Unending Fellowship

God, I want to be constantly aware of Your presence. I want to live everyday with You inside my heart and with me inside Yours. But I am unsure how.

Walk blamelessly, You tell me. Do what is right. Speak from your heart and don’t say anything malicious about other people. Live peacefully with others, do only the things that you would like to be also done unto you. Hate evil. Honour those who honour Me. Use cash wisely. Be generous; make sure you only own honest money. Do these and you won’t be shaken.

But Lord, that doesn’t really answer my question.

It does, You say. For in doing so, you include Me in every part of your life. I’ll take part in chiselling out your integrity and character. I’ll take part in moulding you and your relationship with others. I’ll take part in forming your heart. I’ll take part in managing your wallet and earthly bank account. I’ll take part in creating the very stability of your life.

I see.

So be it, Lord. Let me live with me in You and You inside of me.

END
Based on Psalm 15

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The Alabaster Box

She came in unexpectedly. Weeping, blubbering, as if someone was dead — or was at least going to die. All eyes were on her. Simon’s. The Teacher’s. His disciples’. But only the Teacher seemed unrattled.

She held in her hand a box made of alabaster — small, translucent, the expensive perfume almost reaching its brim.

The woman approached The Great Teacher. Simon, whose dinner was still lodged in-between his teeth, rose up with the intention of driving the girl away from his home. But a look from the Teacher held him down. Slowly, he took his seat again.

She and the Teacher were almost eye to eye, but she didn’t dare raise her eyes to look into his. I and everyone else in the room held our breaths. She moved slowly until she was right behind him.

She held the box with both hands and smashed it on the dusty floor. With tears streaming down her face, she poured out its contents over His head. The intoxicating perfume wafted through every corner of the room.

She didn’t stop there. She knelt down until her face touched the Teacher’s feet. With her tears, she washed the dirt and the grime away. With her hair, she wiped the salty liquid dry.

She poured the remaining perfume, kissing his feet and weeping into them some more.

A murmur began to rise inside the room. One disciple, Judas I think, spoke up saying, “What a waste! That perfume was worth a year’s wages! It should have been sold! The money could have been given to the poor!”

I agreed with him. It must have taken the woman a fair amount of time to collect the fragrant essence of nard. But she poured it all over the Teacher, exhausting it in one sitting.

Yet I couldn’t help but put myself in her place. If I had been a woman — if I had a jar of perfume, too — would I have had the audacity to pour it out on the teacher also? I might have. But then I might have been too afraid to. The looks the men gave her were not ones of praise and good regard.

The Teacher shushed Judas down. “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”*

I and the rest of the men looked down uneasily at the floor. The Teacher was right. Plus, the woman was the only one who honoured Him enough to wash His feet. None of us had touched His with even so much as a wet rag.

I stole a glance at her, respect making its way into my eyes. What she did unto Him was indeed a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I wished I had done the same. I wished I could also do the same.

END
Based on the text from Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 7, and John 12
*Text directly copied from Matthew 26:10-13 (NIV)

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To Those Who Delight

Eden is delightful. That sentence itself is redundant, since “eden” literally means “delight”. But it is. A delight, I mean. Glorious trees surround my home. Flowers shining like gold, sapphire, ruby — every colour imaginable — they fill its every nook and crany. Fruits — succulent, rich, and mouthwatering — they grow everywhere and I can feast on them all, save for a certain kind of fruit growing from this one certain tree.

There are plenty of things to do here. Just today, my Lord brought the animals to me, asking me to name them one by one. It’s great fun. I love speaking names out. I love declaring. I love discovering a creature’s essence and I love calling it forth to life.

It’s strange though. As I did my assignment, I noticed this very peculiar thing. All those animals — there was always two of each kind.

Why did they come in twos? I’m not complaining. Yet why — why is it that when it comes to me, there seems to be nothing — nobody else the same as me?

I close my eyes. Sleep comes. The last thing I see is the face of my Lord — my Father — smiling down at me.

***

His eyes are soft. Yet as I look on, I sense a burning fire in them — red hot, a mixture of passion and devotion.

