Friday, February 14, 2014

A letter to my Juniors

Dear all, Its been a long time :) Have you all been well? These past few months have been eventful for many of your seniors. Oliver and Ivan got married, Marc is getting married and Nicholas is finally attached. I have a little boy crawling about my home and since he came into my life, I have experienced nothing short of a revolution. I think I have lost at least 600 hours of sleep in the past year and my tolerance of dirt in the home has shot up many notches. This is the next stage in life which many of you will welcome in the next 5-6 years unless you intend to remain single (or what the bible calls eunuchs) which is great too. Having a child matures and humbles one alot. When Christopher was born, he was a fragile little boy without the ability to even lift up his head. The day he came into the world, my wife and I loved him. This was before he could do anything in return. In fact, Christopher ruined my life. I have lost hours of sleep, have been unable to read all the books I had bought and I don't have any time for my friends. But I learnt that you could love someone even before that person has ever lifted a finger to love you in return. Did not God do the same in loving us? This is a love beyond reason. I suppose I wanted to share this because many of you have started work or are thinking of your future careers. I've spoken to a number of you about your career choices and I suppose we will not all do equally well in life, if life were measured according to money, status, house or car type. I am pretty sure many of you will earn more money than me in the future. But all of us will ask the really important question regularly - whether our lives are truly meaningful and whether what we are doing will makes us satisfied. i know you probably think that this is a sour puss from the less well-paid civil service speaking. But let me finish :P. In the past 5 years, I've asked myself these question repeatedly, and at different times, I thought the answer was to do more family time, ministry time, or work on a meaningful policy or some permutation of those three possibilities. But I realized I got the paradigm wrong. The answer was not about doing more things. The answer was not even to have a meaningful life mission like feeding the hungry in the world or something dramatic. The answer, in my quiet meditation and reading of scripture, is that all of life's meaning is about BEING with someone. To BE with God answers the infinite restlessness of the human heart because God is the source of infinite love, kindness and holiness. With Him, all good work is meaningful. I wish you nothing but the best

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Question of Significance

3 years have passed, since I first learnt the ways of the working world. Since then, I have had the joy of serving in a number of capacities. My first posting brought with it the opportunity to travel widely. My second, which I am currently in, has afforded me rigour in writing. Both were challenging in their way, for I had to learn to navigate the ladyrinth of human relations notwithstanding the structures that govern our country. Yet despite this, the naggging question persist - What is the purpose and significance of this life? At the close of 2012, as another year dashes across the finish line, never to return, the reason for all the work I am doing demands an answer. Life is not a 400m race track, where we go over the beaten track again and again. Its a long marathon down uncertain paths. The path before we will never tread again and the way ahead shrouds itself in opportunity and darkness. There is no practice run, no re-start function. There is only footprints before - offering moments of assurance or regret. The world does promise many avenues to attain significance, either by wealth or intellect or status or marriage - the list of possibilities is endless. But the careful historian would note, the tragic comedy of many men who having attained to these things are but dead and forgotten. What really is great in the face of death? But the test of heaven demands a revolution in our minds - Was the old lady praying in church every day for missionaries greater than the Einstein and all his scientific discoveries? For Einstein merely discovered what was created, the lady spoke to the Creator. Was the pastor's faithful labouring amongst 50 poor soul less than Ford and all his car factories? For the pastor touched lives for eternity while Ford touched our lives for only this temporal moment. More and more, it is becoming clear that the question of significance is not for men to answer. Our instincts, reason and nature poorly afford us the capacity to understand our own need for significance. The sum of our search has been an endless stream of emptiness. Again and again, i am reminded of it in my reading of biographies, the vanity of human success. Its stems from our inability to prize the right things. We do not just need a better framework for reasoning. Nay, we need the God of the Word to speak into our sorry state. We need His Son to rescue us from our fragile passions. We need our Creator to gently lead us everyday, telling us why we are here in this crazy world and why, inspite of death, every moment here is worthwhile. We need Him to take us beyond ourselves and to gaze into His glory - there and there alone, is the great pinnacle, for which we were made.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Letter to Ex-Primers

Dear Friends,

Now that all of you are in university, I thought it good to write you. Given that our age gap is beginning to matter less and less as our ages increase, let me write as an older brother to my younger siblings. I have a younger brother 2 years my junior and I love him as any older brother would. He picks and listens to my advice, and I have learnt that he listens to those that I practice best. :) Its humbling and I thank God for that.

