Looking at Shoes
Pastor Ian expresses his gratefulness to the team of elders who have been serving sacrificially and faithfully, and prays that we will love and trust them.
These are my running shoes. They bear the scars of many early morning walks. They are torn and tattered and have worn through at least two layers of protective rubber. I hadn’t really noticed, but I’ve been hard on my shoes. I haven’t cleaned or cared for them. I often don’t even stop to tie their laces.
But I am not ashamed of these shoes. I don’t despise their obvious imperfections. In fact, I love and trust these old shoes. To be clear, I don’t trust them because I have some innate cultural tendency to trust and wear shoes. I trust them because they have shown themselves to be faithful. Their wounds, their scars are evidence of their faithful service. In the sun and rain, in the early morning and sometimes even late at night, they faithfully carried the weight of a man who seldom ever thinks of them… until he notices their flaws.
Here in Singapore there is a church established in memory of the life and mission of St. Vincent de Paul. Born in 1581, Vincent dedicated his life to ministry among the poor and disenfranchised in France. Through his mission many poor French peasants heard and responded to the gospel and thousands of African galley slaves were liberated from their chains. He wrote no books, but his passion for faithful, sacrificial service has been preserved through his letters and devotional journals. At one point, he wrote to his ministry team, all of whom were bearing the scars of their own service. Many of them were sick with viruses they had picked up while serving in crowded slums and prisons. All of them were grieving over those they had lost to this dangerous service.
In the winter of 1627, he wrote to encourage his worn and wounded colleagues and in doing so, he imagined a heavenly scenario:
Seeking entrance to heaven, a man appeared before Saint Peter, who then asked him, “Have you no wounds?” The man replied, “I have no wounds.” To which Peter rejoined, “Was there no passion in your life, no cause in which you spent and risked yourself that would invite scars?” So then, let us therefore give ourselves to God, Gentlemen, so that he may grant us the grace to stand fast ... He will be faithful to his promises; he will never abandon us as long as we remain fully obedient to him.
For most of us it is hard to imagine that “wounds” might be something we should expect or that scars should be something we would desire. And yet in Philippians 1:29, Paul calls suffering a gift that comes with Calling! He writes, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.”
For the past 4.5 years, it has been my uncommon privilege to serve among an unusually gifted, deeply passionate, and most importantly, biblically qualified group of men. Our elders are Beh Soo Hee, Oliver Chia, Nehemiah Chong, Lam Lup Meng, Eugene Low, Mok Chuan Xin, Ngo Thian Chye, Tan Chong Tien, Jonathan Tan, and Caleb Yap. Everyone of these men have served us sacrificially, most without any remuneration. All of them are over-capacity, with more needs than they can meet and less time than they need. Every one of them carries with them the wounds of their service.
So no. I’m not saying they are perfect. Like my old shoes, these men bear the scars of use. But this I do know: no matter the outcome of our Budget Vote this 19th of December, these men will continue to respond with grace, and they will continue to serve our Lord and His church.
And, I wish we would love and trust them.
We won’t trust them because we have some innate cultural tendency to trust those who serve us. We do not. But I pray we will watch them—observe their service and sacrifice—and then learn to trust them because they have shown themselves to be faithful.
Sherri and I pray that even in these challenging days you would have quiet moments to rediscover the joy of the coming, righteous King!
Our 20th December Sunday Service and both Christmas Day services are currently oversubscribed. If you have booked a seat for one of these services and are not able to make it, please do let the office know so that we may release that seat for someone on the waiting list. Thank you for your cooperation!