14 September, Monday – Trust and Obey

14 September – Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The feast was celebrated in Rome before the end of the 7th century. Its purpose is to commemorate the recovering of that portion of the Holy Cross which was preserved at Jerusalem, and which had fallen into the hands of the Persians. Emperor Heraclius recovered this precious relic and brought it back to Jerusalem on 3 May 629.

– Patron Saint Index

Numbers 21:4-9
John 3:13-17

…he was humbler yet, even to accepting death

Growing up, I wasn’t really an obedient child. I was obedient to a certain degree, but would push the boundaries each time. I remember in primary school, my Mom would set a bed time for me at 9pm. “When the news starts, you go to bed!” she used to say. I would oblige and go but slowly, I would find ways and means of staying up just a few minutes more… 10 minutes, 15 minutes, until News ended. I always found my way with Dad. Dads have a soft spot for their daughters. Needless to say, I struggled to get up for school the next day.

As I grew up, I tested my parents in all ways. Staying up late past my curfew. In college, I remember staying up till 3am, partying with my friends. This time, Dad was the disciplinarian. One time, he waited up for me at the door and gave me an earful and one tight slap for being disobedient. These were my rebellious teen years. I was extremely angry with Dad, indignant that he disciplined me, at the grand old age of 17. Wasn’t I old enough to decide for myself? Surely I knew myself better! No I didn’t….I did very badly in my first year examinations.

In today’s first reading, we see the Israelites grumble at Moses and Aaron for leading them out of Egypt. “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exo 16:3). But God had a plan. God had promised to lead His people through the wilderness into a wonderful land. God said the land was good and spacious, and it would be flowing with milk and honey (Exo 3:8).

As a generation of Singaporeans, we have been labelled a group of complainers. We have a sense of entitlement. Everything is up to ‘the government’ to sort out.  Do you ever find yourself complaining? Do you let others know that you are displeased or dissatisfied with what you have got in life?We are quick to complain when things don’t go as we think they should. However, we fail to see the bigger picture.

The people of Israel had seen God do some amazing things to bring them out of bondage. Surely they could be obedient and follow God without complaining, knowing that He would take care of them.

I too am prone to complaining. At a retreat I served a few years ago, I was assigned some roles and I did not particularly enjoy one of them. During the retreat, I was asked to carry out extra tasks, while some of my fellow brothers and sisters were assigned just one role. Adding on to this, I had a good friend who was a participant at the retreat. She was feeling unwell one morning, so I took it upon myself to look after her. So juggling my duties and looking after my friend, left me quite tired. As the retreat went on, I became more and more upset. I complained each night on my way home to my partner. He said, choosing his words quite carefully, “Maybe the Lord is preparing you for larger things.” I quickly dismissed it, not wanting anymore extra duties. I was being disobedient to what the Lord was working in me.

Moses had led God’s people for many years. Because the Israelites did not obey God while they were in the wilderness, God did not lead them straight into the land He had promised them. The trip from Egypt to their new home should have taken the Israelites only days, but instead, they wandered in the desert for 40 years. All of that time, God PROVIDED everything the Israelites needed (Deu 29:5-6).

Today’s Gospel features one of the most well-known verses in the bible. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” -John 3:16-17. Jesus knew what he was ‘up for’ when He became a regular man, and obediently submitted to His Father’s plan. This is what obedience is. His passion, death and resurrection is our salvation. He gave us eternal life. This is what true love is.

As I look back on my life, I see now that everything happens for a reason. I may complain and moan then, but things always work out better than I anticipated. Better and far greater than what my simple human mind could possibly comprehend.

There is nothing to fear when we trust and obey God.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Father, help us whenever we are tempted to grumble, to get our eyes off what we think we don’t have and help us to see all that we do have. Teach us to be obedient to your will. We pray that Your strength and wisdom would be with us as we make decisions that follow Your path. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for never giving up on us. For the times when we strayed off path, thinking that we know ourselves better. Give us thankful hearts for all You have done and all that You are going to do for us. We love You and never want to forgot how wonderful You are to us.

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