Tag Archives: Loving God

Do I love God on His terms or mine?

We live in an age of extreme individualism and self-worship.  Traditionally, idols were concrete physical representations of “gods” made by our own efforts and in our own images.  In the contemporary world, our idols are often not external to ourselves but nothing more than the enthronement of our own ideas and (especially) desires.  We give ultimate homage to whatever we think and want and feel.

As Christians influenced by this culturally-encouraged and popularly-celebrated narcissistic idolatry, we can be tempted to serve God, but only on our own terms.  If God reveals or asks something of us that does not coincide with our own thoughts, feelings, and expectations, we are tempted to ignore or even reject God’s leading as unreasonable, uncomfortable, unimportant, and therefore (Dare I say it?), ungodly.

At some level, we want to live for God, but only to a certain extent.  We want the adventure, joy, and security of living our lives in God, but we’d rather bypass the discomfort, difficulty, and detriment that may well be part of obeying all that Christ commands.  We want a crown without a cross, exaltation without humiliation, and resurrection without death.  We want God, but only when it’s convenient.  He tells us to take up our cross and follow Him.  Instead, we want Him to take up His cross and follow us.

When God reveals His expectations, He does not invite us to come to Him on our terms.  Instead, He enjoins us to plunge into the thrill of His resurrection life through the crushing and humiliating experience of death—death to self and all that we hold dear.  That is the great and loving invitation, as well as the unfathomable and unshakeable hope, that through this ministry of dying to self and living wholly for God, we will rise again.

Do I love Singapore?

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When we tell people we are returning to Singapore, they often respond by saying, “You must love it there!”  Well, yes and no.  I love many things about Singapore, but there are also many things I don’t.

I don’t love the pace of life and the crowds of the city.  I love wide open spaces and wild places.  I don’t love the year-round humidity and heat of the tropics.  I love the seasons; the beauty of changing leaves in fall, the crispness of snow in winter, and the bursting forth of new life in spring.  I don’t love the challenges of living as a foreigner in a foreign land, far from friends and family, constantly struggling with the feeling of being displaced and unsettled.  I love being close to long-time friends and family, rooted and grounded in one place without the fear and frustration of having to uproot and move again and again.

On the other hand, I love living in a clean, safe city where everything works and there is minimal corruption.  I love being a part of what God is doing in Asia.  I love watching the church there grow exponentially and see churches catch a vision to take the gospel to the world.  I love being part of the ministry of the East Asia School of Theology, training current and future world Christian leaders.  I love hearing the incredible stories of God’s faithfulness in the students’ lives and all the wonderful ways He has used and is using them for His glory.

During our assignment back in the US, I wrestled hard with these somewhat polarizing loves, especially as the wait to return became extended.  Was I waiting for some other call?  Was I hoping for a new (and presumably easier) assignment?

I think if I am honest, although I never sent out any resumes and made no inquiries, I secretly hoped God would put it on someone’s heart to offer me a teaching position somewhere—anywhere—in the US.  But the offer never came.  There was not even a hint or possibility raised by anyone.  The heavens and earth were both deafeningly silent with regard to this hidden desire to stay and enjoy all the loves I associated with American life.

In the end it was very, very clear—not as a matter of default, but as a matter of divine calling—that God wanted me back in Singapore.  And with that calling came a renewed sense of excitement for all the things He wanted to do in and through me there.

Do I love Singapore or the USA?  Well, much more than either, and above all else, I love God and want to obey and follow Him, wherever He leads.  Right here and right now, that means continuing to serve and seek Him in Singapore—and anywhere else He might take me on this marvelous journey of faith.