Owner of Your Car

By Eugene Seah, Singapore

In the mayhem, I busy myself
Daily and constant

In the mayhem, I lose You God
Repeatedly in folly

Still in my stubbornness, I persevere
Like a car that just won’t park

Always I toil and labor
Though You’ve said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light”

Always I wonder if it’s time to let go and let God;
And always I ponder if it’s giving up too early
Though You’ve said, “Seek and you will find”

Still in my confusion I frenzy
Like a drunkard-driven car skidding on thin ice

Lord help me park the car
In Your peace offered for free
Lord help me brake the skidding car
And drive me back to You today

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you,
because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest
for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden
I give you is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.
Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)

First Take—Bangkok!

By Eugene Seah, Singapore

On my first trip to the Land of a Thousand Smiles, I must say that it left me dumbfounded. Grand skyscrapers are juxtaposed against rudimentary, yet charming, markets. Modern and traditional aspects of life in Bangkok appear side by side in the many advertisements for luxury condominiums, simple housing, and buildings. Glamorous malls co-exist with quaint ornate temples and high-tech train systems with retro buses that still have on-board ticket conductors. Do you know that the streets in Bangkok at night can have a life totally different from that in the daytime? And just a few hours out of this hyperactive city, you can find serene national parks that are probably documentary-worthy.

Bombarded by such incongruous sights and sounds for just a few days have left me feeling overwhelmed. I still cannot put a finger or find an exact word to describe that feeling until now. As a whole, it was a truly interesting experience!

In life, do we often experience this feeling of going through changing circumstances, fluctuating emotions, multiple what-seem-never-ending transitions—like a wave tossed in the ocean? It left your senses numbed, and your feelings and thoughts blanked. It’s like being in the eye of the storm—all is calm, but you know you are surrounded by the invisible swirling winds.

Some of us attempt to wait out the storm by staying put in the calm, asking God to take the turbulence away.

Others attempt to find a safe zone for exit—letting our parents, bosses, clients, work and/or self provide the assurance and certainty. We keep questioning God if the planned routes are of Him. We need to know. We need to acquire the certainty in our situations, jobs, relationships, and aspirations. We cling on to these propositions and queries fiercely. We hope that God will give us a clear project brief with definite to-do check boxes so that we can get started achieving significant milestones and have a fruitful, successful and satisfying life, out of the emptiness and mess.

May I suggest that in the cacophony, let us fix our eyes on Jesus who is the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2 ESV). In our struggles, plans and doubts, let us rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-29). Let us commit our cares to Him (1 Peter 5:7) and continue to abide in His presence (John 15:4-5).

I’m not saying that we should stop planning or listening to sound and constructive advice. Rather, let’s underpin our living, actions and waiting on our steadfast cornerstone that is Jesus Christ who lives in us. For our lives are not lived solely for an end point or for periodical look out points, but it is to be lived dwelling in Christ, in God’s Word.

A Nepali Lady and My Grandmother

By Eugene Seah, 23, Singapore

As we sat around the fire keeping ourselves warm on a wintry Nepali dawn, my Nepalese friends shared the gospel with the lady who was toasting our breakfast.

She replied, “If by believing in your God I can don’t work, then I’ll believe!”

How would you respond to that? Personally, I could not offer an adequate response then. But today, as I recalled my grandmother’s testimony, I found the words to say.

You see, in the 1960s, the Chinese in Singapore generally preferred guys to girls. As a result, my grandmother was often abused—physically and verbally—by her father-in-law for failing to bear a male heir. She had three daughters. Her father-in-law asked his son to take in another wife. Thankfully, he decided against it. While pregnant with her fourth child and still not spared of physical abuse, she was egged on by neighbours to commit suicide. However, she persevered, not wanting her children to grow up without a mother.

One day, on the way to the butchery where her husband worked, she passed by a Christian rally. She muttered in her head, “If you are a God who can save me from all my heartaches and watch over my children, I will believe in You!”

Today, my grandmother is the proud mother of six children (three daughters followed by three sons), and dearly loved by almost a dozen grandchildren.

God has placed hope in her heart and sustained her through the years of storm. Our great God heard her cry from heaven and answered (Psalm 55:16)!