I call Him “Father”. He was the first Being I have ever had the privilege to see. He was the One who led me around the garden so that I could look upon the animals, munch upon the fruits, and drink upon the beauty of the blossoms and the trees.

I love everything about Him. Yet, though I know I am complete, I feel like something — a part of me — is missing. Or perhaps I am the missing part of something?

But what?

Suddenly, I see him. Suddenly, he sees me.

***

I have just woken up. And what is in my view? Lo and behold, a creature of great beauty!

I have never seen anything like her. She’s — is there even a word fit to describe the being before me?

She looks at me tentatively, yes, even bashfully. What should I say? I must say something to break this silence. I must — Oh, what should I say, what should I say?

I feel for my heart and then I notice an odd sensation just below my chest. I touch my rib cage, feeling for the bones underneath my skin. Something is different.

Suddenly, I know what I must do. Suddenly, I know what I must say to the maiden before me.

***

“At last!” He says. “This one is bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman’ because she was taken from ‘man.'”

I blush. I look around for my Father and I see Him smiling at me. “Go on,” His eyes seem to say.

I take a step forward. The man reaches out, gently taking both of my hands.

“My name is Adam. You… you shall be called ‘Eve’. You shall become a mother of all who live.”

Father’s soft yet passionate glance seems to be reflected in the man’s eyes. I gaze into them, feeling a shy smile creeping to my lips.

“Hello, Adam,” I breath. “Yes I am Eve. I shall be called your Eve, a mother to all who live.”

We walk, hand in hand. We turn our heads to our Father. The Father grins.

He is delighting in Adam and me.

END
Based on Genesis 2

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To Those Who’ve Fallen

I have sinned. Greatly. I am not worthy to be called king. I am not worthy to stand in this throne.

I killed somebody. I took away somebody’s life by making him fight in the front lines, by positioning him in the most dangerous location of all.

All because I was enamoured. All because I was enraptured. All because —

All because of her. Bathsheba.

But I love her. I do.

***

My lord, my king — how we have fallen. I knew I should have taken those cleansing rites somewhere else. I knew I should have said no when your messengers sent for me. I knew I should have told you that you couldn’t have me, that I loved and respected my husband too much to commit such a despicable act.

But what’s done is done. There’s nothing I can do to change what was.

I must face the consequences of my own actions.

I must learn to be responsible for the choices that I — yes I — have made.

***

She was such an unusual beauty. She was such a marvellous creature. And she was bathing in broad daylight for me to see. I was idle. I was tempted.

I gave in.

And then she sent me the message. “I’m with child,” she said.

I tried to patch things up. I asked her husband to go home. I even encouraged him to sleep with her. But he didn’t. “How could I when my comrades are camping out in tents and in the open fields?” he exclaimed.

I was left with no choice. I had to.

***

You should know it broke my heart, hearing how my husband died. I somehow knew you were behind it. I did love him. I loved him very much.

You took him away from me. You took my pride away, too, together with my dignity —

You — Oh, how is it that even though you are a murderer and an adulterer, I respect you, honour you and even — gasp —

Love you?

***

I know what I did displeased God. I know what I did has brought a curse upon my home.

But I know His grace is unending. I know His forgiveness is encompassing. His love —

Oh, I am not worthy to receive His love.

Oh, but create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit in me.*

I must go to her. I must give her my comfort. I must tell her that she is forgiven, too.

***

I understand that God washes us of our guilt, that He cleanses us from our sins. I understand that even though we have fallen to the deep end, He has already restored to us the joy of our salvation.*

My king, I am yours. God has forgiven me, so I choose to forgive you.

And I — I forgive myself, too.

END
Based on 2 Samuel 11&12, mixed in with New Testement concepts on forgiveness
* From Psalm 51, David’s Psalm after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba

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To Those Who Mourn

I miss him. Terribly so. Naomi is a comfort. I am thankful she’s here, putting on a brave face, consoling me even though she has suffered greater losses herself.

The least I could do is go with her. To her home country, to Bethlehem. Her people shall be my people and her God shall be my God.

