Returning from the fringe series
A year and a half after I joined Calvary Church, Brother No 4 passed away. More than I was sad, I was angry — another person close to me was gone. Alone, again! But remaining family and friends rallied around me.
My second sister-in-law (Brother No 4’s wife) is a Lutheran and her pastor came and said some prayers at the funeral. So, did my Catholic relatives. On my side, though, there was no pastor or leader from Calvary Church. My church friends came, and they prayed for my sister-in-law but there was no public prayer by a Calvary Church leader.
I was a bit confused because I felt a great need to pray but there was no one from my church to take the lead. I suppressed the compulsion because I didn’t know how to go about it and whether it was my place to do so. But, my best friend from childhood, Christina, who came all the way from Muar to be there for me, kept prompting me to pray. Finally, with her standing next to me in support, I prayed for those present and let my brother go.
A number of people told me afterwards that they were blessed and I knew it was the work of the Holy Spirit.
After the funeral (which was held in my house), I just needed to be alone in my house. Brother No 2 and his family urged me to go to their place, but I didn’t want to. I slept alone. In the middle of the night, I was awakened by the sounds of howling dogs. My eyes were still shut from sleep, but I heard the dogs and then I sensed a shadow bent over me. I opened my eyes and the shadow withdrew. Terrified, I began praying in tongues and slipped back into sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I went through my mind what had happened the night before. I was aware that in Asian spirituality, howling dogs meant the passing of a soul. I wondered if the shadow was my brother’s, and then, suddenly, I recalled there was someone or some thing at the foot of my bed bathed in light, and it said, “Okay, okay. Time to go, now!”
I will never know if my mind was just playing tricks. But, I thought, “Well, if it were my brother, I am glad for the company he kept!” I grieved for the loss of my brother, but I could let him go and felt no anger about my loss.
But the absence of a Calvary Church leader at my brother’s funeral remained a sore point. I could understand if the reason had been that I was new and they didn’t know me well enough to feel comfortable in my environment. What bothered me was that nothing happened subsequently to correct the picture. Whatever, I lost confidence in the leadership and it created a fissure in the stained glass picture Calvary Church likes to project. Later, it would serve as a crack through which I would see what was behind the rosy facade.
I also stopped looking to the leaders for spiritual leadership. When a ministry opening came up in my own life and in the lives of the people around me, I prayed and things happened. As a result I eventually became spiritually independent of them.
At that time, however, I was not ready to face up to the issue. The Holy Spirit was doing an upbuilding work and that took precedence.
To my great misfortune, it was during that same period, that I went through another personal disappointment. It was the second after the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the worst because it was unexpected. I didn’t crash, but all the painful emotions of the past that I had buried deep gushed out to the surface. One by one, I had to confront each, recognising each and admitting how I felt — before God, always at the altar and during my quiet times.
Then I would remember His promises and I could trust Him to bring them to pass. As I did this, one by one, all the negative emotions evaporated. In its place, I became increasingly emotionally secure. I pulled through because I believed His promises. Some of them still have not happened but I believe and trust Him.
All this took three to four years, and I began to find emotional equilibrium. I have never crashed again. Instead, emotionally, I grew stronger and stronger and stronger!
NEXT FRIDAY: Full realization and full faith!