Andrew D.

my insights, instrospections, and inspirations

“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

Faith is forged in the uncertainty.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

——

This song was the anthem of my summer last year. There was something about the lyrics of this song — the incredible imagery of Peter, called out by Jesus to walk upon water despite the fact that he doesn’t know whether anything will hold him up and keep him from sinking. That struggle for faith was so real for Peter — and it was so real for me as well. It was a hard summer. A summer of saying goodbye to my closest friends and church community. A summer of rejection after rejection, and feeling like God disappointed me. A summer of leaving behind everything I knew, and entering a city with which I had no attachment to. A summer where innocence was stolen from me, where I found myself unable to trust people like I used to be able to before.

That summer turned into a full year — countless job applications (and just as many rejections and/or no responses), new and unfamiliar church environment, building new relationships, and lots and lots of waiting.

Oh waiting. How I hate that term. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. There’s so much uncertainty, so many doubts, so many questions. It is during that time of waiting when my faith is battered by questions from my doubting heart. Is God really that faithful? Did God really say that? How long are you really going to wait? Did you really hear that, or did you hear wrong? Do you see everyone else around you are ‘successful now — and what about you? Do you see how your friends and family mocking at you?

I received news several days ago that my time of waiting has ended — at least as far as I know. God is indeed a faithful, amazing God! He knows what He is doing, and His timing is perfect.

But now looking back, I’m thankful for that time of patient waiting. Now that faith has become sight, the time to build my faith is over. You don’t need faith to know what is seen. But it is precisely when you don’t understand, when you don’t know, when you’re unsure and even at times doubt His promises, when you’re stepping into an ocean filled with uncertainties — it is during such circumstances that faith is needed built up. Faith is not forged when things are easy to grasp and certain; it forged in the uncertainties, in the doubts, in the questions, in the waiting.

Though I am certainly relieved that my time of waiting is over, I wished I had taken more advantage of that opportunity to build up faith. But I know that through it, I can truly say this: God can truly be trusted. And for that I’m forever grateful for the waiting.

The Good Samaritan

I consider myself a pretty nice, compassionate person. I care about people. I’m a pretty nice guy in general. Or so I thought.

And so whenever I read the story of the Good Samaritan, I’ve always assumed that when confronted with a similar situation, I’ll be like the Good Samaritan, who stopped to care for the person in need. Without a doubt. Or so I thought.

Why did the priest and the Levite simply walk past the wounded man by the side of the road? Certainly, there is a possibility that they were just cruel, mean people who don’t care about the hurting. But they know the Law, and there are Old Testament laws that talk about loving your neighbor and your enemies (Exodus 23:3-4, Leviticus 19:9-18 and 25:35-38 are just a few examples).

I propose this: the priest and the Levite were too busy and preoccupied by their plan and schedule, and they saw this person lying on the side of the road as a distraction and hindrance to what they had in mind. They were heading to Jerusalem! Perhaps they had things to attend to there. Perhaps they had places to go, people to minister to, and sacrifices to make.

The sad truth, though, is that they missed out on being God’s hands and feet to this poor man on the side of the road. Their preoccupation with their meetings, schedules, and plans hindered them from being used to minister to someone who needed an extension of God’s grace. 

—-

Recently, I was in Nashville for a fun weekend with a group of guys. It was supposed to be a good time of fellowshipping and enjoying each other’s company, while eating freaking delicious food, taking in the sights of the city, and getting to know one another better. [I fell in love with the city of Nashville during the course of several days — but that’s irrelevant to this post.]

In the afternoon, we were hanging around a park taking photos when a young man named M struck a conversation with us. He was carrying around a flag with a cannibis symbol on it. He approached us and asked where we were from, and provided us unsolicited recommendations about places to go in Nashville.

I’m sure this guy had no ill will towards us whatsoever. Perhaps he was just trying to be nice. But to me, this guy was an annoyance, a bothersome inconvenience in our packed plan. I had more places to visit, more photos to take, more places to go (like a bathroom and a water fountain, for example). 

My brother D saw it differently. He recognized it as an opportunity to share the Gospel. He eagerly engaged him in conversation and began to ask about his involvement with the legalization movement, with hopes of finding a hook through which he could share about Jesus. Not interested in this conversation and knowing that this was about to be a long, long exchange, I left to look for a bathroom and visited a nearby museum instead.

In hindsight, I missed an opportunity to partner in the work that God was doing. Even if I didn’t stick around to engage in the conversation, I could have at least interceded on D’s behalf, praying that God would empower him to speak God’s Word into M’s life. Instead, I mindlessly attended to my own affairs. In the meantime, D shared the Gospel to M and led him to recommit his life to Christ. In the middle of a random park in Nashville! Imagine that.

Oh yes, thank God that He redeemed the situation, because no one can thwart the plan He has. Yet still, I recognize now that I missed out on an opportunity to be used by God to minister to His people and to be His hands and feet to someone who needed to see His grace tangibly. My preoccupation with my neat little “schedule” hindered me from loving my neighbor as Jesus had called me to. I am exactly like the priest and the Levite, who saw unplanned ministry opportunities as bothersome to my packed schedule than as a tangible way to show God’s grace.

I need to learn what it looks like to truly be a Good Samaritan.

M & D in conversation (faces have been blurred to protect the identity of these brothers)

D - If you’re reading this, thanks for reminding me what it means to be a Good Samaritan. A crown is waiting for you! :D