For it's You, it's You who really matters; You are worthy of our praise.
Pastor Kong talked today about the months where he went into depression during the time our church was a very dark state: persecution. The source for his depression was a feeling of abandonment by God. He had given so much to God - been in the ministry for 25 years and he's always been busy doing God's work, saving souls, preaching powerful messages, and he felt like he had been used by God. Taken by God to do so much and get so little rest - and then discarded when He was done with him.
Much later on, after he finally had an encounter with God again after months, he was preaching again, in Sumatra, and he was talking about the crucifixion of Christ.
It was a really dark period, wasn't it, Jesus Christ hanging on the cross, abused and afflicted, a crown of thorns adorning his head. And in Matthew 27:46 (and Mark 15:34) it says: Around the ninth hour, Jesus shouted in a loud voice, saying "Eli Eli lama sabachthani?" which is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
He was in the movement of the Spirit as he was preaching this in Sumatra; it wasn't in his prepared notes, his speech was just flowing, he was overflowing with passion, energy, punching at the air, kicking at the ground, in a passionate flow of words. I know what that's like, he's like that when he's preaching sometimes.
And he continued preaching: But in the pain and cries of his Son, God Himself knew: if only you could see - you need to go through this so that you can become the Saviour of the world.
As Pastor Kong preached this, he froze. And then he wept. He realised that the words that God had put into his mouth was in fact His message to him. 'My God, why have you abandoned me?' he often questioned in his depression, and the answer was that he had to go through this affliction before he could truly become His powerful servant.
The anguish before the breakthrough. The trial before the triumph. I always love hearing Pastor Kong preach and it's always a blessing to all our lives, and it's great that he'll be preaching for the whole of this month. It's great having him back again.
When my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
You know, up to this point I kept thinking, when you start talking to me again, when you want me back again, you'd better be really sorry, and a simple apologetic text isn't going to work. You'll pay me in happiness for all the tears you've been bringing me the past week. You will make me feel really wanted, and I will feel loved. I'll get myself some self-respect, some dignity.
But then I was just thinking about it, and I thought about the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The son demanded his share of his inheritance, went away and spent it all in wild living. Yet when he came back, poor and undeserving, his father didn't have any resentment towards him; he ran to his son and kissed him and called for a feast in celebration of his return.
And that's how God is, that's how he forgives - he forgets, and the angels celebrate upon the true repentance of a sinner. No grudges, just love and forgiveness awaiting. And I know, too, that when things are okay again, I won't even care about the apology, because I'm just waiting, and when you want it back, even if I want you to be sorry and try to make up for the hurt you've caused, I'd have forgiven and forgotten everything already. Instantly. That's the way love works.
I've resolved to put God first in my life. I really mean it - I always mean it, but I never really fulfill it. This time I really want to make things work. I know that in all the tumult of life, He is the only one being that stays constant. Our church is going to be reading the New Testament together: 4 chapters every day and we'll all finish in time for Candlelight Service, 16 Dec. I do hope I keep to this plan. I'm not sure about sticking to it during the A Levels, but I'll make up for it if I don't. I've learnt through painful lessons that when I want something that might not be what God knows is best for me, it turns out badly. I want to lift up my life to God now, that whatever I do is what He wants for me, so that they will prosper in His name and He will use me as a beacon of light to shine upon His name.