A-Life-Lesson-in-An-Elevator

A Life Lesson in an Elevator

Written By Priscila Stevanni, Indonesia

One morning, I was in an elevator travelling down from the 27th floor.

It stopped at the 19th floor. “Selamat pagi,” a tourist said as she entered the elevator with her luggage. “Good morning.” I smiled back at her, wishing that I could be as cheerful as her when all I was hoping was to skip the day.

The elevator stopped again at the 15th floor. A girl in high school uniform and her mum walked in, both looking unhappy. The mom scolded her daughter for being late, and the daughter frowned at her. I wished I were that girl too. I bet her life was still better than mine. After all, what could be so bad when you’re in high school? There isn’t anything to worry about except homework, exams, and boyfriends.

The elevator stopped a third time, this time at the 10th floor. A man in a suit walked in. He carried a briefcase and his face looked tired. I wondered if it would be better to be in his shoes rather than mine. I’ve always wanted to be a “regular” worker—someone with a fixed 8-to-5 working schedule, sitting in a cubicle, working behind a screen. At least this man didn’t have to do the night shift at the hospital or work 24 hours at one go, I thought to myself.

There are no slow days at the hospital. It’s stressful to work in a place where people’s lives are always on the line. As a doctor, I have to make decisions about the lives of others and then take the responsibility for them. Sometimes, when I reach home, I question myself about whether I had made the right decision for my patients. Did I do my best to save their lives? Did I do anything wrong? After a long day at work, these thoughts only exhaust me more.

It was unusual for the elevator to stop so many times on its way down and be as packed as it was that day. And as I observed my fellow passengers one by one, wishing that I could be one of them, I wondered if they were thinking the same thing. Maybe the unhappy girl was thinking that it was better to be someone else too. Maybe the office worker was even hoping to be like me.

Then it hit me: Was I unhappy because I kept comparing my life with others? Proverbs 14:30 says: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Envy rots the bones. Comparing keeps me from feeling content with my situation. It wearies me even more and drains my energy. When we’re dissatisfied with our own lives and keep comparing our situations with those of other people, these thoughts make us even unhappier. We fail to realize that God gives each of us our own crosses to bear.

I realized then that I should stop comparing my life with others’, and just focus on carrying the load that God had given to me. It won’t be easy, but I know God will help me. I’ve also found when I stop checking my social media accounts and comparing my life to what I see in the media, it helps me to stop this constant game of comparison.

When the elevator door opened on the ground floor, the sound of people walking out made me look down at my own shoes. The shoes I had to walk in. The cross that I have to bear. But thankfully, I know I will never be alone, for Jesus walks with me.

The-Story-of-My-Eating-Disorder(2)

The Story of My Eating Disorder

Written By Ana Bohr, USA

There are quite a few obstacles I’ve had to overcome in my 23 years of life so far. But each obstacle has only made me stronger. One obstacle in particular was something I never thought I would get through. In that moment—which consisted of a few long years for me—I was left feeling very hopeless. Struggling with the battle on my own, I could only lean on the one who could truly help me. And that’s when I experienced the good Lord’s help.

Having an eating disorder wasn’t easy; in fact it was one of the hardest battles I’ve ever overcome. In the moment, I didn’t think I had a problem when it came to the way I viewed my body, and the way I controlled my diet. I pictured someone with an eating disorder constantly going to the bathroom to purge after every meal. I didn’t know there were “different types” of eating disorders out there. I just knew I had a problem, an inner demon that I was facing.

Food was constantly on my mind. I dreamt of food, and thought about food as soon as I woke up. And yet, I was always counting calories, worrying about what I was going to eat for dinner, and wondering how I could balance it all out after I had “messed up” during the day. I binged when my body lacked the nutrients that it needed, took diet pills to make me less hungry, and worked out every day (sometimes even twice a day). I remember crying one time while pushing myself to run five miles. I was in this constant cycle, and didn’t tell anyone about it. I hid my struggle so well, but I was secretly hating myself underneath it all. I just wanted to be normal. 

You might be wondering why I had this problem. Looking back, I realize that while I had a relationship with God, my identity was not rooted in Him—the God who created me. Instead, it was found in the world. I was lost about who I truly was. I was trying to live up to a man-made standard; a definition of beauty that society had ingrained so heavily in my mind. I looked up to the women I saw on television and in magazines, and compared myself to women around me. I never felt good enough or loved. My worth was tied to the man who left me for someone more beautiful. Someone skinnier and taller.

I was blind to the root issue—my hurt and insecurity. I knew something wasn’t right, but I just didn’t know exactly what was going on, and I didn’t know how to fix it. What I was feeling was real, and not something I could casually brush aside and pretend everything was all right. In my feelings of hopelessness, I allowed the lies of the world to outweigh the truth of the Bible.

