For the past week and a half, I’ve been going through (inconsistently) a daily reading plan in my Holy Bible mobile app. The plan teaches me 7 Hebrew words over a span of a week. Since I’ve always been picky with my devotional reading plans and this one is exotic, being the nerd that I am, I thought Why not; could be fun!
Obviously I’m very undisciplined as not even its exoticness could keep me focused to diligently read through its short passages, but nevertheless, Father never fails to still teach me His ways.
“When I photograph mountains like these in north Georgia, a verse in the Book of Isaiah comes to mind that says: ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken.’ The Hebrew word translated as ‘love‘ here is ‘hesed‘ which is a hard word to define.
Theologian John Oswalt says hesed is ‘… a completely undeserved kindness and generosity …’. Hesed is not just a feeling, it’s an action. It ‘… intervenes on behalf of loved ones and comes to their rescue’ according to Lois Tverberg.”
(Read the rest of the first day excerpt here.)
It’s such a beautiful awakening, reflecting on the word hesed being an action rather than a feeling. It’s true that people can easily say “I love you” without truly showing the depth of their love for the other person. It’s certainly easier said than done to “love your neighbours as yourself” (Luke 10:27) especially when they have done countless wrongs to you for no apparent reasons at all. Perhaps that’s why, at the very least, the impact of that love to the giver has the power to slowly change his life, even if not the receiver’s.
Just a couple of days ago, I took my first JPJ practical driving test. I say first because apparently in our country, it is a norm that no one passes their first tests unless the officers have consumed lots of morning coffee (those of you who have heard, you would know what I mean). Being the “good” and optimistic Christian girl, though I’ve heard many stories of my friends suffering the same fate unless extremely good coffee had been provided, I still chose to believe in the brighter sides of things and refused to take into serious consideration that I would be a victim of the lack of money coffee on that fateful Monday.
Before I had even stepped foot into my driving school’s office, it was as though my fate had already been decided. Before I was given a chance to properly prove to my testers that I was capable of controlling the movements of a Kancil, they had already pushed me aside . All because I didn’t provide them their morning coffee. Perhaps what was even sadder and hurtful was the officers and uncles outwardly blaming me for my own failure by citing “not paying attention during briefings and test times.” If only humans had an ounce more of honesty in them when sin entered the world, perhaps then our world wouldn’t be so blinded as to follow the status quo along with their crowd mentality. But alas, that is not our world as ideal and hopeful as I wish it is.
Ever since that morning, I’ve been having this dull ache in my chest. During my walk home from the driving institute, I had to keep myself calm by chanting all of God’s promises to me and to them, all to remind myself that it wasn’t because I was incapable of achieving a teenager’s supposedly first taste of adulthood or freedom (I have to CBT myself a lot as I can get depressed easily so if you see me doing fire-breathing dragon exercises, you can rule out one of your speculations). Long story short, this sucks.
These reoccurring thoughts keep coming back to me, even as I type this:
- Jesus loves you.
- He also loves them.
- When He died for you, He died for them too.
- Love your neighbour as yourself.
- Elizabeth, love them more than a feeling; more than a word or a stance a righteous Christian should have. Love them with my hesed love.
This morning I woke up and thought, What shall I do today? This ache isn’t going to go away until I do something about it, but what?
Write. Testify. Tell them.
How can I love them again after what they’ve done to me? How can I forgive them and move on? How can I see my country in its better light again?
When I had my first real encounter with Jesus at the age of 14, I was a prideful teenager. I confess that I grew up selfish and was used to being the centre of attention. Of course, I was forced to change when my family decided to start worshipping in SIBKL. I based most of my identity and security in my friendships and the first time I was cut off from my friends was when I moved churches at the age of 12; and that really cut me deep. From the start of my teenage years until very recently, I struggled with Humility, my Identity and my Security. Haha I always tell the privileged few this: Despite me being a mean girl, God has always stayed faithful by me. Sometimes I think that one day, we would have a good laugh about this over tea Up There.
Throughout these past 5 years, God had shown and really transformed my mindset on who my identity and security should be anchored on. People come and go but the only One that remains is God.
Your love never fails, it never gives up, never runs out on me…
– One Thing Remains, Jesus Culture.
Wait. So how does this tie with my bad experience with those coffee addicts? Hesed? Humility? Identity? Security? Incidentally, the acronyms for the last three nouns spell HIS. Coincidence? I think not :) I am being taught:
- Humility. Just because I am a Christian, it doesn’t mean I should have a “holier than thou” attitude towards especially people of the other faith. They are humans too, and when Jesus died, He died for them too. That’s a fact, whether I like it or not. I sin too; I have my own selfish thoughts and actions which can subconsciously or even knowingly cause some form of wrong to others. Who am I to be prideful when I might be doing the same?
- Identity. My identity isn’t found on the number of times I retake my tests to obtain my driver’s license. And it is most certainly not found on how greatly I resist in giving them their morning coffee. My identity is found in Christ and Christ said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength and with all my mind. I will do this by honouring Him in all that I do which in this context would be not giving them their coffee money and obeying His second greatest commandment of loving my JPJ officers of the other faith as I love myself. I will continue to be kind and courteous to them; smiling meekly and politely regardless of how many times they put me down with their words and actions.
- Security. I know that at the end of the day, when everything else fades away, where I stand before God. Having to constantly remind my springy mentality this fact can be very demanding and exhausting but always worth it in the end. So what if I can’t drive? Haha I believe that God will provide me many friends who are more than willing to help me out and this is perhaps not a handicap (for I give generous gifts to my helpers *hint hint* ;)) but a chance for me to impact others and others impact me through Christ!
And I will obediently love all of them (hesed) with God’s teaching of unconditional love (agape).
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
–Made Alive With Christ, Ephesians 2:4-7
This is will definitely be a work in progress. But I really hope and looking forward to experiencing God’s full great grace through this moment.
PS: Please pray for me… (Fire-breathing again)
(Read more about the difference between hesed and agape here.)