Holy Spirit

Today’s cell was really perspective grounding.

Sis rho was teaching from this Francis Chan video series, and when she spoke I could really feel the conviction in her words.

She teared up half way through because it was also an equally heavy and convicting message for her as well.

It was about how we’ve been limiting the Holy Spirit’s work.

This is something I’ve realised in the past few weeks. I don’t know the Holy Spirit. I don’t pray for the Holy Spirit to work in me.

I’ve been so overly cynical about over spiritualising things, that I’ve completely neglected the Holy Spirit, and the supernatural-ness that being a Christian should be.

People should be astonished by what we do. They should be looking at our love for each other and seemingly impossible unity, and go “wow, how do they do that? What is it about them that makes them like this?”

I want to expect bigger things from God. I want to be directed by Him. I don’t want to rely on myself and end up burned out and left with only my crappy tiny works.

I want people to see God.

And I want to be a vessel for that to happen.

I want to witness bigger testimonies so that I can testify of God’s glory and power with conviction.

And for that I need greater faith, and courage to step into the sail boat that’s bound to set sail somewhere really far away into the deep ocean, with the Holy Spirit as the wind tugging at the sails.

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Diary

It’s only been last year that I really noticed my grandfather writes something everyday in this black leather notebook.

But I’m pretty sure he’s been doing it all my life, I just thought he was doing accounting for his banks.

Occasionally I’d hear him ask my grandma things about that day like “what did we eat just now?”, and “what time did Li Jeng come back?” Before he scribbled into his notebook.

Last year I asked him what he was writing, and he said since a really long time ago, back when he was working overseas, he met this guy in China who wrote down every little detail of his life, what people said to him, what he did. And it helped him to win an argument against someone who accused him wrongly, simply because he noted down what the other person said a long time ago.

Apparently my grandfather thought that was a smart thing to do, and started doing it too. And it just became a habit ever since.

I never really looked into his notebook, because I didn’t want to invade his privacy, but I was always curious about what he thought was important to write down.

Just now, I decided to take a look into it while everyone was sleeping, and it really was just simple facts about the day. A typical entry would look like this:

Bought porridge for breakfast, rachel headed to NUS at 10am for lectures. Cooked steam fish and curry for dinner. All leftover from yesterday finished. Li Jeng came back around 6pm, and went for a jog at 8:30pm….

Of course I didn’t read everything, I just flipped through a few pages.

I saw my name quite a lot. And my dad’s. And my grandma’s.

I was a little bit disappointed I didn’t get to have a sneak peek into his emotions or thoughts. But it made me feel a little sad, still.

I’m not sure if sad is the right term, but it made me feel some kind of emotion flipping through the pages.

My grandfather would record down what time I left the house, what we ate, what each of us did that day, I felt quite loved because he cared about all these details enough to want to remember them, even though they seem to be pretty boring details to me.

My grandfather doesn’t really believe in God, and I’m guessing these are all important because it’s his life.

I’m not sure what kind of meaning he gives his diaries, maybe they’re just really a mindless habit, maybe he treasures them a lot, maybe it’s just something for him to do, I’m not even sure if he reads through his past entries.

But if what he said was true, he must have a whole stack of these notebooks somewhere recording down his every day life.

I know my grandfather likes to leave behind a legacy. Maybe he’s recording down his history.

I wonder if one day I’ll get to read all of them.

I feel quite sad now. When he passes, there won’t be any new entries, and every page would be really priceless.

I wish people didn’t have to die.

Drawing

You’d think that while drawing I’d be contemplating lots of things in life, but honestly when I’m drawing my mind is a complete blank. Like I hardly even hear music if I’m listening to anything, and everything just slips by my consciousness.

It’s like when the parts of my brain that are working on my hand eye coordination are busy at work, the side of my brain that talks to myself has to be completely silent so I can concentrate.

It’s therapeutic in a way, especially if you’re full of thoughts and you don’t really want to think.

Not that I was full of thoughts when I drew just now, I just felt like drawing something. And practise painting backgrounds.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m wasting my life away colouring pixel by pixel, but it feels like I’m doing something productive although it’s as mindless as just sitting around playing dots or 2048.

