Thursday, 4th March '04
And Again I Say Rejoice
I've never been too articulate about religion. Today I'm going to try.
Yesterday was quite a special day. A senior of mine got diagnosed with lung cancer three weeks back, and to save everyone the agony and to probably give herself alone time to make her peace with Him, she only started to let her closest friends know last weekend. For most of the other people who knew and liked her, who appreciated her being around but never really knew her intimately, we only got the news yesterday or the day before.
And we had a sort of prayer session for her last night, as she went for her operation to remove the tumour. There was only a 20% chance of success, and of course everyone was worried. So yesterday's session was a gathering of faith, the Christians and Catholics, and a few friends of hers from other denominations, just meeting to pray for her, for faith, for confidence, for peace and for everything it would take to get her and her family through this.
Like I said, I've never been a hugely enthusiastic Christian myself. Heck, I don't go to church because I'm lazy and because I don't like Christians when they're trying to act in a Christian capacity. Most of the time I've just felt out of place and I spend the time counting down to the time I could leave. Most of the time I roll my internal eyes and the palm-raising, wierd accented prayers and songs and seemingly-illogical, or could-be-explained-by-pure-coincidence testimonies. I do believe in my way, I guess, I don't know if it's His way, but it's definitely not the traditional way that most other Christians I know do.
But truly there was something special about last night, and I'm glad I turned up for it at the expense of a Secrets rehearsal. For the record, I was feeling apprehensive of my choice. I mean, look, there were people who were counting on me to go to the rehearsal and play my part, and then there was someone I only knew for a few months embarking on a life-changing operation. I didn't quite know who I had a duty to, and being the incorrigibly pragmatic person I am, it seemed an obvious choice. I'd say my prayers, then go for rehearsal, right? What's the point of missing my rehearsal when all I could give my friend by going for the service was to sit and mumble words to myself. It wasn't like I would be actually DOING anything for her in real practical terms.
I don't know why lah. I might not even go as far as to say He spoke to me or anything. But there _was_ a form of calling, a kind of impulse that might have just been triggered when another senior told me to "just try [to go] lah, it's really for a good cause". Anyways, before I knew what happened I had gotten hold of Mei and explained why, if it would be alright, I wouldn't be at rehearsal that night. Maybe I was just subconciously living that thing that I'm supposed to be doing in acting, going with the flow, trusting my heart over my head, throwing rationality to the wind.
Something that struck me about the gathering. Everyone was always smiling. It was like there was His presence there, there was a sense of calm that settled on the room as we sang racously, feet stomping and hands clapping, glorifying His name. A feeling of peace as we examined various Bible verses to remind ourselves how to pray, with humility and confidence and faith, in Jesus' name, and that we had to first cleanse ourselves of sin because a righteous man's prayer holds much more authority. And after three hours of devoting ourselves and my senior to his guidance, the strange and perhaps "incorrect" feeling of excitement and looking forward to the SMSes her sisters were sending to update us. It was, to quote Luke (another senior, not the Biblical guy), "the faith to look death in the eye", and the confidence that His will would be done.
The operation proceeded in two stages, one to remove a brace that supported her ribcage since a gymnastics injury. The second stage would start after the session, and that was the one to remove the tumour, the one with only a 20% success rate. And the first part finished more than an hour ahead of time. I can't explain how it was, we prayed in stages, we were just chucking all thoughts of practice moots and contract tutorials away and giving ourselves to Him, and it just got easier and more "secure" feeling with time. And when the news came through it was like... woah? I'm not quite sure how to say it.
Then Evan, Joyce and Luke shared stuff about my senior, how she was so at peace and always smiling, and having so much faith in Him that she wasn't fearful at all, and that she was even going to school and handing in her assignments and not letting the whole affair affect her life because she had given it all to Him to handle. It was amazing to see what faith could do. And we gave thanks for the opportunity had given her to be closer to Him and for us to see the work He did through her.
And normally I hate evangelism. I hate the way it's carried out in church, I think a lot of times people are just swept alone with the emotion of the moment, and a lot of the reasoning that they give first-time believers for converting are some of the most logically falacious assertions I have ever heard. But when Luke invited the non-Christians to join us in the Sinner's Prayer, I couldn't help but feel this was what it was all about. It was like the first time in my life I felt an evangelism was going right. None of the melodramatic exhortations of the priest, none of the pretentious raise-your hand, stand-up junk. Just this perfectly ordinary fella doing what he knew his friend would have wanted, and sharing the joy and forgiveness we've found in our salvation. Still, we could all feel the peace He gave, and even if we didn't know how the second op would go, we had joy and we were sure of His love. It was amazing how much grinning and laughing was going on during such a poignant moment.
So after it all we left, we went home, we prayed more, we left it to Him. And although this is both the most and the least important thing about this entry, she's alright. He brought her through, the operation was a success. Praise the Lord.
[well, the pictures aren't going to take themselves!]