This is a special Sunday for our church, Bethesda Chapel, with more than 200 members (from both the English and Chinese Departments) away in Malaysia, Lanjut (Pahang), with the rest worshiping in our sanctuary, in Singapore, Kembangan.
Much of the guiding thoughts that led to this year’s camp theme verse, Psalm 63:1, was spurred by a felt-need for us all to thirst after God. The Psalmist says there, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” In no less descriptive language, the Psalmist says metaphorically in Psalm 42:1, 2 – “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”
For those of us who may have been Christians for years, we have yet to ‘arrive’. Far from it. We are to continue panting after God, in order that we may enjoy rest in God. In T.W. Tozer’s, ‘Pursuit after God,’ which includes delightfully chosen chapter titles such as, ‘Following Hard after God,’ he wrote, “To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love.”
In a famous classic, ‘The Confessions of St. Augustine’, written between AD 397 and AD 398, perhaps one of Augustine’s most quoted words (if not, the most quoted), is “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you”. Or as Blaise Pascal, a French Mathematician and Religious Philosopher said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”
How do we make sense of all these, finding peace and rest, whether we are in a more laid-back resort in Lanjut or a fast-paced city in Singapore? Even if we have the ‘luxury’ of spending a few days in a ‘away-from-it-all’ camp, we are all going to be faced with our hectic lifestyle again in Singapore. The answer may be found in the theme song of our church camp. Instead of seeking for all that the world can afford, we are to seek, or as it were, pant after God.
Elizabeth Elliot is a household name in missionary circles. One time, she talked about one of her close friends, who was a missionary in Sudan before joining her at Ecuador. According to Elizabeth Elliot, both of them shared many things in common, not the least, trials as missionaries. As she put it, ‘Everything that had been shakeable seemed to have been shaken.’ Apparently, at the end of a discussion between them, in response to Elizabeth Elliot asking how it was that she can keep up with her steadfastness after all these years, this friend of hers, Van, said – “. . . my feet were on the Rock and the Rock never moved.” Of course, she was referring to the Rock of Christ. The lesson for us is that in the hustle and bustle of life, we cannot lose sight of God. May we press on in thirsting after Him, to the end that we might find rest in Him.
Elder Richard Lai