Learning to Die Joyfully
by Mui Fun, January, 2002
I am very thankful to the Lord for teaching me so much during my 6 months’ stay in Surabaya, Indonesia. During this time, the Lord showed me more of the ugliness of my ‘self’ and so what I learned most was how to put the ‘self’ to death. As we all know, those who follow Jesus are to deny themselves, pick up their cross daily and follow Him.
I remember when I first went out with a local brother to a wet market. When we came back, I had to clean the chicken. While cleaning, my heart began slowly grumbling within. I found it so troublesome because I had to wash the chicken over and over - picking out the dirt and then changing the tub of water 3 times! I asked, “What am I doing here cleaning the chicken? I was supposed to do my quiet time this morning, and soon it will be afternoon. Will I have time to spend with the Lord? But there are so many things yet to be done!” However, the Lord convicted me, telling me that if I think leading Bible study, sharing, or leading in worship is called serving Him but I am not willing to serve His people with this simple job like cleaning the chicken, then I am not worthy to serve Him at all. I quickly repented from this attitude.
At another time, I was frustrated with myself because I was not able to communicate with the people here. Firstly, I did not understand what they were saying. Secondly, I also did not think they knew what I was talking about since sometimes I too did not understand what I was trying to say. I was very frustrated with my being unable to converse well in their language and I thought, “Why I am so slow in adapting and learning their language?”
Although I had given myself 2 months to pick up the language, as suggested by Sister Sook Yee, I still could not. Oftentimes, when I wanted in my heart to pray and later was called upon to pray, I was fearful because I felt that I was no good in the language. I was very down by then, but the Lord encouraged me through one song. The song spoke about being poor and yet being rich, being weak yet strong. I was thinking along this same line earlier as I recalled Pastor Eric Chang’s message, “Power in Weakness”. The Lord was telling me that I have to learn to die to my pride and learn to depend on Him even in learning the Indonesian language.
Many days later, the Lord encouraged me again by assuring me of His presence with me when one morning, as I went to my table to quiet down, I noticed a small tissue paper and it was in the shape of love. It was really a wonder because the night before, it wasn’t there.
The Lord confirmed His love through yet another incident. It was for me to learn to depend on Him fully. It was after the Commitment Training [CT] and one sister offered to help me prepare the lunch for everybody. Now we usually place a piece of cardboard to block off the wind from blowing off the fire from the stove. At that time, the sister was frying the tofu. While waiting for the tofu to be cooked, she walked away for a while. I happened to be taking out my clothes to dry. Then I saw a huge fire at the stove, so I screamed, “Fire! Fire!” I quickly ran to the stove to put off the fire. When we looked at the burned cardboard, guess what? The burned area was in the shape of love again. Wow! It was so touching! From then on I learned, and am still learning, to depend on the Lord to pray in the Indonesian language and to do many other things, too, even if I am still not used to expressing myself in this language, other than in English. So I thank the Lord for this precious lesson and of His assurance to me.
The Lord was also merciful to me when He showed me of my past sin that I had been holding on to. I did not know that I was still holding on to it until the Lord convicted me through a message in Luke 6. It was amazing because at that time I was meditating on Mt. 5:7 - about being merciful, but Lk. 6:36-38 spoke to me in greater depth. At that time, I was complaining of something that was not done properly and so the Lord showed me that I had judged the person with my complaining attitude. I realized later that this wrong attitude was slowly eating up the joy within me, so much so that a judgmental attitude was also within me. It was a gradual thing - from grumbling to complaining (outwardly saying it out) and then judging that person. Not until the Lord convicted me so strongly of this particular sin did I truly realize how seriously God wanted me to deal with this sin that was within me, although it happened a long time ago and may have been trivial in my eyes. So the question is: Do I treat the sin as serious and want to repent of it? I found that I was not able to commune with God during this period. I could not seem to get through to God because of this particular sin. So how was I going to serve Him if I was not willing to repent of this sin or any other sin in particular? Yes, the Christian life consists of a daily repentance of sin, if there is any that is still hidden within our hearts. So this became my constant prayer: that God would reveal any other sin that is still hidden within my heart and that I might repent of it and be found blameless before Him on that Day.
So when I was convicted deeply within my heart that day, I asked the Lord for forgiveness and repented before Him. I knew I could not do it on my own strength, so I asked the Lord to grant me His strength to put to death the complaining attitude and also this judgmental attitude. Only when I did so did He renew my heart with His joy. Later I wrote to the persons concerned at two separate cases, and asked for forgiveness. By the Lord’s mercy and grace, they were willing to forgive me.
So I have come to learn that only when we learn to truly put off the old man, who wants to come alive in us, will the Lord be able to pour forth the new things that come from Him. Only when we learn to be weak can we learn to depend on His strength, because when we think we are strong, we will not depend on Him.
So let us press on to learn to depend on Him solely and wholly.
Addendum: [The author sent the following afterwards to add to her sharing.]
I remember that at one time, too, I don’t know what came over me, but there was this grumbling and angry spirit within my heart. At that time, we were waiting for 2 other people to come back for supper, but I was already hungry. I thought that since everybody else was waiting for them, I should also learn to be patient in waiting too, since I said that I wanted to learn flexibility. Well, through this incident, I learned that I was not that flexible at all. Anyway, the anger and grumbling spirit was filling my heart and I knew that if I were to open my mouth, I would stumble others. So I just kept quiet. There was a voice that told me to go back to my room to quiet down. And this I did. I went back to my room and cried to the Lord for help to put to death the anger and grumbling spirit that was trying to overcome me. Right after that prayer, I had a deep peace within that was indescribable. Later, when we had supper together, I did not have anymore the anger or grumbling spirit, nor did I blame or scold anyone for being late. I was at peace with everybody. I also recall that I was even able to laugh with them about some matters. This is truly all by God’s grace.
[Editor’s Note: Sis. Mui Fun finished her Evangelist Training and was serving in Indonesia at the time of writing.]
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