The FISHERS Magazine (Issue 186)

No Regrets

True Story

I came from a Buddhist-Taoist family during my younger days. There were ten of us including my parents. I was probably the most pious of the lot because I even set up my very own private altar when I was a little primary school kid.

This was the time my religious or spiritual instincts began. However, not much spiritual development took place during that time for though I seemed to have a belief, neither my parents nor any of the older folk could really share with me who the god we were all praying to was.

Like many others, I did learn some things about Tua Peh Kong, Goddess of Mercy, Kitchen God, Monkey God [Editor: Chinese traditional deities] and a few others, but these did not satisfy the spiritual hunger in me. Very naturally, though we observed and celebrated all the related festivals with other people, such as the acts of burning joss-sticks, burning incense papers, offering food sacrifices, and visiting temples, these became mere routines and were quite meaningless.

Reconciliation with God
When I was in Primary 6 in 1973, my eldest sister asked me along to visit her church. From there, my spiritual world began to open up. I began slowly to learn and to understand this God the church believed.

Who is this Supreme Being who created the world? Why is man created? What is His purpose? Why does man have to die? Is there hope? Where is God? The list of spiritual questions went on as I moved on to a secondary school.

After a period of soul searching, together with insights from the Bible, I came to the understanding of God's plan and His love for mankind. I was convicted of my sinful nature and the need for God's forgiveness in order to reconcile with God. Jesus, who is the Son of God and the only sinless man who ever lived, came to do just what I needed.

John 3:16 in the Bible says this: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)

I finally accepted the priceless offer of salvation by believing and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord and Master. I was baptized in Secondary 4.

That was nearly 30 years ago. Since then, there has never been regret. This is a living faith that has given me much strength and joy. Being a Christian does not mean that my life becomes a bed of roses, but the Lord gives me strength to go through every situation in life. This faith has comforted and helped me pull through two major crises in my life - a stroke and a depression.

Grace of God
At the age of thirty-four, I suffered a stroke and was half paralyzed. It was an unpleasant experience struggling to start moving again. I remember having to call on my Master's name ceaselessly. God answered my constant cries and the prayers of many who were interceding for me. I was really glad to spend only five months of medical leave before I was (barely) strong enough to get back to work.

This incident indeed slowed me down in many ways - my lifestyle, pace of life and career, for example - but I was also forced to re-examine my purpose in life. During those few weeks after the stroke, when I thought I might die anytime, I was actually more preoccupied with spiritual matters than with family financial needs.

The Lord had provided me with sufficient basic life insurance coverage which gave me some comfort, but I just could not help being very pre-occupied with various spiritual issues. Would God say, "Well done, and welcome home, My good and faithful servant"? Quite clearly, I just was not ready to die.

God is gracious - He indeed spared my life. Life seemed sweeter and better for some three to four years. But before I knew it, I slipped into a depression.

Many of us will not have the chance to understand depression intimately. We probably have heard about someone who has had depression and ended up "something wrong" or jumping off a building. I went through some degree of this torture. I was gripped by all kinds of fears and anxieties, and survived on two to four hours' sleep for many months.

Some good friends suggested applying positive thinking to overcome the problem; others suggested taking a longer break from work. The psychiatrist only listened and prescribed more medicine. My boss asked me to stop reading the Bible and gave me some National Geographic books instead. I wanted to resign from my job, even when many were unemployed and there were no problems with my job!

Things did not seem right. Worst of all, whenever I read the Bible my chest would burn as if some force was telling me to stop reading it. This was both a ridiculous and a painful encounter and I did not know why. I could only obediently seek the prayers of my church elders.

Many church members also prayed for me. I pressed on reading the Bible for comfort and peace of mind despite this inexplicable chest burn feeling. Thank God, things got better as I persevered and trusted God for healing.

Reconciliation with my father
An equally unforgettable episode during this time was the moment of asking my dad for his forgiveness for the long silence between us. We had not been on speaking terms for many years although we lived under the same roof.

Despite my being in the trough of depression, I was given the humility and the love by the Lord to want to reconcile with my dad. He was a man who feared neither god nor the devil, but tears rolled down his face at that unexpected emotional moment.

We became good friends and he readily accepted my invitation to visit the church. He came to this very church [Editor: The 'Fisherman of Christ' Fellowship] for six months and came to know and believe in the God that I cherished. He was cheerfully baptized two years later and then went home to be with the Lord in 2004.

Do not harden your hearts
Looking back, I understand now that learning to trust God was fundamental to the healing process in my stroke and depression experience. There was no better alternative.

I conclude by sharing that if God had not revealed and provided a way back to Him, we would have no chance of knowing Him, especially His plan for salvation. He has spoken and He says: "Search Me, while I can still be found [paraphrasing Is. 55:6] ... Today, if you hear My Voice, do not harden your hearts [paraphrasing Heb. 3:15]"

A friend shared with me not long ago that his ex-boss had been given four to six months to live because of nose cancer. He then started frantically enquiring about God from a monk, a pastor and probably, everyone else religious and close to him, all except the living God.

He did finally die, but one thing is for sure - this person need not have waited till his last four to six months to search for God. Some of us may not even be so fortunate to have four to six days. God says in Isaiah 55:6 to seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. And in Amos 4:12, we are exhorted to prepare to meet your God.

Nelson Lim

- Nelson shared this testimony at the Evangelistic Meeting in September 2006. He is a member of the 'Fisherman of Christ' Fellowship Ltd.

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