Andrew D.

my insights, instrospections, and inspirations

Celebrating Life

Five years ago, I was sitting in my sophomore year dorm room when I saw an invitation to join a group on Facebook. “Prayers for Andrea Bierema,” it says. I had no idea who this person was. And while I tend to categorically reject such random Facebook invitations, this one intrigued me. I clicked on the link, and read on. It told of a Michigan freshman who suffered a heart attack in her dorm room, and then later, two strokes, waiting for a heart transplant. So that was what the commotion was about, I thought to myself, remembering the blaring sounds of siren from earlier in the week. It was a gripping story, and I remembered taking time to pray for this freshman girl I didn’t even know. I prayed that God would provide a donor for her, for renewed life, for healing.

But eventually, I lost contact. Two years passed by. I had no idea if she was alive, or what at all happened to her. I didn’t really keep in touch or read any updates. So imagine my surprise when I saw her name on my friend’s LIFE group directory. She’s not only alive, but she has also now joined our church!

The following year, we somehow ended up in the same LIFE group for  two months, and I shared with her how my first “encounter” with her was three years ago, just as a random intercessor who had no real personal connection with her. 

Today, we celebrated Andrea’s 5 years of post-heart transplant life. The house was filled with much celebration and joy. People who were a part of her life before, during, and after her health struggles were there. There was these two wonderful ladies who, five years ago, sang at the hospital during Andrea’s heart transplant procedure. Today they were there again, joyously singing praises to the King and Healer. There were so, so many others, all coming together to celebrate Andrea’s tremendous recovery over the past 5 years.

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Best way to celebrate life is by smashing a piñata! :)

If these things didn’t happen, I would have never gotten to know this lady that I am so honored to call my friend. In fact, most of these people wouldn’t be here. Through this painful situation, God has brought together these people and expanded Andrea’s “family,” in some ways. Truly, what man has intended for evil, God intended it for good. (Genesis 50:20, paraphrased)

Some lessons along the way:

  1. God’s ways are truly far higher, far deeper, far greater than any of man’s ways. He is more than able to bring beauty out of ashes.
  2. It is truly an honor to be an intercessor. The time spent in prayer is never ever wasted, and God really does answer prayers, even when we don’t realize it. To be invited to pray is an invitation to be a part of someone’s life or ministry. It’s such a privilege.
  3. There is beauty in getting to celebrate life. Regardless of how hard it may be, life is worth celebrating.
  4. Consider being an organ donor, and help be a part of someone’s miracle!

PS: More (objective) information about Andrea here!

“There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.”
—Richard Sibbes (via jesus-christ-is-king)

(via marla-sansserif)

“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”
—1 Samuel 30:6b

There are times… when what you really need is to be reminded. 

In many ways, it has been a difficult, frustrating week. I felt like I was failing at everything I did. It was the first time I slept through a class. It was the first time I’ve felt so far behind — so behind that I almost gave up trying to keep up. 

Yet in many ways, it has been a week of having to remind myself not only of who God is, but also who I am in Him. I had tried to set apart good, personal time with Him this week, and while it has not always been successful (see note about oversleeping above), the times that I did get to spend with Him were so encouraging, so sweet, so uplifting.

This past Detroit LIFE group, we spent time studying about why we worship, and how when we worship, we become more satisfied in Him, more sustained, and more Christ-focused. I’m thankful for those reminders of His character, reminders of the One who does not change regardless of my own failings and flaws.

No, this does not mean that I’m all caught up. (In fact, I’m still far behind and trying desperately to catch up, haha… it’s about to be a long, long night…) Yet there is less frustration and more joy when you study with a joyful, thankful heart.