Yet the truth was simply this: I was God’s daughter. He loved me very much, and He thought I was beautiful. He was fighting and rooting for me. And He never once gave up on me even when I wanted to give up on myself.

The enemy will do anything to make you feel alone and abandoned. You can lose your sight of God in the mix of chaos if you let the chaos take over your life. That’s what happened with me when I hit rock bottom. Luckily for me, that was my turning point. God placed the right people in my life at the right time—one friend specifically. He used that friend to speak life and truth into my life, and to help me break old habits. He used that friend to love me—and I mean truly love me. And to be honest, I just needed someone to show me how to love myself. It was the wake-up call I needed.

Sure, healing did not happen overnight. But experiencing God’s tender love, grace, and mercy enabled me to persevere through the struggle, and slowly removed the hopelessness I was feeling.

When you realize how much God truly loves you, nothing else matters. When you feel like you are in a dark tunnel and can’t see any light, continue persevering. The situation may seem hopeless from a human perspective, but God sees the bigger picture. He sees the beginning and the end, and He’s with you through every hardship. Lean on the one who will give you strength—He will get you to the other side.

My-Daily-Struggle-Against-Negative-Thoughts

My Daily Struggle Against Negative Thoughts

Written By Kim Cheung, China, originally in Simplified Chinese

I used to feel like I was on an emotional roller-coaster ride—experiencing a huge range of ups and downs in just one day.

In a typical day, I would wake up to a bright and sunny morning that put me in a good mood. Feeling that life was great and all was rosy, I might even buy some flowers to brighten up my room. However, these feelings of happiness wouldn’t last. By afternoon, I would be feeling so down that life itself would seem meaningless and tiring. Ask me why this drastic change, and I wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer. It could be due to something small that frustrated me, or just a helpless feeling of moodiness that day.

I used to experience these feelings almost daily. They poured on me like a huge storm, leaving me helpless and overwhelmed. I would try to get rid of my thoughts by sleeping early or, if I was unable to do so, calling a friend for a chat. However, these conversations would inevitably end up with dispiriting talk and my friends sharing the same feelings of depression.

The worst thing about having such emotions was that they made it hard to concentrate fully on reading God’s Word. At times like these, I tended to give up reading the Bible entirely. At most, I would just ask for friends to keep me in prayer. This often left me crippled with guilt. “Don’t you find joy in the Lord? If so, why are you still so depressed?” I would chide myself. “Look at your pitiful self! You must be in this state because of your lack of spirituality!” These voices in my head would plunge me into an even deeper abyss of negative thoughts and feelings.

I knew this was the work of Satan attacking me at my weakest point. It was a cycle that would repeat itself and leave me like a weak lamb awaiting slaughter.

One day, I decided that I had enough. It was clear that God had told me to trust Him and rely on His strength. That’s’ when I realized that it is only when we put on the full armor of God, that we can take our stand against the devil’s evil schemes (Ephesians 6:10-11). I resolved not to be a victim of self-pity. Instead, I decided to take up the sword of the Spirit and fight back (Ephesians 6:17). Here are some practical things I did that I found helpful:

 

Achieving victory with prayer

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

This verse encouraged me and I decided to stop avoiding prayer. I wouldn’t hide from my pessimistic feelings or deny that they were there. Instead, I would admit that my lack of desire to pray was due to these feelings and ask the Holy Spirit to calm my heart. When these feelings continued to harass me, I called on Jesus’ name and commanded them to leave my heart.

I personally found such prayers very helpful. The Lord would comfort me and give me a sense of peace. I also came to realize that when I didn’t feel like praying, it was because I was ashamed; I shouldered all my burdens and found it difficult to bring them before the Lord. I learned that in times of distress, the only thing we desperately need is the Lord to change our hearts.

 

Meditating on the Word of God

After the Holy Spirit had taken those negative feelings away from me, I needed something to fill the cavity within. I desperately needed the Word of God to fill me.

That’s when I started to read Bible passages and take my time to think about what God wanted me to learn. I wanted His Word to be deeply etched in my heart.

In Philippians 4:13, Paul says that because of Christ, he can be joyful always: “I can do all things through him who gives me strength”. In Revelation 21:3-4, John reminds us about the new heaven and new earth that we can anticipate: “God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Reading these passages gave me great comfort. Through meditating on God’s Word, I came to understand it in a clearer way and was able to stand more firmly in its truths.

Spending Time with God Daily

Ultimately, I believe that daily fellowship with God is important and should not be neglected. It is crucial to set aside a fixed time every day to spend time reading the Bible.