In response, she has adopted prayer as a lifestyle. She communes with God about her struggles and thank God for everything (Philippians 4:6). Also, she has taken up God’s charge to seek out His lost sheep by sharing the gospel with her siblings and other non-believers. She never misses any opportunity to share Christ! Despite her illiteracy, God uses her to bring many to salvation.

My grandmother is earnest to understand the Scriptures better. Eventually she learned how to read the Bible in Mandarin and participated in seminars to learn more about Him. In many ways, her fervor puts me to shame.

Last year, she was diagnosed with cancer. Naturally, she was disappointed and worried by the news. However, our family could see that the moments of sadness were fleeting and her jovial self soon returned.

Just as my grandmother has always done, she wasted no opportunity in sharing His gospel, His faithfulness and His goodness, even while battling with cancer! Indeed, as our God is a God of all seasons, we are to strive to be a worshipper in all seasons too.

Back to the question posed by the Nepali lady, how would I reply her now?

Being a follower of Christ doesn’t mean that we could stop working. Rather, there will be plenty to do. However, the difference is that we work with the full assurance that God is in control and our labor is not in vain.

Through my grandmother’s life, I see God’s greatness and faithfulness. He gives real joy to all His children. Also we can take comfort in the knowledge that His children will receive an eternal reward that will neither decay nor devalue (Revelation 22:12).

Indeed, illness and hardships may wear out our physical bodies. However, as children of God, though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

God-willing, I hope to go back to Nepal to tell the Nepali aunty of our Lord’s goodness. May His steadfast love in the life of my grandmother, who is on the road to recovery, be a real encouragement to her! Till then, I shall speak of His goodness wherever He places me. Join me to declare His praise everywhere we go.

Sing, Play, Shout!

By Eugene Seah, 23, Singapore

Sing to him a new song; play skilfully, and shout for joy.” —Psalm 33:3 (NIV)

Have you ever felt nervous during praise and worship?

As unbelievable as it may sound, my answer is “Yes.” When I was a teenager, I would break into cold sweat during praise and worship time. Also, because I have sweaty palms, my palms would be so wet that it would seem like I have just washed my hands without drying them. I am not kidding you.

Why would this happen you ask? Well, I was worried about being in tune, staying in key and all sorts of other concerns. It sure didn’t help matters when my friends and family pointed out my flaws, well intentioned of course but it confirmed my worries and anxieties!

Even so, I couldn’t stop singing. And when I discovered the meaning, comfort and relevance in the lyrics of the praise songs, I sang even more! I prayed that one day I would be able to sing confidently in the congregation, without breaking into cold sweat whatsoever.

Years on, by God’s immense grace, I am a back up vocalist in my home church’s worship team. Now, in a church in Australia where I am studying, I serve alongside professional musicians and vocalists in the worship team as well. I am humbled to say the least. For a person who cannot play any musical instruments nor harmonize a song, I count it a great privilege to serve in the worship team.

After years of being a backup vocalist, one day it struck me that there is something even more difficult than singing in tune—and that is to mean every single word I sing. You must be thinking, “Well, obviously that would be most important, you’re in the worship team!”

It dawned on me that a person may have the most powerful voice, best speaker systems on the market or perfect musicality, but ultimately, these don’t matter! What matters is the music and voice that comes from our hearts. Does what we sing resonate with the way we desire to live?

As we sing songs that proclaim His awesomeness (such as “All of My Days” by Hillsongs), do we strive to live out the lyrics? Are they mere fleeting feelings that fade off along with the music? Do these words come from our moments of spiritual “highs” or do they reflect our hearts’ desire? Let’s remember that God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:9) and not the outward appearance.

How about songs which speak of surrendering all to the Lord such as in the hymn “I Surrender All” by Judson W. Van de Venter & Winfield S. Weeden? There were times when I am guilty of mouthing the words, while holding tightly to my cares and dreams, trusting in myself rather than in His sovereignty.

The list can go on and on. Well, it doesn’t mean that without a perfect life to show it, one can’t sing those songs. Rather, we need to come before our heavenly Father in worship with a contrite heart that desires and is willing to be changed by Him and for Him.

May we sing unto Him with more than music and words, but in spirit and in truth.

“True worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth,
for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
– John 4:23-24 (NIV)

Seek. Learn. Sing.