There’s so much in life we can waste our time on. I wonder how much of my life is really valuable

Memories and parties

Somehow when a whole group of people start singing happy birthday together, it makes me feel a bit like I’m having an out of body experience,

It’s like I’m watching a film rather than living in the moment. Their voices get all echoey in my head, like I’ve gone into a tunnel and they’re all standing at the end of it, singing. Yeah that’s how it feels like, all I’m hearing is really the echoes of their singing bouncing off the walls of the tunnel. And somehow hearing that song makes me feel a little sad.

It’s like I’m watching a small snippet of the reel of my life, a moment that I can never ever be fully in again.

And when the song ends, I remember that another year has passed since I (that person) last sang that song, and I wonder how many years are left.

I’ve been to a lot of 21st birthdays this year. I actually find that I quite like going to parties, but being a host looks so tiring.

I get to know the person’s other friends and family. These are important people in their lives .

Makes me want to do something special for the important people in my life too. But I’m not sure what yet. Think I have quite a long way to figure out what haha.

This year I’m going to compile a photo album of significant moments/people of my life. My life is really just my memories. And I want to keep them all in one place.

So that one day I can show them to my children or reminisce the old days.

Proof of my existence. That I had done those things, been with those people.

Maybe all these will be meaningless when I die. I mean we’re not completely sure if we’ll remember everything on earth in our afterlives.

But life really passes by in the blink of an eye.

Dream log (cyborg)

My dad was helping me to crack my back (the chiropractic thingy) and then it was my turn to help him, but then somehow it didn’t occur to me that it was weird that the skin on his back was transparent like cling wrap and that his veins were multi coloured like wires and his bones were made out of black plastic. I was telling him he was strong really skinny (he’s been running recently) and that he should watch out and not lose too much weight.

It was only later that it really struck me, this can’t be natural, I asked him why his skin felt like cling wrap, and why does his back look man made. It really looked like he was made out of an intricate mess of wires.

Then I saw this battery looking compartment and examined it, there was something printed on it and it said 1993.

I knew something was really really wrong and I went to confront my grandfather who was in the living room.

I asked him why my dad’s back was like that.

He said calmly something like,” you must understand that at that time I was friends with (so and so) and it was a very new and exciting tech, many people praised me for being the first and because it was new it was really cheap and worth it”

I got super furious and told him how could he do something like that, and to never mention the word “cheap” or “worth it” in front of my dad. I demanded that my dad deserves an explanation and the truth to what happened, but I told him he has to show him he really had the best intentions at that time.

So my granddad called my dad to the living room and my dad looked annoyed, and we all sat there and waited for him to speak.

I never got the chance to because I woke up.

—-

It’s so freaky man, like imagine discovering that a whole part of you was completely replaced by a man made machine to keep you alive.

It’s scary because anything could go wrong , and your life becomes completely dependent on something man made rather than something God made.

Also I was really worried that the company didn’t do that particular technology anymore, and it was just a spin off experiment type thing. I would have been so angry that my grandpa agreed for his only son to be an experiment.

Think I’d only Accept it if it was really because of an accident, and this was the only way at that time my grandfather could save my dad’s life.

It’s amazing how alternate realities that are so ridiculous can make absolute sense in dreams. It’s like you can’t be aware of logical inconsistencies.

Simulation

Today’s philosophy lecture freaked me out a little.

So the question was: What if we’re all just living in a simulation?

If you think about it, our brains are really just computers, but made out of organic material – proteins, carbon-based molecules – without diving into the sciencey specifics.

A bunch of neurons firing and receiving electrical signals in really complicated patterns. Just like computers without the squishy masses.

Our conscious experiences seem to be just electricity. How?! How indeed am I able to feel like a distinct being, to create thought, to feel things just from sparks in my head?

In theory, if we could somehow replicate the exact eletrical signals in our brains, could we also create conscious thought?

Well okay, that’s only if we believe in a really reductionist perspective – that we’re all simply a reduction of chemicals and electrical signals. But if our souls were some kind of magical life force, like a glowing sphere of energy stuck specifically to a physical body, it probably wouldn’t work. No one knows how souls work so we can’t ever know unless we do create something as complicated as a man-made brain.

