My Third Birthday
by Phoebe Yeo, January 2006
Recently, my mum has been sharing these questions with us: Where are you? What are you doing now? Rather aptly, my spiritual birthday is also in December, allowing me to really sit and reflect upon my past three years as a Christian. Have I grown (BT: five stages of growth)? What have I done for the Lord? Am I any more holy/ righteous than I was in the past? What is my attitude towards sin? Do I love the Lord in a deeper manner every day? Am I really regenerate, or is it just an outward appearance of “service” to God? Do I have a living relationship with my Creator? I do not have direct answers to all these questions, neither do I profess to be perfectly in tune and aware of my stand with God, but these are pointers to follow and check myself as I deepen my relationship with my Father each day, to ensure that I am indeed growing and not just putting up a mere façade of deception. However, what I really would like to share are the thoughts and experiences that the Lord has graciously given to me on my birthday - December 8, 2005.
I received three presents for my third spiritual birthday. One was a Bible given by my mummy, but what was really unexpected was that I received two surprise packages in the mail, with one coming all the way from Canada! These really warmed my heart as it was just as if God was telling me that He remembers. I have been the undeserving recipient of His love and mercy many a time, and in experiencing it I can only echo the Psalmist in saying “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
Last year on December 8, I was away in China on mission and although I was in the same city as my mum, I was living with some of the local leaders and away from her. I didn’t mention to anyone that it was my spiritual birthday, but in my quiet time that day, I had a passing thought “Would my mum remember? Oh how nice it would be if I could see my mum today.” And that was it. I didn’t specifically pray or ask to see my mum, especially since we were already scheduled to have dinner together the next day. But the Lord heard me, and remembered me in such a sweet manner that I can only stand in awe and praise Him over and over again.
That day, I was rather ill as I caught the bug while visiting the suburbs a few days before and so I did not go out with the sisters to get groceries but concentrated on resting and recovering at home. When the sisters came back with their groceries, they were telling me very excitedly that they saw my mother in the supermarket! At that instance, my heart sank: if only I had gone with them to the supermarket, then I would’ve seen my mum! But nonetheless, I brushed it aside, since I knew I was to see her the next day and plus I was really rather ill. So anyway we went on with our usual routine, and after dinner, the sisters asked if I was feeling well enough to go and meet a friend in the university nearby for some fellowship. I was, and so off we went. I must mention that in China, any place that is within an hour’s walk is considered to be “near”, so when we set off to the university, we set off on foot. Another thing is that there is a bicycle lane on the roads, just between the pavement and the main road for cars. Why do I tell you this? Because, as you could’ve guessed, my mum was cycling along the very same road I was walking on. Once we turned round the bend, I saw a very familiar figure on the bicycle - my mum. (I don’t usually notice cyclists, but somehow one can always recognize her mother :P) Of course, she saw me as well, especially after I exclaimed “MUMMY!” on the street! It was just a brief encounter as we were both on our way to different meeting points, but that few seconds that I saw her was really the best present that I’d received, because that was the assurance and confirmation from God that He remembers, and that He loves me. I was just filled with thanksgiving and praises for God.
Both years, my mum didn’t remember that it was my spiritual birthday, but my Heavenly Father did, just as Isaiah 49:15 says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.”
Other than encouraging me and showing His love, of course, the Lord would also have lessons for me to learn on my spiritual birthday. This year on December 8th, we had a Bible Study on the book of John, and we looked at the qualities that John the Baptist embodied - humility. This same lesson of humility was taught to me right after my baptism, when I was unable to climb out of the pool and was embarrassed by having to walk all the way to the other side where there were steps. The Lord was teaching me this lesson, that no matter how good I may think myself to be, I am nothing without Him; I cannot even climb out of a swimming pool if He does not allow it.
A few days ago, I chanced upon this song, “Who am I?”
Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart
Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are
I am a flower quickly fading
Here today and gone tomorrow
A wave tossed in the ocean
A vapor in the wind
Still You hear me when I’m calling
Lord, You catch me when I’m falling
And You’ve told me who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours
Who Am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who Am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me
I am Yours
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I fear?
‘Cause I am Yours
I am Yours
Indeed, who am I that Jesus should love me, to the extent of dying on the Cross? After hearing time and time again that Jesus died for our sins, that He loves us, that He would not desire that any of us should fail the judgment to come, have we subconsciously begun to think highly of ourselves, that the Lord loves US (with the emphasis on “us”)?
I especially like the lines: Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done. Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are. We are saved, we are God’s children, not because of anything that we’ve done (although no doubt we do have to make a commitment on our part) but because of the Lord’s great love, mercy and compassion for us sinners. When we can see our own worthlessness and iniquities, only then can we marvel at the extent of the Lord’s love for us, and understand that the very least we can do is to offer up ourselves wholly to Him and Him alone.
Looking through my baptismal vow again, [sadly I don’t have the habit of looking through it regularly, but will henceforth make it my new resolution to always remember my vow (:] this line struck me: I will be your faithful slave in a foreign land. When I looked at it again, I realized something: we are in fact in a foreign land right now! Just because we’re living in Singapore doesn’t make us permanent citizens of Singapore. As Christians, our home is where God is. We’re citizens of His dwelling place, and our time on earth is but temporary.
A lot of times I feel that I would be able to switch to a “survival mode” when I’m overseas, but when I’m back here in comfortable Singapore, I don’t feel the need to be vigilant in my walk with God. This mentality that I have is very wrong, and I’m rather ashamed of myself for having such thoughts. Everywhere on earth, to us, should be a foreign place as we do not belong here. This world is the playground of the evil one, and we have to be vigilant at every moment, whether we are in Singapore or China or anywhere lest we slack and fall prey. At this point I have to admit that I am a very class conscious person. In school, I will have a few “chosen” toilets that I deem clean enough for me to use. Even whilst shopping, I will choose to go to the malls with the best toilets. If I’m unable to find a clean and proper toilet, I’d rather not go, and wait till I reach home. This is something that I really have to change! What if the Lord intends for me to move to China? Or Indonesia or India, for that matter? Would I be able to survive using the dirty toilets everyday? If I say that I commit myself totally unto Him, it should be unconditional - dirty toilets or not. I cannot say that only when I go to China would I be able to rough it out, but when I’m back here in Singapore, I revert to my picky and choosy self. Of course, I’m not saying that now in Singapore I’ll choose to use all the dirtiest toilets and if I do see a clean one I shouldn’t use it, but it’s this mentality that I have that I feel is very wrong, and I hope that by God’s grace I would be able to change.
May we always keep our vows close to our hearts - to be totally committed, and to be unconditionally His, such that we would see our earthly home as but a foreign place as we set our eyes on heavenly places and heavenly things.
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church