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The Gift of Losing Control

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Pastor Eugene reflects that losing control, though disconcerting, is a crucial step in our walk of faith. 

In the children’s book, The Little Prince, the fox says to the titular character: “What is essential is invisible to the eye… The essential things in life are not seen with the eyes, but with the heart.” But in the hustle and bustle of our normal lives, we can become so preoccupied with what’s pressing that we neglect what’s essential. Biblically put, life happens and we find ourselves walking more by sight than faith. Amid all our activity, we miss what matters most. As my wife, Claire, wisely observed this past week, “In the chaos, we forget what’s most important.”  

More than a week has passed since Singapore implemented its “circuit breaker” measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. Having our routines disrupted has been inconvenient and uncomfortable, but it has also afforded us an opportunity for reflection: Where do we place our confidence and hope? What do our worries, fears and anxieties reveal about what our hearts have been relying on for comfort, security and happiness? To what or whom do we turn for help, when crisis removes the props we lean on?  

The pandemic has made me acutely aware of one truth: I am not in control. As the saying goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” I’m reminded of this every week, as new precautionary measures further curtail what I am able to do. Even my simple exercise plans have been derailed, as the fitness corner near my block has been cordoned off.  

Being disabused of the notion that I am in control can be disconcerting but, like a surgeon’s skilled cut, it is a merciful wound. God brings us to an end of ourselves, in order to “make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (2 Cor 1:9b) Acknowledging that I am actually helpless and powerless is a crucial step in my faith-walk. It turns me away from myself and towards God, in humble trust and radical dependence. This is the gift of losing control.  

When Jesus visited Martha and Mary’s home, the former was distracted with much serving while the latter sat at the Lord’s feet to listen to His teaching. Our busyness can be symptomatic of our bid for control. But sheer activity cannot substitute for true devotion. Jesus gently admonished Martha with these words: “You are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10:41-42)  

Perhaps it takes a pandemic to help us see the “one thing” that is essential. What we need most is to listen to Jesus. His gospel is the balm for our weary hearts. Therefore let us draw near to Christ, that we might find help in this time of need. May the words of the psalmist be our prayer: “Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” (Ps 25:4-5)  

John Piper has written a helpful book, Coronavirus and Christ, to encourage us to stand firm on the solid Rock, who is Jesus Christ. He offers six biblical answers to the question, “What is God doing through the coronavirus?” The book, which is available as a free download, reminds us that our sovereign God continues to work out his good purposes for all of creation. 

Through Jesus, we have come into God’s family as His beloved children. So it is rather apt that a children’s book reminds us of the importance of seeing the essential. We need not fear the loss of control, for we have a loving Heavenly Father who is both good and sovereign. Therefore, whatever our circumstances, we can rest in His provision and care. We are always God’s children. 

I am grateful that GBC’s Children’s Ministry continues to connect parents, children and teachers with one another throughout this period when we are unable to physically gather. The different class levels—from 3-4 year olds to 10-12 year olds—will be meeting virtually once a week. My two sons have missed seeing their teachers and friends, so they are excited to be able spend time with them online. 

This Sunday, GBC’s service will be broadcast online through our YouTube channel. We will be back in Luke’s Gospel, to hear from Luke 7:1-17 about how Christ heals by the authority of His word and the power of His mercy. 

The pastors-elders would love to pray with and for you, especially during this difficult season. We invite you to share your prayer requests with us at: https://tinyurl.com/pastoralprayer

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Finally, we will be having an online prayer meeting next Friday (Apr 24) at 8pm. To access the meeting, download the Zoom app. Then copy and paste this link onto your internet browser, which will launch the Zoom app. Do join us, as we unite our hearts to seek God and His grace!