How things can change in just two months since my last newsletter update!
Singapore had its most interesting General Elections by far although mild when compared to others around the world. The ruling party, the People’s Action Party, reclaimed Potong Pasir SMC, but lost Aljunied GRC. Abruptly, Foreign Minister George Yeo’s political career came to an end whilst Returning Officer Yam Ah Mee became an overnight internet sensation. Then, came the announcement of MM Lee Kuan Yew and SM Goh Chok Tong stepping down at the same time, followed by a complete reshuffle of the Cabinet as well as a more approachable government, ready to listen and to engage the people at their level. Yes, how things can change.
Yet, change really shouldn’t catch any of us by surprise. After all, as the old saying goes, “the only constant is change.” That said, whether positively or negatively, change affects all of us. The key is not for us to avoid change, but to respond to change with the right perspective. And this was what the Lord led me to speak about on 15 & 22 May at CVCC Sunday Worship Services. As I pondered the topic, all I received was one word – CHANGE. I didn’t understand and I didn’t know how the message would go. By faith, I informed the publicity team. In the days and weeks that followed, it became clear to me as the General Elections provided an appropriate backdrop for me to teach about CHANGE. Allow me to share the two main points with you.
In managing change, experts advise that we look for the constants in our lives. But since everything and everyone changes, what or who can be that constant? Thankfully, we know that our God never changes (Mal 3:6). His Word and Promises do not change, and that is a sure anchor for our souls in the face of uncertainties that change brings (Heb 6:19). In the coming days, these declarations must not remain merely as Christian clichés. We must be fully persuaded of this truth for even greater change will come upon us. Whatever can be shaken will be shaken. Our only sure foundation is God for there is no Rock like our God (1 Sam 2:2). To manage the uncertainty of change, focus on the certainty of God.
In looking to God, we quickly realise that the things of this world are all passing away (1 John 2:17). This challenges us to ponder if we are aligning ourselves with this world or with God? If we choose the former, we will readily adapt to the changes around us. Question is, are we moving with the times or are we unconsciously being shaped by the world’s values and systems? To align ourselves with God means to become more and more like His Son, Jesus, who set us an example of focus and consistency when the unchanging God stepped into ever-changing humanity. Although impacted by the changes all around Him, Jesus stayed true to who He was (and is) and what He was called to.
To be like Jesus is what the Christian walk, discipleship, is all about. If we embrace this perspective, we can then appreciate more circumspectly why God allows the many changes in our lives. If we are careful to observe, how we respond to the external changes around us often reveal the internal changes that are needed in us. It is always easier to blame situations and others for the inconvenience we experience. Instead of asking God to change situations and others, why not pray for God to change you and the way you look at things and people? To manage the change around you, focus on the change within you.
These are just two pivotal statements from the message which I hope will bless you as you navigate through life’s changes. You can watch or listen to “CHANGE” at Covenant Vision Media Centre. If you’d like to purchase a set of the CDs, please contact Covenant Vision Centre at 6391 0027 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking of change, my ministry experience has also changed much over the years. Being a pastor is very different from being an itinerant minister. Where I used to travel from church to church to preach and teach, I no longer move around as much. It’s one thing to pat and feed the sheep as a visitor, but totally yet another to live and walk with them as a shepherd. Biblical principles do not change, praise the Lord, but it’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all. The demands, dynamics and diversity of the flock can wear the most well-intentioned minister out. Books and methods serve as great guides, offering insight and perspective, but as we used to say in the military … “what is on the map may not necessarily be what is on the ground.” Yes, situations and people keep changing, but our eyes must always be fixed on Jesus, the Source of who we are and all we do; for apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Needless to say, I am learning a lot as I allow the Lord to deal with the issues in me through the work of the ministry. What keeps me going are the testimonies of those who have experienced God more deeply and growing in daily intimacy with Him! Like John, I thank God for encouraging me through these along the way. In the apostle’s words in 3 John 3, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
My marriage, family and parenting perspectives have likewise undergone many changes. As a young husband and father, I started out with many idealistic hopefuls. Not that these principles are bad, but I quickly discovered how I had placed unrealistic pressures and expectations on myself, not to mention my wife and children. Left unchecked, these can discourage and condemn even the strongest of men. Looking at the changing needs of my loved ones, I realise more and more that relationships cannot be built just on the letter of the law. My own “perfectionist” attitude, Word-based no less, must be yielded to the Lord for radical change so that I can love like Him, the perfect Husband and parent like Him, the perfect Father. My training stint is definitely not over. With seven young children, it will be quite a while before I graduate from my training wheels that I can cycle through life with better balance. In the meantime, I am just thankful I can hold on to my unchanging God.
My friends, if you are going through a major change in your life or situation, I pray that this little sharing would have blessed you. I certainly do not mean to minimise nor trivialise whatever you are going through. Perhaps, the change you are experiencing is painful and difficult to manage. If so, I hope this encourages and comforts you. Allow the Lord to do what He needs to do within you that you may be changed, transformed, to the image of His Son. Rest in the assurance that He knows best and all things work for good to those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28). It may take a while as you adjust to the changes around you. Put your hand securely in His, knowing that this too shall pass, for He makes all things beautiful in His time.
In His love and for His glory!