It has been a busy day, to say the least.
I'm glad that, after the Merdeka parade, the time spent in Jusco Maluri, trimming the mango tree, catching dog ticks, making a 'long-distance' call and showering, I was able to spend some time in reflection.
I read through Jeremiah 32 and 33 in The Message, and cross-referred from time to time with the Renovare NRSV Bible. It has been my 'text-of-the-week' after Pastor Kuan Ming preached on it last Sunday.
Thinking about our country on its 50th anniversary of independence, I initially found hardly any similarities between it and the Israel of Jeremiah's time. We are not under oppression by foreign powers... and the differences end there.
Pastor Kuan Ming spoke on faith, and discussed the absurdity of faith in Jeremiah's context. God told Jeremiah to buy a field from his cousin Hanamel (Jeremiah 32:6 onwards) and Jeremiah obeyed. But it wasn't blind obedience; Jeremiah remained perplexed by God's actions (Jer. 32:24-25), for the city was about to be destroyed.
People generally don't generally invest in real estate in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of present day Israel/Palestine.
It strikes me that even today, God often calls us to do things on the strength of the absurd; our only assurance is that God knows what He is doing, just as He assured Jeremiah that the time would come when the land would be prosperous and 'fields and vineyards' sold and bought once again.
A verse that particularly stood out to me was Jeremiah 32:40, which I quote from The Message;
"I'll fill their hearts with a deep respect for me so they'll not even think of turning away from me."
God's promise of restoration and reconciliation is great, His standard for His people greater still... and His way, probably the greatest of all.
I cannot fully understand how God becomes our righteousness (Jer. 33:16 - "The LORD is our righteousness"), but it seems that after all these years, there is still hope that we can be better tomorrow than we were today, that every day is an opportunity for us to draw closer to God's righteousness.
And maybe after fifty years of independence, we would do well to be mindful of our utter dependence on God. Not many nations remember God in their national anthems, but today the Negaraku was played no less than five times (twice when the Agong arrived, twice when he departed, and at least once for everyone to sing along).
Tanah tumpahnya darahku
Rakyat hidup bersatu dan maju
Rahmat bah'gia Tuhan kurniakan
Raja kita selamat bertakhta
Such a short and simple song, yet so profound. Like the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments, I really think we could make this country a much better place if we took these words seriously.
Here's to you Malaysia, our country. The Lord have mercy on you, on us all.
Edit (9:49 p.m. on 1 September 2007):
Amirul Zarif (Victorian of Shaw house and Form 5H 2007) SMS-ed me this at 1:00:17 a.m. on 31 August 2007, and I reproduce verbatim;
Hey guys & gals, Though ive been disappointed by d absence of fireworks display at klcc, and damn, i got d perfect spot.. but thats not what merdeka is about now, is it...
To be 'merdeka' , is to be free from that cycle that you're trapped in, to give up the things you're addicted to the most.
Im sure you all have your own definitions of independence, and so, i'd like to wish you;
Happy Independence Day!
How very, very true. Thanks Amirul.