Friday, July 29, 2005

Getting older...

montage birthday
Originally uploaded by mincaye.
'Twas a great birthday celebration at CU today. We celebrated three birthdays in one go: Amy's and Caroline's (26 July 1987 and 1986 respectively) and mine (31 July 1987).

Labelling this group picture is gonna be tricky!

OK, there's Jon sitting beside the cake. First row: Justina, Debbie, Li-Shia, Caroline, me, Amy, Rebecca and Denise.

Second row: Xiao Ying, Wai Yeng, Calvin, Aaron, Chien Yih (in blue), Jack (in red), Chien Chyi, Kennard and Earnest.

Third row: Weng Ken (holding match), Gabriel and Wai Hung.

The words on the cake read "Happy Birthday Amy, Ben and Carol" (A, B and C!), and a lone candle was arranged away from the others, specially for Caroline, who's a year older than Amy and me. Little things that made it more than just a black forest.

Jon coordinated the passing around and signing of the cards, over the last two weeks (we were actually supposed to have the celebration a week ago). I think it's an excellent present -- so organic and overflowing with the diversity that is the Christian Union.

I felt the message to be something special too. Jon spoke on purpose in life, with some reference Our Daily Bread, from the reading titled "What are you living for?"

It dawned upon me that purpose is not some fluffy, feel-good feeling that your life is worth something. It's not self-help or inspiration or psychology. It's about being stuck in the grit of life, and knowing that you need others and others need you.

To me, that seems to have defined my purpose in living lately. Not some grand 'kingdom of God' scheme, but a more subtle conspiracy in which my life counts, simply because I'm connected to others in community -- people who need me as much as I need them. Here, our purpose is to support one another.

It got me thinking about Jesus' early disciples, and when I consider them leaving everything behind, I am reminded of Steven Curtis Chapman's song For the Sake of the Call, in which the bridge goes:

Not for the sake of the creed or the cause
Not for the sake of the promise
Simply because it is Jesus who calls...

Something that really resonated in me, was when Jon spoke of birthdays being days when we usually want things to go 'our way'; it is, after all, 'our day.' He contrasted this with surrendering ourselves to God's will, for we were created for Him; 'our day' should really be about 'His way.'

C.S. Lewis' words from The Great Divorce came to mind:

Make no mistake; there are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, 'Thy will be done.'

Where is my life heading now? Am I learning to surrender to God, to truly say 'Thy will be done' and live according to it? Am I dreaming of some grand purpose, or am I putting effort into building relationships in this often mundane and slow experience called life?

It's good to know that God doesn't change; we get older, others expect more of us, but God still gives us room to slip up. He calls us to become as children once again. So I'm not really turning '18 years old'... it's more like, '18 years young'!


lishia said...

nicely said....=) though the "thy will be done" thingy...kinda confused me...

silentsoliloquy said...


Leanne said...

hey ben! happy 18th! hope u have received my letter. byee! :P