Reflections On My First Ten Years As A Christian
Reflections On My First Ten Years As A Christian
Ten years have passed quickly since my baptism in the night of 31 December, 2003. The idea of celebrating my 10th anniversary came so natural in the first place. However, as I sank in the thought more, I saw better reasons to reflect on what had transpired in my spiritual life over these years. Hence this writing.
As it turned out, it is quite a difficult thing to do. A few times I almost gave up. Somehow there was enough urge inside me to keep me going kind of telling me that all these are good for my soul.
As far as I can remember, my spiritual growth in the first 6 years was very slow, even though I generally maintained my daily prayers, bible reading, Sunday worships and fellowship all along. My relationship with God could be described as fluctuating and generally lukewarm. In hindsight, my mind was too drawn to the worldly chores. Whilst I believed in Him, I had not brought His Words into my world of living. The two were kind of disconnected. As a matter of fact, I still hadn't finished reading one-third of the Bible over that time.
It was not until the seventh year that things took a positive turn in direction. Somehow, I made a commitment to read the Bible from cover to cover -- at least once. It had become a matter of great importance and urgency to me. I said to myself, "if the book is so widely regarded as the Word of God (and I firmly believe so), how could I afford not knowing what is in it? It doesn't make sense even on the basis of curiosity alone, does it? "
Today, I would say that I am extremely fortunate to have finished reading the Bible cover to cover but also been doing topical studies since about 3 years ago. The Bible is not just about eternal salvation, but also a book of wisdom and truth. It is not just about the life after death, but also our living in the here and now. There is so much in it. No wonder so many people in all the generations are devoting their whole lifetime in it. I wish more people would have at least the curiosity to check it out before they draw their own conclusions.
Being a Christian takes a newer meaning to me now. It is not only on the level of belief and faith. It is also about walking a life congruent to His teachings. When everything in my life is centred upon Him and in following Him, the descriptions the like of "living sacrifice" and "united in Him and Him in me" are no longer so abstract and figurative. They are almost as tangible as any object you can carry with you and apply in every day and in every way. How far we can apply them is of course another learning curve in itself.
While I am writing all this down, a few things have become more obvious to me.
1/ God has been with me all along. He has not forsaken me even at times that I was so lay-back and distant from Him. Ten years is not a long time but it is long enough to show some patterns and connections here and there.
2/ The Bible brings me closer to Him, time and again. Reading the Bible and studying the Bible has been a crucial lifeline for me in my spiritual growth.
3/ The more I live a life focusing on Him, the more blessings abound. I could never thank Him enough for the blessings bestowed to me and my family. His grace is always enough for us. In Him, there is always that tremendous sense of peace and joy, and above all, the certainty that all will be fruitful. The verses of Psalm 1:2-3 have come to mind. It is one of my favourites.
"But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day an night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."
4/ Total submission is paramount. The big lesson of humility has to be learnt. I need to open myself to Him and ask that He reigns in my life. This is not as easy as it seems. More often than not, there is a war within, a wrestling between godliness and our worldly desires. So many times I had questioned about the work of the Holy Spirit on me. I didn't feel His presence at all. In hindsight, I was the one who caused the bottleneck in the relationship, not letting go the control of my life to Him.
5/ Following Christ is a continuum. We have to take food everyday to sustain our physical being. Likewise for our spiritual being. It is unreasonable to expect much progress by just attending the Sunday worships, flipping over a few pages of the Bible every week, and doing a few prayers etc. This was very much my problem in the first 6 years if not longer. Literally speaking, I was in a mode of spiritual starvation. In contrast, every time the thought of godliness wins over my worldly desires, I am a step closer to God. As I have learnt, becoming a Christian is one thing, but living in Christ is another. The Bible verses about the seeds falling among the thorns (Matthew 13:22), about the dog returning to its vomits (2 Peter 2:22), about those vine branches being cut out and thrown into the fire (John 15:1-8), and about people still taking spiritual milk and not solid food (1 Corinthians 3:1-2) etc. have all been constant reminders that I have to walk this narrow road of righteousness with diligence and fervour. And, all is worthwhile.
Going forward, I pray that I would hold on to His Word, bear good fruits, and be a pleasing witness to His Name. When the day comes, I hope the Lord would say that He knows me (as in Matthew 7:21-23). Amen.
Live life, Junius.