At a cell group discussion last Friday, a brother shared a poem, ‘Present Tense’, penned by a youth, Jason Lehman, who lives in America. I wonder how a 14 year-old youth in 1989 could view life from the perspective of people far beyond his age and describe so truly the never-ending wants of the human race. He is certainly mature, wise and farseeing beyond his years!

Present Tense
~ by Jason Lehman

It was spring, but it was summer I wanted,
the warm days, and the great outdoors.

It was summer, but it was fall I wanted, 
the colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.

It was autumn, but it was winter I wanted, 
the beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.

I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted, 
the freedom, and the respect.

I was twenty, but it was thirty I wanted
to be mature, and sophisticated.

I was middle-aged, but it was thirty I wanted, 
the youth, and the free spirit.

I was retired, but it was middle-age, that I wanted, 
the presence of mind, without limitations.

My life was over,
but I never got what I wanted.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Being half a century old now, I can truly relate to those desires. The chase for material things is never-ending. We always long for things that we cannot have and worry about tomorrow even before it comes.

In the last decade, I’ve learnt that building long-lasting relationship is more important than anything else in the world. It is important to be constantly in touch with our close  ones and reassure them that they are loved. Love offers hope and provides forgiveness. It binds a family together, wherever they may be. It keeps friendship going and makes the world a better place to live.

I’ve learnt to be happy and to be at ease with whatever I have. Being human, we tend to think that others almost always have a better life or home than us. I tell my children that behind every closed-door is a story that no one knows. A happy home is the joint effort of all who lives in it. There is no point in envying what others have as our life is already predestined by God.

I’ve learnt to live with less expectations from others.  It means less disappointment when things don’t turned out as expected.

I’ve learnt to give thanks for everything each day. I give thanks to an Omnipresent and Omnipotent God who cares and who looks after my family; keeping us safe wherever we are and granting us wisdom in all that we do. In fact, there are so many things, whether good or bad, to thank for daily – for the rain that cools the day, for the sunshine that dries the clothes, for my daughter’s medical leave that allows her to rest at home (and keep me company ;D ), for the food that we eat, etc etc. Last week, while in Johor Baru with some friends, our car was hit from the back. Our car rear bumper was dented and cracked but God protected us from serious bodily harm in the accident. We were also able to get compensation for repairs from the other party. In a foreign country, we were helpless and at the mercy of the locals. Thank God for being there with us at that moment!

I’ve learnt to enjoy each day as it comes and appreciate everyone who’s in it as each new day is a blessing from God. It’s a joy to receive a call, a sms or an email from a friend or a loved one, as it means I’m being thought of and remembered. I treasure every single family members and all beloved friends whom God has sent along my way.

I’ve learnt that what really counts is not how many measurable material things we have acquired but how much immeasurable concern such as lending a listening ear, a helping hand, a caring thought that we extend to others. Real joy is when I know I’ve made someone’s day.

Recently, I came across a personal eulogy by Dr Martin Luther King, the American civil rights leader and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace. I quote from part of his eulogy, “…. If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a well song, if I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.”.

That’s the kind of spirit I admire. So help me Lord, to practise that, even if it’s in a small way.

Matthew 6:25-34

New International Version (NIV)

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you……

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”