She advised me and Orpah to stay in Moab but what will happen to me here? I don’t care if Naomi won’t bear any more children. I don’t care if there’ll be no one else to continue the family line.

I shall die where she dies and I will be buried where she will be buried. I will serve her for the rest of my life. I will take care of her the way that she has taken care of me.

***

Who is that girl? I have been seeing a lot of her lately. There’s something about her — she looks fragile but there’s a strength inside her that I can’t understand.

Oh. She is the Moabite. The daughter of Naomi who has returned here to Bethlehem after her husband and two sons died. So. She’s the one caring for the poor soul now, is she?

Bless her.

***

Strange. I’ve been gathering leftovers after the harvesters. The thing is, there really shouldn’t be so much left to gather. But for the past days, I seem to be gathering whole bundles of barley as well.

The owner of this field seems very kind. He gave me some roasted grain the other day. I ate till I was full, yet I still had some left over.

Naomi says he is one of our family redeemers. She gave me some strange advice earlier today. She said that it was time for her to find me a permanent home so that I will be provided for. And so…

We’ll see what will happen tonight. Her idea seems quite illogical, but I trust her with my whole heart.

***

There’s a woman in my threshing floor. One moment, I’m eating and drinking. Another moment, I’m sleeping. And then the next thing I know — Hold on. Why, if I’m not mistaken, the woman lying at the foot of my bed is —

Ruth.

***

My lord, Boaz, is really so kind. He did not disgrace me when he found me at his feet, covered with the same piece of cloth covering him. I was so frightened. I really didn’t know how he would react and that scared me so.

But he just looked upon me fondly. And he made sure that I went home while it was still dark so that nobody would think anything bad of me.

He said that he will marry me. He said that he will redeem my family, Naomi’s family, the line of Perez. But there is a closer kin. Still, he said he will settle things with him and will let me know if that man will have me or if he’ll let Boaz take and marry me.

I hope he’ll let Boaz have me. Because…

Because I’m already beginning to fall in love him.

***

She is a remarkable woman. The way she honours her mother-in-law speaks quite a lot. And to think that she’s a Moabite.

She’ll be mine soon. The elders at the gate have borne witness that the other redeemer has passed her on to me.

The elders have released their blessings.

Now I must go and tell Ruth and Naomi.

END
Based on the book of Ruth

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The Shepherd

I don’t know what we’ll do without him. His tattered robe, his dusty feet, his bushy chin, the way he smells like the earth and grass combined — everything about him gives us a sense of comfort, a sense of assurance that everything will be okay and that everything we both want and need will be provided for.

He leads the flock well. The younger ones frolic too much, the older rams and ewes are not too keen on moving about, but his gentle yet strong nature persuades them — persuades me — to move steadily onto the meadows where the grass is always fresh and tastes as sweet as the cold morning dew, to the pastures right beside waters which restores and refreshes our ever thirsty baa-ing souls.

He always knows where to bring us. There are many paths that we could follow but he always nudges us to the one which would lead us to the fields where we will flourish the best, where we can have ample rest, and where we can eat, drink, and live joyfully to our heart’s content. He does this because he has a reputation to uphold. Yet I know he also does it because he cares for us tremendously and because he loves our ragtag sheepfold.

At times the roads that we have tread on are strange and dark. Many times the shadows scare both the lambs and the aged ones. But his presence gives us strength. His presence gives us comfort. When he stands next to us with his rod and his staff, we know that we are well protected and that we can keep moving on. We know that we can keep going forward even if foxes, lions, and bears might lurk behind the shadows. He will keep us safe. He will even prepare a feast for us, though we might feel like we shall turn into the feasts sooner or later on.

The shepherd honours us by pouring oil over our worn and dishevelled heads. The oil overflows, runs over, reminding us that we are more than blessed.

The shepherd will be with us forever. As we dwell with him, goodness and unfailing love shall follow us and will be with us forever, too.

