“Yeah. Yeah. Yeah…
Jesus and the miraculous Bible stories.
The fictional book written by men.
If I wished hard enough, maybe things will get better?
Maybe I’ll have a miracle that would solve all my immediate problems?
Just like that? How convenient.
I don’t need myths.
I don’t need confidence boosters, secret “laws of attractions”, or pseudo metaphysical placebos.
I need something real, and something that really works.
These stories might work for you because your biggest problems are passing a job interview, or getting over your last failed romantic date; or maybe a bitter divorce. You have my sympathies.
My problems are decades of worsening incurable debilitation leaving me disfigured and my body almost covered by inflammations. Not only were the physical pains so sharp and extensive that I could hardly think, with every day it worsened, I saw my market value, possibilities of a career swirling down the drain, and I’m more misunderstood and irrelevant to the world. I lost everything. Career. Health. Love life. Everything.
This was 2009. I was already 34.
I don’t need myths, I need a miracle; and yet, I’m not even sure God existed anymore. I’m torn between a past child-like faith in Christ, and the reality of a cursed existence years after.”
That’s what I used to think when some Christians would try to comfort me with the Bible. I recall kicking my Bible, full of years of highlights in my formative years as a youth leader, across the floor so hard it ripped in two. I felt that betrayed. Those wide-eyed, naïve Christians have never been tested like I have. They aren’t Ivy-League science and engineering trained. They were never exposed to textual criticism of the Bible. They were never in Christian leadership like I was. It’s easy to believe when things are as good as they have it. They don’t know s***, I thought.
Yet, for reasons unknown, or perhaps there were too many to dissect, in that same year, 2009, I decided to seek the truth, and ended up giving Christ another chance… it started all alone and isolated, in the bedroom where I stayed for months, forgotten by the world.
Fast forward 10 years of accepting Jesus’ challenge to give Him all the broken pieces of my life – including all the tough questions in life that I had no answers to yet. I walked the miraculous process of redemption, traversing incurable sickness, soul-crushing disappointments, eye-raising victories but also even more unlikely breakthroughs of divine design. It was incredibly difficult, and also equally amazing and life-changing.
While I was disfigured, sickly at home and expecting to live only 4-5 years more, no one would even give me an internship. Even my old college mates who made it big ignored my requests. Nobody thinks a guy who is disfigured and sickly and has problems remembering things has any potential. As I sought God, trapped and forgotten in my bedroom. In my medical stupor (I was on a lot of medical drugs, some of which numbed my mind), God led me to learn about the stock market, led me to the exact information I needed at the right time and moment to build a model, I caught the exact bottom of the financial crisis and went all in when everyone was too afraid to do so. Never mind that I tripled my savings, this was a statistical impossibility for a self-taught newbie. I used some of those gains and gave it to a missionary I met “at random”. She told me the next day the amount I gave her was exactly the amount needed to pay for another year of her son’s college fees.
This is one of the many eye-raising moments that God was using to remind me that He was there, even though it seemed like I was still on the path to dying. These were the type of experiences in my journey to redemption when I learned what it means to do all things “in Christ”.
10 years of walking that line between death, hopelessness, and hope, and breakthrough.
At the end of this, I have good news.
That the process of redemption “in-Christ” is nether convenient nor is it a myth. It is not the same as “positive thinking”, it is, in fact, the polar opposite. It relies not on what you think you can do, but on your cooperation with the dynamic Grace of God. It is a powerful conduit of miracles and personal transformation. It actualizes God’s purposes for you and the world and not to satisfy carnal desires. But yet, as it focuses on bringing people to a greater relationship with God, it will not shortchange those who follow it.
It is more real and powerful than any skeptical mind might think. Our limits will be challenged more than we think. But we’ll find beauty where ugliness abounds. We’ll find meaning amidst the chaos. We’ll find the ugliest place might be the start of a great turnaround. You’ll find the journey itself is as precious as the end result. You’ll probably start by trying to fill up your wants. You’ll want blessings or treasures to “get ahead” because your life was starved of it for so long, but you’ll realize by the end that God was making you into the greatest treasure and a blessing for others. You’ll find help in all the most unlikely places, and be called into the deep where feet may fail.
While you are hidden away in the secret place, maybe people will not be able to recognize the powerful works God is doing in you until it becomes blatantly obvious. People see the sparkling diamonds, but never the fires that forged them in the earth’s crust. So be patient. Many old acquaintances that wrote me off started acknowledging me again years later, only after my flesh was shockingly healthier, was fitter than they were, and they saw me return back to Singapore after a successful stint as a senior business analyst in the US, wealthy enough to own my own home without debt and rubbing shoulders with the right people.
During those painful times when you realize they have forgotten about you, forgive them. While they forgot you, God hasn’t. He will give you new friends, and use your life to teach the lessons to those who were paying attention to your history.
But in all, when all is said and done, you’ll know all of it was worth it, and you will be compelled to say not that you have made it, but that God is faithful and deserves praise.
I know all of this is hard to believe. But I hope the tons of bloody dead skin cells shed over the last 2 decades and the more unlikely life and career successes, no doubt accelerated beyond belief, baffling doctors and acquaintances will give me a little more credibility to entice you to listen just a little more.
I know you are sick of hearing hackneyed advice that doesn’t help, or sympathies that are empty. I know exactly how that feels.
I hope you give me a little more chance that as you read further, you might find somethings that might surprise you… about life, the world and especially Jesus. That’s my modest goal for this book.
I just want to try to surprise you just a little. Perhaps you’ll read something that will make you change the way you used to see certain things. You’ll be surprised how a perspective change can cause a great change in direction.
And by the end, I hope you will understand why I am unabashed to say that plainly and unequivocally that Jesus did what the doctors, diets, my college degree and my natural abilities could not do.
It all started when I sought Jesus out on His terms and not mine, when I decided to see Jesus the way He wants to be seen, and not how I conveniently saw him with my own preconceived notions.
I hope to express revelations about the Gospel, Jesus and redemption that I could only see when I was in the darkest pit, at the edge of hopelessness.
I hope to share personal accounts of what it means to be in Christ (being in Christ is nothing like doing Christian things, or calling yourself a Christian) and how being in Christ, and not motivational speeches, new medicines, human machinations, or life-style changes finally gave me the breakthroughs not just in my health, but in everything, including an accelerated restored career, financial freedom and a better understanding of my place in this world. I want to show that even the Abyss you might be going through looks very different when you are in Christ. In doing so, I hope to surprise you just a little more with each chapter…
… until you feel open enough to take that step, to see Jesus the way He wants to be seen, and relate to Him the way He wants to be related. Above all things, Jesus is a savior first. He saves. He redeems.
When you let Him save us and redeem us, you let Him be fully Him. That is true worship. This is giving true respect.(1)
But just one caveat.
Through Jesus, God can put together all the broken pieces of your heart and your life, the final product once the refining process is complete will be far richer in character, in maturity, teeming with purpose and meaning, you will be better off; but, you have to give Him all of the pieces, and not some.
I was very skeptical too. I hope my book will reduce that skepticism just a little, enough for you to have that gamble, to place your bet on Him.
Cue to go on.
(1) When people lift their hands to worship and sing loudly and yet not see God the way He wants to be seen, they are not worshipping Him, but worshipping their own version of Him.