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Two years ago, Assistant Pastor Samuel Lin in his sermon spoke about the brevity of life and suggested using a bottle of marbles to remind us of the possible remaining years in our lives. I turned 48 about two months ago, but I have not yet taken out a marble from my bottle. For this birthday, I had a deep realisation and appreciation that being alive is a gift from God and  there is no certainty that my next birthday would   arrive. Consequently, I embarked on a journey of contemplation about life and death and questioned the impact of everything that I have done. The reflective exercises were both refreshing and sobering, and I would like to share two reflections. The first one is about taking stock of my past and the other is about looking forward.

TAKING STOCK OF THE PAST. This first reflection is about an “old” issue that periodically resurfaces and causes me to be inward looking and self-centred. Since young, I have grappled with issue of self-worth – am I good enough? Although I believe that my worth is about how God values me, I would often struggle with a feeling of not being good enough. This issue gets triggered whenever there are circumstances such as   my dismal work performance or my efforts being overlooked by others. I would often respond by working even harder to improve myself in various aspects of my life. I take pride in my abilities and would become defensive when they are being challenged. I figure that this is part of my Christian pilgrimage where I  learn and relearn in addressing old issues in new situations. Ultimately, the aim is to surrender my old self and become more Christ-like day by day.

LOOKING FORWARD. The second reflection is about deliberating how I should live differently from now on. While our church has consistently spoken about the relevance of Christ’s great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) in our lives, I pondered on how it applies to me now  as a 48-year-old; and the key area of focus comes to relationships. In my handling of family, work, and study commitments, I noticed that my presence and efforts in nurturing relationships could be better. I want to pay greater attention to significant others and friends that God has blessed me with. One area that is lacking is in family discipleship. While we plan for weekly family discipleship and couple prayers, lull periods often come in the form of practical commitments, secular demands, or simply tiredness. My son is also turning 13 this year and I realise that I would need to spend dedicated individual time with him as he navigates a much more complex world where being a Christian is like walking amongst landmines.

I pray that my 48th birthday would be a milestone for me to – simply live well today, for I know not what will happen to me tomorrow. In fact, this applies whether we are 28, 38, or 58. My reflections can be summed up by  the following verses in the book of Timothy, which I meditated upon during my recent devotion. – “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things (i.e. false teachings). Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)

By brother William Soh

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