I must admit that I’m not an early riser. Hence, the evenings are a great time for me to read the Word. Recently, I have been training myself to be diligent in prayer. I keep a small book to record my prayers to the Lord, as well as people I pray for individually during my personal time with the Lord.

Having a fixed time to spend with the Lord every day has helped me tremendously in my spiritual growth. My time with Him has taught me that it is only when we have an intimate and personal relationship with Him, that we can resist the strong temptation to wallow in our own negative thoughts and feelings.

If you see yourself in the “old” me, I would like to challenge you to have no fear, for Jesus has already overcome everything­­—even death—for us. Guard yourself from the devil’s sly tricks and put on the full armor of God to fight him. May we learn to rely only on Him and become strong in the Lord.

Why-Am-I-Getting-Baptized

Why Am I Getting Baptized?

Written By Agnes Lee, Singapore

I was baptized some years ago by immersion—but not for the reason you might think.

At the time, my fiancé and I were looking for a church to get married in. The church he attended was a beautiful church, the ideal setting for a wedding. But there was a problem: church policy required that both of us had to be baptized before we could get married there.

Although my husband-to-be had already been baptized, I was still exploring. Though I had said the sinner’s prayer earlier on, it was only to please my fiancé. I was not ready to commit to Christ, much less get baptized. But I decided to go through pre-baptism classes so that we could be married in that beautiful church.

It was not a true conversion. It was merely my way of getting a glorious wedding venue. But I hid my motive well and I was successfully baptized, but it was a baptism without meaning. My faith was dead; I had bluffed my way in. I had lied to everyone about my conversion.

Over the past few years, I have been attending another church, and through Bible study there, I was convicted that what I had done was wrong. I saw my former baptism as a mark on my sinful past―a lie.

But God did not abandon me even though I had lied. Even though I did not take Him seriously in the past, He was gracious to save me and make me His own. He led me to see that my baptism was not “the pledge of a clear conscience towards God” (1 Peter 3:21); it was the opposite of what God expected of us. Ashamed, I repented of my wrong motives in getting baptized.

A clear conscience towards God in baptism is to have no other motive aside from following Him with a sincere heart. It is important that we do not take God’s name and His grace towards us for granted. God cannot be mocked, and nothing we do can be hidden from His sight (Galatians 6:7, Hebrews 4:13). We should check our hearts and our motives in everything that we do, and in everything we should seek to bring glory and honor to God, including in baptism (1 Corinthians 10:31).

As I reflected on my own sin, I learned of other reasons we as believers could have when considering whether to get baptized.

 

1) To fit in. 

Some people get baptized so that they can better fit into a church culture where almost everyone is baptized. Some churches, for example, have a rule that only baptized members can come forward to receive communion. There may be many people who are already baptized, and it is easy for those who have not been baptized to feel left out.

Don’t feel pressured to fit in. God does not need us to fit in. He only needs us to seek Him.

 

2) To please family or friends.

Some people get baptized in order to please family members or friends, or because they feel pressured by others and do not wish to be a disappointment. However, these can become the wrong reasons for baptism.

Baptism should not be for the purposes of pleasing other people. If your family or friends are true believers, they would want you to please God instead of them.

 

3) To be saved.

Some people think that they can be saved by getting baptized. Before I became a believer, I had this wrong understanding as well. I thought that baptism was a means to salvation. However, our salvation cannot be earned. No deed of our own can please God or earn us salvation. Instead, salvation is a gift freely given by grace, and the only way to receive it is by the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Baptism is an outward declaration of faith to follow Christ. But it is not a requirement of salvation. The thief at the cross next to Jesus recognized that Jesus is God, but this thief was not baptized. Nevertheless, Jesus said that he would be with Him in paradise (Luke 23:43).

 

Baptism reminds us that our past is dead, and that we are now alive in Christ, redeemed, resurrected, and restored. However, if our heart is not ready and we do not have a clear conscience towards God, we should consider taking a step back. We should take time to prepare our hearts, to set it right before God so that we can truly enjoy the beauty and significance of baptism. God does not blame us for being slow, since He knows our hearts. He is pleased when we seek Him and honor Him above our own motives, and that is more important for our true salvation.

Our preparation for baptism should draw us closer to God, and help us to align our will with His will. We can ask God to search our hearts (Psalm 139:23), to weed out any of our own fleshly motives and turn our hearts to follow Him, so that we can be pleasing to His sight. Philippians 2:12 says we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. When our hearts are purified, God becomes our sole desire.

As I learned more about baptism, I wondered if I should be re-baptized. But a few trusted Christians that I talked to assured me that, by grace, God accepts my previous baptism as my commitment to Him. I am content with this assurance, and I take my baptism as a reminder of my sinful past and God’s faithfulness at work in my life.