Just the thought of the essence of me being just electrical signals, with no purpose or design freaked me out. It’s like my own thoughts are really just illusions of some kind of will, and Illusions are scary because it’s like living one giant fat lie.

But along the lines of recreated life, the point of simulated life was also brought up. Like if you could stimulate the neurons in our brains in the exact way they actually do get stimulated when interacting with our physical world, wouldn’t it feel exactly the same as reality?

You wouldn’t be able to tell exactly what’s real and what’s not.

Kind of like a dream, but our dreams feel like half-assed reconstructions of reality, like a 144p video that’s blurry with logical holes and inconsistencies. But even then dreams can feel so real when you’re in it, and you forget that you actually exist somewhere else.

Then again isn’t life really a simulation anyways? Isn’t our life here on earth a simulation of free will run by God so that He can sort out who would really choose to love Him and who doesn’t? Isn’t our real life in another dimension, waiting for us after time in this life ends?

When we finally die here, we’ll wake up in where we really belong, right?

It’s like the end of the game, shutting down of the programme we’ve been living in.

Isn’t that scary?

I guess it’s only scary because it feels like I’m talking about some man-made evil illusion that’s tricking everyone into thinking that their lives are real.

But God didn’t create just a programme, He created life, and agencies within us capable of choice and intent. Maybe a programme is a crude way of describing the inexplicable complexities of life, and it really falls short of describing truly how glorious life is. We are indeed programmed to be something, to think and to choose.

We’re beings. To be something. We are something.

When we really get down to the question of what it means to be, things get really strange.

As I was watching a vlog this afternoon on my couch, I realised how life simulations aren’t really a sci-fi futuristic concept. We already use simulations to pass time right now.

Aren’t television shows and dramas all ways in which we escape reality to see, experience, feel and think things we’d never have felt in our normal lives?

I was lying down on my couch for an hour with my phone being entertained by someone else’s life. Take away my phone and you’d just have a Rachel lying down on her couch staring into blank space for an hour. None of what I watched or experienced was “real”.

But yet it didn’t feel like I was doing something meaningless, and it certainly didn’t feel like I was doing nothing. I learned things, and felt things, I laughed at funny moments, identified with certain emotions the vlogger was describing, I felt like I really was witnessing the life of someone I knew right in front of me, like it’s the same as if I was watching a friend play with her kids in her living room.

What is “real” then? Everything we experience is “real” to us. Whatever inputs go through our brain is something that exists, in the form of neuron signals.

Of course the part of life that makes things feel real isn’t really just all about our experiences, but in what we actually do with our time.

It’s just such a strange feeling to attempt to seperate your conscious mind from your physical body, to think of yourself as a being that’s beyond what you can touch. Like i’m really just a cloud of information attached to this fleshly body.

After Rain

Been feeling a lot better these past few days.

I just feel a lot clearer and brighter. Like the vibes after a heavy shower of rain, a fresh clean scent in the air, it’s a little misty but not heavy.

Not completely sunny either.

Maybe it’s because I cried out everything already, or maybe it’s after last week’s sermon. It’s true – I describe my emotions and situations to such great detail but I don’t describe God as much. Kinda like building walls everywhere and standing so close to them that they look bigger than the huge majestic mountain ranges further up ahead.

I feel like something has lifted.

I need to be careful on what I ruminate on, what’s constantly on my mind.

OR maybe I’m just thinking less about myself now.

Or maybe I’m finally contented. Maybe I’ve been comparing way too much.

Maybe I’ve finally let go of things.

Or that I’ve finally managed to fit my expectations properly into their frames.

I really just wanted to move on from being a dark cloud, holding in all its precipitation, refusing to just let everything go.

Falling in Looooooveeee

The idea of (romantic) love is probably one of my favourite topics to talk about, because there are just so many grey areas and fine lines to thread, and it seems like anything goes as long as you can explain the process of it logically. Although I should probably be working on my essay, I couldn’t really concentrate so I think I’ll write about this first hahaha ha.

Why do people ‘fall in love’?