END

Based on Psalm 23

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Camels and Needles

The teacher must be kidding me. Sky high, that’s what his expectations are. Sell all my possessions and give the money to the poor? Exchange everything I have for treasures in heaven? And then – *gulp* – leave everything I have and follow him down untrod dirt paths? I’m not like those fishermen he likes to hang out with. I’m not like those swindling tax collectors, not like those dusty vagabonds.

He can have that eternal life he’s talking about. Just the thought of being separated from my camels, from my horses, from my antique pottery — I can think of no greater hell than that.

I had only asked him what good thing did I have to do to inherit eternal life. He said there is only One who is good. But I could keep the commandments, he had added.

Which ones, I had inquired.

Don’t kill. Don’t take someone else’s wife. Don’t take another woman if you already have one of your own. Don’t lie. Honor your father and your mother. Love the people around you as you love you.

I have kept all of them. I could put a big check mark next to each one if anyone would ask me to.

But his final requirement is far too difficult.

A camel would find it easier to enter through the eye of the needle, you know.

END

Based on Matthew 19: 16-22

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” 25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. 26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

Matthew 19: 23-26 (New Living Translation)

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Just a Touch

I need healing. There’s no doubt about that. It’s been 12 years — 12 years of bleeding. I am constantly in pain. I am constantly weak. I constantly feel as if every ounce of life is being steadily drained out of my spirit, out of my soul, out of my body.

And I am constantly unclean.

Perhaps — no. I am sure of it. One touch of his robe and I will be made well.

* * *

She looks as if she’s just sleeping. How like her to lie in bed without a noise. How like her to look as if she is barely breathing. How like her to fool people into thinking that she is dead. She has always been such a joker.

“Sir Jairus, I am sorry, but it doesn’t seem as if she will make it. In a few hours — nay, perhaps a few minutes — sooner or later, your daughter is likely to cross over –“

Cross over? Die? No.

“They say the man named Jesus is in town. They say he is a prophet. Watch over the little one. I shall find him and ask him to make her well.”

* * *

There he is. Why are there so many people surrounding him? They are not making this easy. He is so near – yet so, so far. I will make it through the crowd. I will touch his robe. I will —

* * *

“Rabbi! My little girl is at the point of dying! Come at once! Lay your hands on her and she will be healed.” I have fallen to my feet but I do not care. My daughter is in need of healing. If he would come quickly enough, she will be —

* * *

Healed. I am healed. There is no denying it. The blood has stopped flowing. For years the physicians have been trying to keep the blood from discharging. For a thousand or so dinars they have used medicine to try to get me clean. But now — I can not believe it. All it took was a moment. All it took was a single touch. All it took was —

“Who touched me? Somebody touched me.”

“I am sorry, Rabbi. It was I who touched you. It was I.” My trembling voice betrays my escalating fear.

“Go in peace, daughter. It is your faith that made you well.”

* * *

“Sir Jairus, please get up. I am afraid we have some very bad news. Your daughter — she’s — she’s — do not trouble the teacher any more. Your daughter is dead.”

My little girl? Dead? That can not be! If only Jesus had only gotten to my house sooner! Why, if it wasn’t for this crowd! If it wasn’t for that woman! If — it’s too late. It is too late.

“Jairus.” I hear him speak my name. “Don’t be afraid. Believe. She will be well.”

But…

She’s dead.

* * *

Go in peace. Go in peace, he said! My faith – he said my faith has made me well! Oh what joy! Oh what freedom! Oh what peace I have inside of me! I am made well!

* * *

“Why are you crying? Do not cry. She’s only sleeping. See, watch her rise.”

The good teacher is inside my home. Yes, he is finally inside my home but he is too late. My little girl has already crossed over. My little girl is already dead.

“Rise up, my dearest.”

Great heavens! Her fingers are moving! Her feet are trembling! Her eyes — is it true? Is it true that her eyes are bright and opened wide?

“Abba… I am hungry…”

“Yes, dearest! Yes! At once! At once, my dearest!”

I can not believe it. My daughter is finally well.

END

Based on Matt 9: 18-26, Mark 5:21-43, and Luke 8:41-56

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