So it was with a little fanfare that I stepped into the 35th year of my life. Caleb’s preschool concert, along with the Hari Raya Haji long weekend meant that I had a bit of time to reflect on what I have been given, and more importantly, what I have given.
When you get older birthdays mean less, probably because the older you grow the more of them you’ve had. The mental milestone for me this year was that I’ve shifted up an age bracket — I can no longer check on the “29-34 years old” demographic when I fill up surveys. I am now in the “35-40 years old” category, and that scares me a little. For a person whose few prized possessions in life include a skatescooter; and whose wardrobe is made up of a lot of t-shirts (Threadless sales ftw) and a grand total of 3 polo-shirts, all about a decade old; growing up is a sober reality.
A quick mental flashback of the last 35 years brings out so many memories, and many things to be thankful for. I was by no means a model child, and yet somehow God preserved me through a childhood where so many things could have gone wrong.
In my early teens I hung out with fellow delinquents in the neighbourhood, some of whom would serve time for drug use, and others who eventually became policemen due to constant interaction with the men in blue. Most would say I hung out with “bad company”, but looking closely and examining those relationships, I would say I hung out with better company than most teenagers would ever have. It was the situations we found ourselves in that weren’t great. Though we no longer keep in touch, I remember the many late nights we hung out at the void decks, them smoking, and me talking about Jesus. It was such a funny combination, but that meant my brothers kept me out of the rough stuff. They’d only tell me about fights after they happened; and they never once doubted my friendship because I refused a cigarette.
Falling head over heels in love with Faith over the past two and a half decades has been a large part of my life. As with every relationship, it had its share of heartbreak, longing and tumultuous times, but every moment points us onward to Christ’s longing for His bride, and for the eventual reality that Christians await.
And then there’s Anne and Caleb, whose warm little palms fill our hands and hearts every time we stretch out — sometimes to cross the road, but most of the time for no reason at all other than just to feel their presence in our lives. There will come a day when we will stretch out our hands to find that they’ve outgrown us, but Faith and I will enjoy these small pleasures every second till then.
It is suffice to say that God has been enormously generous with his blessing on my 35 years on earth. But the question is whether I have been faithful to Him with that which I have been entrusted with.
Have I invested the time He has given me unto eternal things, or earthly things? Have I used the gifts He has given to glorify His name, or mine? Have I taken up the spiritual leadership in my family, or let the world and its values run rampant in the family?
The account of Dr Richard Teo has been making its rounds on the internet, and the theme has been a recurrent one in my life these past few months. Faith and I set up our family before God, with the verse “That in all things, He might have the preeminence” (Col 1:18), and it is time to renew that pledge, and hack away the barnacles of worldly wisdom that I might have considered treasure.
“Come, all you who are thirsty,Isaiah 55:1-3
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
Keith Green was 29 when he died. Jesus was 33. I’ve outlived them in time, but scarcely a shadow in quality.
May Christ increase, and I, decrease.