The dash ‘–‘ (23 Sep 2012)

The dash ‘–‘

It was a beautiful morning. As I turned the pages of the Straits Times, In loving memory of Isabel Chung 20/4/67 – 10/9/12  came into view. Then it hits me. Our lives are in the dash, ‘-‘. The length of our days is seventy years (Psalms 90:10). For Isabel, it was 45 years. How do we live the ‘dash’ (‘-‘)?

Perhaps, for many of us, the ‘-‘ is really a dash. For me, last week in particular, was pretty challenging: changes to courses, blended teaching, 170 unique students – from Business school, Material Science, NTU, School of computing, Real Estate, NUS, teaching 9-4 with no breaks on certain days, getting BGST course work done. How to help someone who broke her jaw and had to give an oral presentation? Perhaps, some of us are in similar situations, with lots on our plates. What is our attitude? How do we live life?

I wonder about the dash (‘-‘), on the integration of work and the practical aspects of how Christians can live out their faith in the marketplace (home, school, workplace). Once again, we’re reminded that work is ‘purposeful human activity whether manual or mental or both, whether remunerated or not’ and that it is that which glorifies God and serves our neighbours. So, what we do basically in the dash could be work.

The recent findings (2007) by the Barna Group show that the activities of born-again Christians were equivalent to those of non-Christians. As stated, born-again believers were just as likely to bet or gamble, to take something that did not belong to them…’[1] It appears that there is a clear divide between what we know and what we do. If the believer’s work is to participate in God’s work through faith (Stevens 2000:116), why is this not happening? Furthermore, we have the problem areas relating to work, for example, child labour, discrimination, exploitation[2] and ecological crisis.

At a recent vision trip to Batam, we see on site some of God’s people walking the talk, living the ‘dash’ meaningfully, as they go about their daily work. We see a Christian couple looking after 23 orphans in the House of Shalom[3], another, helping single mums at the House of Refuge, and a lady with her team overseeing Elsadai, school with agape love (430 students). Sometimes, there is no food in the orphanage and they need to trust the Lord to provide. Perhaps, our daily work is not as ‘glamorous’, but we are serving the Lord nonetheless. The Bible tells us that Jesus worked: ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.’ (Jn 5:17).

Our lives, in the dash, ‘-‘, need to be in faith and obedience to God, our creator. In our own corners, we can be the light and salt. In this life, we are investing and enriching heaven. So, as we go about our daily work on the other 6 days, let us give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because we know that our labour in the Lord is not in vain (I Cor 15:58).

Deaconess Dr Ler Soon Lay

[1] David Kinnaman & Gable Lyons, “UnChristian: What a new generation really think about Christianity, and why it matters” Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007

[2] ‘[La]tin American charities estimate that there are 40 million children living on the streets, with three dying from malnutrition every minute and widespread incidence of abuse and prostitution…’  (Stephen Green Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality, and an Uncertain World 2010:155).

[3] The orphanage and others are all part of the Promised Land Ministry.