As you get older, you do have a sense of faint trepidation as you enter a new year. You realise that you’re inching closer towards your final destination and perhaps while the sounds of the fireworks, trumpets and horns are still freshly etched in your mind – you wonder – why I have such sombre thoughts?
I am not fearful nor wary of 2015 – but like a boy who is ushered in by his parents to enter a new room, I walk gingerly and warily but with a hope of discovering great things. I know that my parents wouldn’t lead me into a dangerous territory and that they would have checked the room beforehand of the things that could harm me. I use the same analogy with God and me – so although there will be frustrations, heartaches and even horrors, I am sure that the new year will be a place of hope, encouragement, successes and achievements.
2014 was really a year of achievements and hard work – a year of mental burn-outs and a period where I reconnected with my family in Indonesia. It doesn’t mean that I have ever lost that connection, but it’s always a great joy when you are back in Indonesia and surround yourself with loved ones. In the past, I would’ve taken such opportunities for granted – however, knowing that my mum is getting on with age and that several members of my family are dealing with major illness, I realise that I should never take anything for granted.
In that trip to Indonesia, I was blessed by my family – who may not be perfect, but they are perfect for me. We quarrel and bicker, but as we get older, we all realise that there’s no point in being mad at each other. I also met great bright students at my sister’s school for the disadvantaged. There was one student who could sum in a blink of an eye which would be way faster than me fumbling with the calculator app on my iPhone. That encounter reminded me that I should be thankful of the opportunities that I had – I went to good schools, got good grades, studied overseas and lived here now. There are brilliant boys and girls who really have to fight hard to climb out of the muck.
I was also blessed with the time spent with my friends – I realise that we have all grown older and forged our own paths. Friends who I knew from my uni days or from Citibank days, are either now busy creating their own business, or continuing their corporate career. I am thankful of friends like Lucia Hartono who is now the owner and manager of a growing food and catering business in Jakarta, Ira Ballo who left a corporate career to build a business in Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara, with her delicious roasted nut products, and Vera Susanti who is now managing a great boutique hotel in Yogyakarta. There are lots more great friends that God has blessed me with and I thank God that He continues to put great people around me.
In 2014, I was also constantly reminded that I should always be thankful of the things that I have and can enjoy. I had the pleasure of having a swollen eyelid that made me look like a punched street fighter. Simple things like that remind me that I should be grateful that I have a pair of eyes that are in good working order. I start to read like an old guy (holding it at an arm’s length so I can read better) but at least I can see. Haha. My legs still carry me around the neighbourhood when I do my daily walks with Indy. I enjoy my food and I sleep pretty well. Yani and I continue to complement each other and sharpen each other in love. For all of those, I am thankful.
The last thought that I want to share with you is my vision for last year. When I started the year, God gave me the verse from Matthew 5:14-16 as my verse of the year: “You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” It came as a personal rebuke and encouragement when I heard a sermon from Ps. Danny Guglielmucci in the Edge Church recently when he said that it’s a pity that Christians have discovered a dimmer switch. They know that they are the light of the world, but instead of being a true light now we are more into mood lighting – blending in with the surrounding. I thank God for the verse that He gave me at the beginning of the year so this comment made such a big personal impact and a reminder for me.
For 2015, I am reminded to be as open like a child. Years of work and education have shaped me into somebody who is logical, rational, jaded and cynical. However, as much as I will continue to use my brain this year (well I certainly need to do that to finish my PhD at the end of the year!), I am reminded to be spiritually open – trusting God without questions. Full and complete trust. On the last Sunday of 2014, the Ps. Stefan at the Edge Church shared from Joshua 6. The focal verse is taken from verse 10: “Do not shout; do not even talk,” Joshua commanded. “Not a single word from any of you until I tell you to shout. Then shout!” This verse that is often skimmed through has a great message for us. We need to quieten all voices, to amplify a different sound. In the story of the destruction of Jericho, it was the sounds of praise and worship through the horns from the priests as they marched around Jericho. For us now, sometimes the sound of our own thoughts and worry overpower the guidance and message from God.
So this is my verse for 2015, “For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.” (Matthew 18:3 MSG).
It’s time to be simple and elemental in my walk of faith.
Happy New Year all!