I have always been a person who likes stability, who likes to keep things the way they are.
When I was in my final year of university, I kept to a very strict and disciplined routine everyday. For a year, I would wake up at a fixed time, do my quiet time for an hour, then exercise for an hour and start my day at the same time. The routine was comforting. It gave me certainty. It kept me going. It ensured that what I did what I needed to do.
Yet increasingly, in many areas of my life now, I’m realising that increasing need for newness – for new methods, new experiences, new places – so as to ensure that my life, my heart and my relationships don’t grow cold.
One person from whom I learnt this is my cell group leader, KT. Unknowingly I’ve spent almost a year with this cell group and not one cell group meeting has ever been exactly the same as the previous one. The excitement has always been kept high. We always play a new game, sing a new song, or do things in a way different from the previous ways. We decided to do our prayer list differently this time, so as to keep our members spiritually sensitive. KT’s always finding new songs to sing in cell group, new songs that will jolt us in the spirit and bring us deeper into the presence. Just last week, we sang a song I had never sung before, “Unashamed“, by Starfield. It was difficult to capture the melody initially, but we captured it and the presence just came down.
My dearie has taught me the importance of doing new things as well. We’re always seeking new experiences as we go on our dates. Whenever we settle into a routine, she’s always there to alert me, or to provide suggestions for more interesting things we could be doing. Just over the past few weeks, we’ve gone to the Images of our Landscape exhibition at the National Museum, a book reading of Singapore: A Biography at Books Actually, BodyWorlds exhibition at the Singapore Science Centre, to Holt Park, Ikea furniture shopping and we are going for a movie screening of a documentary on Myanmmar this Wednesday. Some might call us geeky, but these activities are what refresh us amidst the very mundane nature of work and other demands of life, and draw us closer together too.
Just yesterday, I brought my family to Marina Barrage – a place they had never been to before. Although it was crowded, the freshness of visiting a new place and the energy of the place just brought a smile to both my mum and my sister’s face. I’m now scouting new places where I can bring my family.
In my teaching too, I’m trying to inject freshness in whatever way I can.
Who says presentation rehearsals have to be boring and dreadful? The first two that I went through were a struggle due to time limitations, but I attempted in my final rehearsal to bring in new teachers to give new perspectives. I varied the way in which I gave feedback and worked with the students. I was always thinking of new ways in which I could improve their presentations, even when not at the dry run.
One important thing I realise about teaching is that if you don’t make a conscious effort to ‘feed’ yourself with new ideas, new information, you will soon run dry and you won’t be able to meet the needs of your students. Perhaps the intellectual challenge is higher in that sense for subjects like General Paper or Project Work, but I believe this applies for all teachers.
Most importantly of all, and a great revelation I received in service today, was about my relationship with God.
Pastor Rick Seaward preached today on what prevents us from moving ahead, from reaching our breakthroughs and one point he mentioned was old methods.
I mentioned earlier in my post that I used to wake up early and spend an hour reading the Bible, and that used to feed me.
But nowadays, I do the same things as in the past, within of course a shorter time frame as I’m more tired – but I’ve been struggling over the past few months. Yes, I’m doing what needs to be done, but the fire, the excitement of communion with Him has died down. I’m reading His word, I’m praying, but I don’t feel that deep sense of communion and passion like I used to.
As Pastor Rick Seaward was preaching, I realised that I really need to change the way I did my quiet time. I remember one morning a few weeks ago, I just felt so discontented with my own revelation of the word that during my QT, I went online and started doing research from commentaries about the verses I was looking at. God started to speak to me through multiple sources and the word sank deep into me as my mind was engaged and challenged during my research. Perhaps I need to go deeper and try out a new, more intellectually engaging method of reading His word.
While I do know that it’s ultimately our personal engagement with God’s word that brings forth revelation, I believe I have changed a lot since I’ve entered teaching and as I mature in my faith. I’ve become more questioning and my faith, though still of course a heart matter, requires deeper intellectual engagement to really sink in. And I need to change the way I engage with the Lord now.
I don’t know how else I could ‘vary’ my prayer life, but if anyone has any suggestions, I’m more than open to listen and try out your strategies.
Refreshing comes when fresh methods are used. And I pray that all aspects of my life will continually be renewed and fuelled by that desire in me for newness.