Finding Life

A Facebook friend commented after I posted photos of In-Cosmetics Asia 2016 held in Bangkok, Thailand, which my husband attended, “You must miss it!” She was referring, of course, to the life I lived before in the world of cosmetic ingredients – glamorous and exciting. And I burst out what I had been hiding in my heart these many years, for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, “I super miss it. Sometimes I still feel a painful pinch in my heart when I see photos like this.” That was a portion of my reply.

"GRAPEVINE". My watercolor painting on 9" x 12" wc paper.

“GRAPEVINE”. My watercolor painting on 9″ x 12″ wc paper.

Later, I thought about the exchange and examined it. Was I really still longing for that old life? Do I still want to go back to it? The answer I got was “No”. I feel a longing when I see photos of the world I used to inhabit, not because I am desiring to go back to it, but because I know the happiness and thrill it brought.

How can one go back to a life in the distant past (13 years) when one is a new person?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

It’s like putting a new wine to old wineskins which the Lord Jesus Himself spoke of.

Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. (Mat. 9:17)

I have always wrestled with this verse. What is the Lord talking about? But now I get a glimpse of it: A new wine like myself cannot thrive in the old life I used to live, the old wineskin, for after 13 years of walking closely with the Lord, I no longer know how to walk otherwise. Not that that world would be ruined because of the new me, but because I cannot be unequally yoked with it after the Lord has called me for His purposes. I can go, when all this sickness is over, not to work, but to tell of the wondrous salvation from the Lord. To win souls.

But why the longing? Somewhere in the deep recesses of my heart is this wish: I wish that I had known the Lord Jesus while I was at the peak of my career, that I had surrendered my life to Him even then. Maybe then, I wouldn’t have been taken out of it.

If I had known the Lord then and walked in His ways and didn’t make the bad decisions that I made, would I still be there today, working, healthy and strong?

But the saddest thing is – that wasn’t the case. That wasn’t my life. I was successful by the world’s standards, living my dreams, but l was dead in the eyes of God. Let the dead bury their dead.

How deplorable it is to think that there are many people in the world who put up multimillion businesses and have stellar careers, but do not know how to really live.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4)

No matter how much we deny it – we do not know how to live apart from Christ.

I knew how to live by the world’s standards – competition,  excellence, devising, etc. But with the way I led my personal life – important relationships like marriage and family, and most of all, a right relationship with the Savior – I was the biggest fool. In business, I made the wisest decisions. But in private life, I acted like I had no brains at all.

I didn’t live in virtue; I lived in selfishness. I was just one of millions who walk this earth in selfishness. The world needs a Savior, and indeed, He has come.

That’s why now, I have life. I live. Because of Him. Now, I can honestly echo the apostle Paul’s words:

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him… (Phil. 3:8-9, emphasis added)

This is what it means when the Lord said to lose our lives. Yes, to lose that life that is not really life but death, and to trade it with the life we find in Him. That is the true life. Everlasting life.

He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Mat. 10:39)

This is pure wisdom: To be willing to lose the life that we adore so much and to find ourselves in Him.

It will be hard for some. They will look back with longing of the life they left behind every now and then. Like me. But not to take the first step to go back to it, but to be able to appreciate how much the Lord Jesus had to give to give us life.

A life that will not cease long after this world has.

This is the life Jesus gives. But many of us are not willing to take it. We want to remain as blinds and fools, not knowing what matters most. We only see the pleasures and thrills the world offers; we cannot see the other side, the side where the King of kings reside. Life and glory forevermore.

But even as we live in the Lord, sometimes we still act foolish and make foolish decisions the same way as the world does. Where has wisdom gone?

For whoever finds me finds life,
And obtains favor from the Lord. (Prod. 8:35)

Sometimes we dwell in coldness and lovelessness. In anger and unkindness. In selfishness. We respond harshly to criticisms that are supposed to help, correct, and improve us. We devour each other even as we call on the name of the Lord and carry His name. Christians.

Yes, sometimes we do not know how to really live, even if the Lord has already shown us how to. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Sometimes we act as if we do not know Him.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Mic. 6:8)

Oh, man! (Put a crying emoji here). What does the Lord require of us?

Do justly.

Love mercy.

Walk humbly with God.

Do we trample each other and grind each other with our unmerciful words? But didn’t you know, oh man, that —

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. (Prod. 16:24)

Our words should bring life and healing!

The letter addressed to the church in Sardis should serve as a warning and reminder:

I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. (Rev. 3:1-2, emphasis added)

Life in the Lord must be fruitful, not barren. 

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To Lose One’s Life

Often, I’ve asked myself this: If I were living my dreams – pursuing the career I love, being successful, traveling the world, and immersing in the good things it offers – and God called me to drop everything and follow Him, would I? And often, the answer I get in my heart of hearts is that – I don’t know. Probably not. It’s disheartening, but I believe that’s just the way for most of us: We cannot surrender everything, absolutely everything, unless God does something radical in our lives. Like loss of health and strength.

The rich, young man of the Gospel comes to mind. He wanted to inherit the kingdom of God and yet, he couldn’t, just couldn’t give up everything and follow Jesus. And what did the Lord say after the man left? That it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man or woman to enter the kingdom of God. Why? We go back to the first paragraph. We need not be very wealthy like the rich, young man in the Bible, but we do have stellar careers, properties like condo units or cars, jewelries, overflowing wardrobes perhaps that we just can’t live without.

So, it’s hard. Impossible even, as the Lord Himself has said. But look at what He said next: “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).

He makes it possible for us to surrender everything, lose our lives for His sake, follow Him, and later on, enter into His kingdom.

Before He even calls us, He knows what our reactions would be. That’s why He does things to us to get our attention, to let us realize that when we desire to save our lives, we’re going to lose them. But when we lose them for His sake and the Gospel’s, we save them.

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:35)

To lose one’s life for Jesus is to find it. How much simpler could it get? And yet, not all of us get it. Unless the Lord makes it possible for us.

He made it possible for me. I was like that rich, young man. I was leading my own company, had properties, cars, jewelries, overflowing wardrobe, travels, and a stellar career that brought all the success and fulfilment. But God wanted me. He wanted me to partake of His salvation and kingdom. He wanted me to know Him and love Him enough I would follow Him to the ends of the earth. But He knew I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, turn my back to all that I had. So, He stripped me of my health and strength, so serious I could no longer work. I’m thinking now that He probably wept when He did it. But He knew my salvation was much more important than anything in this world.

When I lost everything, He let me know that I had Him. He made me realize that when I have Him, I actually have everything.

He made it all possible for me – lose my life for Him, know and follow Him. But the losing and denying of oneself, the taking up of one’s cross, and following Him are decisions we make every morning, every day. We renew them again and again. It is a daily decision.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)

A daily decision to choose life or death. So, choose life. Lose it for Jesus again today, and tomorrow, and the next. For we will find it in Him. He is our life.

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Journey with Jesus,