It’s Personal

It’s Personal

As a canvasser a few years ago, I was often told that when people reject me at the door, don’t be discouraged, since they’re not rejecting me, they’re rejecting the One who sent me. While I understand where they’re coming from, I never fully agree with that counsel.

I know what they mean to say is that I shouldn’t take myself too seriously; it’s a good discipline against self and pride. But when it’s worded as, “Don’t take it personally,” I can’t help to disagree because, well, shouldn’t ministry be personal? When I know that people reject me not for me, it doesn’t mean I can just turn away skipping and happy as if it were not my problem, especially since I know that they rejecting Someone bigger and much more important than me. In fact, I should be grieved even more.

Am I not a friend of God? Can I ignore His sadness when someone rejects Him? Is this not the purpose of ministry, to be transformed into His character, to be nearer to the heart of God, and to be synchronized with His mind and heart?

There is a difference between being sad because my pride is hurt, and being sad because the One I love is hurt. Ministry is personal. There is no way around it. And it hurts.

That is why, when I hear error being preached, I cannot help being hurt. I cannot not take it personally. I will not pretend like it’s okay, look away like it never happened, or pretend that I’m not affected by it. If someone is talking about my God and spreading lies about Him, I will be offended. Period. This is true for anyone I love.

When you love the truth, you must hate error. It’s only natural, because the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.

I may be a struggling Christian and my devotional life may not be perfect like crystal, but I know that I have vowed to love the truth and to stand for God’s Word until I die, and I make no apology for being emotionally involved. Because this thing is personal. It just is.

But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord” in its support. The Great Controversy, p. 595.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

How sea animals navigate through the wide expanse of the ocean is an awesome mystery. In the blue vastness of the deep, they find invisible pathways to food and safe habitats.

One of the fascinating stories from the Blue Planet BBC documentary series
is one on Ridley sea turtles. The segment starts with a scene of the changing phases of the moon, whose both daily and monthly cycles influence the dynamics of the sea. For Ridley sea turtles, the moon serves as some kind of natural clock that is synchronized with their biological cycles.

Ridley sea turtles, now included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) endangered species list, practice a mass nesting method, also called an arribada. On a few nights each year, about a quarter of the world’s population of Ridley sea turtles come to a specific beach in the pacific coast of Costa Rica to lay their eggs. Brought in by the high tides, up to 400,000 female sea turtles would come within a few nights, laying 40 million eggs.

These are not random nights. They would come when the moon is either in its first or last quarter, between the new and full moon (or between full and new moon), and there’s a very good reason why. When the moon is neither full nor new, the tides are the weakest, and thus the water will not wash away the sand that covers the freshly laid eggs, subjecting them to vultures that come at dawn, trying to feed on washed off eggs. It’s a risk mitigation plan.

These sea turtles, while they’re not laying eggs, travel through the ocean during the year to search for food hundreds of miles away from this beach. But each year, in accordance with sea turtles’ tradition, they come back in packs and lay their eggs again, starting a new generation of sea turtles.

Watching them, my mind just kept asking the questions, Who tells them to go to Costa Rica? Who teaches them to go when the moon is not the strongest? As a believer, there is only One Master who can get the credit of coordinating this life system. But even knowing that answer doesn’t make this story any less baffling.

Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? Job 39:1-2

For the Love of the Ocean

After more than a month-long hiatus from blogging due to vacation and other things, my train of thought from previous posts seems to have flown into oblivion. So in an effort to regain some of it back, I thought I’d write about something that can tie in my vacation with a developing interest of mine: the ocean.

One of the most marvelous things in life is the capacity to wonder and be fascinated. Ever since two summers ago, but especially this past year, I’ve had a newfound love and fascination for the ocean and the marine life (hence, the oceanic object lessons in previous posts). It’s not that I just fell in love with the ocean – I’ve always loved the ocean since I was young – but I’ve only realized how much I actually love it recently. Something reverberates inside me when I see, watch, or read about the ocean and the marine life; something that I don’t get when I see land animals or birds. Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time in the ocean since childhood, so there’s a special connection sort of speak. But it’s also because of the fact that the diversity in the ocean far exceeds any of the other living spaces. While land animals and birds have their general forms, sea animals are widely varied. I mean, their shapes and forms are way beyond imagination.

Perhaps, this newfound love is also more mature than before. When I was younger, my love of the ocean only extends to how much I love playing and swimming in it. But this one is of another nature. I am fascinated with everything that constitutes the ocean and the marine life, its dynamics and interplay with the human life, and naturally, I am in hate with whatever that destructs it.

For vacation this year, my family went to Orlando, Florida. Being predictable people, we went to the theme parks there because we love roller coasters and all that. Of course, we had to go to Disneyworld because we had never gone before, and it was fun. The complex was impressive and I was amazed at the power of human creativity. Some time ago, all of these things were just thoughts and concepts in someone’s mind… However, and maybe this is a sign of getting old, all that made up Disneyworld did not wow me as they used to, and I don’t think I’d come back, even though we didn’t see everything there.

But, something did wow me. We went to Discovery Cove and Sea World where we swam with fishes and rays, and saw many other magnificent creatures.[1] And these animals were much more awesome than any of the intricate designs that Disneyworld could offer. At one point, I was swimming above a leopard-patterned stingray whose wings extend farther than my two outstretched arms and following it for a good while. God’s creation is simply breathtaking.


Stingrays and Manta rays

Big Walrus video

Yet, there’s something more to this personal discovery than just a side fascination, because quite unexpectedly, the ocean proves to be a point of convergence that integrates aspects of my life that I’ve been trying to unite for many years. Many object lessons were gleaned from observing natural systems, which reveal both the originality, brilliance, and creativity of the Maker, as well as His discretion. Design principles emerge, which taught lessons and ethical values that I believe I should have as an engineer; the ocean made me look to God as my engineering and perhaps public policy instructor. In addition, delving into it is very enjoyable, providing great conversation topics. Basically for me, the ocean is where spirituality and academics meet, leisure and curiosity combine, wonder and reason converge. It’s funny how all of this just happened – it’s definitely a cool answer to prayer.

Now, I have added a few places that I want to visit on my life checklist for diving. Most of them are in my beloved home country, Indonesia.

Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Photo credit: Jeff Yonover.

[1] I’m still forming my opinions about these places and the enclosed animals.