Let me then share with you what I noticed about many people in university and allow me, if you will to advice one more time. Many in university struggle with identity. They deal with issues like their family background, how rich/poor their families are vis a vis other people, their talents/abilities and also who would love them and who they can love in return. Essentially, many in university struggle with worth and will do many things to try and prove their value - either through achievements or through relationships. You may think this was particularly acute in ACS IB, well, in university it gets worse. University is structured such that you need to decide what your life is actually about and you would have no more mentor or older teacher to structure life for you anymore.

Two friends in university illustrate this. The first chose a life without Christ, the second did. The rest is history. The first chose to live recklessly and today continues to do so. He was upset that his family was not rich and strove to prove himself. he partied, networked and got into many relationships. In this, he lost himself and while today has a decent career, is no longer much of a man to speak of. He has lost the ability to feel, love faithfully and care for people. There is an air of selfishness, insensitive fun-mongering and ruthless ambition. And all I have for this man, is abject pity. The second is a friend who in JC was a pretty ambitious type. God found him i university and his life was quite changed. He served in church and stuck by his friends. To date, he has a wife, a stable job but more importantly,a character to love. In university, the world tells you to accrue achievements and networks. We who know Christ, should instead pursue Christ and in that to have a character to die for.

That is why my heart is concerned about many of you. I am worried that many of you would experiment with relationships or things that would leave scars on your life. I have heard people say that you need to try to know it is wrong, but that is the advice of foolish men. Once tried, scars cannot be erased and such a person must spend the rest of his life living with it. He may find forgiveness in Christ, but scars are left as painful reminders for a lifetime. Wise men learn from other people's mistakes and they refuse to go down roads that foolish men tread.

With my love and concern
Charles Ng

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Choices we make

There are points of time when the human choice is negated, there are other times in the bible when God seems to allow some degree of autonomy to test the human being and to allow the consequences of his choices to play out. I think of Balaam who was allowed to go curse the people of Israel. Not so much because God wanted it but Balaam wanted it and God let him. Only that Balaam would be surprised by a donkey.

Choices at end of the day are when we face myriad paths, but the path of obedience is just one. We got to, in His grace, make that choice. Sometimes obedience requires suspension of logic because the path of disobedience looks so much more enticing. Like when Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son.

It tells us one important lesson. Obedience always requires trust in the goodness of the Lord. And if we fail to submit, we just show that the person we trust most is our self.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

I write this post with the encouragement of someone I love very dearly.

As work and the commitments of life increase, the motions of time have subtly eased themselves along. In so much as I have had the opportunity to look back, the once young eyes, now gaze upon 27 years that have passed. Raising a hand to touch the faded photo frame, i pause to consider the emotions once felt at that place. No one told me then, that I would be holding the photo at a later stage, with sentimentality and hands more fragile.

Then I was a young army boy, with quite a fit frame and shortened hair. With a meek smile i sat amongst my church friends and after a snap of the Polaroid, we marched off for our weekly lunch. Wiping the thin layer of dust away, i recognized every person and admittedly, some names were lost to me. Of the 20 that were there, only 4 of us remained in the same church. The rest had moved somewhere else. Some had sadly not been in church for years.

Placing the frame back on the emptied drawer, I closed my eyes to feel. Memories return but the feelings experienced then can only be gently touched, never replicated in full. Yet memories are great teachers, wielded for God's great purpose. I remember the follies of a young age but what I remember most, was that God drew near and touched my young heart, motioning it towards Himself. He found me in the weakness of my heart and gently led this foe to its resting place.

It is in this that I understand why, this afternoon, in the office, a gently tug was felt in my busied soul. I paused, raised my hands and for some time felt the call to enter in. He remembered me and I did willingly succumb.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Should all of time paused and I were given the chance to return to any moment before, I would wish to return to the place where my Saviour was hoisted upon the tree. There I would wish to bow and worship in deserved contrition, for love kissed the wretched and offered perfection as a sacrifice.

For the longest time, I knew little about the vulnerabilities of love and lamented the lack of men whom I could model after. Yet the faint but delightful knowledge of Christ, withholding nothing, sharing everything, including his struggles gives me hope. Hope that it is possible for the human being to share his weaknesses with a people who probably would not appreciate it. For in weakness, and especially in its boasting, is Christ demonstrated to be truly awesome.

So come Lord, come and whisper into my weak heart, the song i will be singing for eternity. the songs about your love and forgiveness.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Humility

Now O Lord, if you are willing grant me humility, so that You might give me grace and a deeper revelation of Your glory.