I mean, God gave us these feelings of attraction for a reason, right? Probably not just for any one single reason. I think the planned (divine) purpose of people “falling in love” could be different for everyone. For one person, it could be so that God can bring two different families together for some unknown reason. Maybe for another person, it’d be so he could learn a lesson or two. And for another, maybe it’d prevent her from making an unnecessary mistake. Maybe it’s a gift of companionship and support, maybe it’d result in trauma and abuse that might bring someone closer to relying on God. Point is, we’ll probably never know.

So that’s all talk about the purpose of “falling in love”.

I think the reasons behind why people fall in love is a whole other matter.

You could be attracted to someone because they possess admirable or desirable characteristic traits, like -patience, wit, intelligence. But these are characteristics you could also potentially find in anyone, and no specific person. It’s just that the cocktail of traits in this one particular person is hard to come by.

You could be attracted to someone just because they love you back. A shared sense of comradery. Being attracted to the feeling of being able to connect emotionally/spiritually, without any walls or fronts. Especially if you find it rare to be able to connect to anyone in such a manner.

You could be attracted to someone because of how it makes you feel being with that person. Loved, treasured, admired. Some people just have a knack for making the people around them feel like that.

You could be attracted by just the essence of who that person is. The very specific way someone walks, or talks, or eats, or laughs, their likes and dislikes, the way they view the world. This one seems a little scary because this person would be irreplaceable in a sense. (This reason intrigues me the most because I’m still not sure if it’s just a random roll of a dice that would have dictated that you would like such a person, or if there are other factors underlying why you would be attracted to this person in the first place – like some kind of halo effect.)

In all of these reasons I could think of, I realised they’re all conditional. I can’t think of any reason behind attraction that is purely unconditional.

Attraction is all about you – and what you like after all isn’t it. There must be some way in which a person affects you that brings you some kind of gain that makes them attractive.

I’m not sure if any one of these reasons makes your love for someone more legitimate, or if it’s just simply one possible way of leading you towards a fate that you were supposed to walk along.

And then real love slowly comes afterwards seeping in like the swirls of tea from a tea bag soaked in boiling water clouding up a cup with colour. The unconditional kind. Where you’re so bonded with someone you just have to choose to love them in whatever situation. So that in instances when (not if) the attraction fades away, you’d still stick by them no matter what.

So maybe it doesn’t really matter how you were initially attracted to someone, and what really matters is whether you consciously stuck with it…?

Although perhaps some reasons behind your attraction to another would make it a lot easier to stick by them.

And then again I question if it’s really love if it’s easy. But love makes things easier too idk man what a paradox.

Maybe God doesn’t really care much for attraction – in a sense that it doesn’t make or break the value of marriage between two people. If the purpose of marriage is to reflect God’s glory, and the love of Christ for the church – it wouldn’t matter if a marriage was forced/arranged or spontaneous, in both cases you could equally as well chose to glorify God, and chose not to.

But then again people only choose to get into relationships because of some kind of attraction. If not there’s no reason to dive into this huge sticky mess of a sandpit that is a relationship. It’d be more trouble than it’s worth if there wasn’t any attraction in the first place. And it’d be better to just not get into anything.

Relationships are hard. You suddenly have to think of and be considerate of the life and well-being of this whole other person, not just yourself. You hurt each other, you disappoint each other, but somehow that’s what makes overcoming it beautiful in a way.

 

 

Vision of God

I asked the Lord that I might grow

In faith and love and every grace

Might more of His salvation know

And seek more earnestly His face.

‘Twas He who taught me this to pray,

And He, I trust, has answered prayer;

But it has been in such a way

As almost drove me to despair.

I thought that in some favoured hour

At once He’d answer my request

And by His love’s constraining power,

Subdue my sins and give me rest.

Instead of that, He made me feel

The hidden evils of my heart,

And bade the angry powers of hell

Assault my soul in every part.

Nay more, with His own hand He seemed

Intent to aggravate my woe.

Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,

Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

“Lord, why is this?” I trembling cried.

“Wilt Thou pursue this worm to death?”

“This is the way,” the Lord replied,

“I answer prayer for grace and faith.

“These inward trials I employ

From self and sin to set thee free,

And cross thy schemes of earthly joy

That thou might’st find thy all in Me.”

– John Newton

It’s still not gone, and honestly I can’t tell anymore whether it’s because of the things around me or if it’s really just something wrong with me that’s seeing the wrong in everything around me