a ‘bespoke’ life journey and God’s plans for them are different from those of your children/family. 

Why do we go to church and celebrate God’s power, love and grace, if we forget the very simple and foundational truth that God’s hand is at work in our lives? 

My testimony is one example of that. In fact, having talked to quite a few Christian friends in Durham, I have realised that many of them were sent here by God! They tell me that through all the pain of rejection and the difficulty in simply listen to God, they have found great joy in Durham. They don’t want to be anywhere else! God has a purpose for each of them.

Yes, in Durham. No, not in XXX University. 

So my encouragement today, is that even as you hear about the lives of others, do not look down on them or judge them for their life journeys, paths or careers. Even as you think about your own life and the life choices placed before you, remember that God has given you blessings, as well as chosen to withhold certain blessings from you. Do not compare your life with someone else’s. They have different experiences that God wants to use them for. You have been placed here at this time and place, with these memories, feelings and experiences for a unique purpose. 

These people did not negotiate with God on what was ‘best’. They were the brave souls who decided that whatever God gave, was ‘best’. 

Engraven On The Palms of Your Hands

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While walking to town yesterday, I realised that each tree had little metal plates nailed to them. So fascinated.

Phuong said they were the house numbers of the squirrels living in them! 😀

But jokes aside, the sight really touched me because it reminded me of what God told me about the tree at Kingsgate Bridge. 

I know that these metal plates were probably placed there to keep track on which branches of which tree should be cut down, and so and so, but it reminded me of Isaiah 46:16 –

‘See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.’

So, if man can number and record each tree, how much more, will I be reminded of you, my daughter?

Isn’t it such a strong reminder that God loves and thinks of us all the time? 

He did not write our names on his hands. He engraved it. Dug into the flesh of his palms, moved the knife across the landscape of His palms, and wrote out each of our names down. 

And it’s not simply on His hands, it’s on his palms. We do many things with our palms facing towards us, and it portrays that God wants to be constantly reminded of us! 

Not only that, our walls are ever before Him. NLT alludes that these walls refer to the ‘Jerusalem’s walls in ruins’. Yet, these could be the walls of our home, of our workplace, or our dormitory. God constantly watches over us. He looks beyond those walls and keeps an eye out for us. 

Although I know it’s easy to say, it’s difficult for me as well to be always reminded and comforted by this verse, but I just want to encourage you all –

God did not only engrave you on His palm. In fact, because of His great love, He let those rusty nails dig deep into His son’s hands, so that we might know the love, grace and mercy of Our creator. He let the will of man drive His son to His death. And so, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, so much so that He is continually watching over us through all our different ‘walls’. 

So do not fear, our names are graven on the hands of the Holy, perfect and eternal creator. 

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