Today's sermon was just what I needed. The speaker for today is Pastor Ben, from Cornerstone Church, Singapore. He challenged all of us with a question; "What's your God-given burden?", and telling us that we have to transform our nation. He went through the story of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:1-11), a rich, influential man, having been trusted and appointed by the king to be the royal cup-bearer at the palace of Shushan. Being a cup-bearer during that era apparently is someone very important.
(Note: A cup-bearer was an officer of high rank in royal courts, whose duty it was to serve the drinks at the royal table. On account of the constant fear of plots and intrigues, a person must be regarded as thoroughly trustworthy to hold this position. He must guard against poison in the king's cup, and was sometimes required to swallow some of the wine before serving it. His confidential relations with the king often gave him a position of great influence. The position of cup-bearer is greatly valued and given to only a select few throughout history. Qualifications for the job were not held lightly but of high esteem valued for their beauty and even more for their modesty, industriousness, and courage.)
Being a rich and influential person that he is, why should he care about Jerusalem, which is far from him. But he received a God-given burden and he was called to restore Jerusalem. Just like Nehemiah, who is called to receive a God-given burden and to transform his nation, I believe, that each one of us too, are called for a unique purpose. All we need to do is pray and seek for that purpose/burden that God has placed in you.
Since young, I have been fond of watching documentaries about the children of Africa, that I would break in tears everytime I see World Vision's advertisement. Well, apparently, I have found my God-given burden. To minister and to bring blessings to children. To me, these children are the face of the future. I come from a well-to-do family, and I was given the opportunity to pursue my studies overseas (which I am thankful for). I used to ask myself every time I see someone else who seems to be smarter and capable than me (don't get me wrong, I do excel in my studies too. =) ) "God, why am I the one born in this family and given all the privileges and not him.". But every time I asked that question, God answered me in His soft voice that everything has been planned out by Him. Many times, we always compare ourselves to others, asking ourselves if we are capable asking God questions like "Why me?" when something bad happens to us and "Why not me?" for the good things that happen to others. But God's plan for each of us is unique. He created you and I different and gave each of us a special mission to accomplish in this world. So what we should do is press on, keep our heads up high and understand that the path that we go through are different since we have unique missions.
Now that we understand that we have a special mission and that we need to seek for that purpose/burden, we need to keep in mind that while pursuing this mission, we should not lose ourselves and our Christian values. One of my favorite verses of all time is Romans 12:2 (Do not be conformed to this world, but continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God's will is what is proper, pleasing, and perfect). It tells us that we should not follow this world but we should renew our minds and be transformed in order to determine God's will. I have just graduated about a year ago and is starting to enter my career path. As a student, I used to live a care-free life, not knowing anything about the reality of lives and with a burning passion for Christ. But as I start pursuing my career, the reality of life comes and that burning passion starts to slowly fade away. There are a lot of temptations while doing business in Indonesia and as you struggle to distinguish the gray areas, your sense of knowing what is black (evil) and what is white (good) starts to deteriorate. Things that used to seem wrong, seems to be "okay" (I'm not sure if you can identify with me, but I hope I am not the only one facing this problem). But today, I was reminded that it is not "okay". Once we start to think that it is "okay", it's a sign that we are compromising. What we lack is faith, that God is going to bless us abundantly and that we do not need to compromise our values in order to succeed in whatever we do. We need to re-sharpen our sense of righteousness (with the help of the Holy Spirit) and have faith that God is with us. We should not be conformed to the world but we should be the one that transforms the world.
"Don't forget to pray". We should never underestimate the power of prayer. Whenever in doubt, or whenever we need strength to do something, we need to pray and seek wisdom from God. Do not rely on our own strength, since it will never be enough to transform our nation. But we should instead take on Apostle Paul's attitude; "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10). Prayer works and miracles often happen through prayers. I remembered having a conversation with my Grandma, telling her how happy I was that I've finally completed my degree with excellence and she reminded me and told me that she has been praying for me every day all this time while I am away for my studies. Do remember that prayer works and remember that somewhere out there, someone is actually praying for you (that person may not even know you!). Well, that is all I have for today, so what are you waiting for? Go forth and transform your nation. No matter who you are, what you do, where you are, you are called to transform your nation and be a history maker.