Sunday, May 9, 2010

~~Part 1: When less is more~~

Just back from silent retreat at Good Shepherd Oasis, Singapore. As the name suggested, it was a silent retreat between me and God. I was not supposed to talk to others except to God and the spiritual director. Each day the spiritual director will pay an hour visit to me during the morning to guide and direct my thought for the day. Little did I expect it is so difficult to unwind and detach myself from the computer and handphone world that I used to live in. It was hilarious to see how much things I have packed for the 3-day stay. The simple furniture and setting gave my overloaded luggage an even more obvious contrast. As I unpacked my luggage, God reminded me of Matthew 11:30 "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." What a beautiful reminder indeed! With or without our knowledge, in our strive to excel in life we have added additional and unwanted yoke on our shoulders. More often than not, instead of fulfilling our "need" we wear ourselves out just to satisfy our "want". We set high tone for our living standards. In our quest for better life, we slog through life daily. How ironic isn't? What are the extra luggages and baggages in life that God want to unload from you?

Could it be branded clothes?
Could it be material gain?
Could it be bottomless greed?
Could it be addiction?
Could it be bad eating habits?
Could it be negative thinking?
Could it be round-the-clock working hours?
Could it be endless deadlines?
Could it be busyness in life?
Could it be lack of self-control?
The list will go on and on...

Whatever the distraction may be, I pray that God will grant you peace and courage to lay it bare in front of God. Let go and let God to take control of the situation. It is comforting to know that it is His desire for us to live a simple, joyful and fullfilling life. Come to think of it, if we live a simple life as intended by Jesus, we don't have to worry about what clothes to wear,what food to eat (c.f. Matthew 6:25-34). Afterall, who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27)
It reminds me of the story of Martha and Mary too (Luke 10:38-42). In this attention demanding world, we can easily become Martha if we are not careful with our time management. Work, church activities, outings, family commitment, habitual activities so on and so forth can occupy most of our time and sap all our energy. Father Lord, I pray that you continue to use Your Holy Spirit to illuminate our spiritual direction. Help us oh Lord, help us to be good stewards of time. We long to be like Mary, sitting quietly under your feet hunger for every single word that coming out of Your mouth.
The same applies for prayer to God. I am not good in doing lengthy and details prayer. I still remembered the first time I did my prayer in front of the care group I can hardly come out with any words. In fact, many times I feel intimidated and even embarrassed to say prayer in the group. Sometimes I even feel guilty not being able to return the same amount of blessing that I received from my prayer partner. Do not get me wrong, I am not against people that are very good and fluent in prayer. There is nothing wrong with that. It is such a blessing to be able to cover every single details during the prayer session. I just wish to encourage whoever that is like me, who stammers during prayer. There is NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. Over time I have learned that so long as our prayers originate from a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith it is sufficient regardless of the amount of words that we use to illustrate our point. In fact, the danger of prayer is we say what we do not mean. Or we simply do not have any feeling towards the words that we say. Words can be many but it can be meaningless too. Father, I pray that You continue to set a seal and guard over my mouth, filter and help me to speak only Your truth. May my mouth only speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding (psalm 49:3). Father, may Your living word continue to flood my heart. Preserve all the good stored up in my heart (Luke 6:45). May I speak of Your sweetness and frangrant everyday of my life.
These gentle reminders help me to have a better appreciation of what it means to be less is more. May the verses bless everyone of you as much as they have blessed my heart:

1) 传道书 Ecclesiastes 5:2-3
你 在 神 面 前 不 可 冒 失 开 口 , 也 不 可 心 急 发 言 。 因 为 神 在 天 上 , 你 在 地 下 , 所 以 你 的 言 语 要 寡 少 。
Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
Be not unwise with your mouth, and let not your heart be quick to say anything before God, because God is in heaven and you are on the earth--so let not the number of your words be great.

事 务 多 , 就 令 人 作 梦 , 言 语 多 , 就 显 出 愚 昧 。
For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words.
As a dream comes from much business, so the voice of a foolish man comes with words in great number.number.

2) 传道书 Ecclesiastes 6: 11
加 增 虚 浮 的 事 既 多 , 这 与 人 有 什 么 益 处 呢 ?
Seeing there be many things that increase vanity, what is man the better?
There are words without number for increasing what is to no purpose, but what is man profited by them?

3) 箴言 Proverbs 25:16
你 得 了 蜜 吗 ? 只 可 吃 够 而 已 。 恐 怕 你 过 饱 就 呕 吐 出 来 。
Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
If you have honey, take only as much as is enough for you; for fear that, being full of it, you may not be able to keep it down.

4) 箴言 Proverbs 26:20
火 缺 了 柴 , 就 必 熄 灭 。 无 人 传 舌 , 争 竞 便 止 息 。
Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
Without wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no secret talk, argument is ended.

5) 约翰福音 John 3:30
他 必 兴 旺 , 我 必 衰 微 。
He must increase, but I must decrease.
He has to become greater while I become less.

6) 路加福音 Luke 15:7
我 告 诉 你 们 , 一 个 罪 人 悔 改 , 在 天 上 也 要 这 样 为 他 欢 喜 , 较 比 为 九 十 九 个 不 用 悔 改 的 义 人 , 欢 喜 更 大 。
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
I say to you that even so there will be more joy in heaven when one sinner is turned away from his wrongdoing, than for ninety-nine good men, who have no need of a change of heart.

7) 路加福音 Luke 21:3
就 说 , 我 实 在 告 诉 你 们 。 这 穷 寡 妇 , 所 投 的 比 众 人 还 多 。
And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
And he said, Truly I say to you, This poor widow has given more than all of them:

Enclosed is the link for the photos that I have taken during the retreat. I am so amazed by His out of the world creation. I can only stand in awe... Enjoy!

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