I heard this song as I was making lunch this morning, and it speaks the words that my heart longs to proclaim tonight. It’s rare that I get to listen (or share) an Indonesian worship song, but the lyrics are absolutely beautiful. I’ve tried my best to translate them, but don’t depend on their accuracy! :)

Kasih setia-Mu yang kurasakan
Your steadfast love that I have felt/received
Lebih tinggi dari langit biru
Higher than the blue sky above
Kebaikan-Mu yang t’lah Kau nyatakan
Your goodness that you have shown
Lebih dalam dari lautan
Is deeper than the ocean below

Berkat-Mu yang telah kuterima
Your blessings that I have received
Sempat membuatku terpesona
Has blown me away (difficult to translate)
Apa yang tak pernah kupikirkan
What I have not even thought of/imagined
Itu yang Kau sediakan bagiku
It is that that You have supplied/provided

Siapakah aku ini Tuhan
Who am I, oh God
Jadi biji mata-Mu
That I have become the apple of Your eye?
Dengan apakah kubalas Tuhan
How can I repay You God
S’lain puji dan sembah Kau
Than by praising and worshipping You

“You don’t realize that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.”
—Tim Keller (via joypettigrew)
Hahahahaha this is so funny… #medicaljokes

Hahahahaha this is so funny… #medicaljokes

I actually know what all those muscles and bones are now too…

I actually know what all those muscles and bones are now too…

What is “the dream”?

The past 2+ weeks have been some of the busiest and most frustrating weeks I’ve ever experienced. I don’t quite remember the last time I feel not obligated to study. 5 hours of lecture, 2 hours of lab, and 6-7 hours of studying at least afterwards, every day. Sleep for 5-6 hours. Wake up. Have breakfast. Do your quiet time. And the cycle begins again. And the materials we’re learning never stops. Someone described it as being sprayed with a hose on full blast, and the analogy is an apt one. Quite frankly, I’ve learned more in these 2 weeks of school than I did in a half semester of undergrad.

To make matters worse is the fact that you never feel quite ready. You spend hours and hours studying, but you still feel overwhelmed, like you haven’t memorized enough or spent enough time looking at the diagrams in the anatomy atlas. You begin to mentally compare yourself with other people. You can’t help it; you’re constantly rubbing shoulders with your classmates and since our conversations are always about med school, you feel like you are underperforming, as if every one else is “getting this stuff” and you aren’t. I remember one of my M2 friends telling me not to be “psyched out by other people in your class,” but I can’t help it. No one likes being the guy who looks clueless in front of a cadaver.

Someone asked me a few days ago whether I was living “the dream.” What dream? He laughed. “At least to the thousands of pre-med students across the nation, we are living the dream.”

It was a question that kept nudging at me. Am I really living “the dream”? Because it feels more like a nightmare… A nightmare that I can’t wait to wake up from…

Yes, I have been in that place before. I dreamt about getting into medical school, thinking that I would enjoy every moment of it. When I didn’t get into school, I got frustrated, disappointed, and angry at God. “Why do You keep hindering me from reaching my dream? I kept asking God. But now that I’m on the other side, I realize that this is far from a “dream.” In fact, I still feel the same emotions: frustrated, disappointed, and overwhelmed.

I guess call this a lesson learned: if ever I set my “dreams” on anything in this world, this will be the result: disappointment, frustration, and anguish. Worldly dreams will fail us. Whether it be a dream job, a future family/spouse, a dream standard-of-living, or a seemingly wonderful workplace. If I set my sights on these things and view them as my “dream,” I will be disappointed.

Instead, I must realize that the real dream that will not disappoint lies in this:

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:13-16)

I must learn to have an eternal perspective.

I’ve actually heard this song several times before, but I don’t think I’ve stopped to actually listen/read to the lyrics of this song. But sometime this past week, our worship leader Chad led us into this beautiful song during our Sunday devotional time, and wow — the lyrics are just so beautiful. It has honestly been stuck in my head all week long. It speaks to the gratefulness I feel right now, having gotten a powerful glimpse of God’s love after all that He has done this past week. So grateful. There are no words to quite describe it all. 

How do you explain
How do you describe
A love that goes from East to West
And runs as deep as it is wide
You know all our hopes
Lord, You know all our fears
And words cannot express the love we feel
But we long for You to hear

So listen to our hearts
Hear our spirits sing
A song of praise that flows
For those You have redeemed
And we use the words we know
To tell you what an awesome God You are
But when words are not enough
To tell You of our love
Just listen to our hearts

If words could fall like rain
From these lips of mine
And if I had a thousand years
I would still run out of time
So if You listen to my heart
Every beat will say
Thank you for the Life
Thank you for the Truth
Thank you for the Way