02 May Facing The Extended Circuit Breaker
Now, this weekend was initially one we were looking forward to. Why? Because 4th of May is supposedly to be the end of our circuit breaker. But as we know, things change, and the circuit breaker was extended to 1st of June, to everyone’s dismay. You see, our generation never knew what is it like to lose our freedom. But just within a span of few months, we see the world practically shutting down and everyone having to stay at home.
So today on our devotion, we want to draw some lessons from the circuit breaker. Let’s first think about why is the circuit breaker so undesirable? Well, if you ask the simple folks on the street, they will say: “we want our freedom. We don’t want to be coop up at home, we want to do things we like. We want to be going places. We want to mingle with people. We are social beings”. Now, as much as these sounds true, let’s for a moment think through: Didn’t the earlier generations had it worse when they went through world war 2, or when they had the Spanish flu? Everyone lived in intense fear then. Or if we say we are social beings, didn’t we have our family members with us now? And if we feel restricted, I mean in Singapore, we are still allowed to go out for exercise, we are allowed to visit the supermarkets. I mean relatively speaking, what could be so stiffening or constraining? Now, as I ponder through, I could think of a few spiritual realities that the circuit breaker is showing us. Now I would like to mention 2 critical ones here.
First, it shows our “restlessness” as sinful creature. In <Gen 4:12>: The Lord described Cain this way: “You will be a restless wanderer on the earth”. I used to be a bit puzzled why the Lord didn’t describe him as a murderer. After all, he just murdered his brother. But the Lord said: You will be restless! Now, being restless is used to describe someone who cannot find any meaning living on this earth. Everything is just meaningless, or emptiness to his heart. There is an insatiable desire in him. There is this flesh in him which he yearns to satisfy – He could kill, he could steal, he could marry and have children, he could pursue great project and success, he could engage in all kinds of activities with that only one aim, and that is to satisfy that emptiness in him. But there is no way he could satisfy it. Why? Because this is exactly what sin and separation from God has brought into the human hearts. “Restlessness” so to speak. And that restlessness simply torments us during this circuit breaker, isn’t it? You see my brethren, people of our generation has accustomed ourselves to a culture of freedom where we are free to do anything we want, and to reject anything that is deemed constraining. We like to go places so freely, we like to spend as we like, we like to socialize without boundaries, the teenager can spend hours on his handphone without self-control, the young men and women develop their own liberal values about money, about sex, about free speech. I mean we, as restless brings are so used to an unrestrained life. So a little bit of restrained now just hit us so hard. Isn’t it? The circuit breaker simply reveals our “restlessness”, and more so than ever.
Yet, my dear brethren, in our restlessness, our Lord Jesus came to give us restfulness. And I believe you know very well what HE said in <Mat 11:28>: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. Now, in all our pursuit for freedom, for meaning, for love, for dreams so that the void in us can be satisfied, let me tell you what we really need is true rest. And our Lord Jesus came to give us that rest. So don’t put your hopes on the end of the circuit breaker, go to the Lord Jesus in prayers, go to the Lord Jesus through His word. Meditate on it. Let your mind and your heart find rest in it. That’s how you can overcome the restlessness felt so intensely during the circuit breaker.
And the next reality that God is revealing to us through the circuit breaker is what the Lord had spoken about in <Mat 24:12>: Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. And when that happens, we will increasingly see “Familiarity breeds contempt”. Now, I think what the circuit breaker has revealed is our inability to live with each other as sinners. Despite the fact that this could be the best time to bless our loved ones, to express kindness to them, or to spend time with our children if we haven’t been, the circuit breaker has shown how self-centered we are. We treasure our space and convenience over that of the others. We like things to be done our way. We find ourselves fall short of patience. We rub shoulders with people we live with. And often, we fall into what I call the “curse of familiarity”. And this is something we saw in <Mat 13>, there is a situation here. <Verse 54>.
Coming to his hometown, he (Jesus) began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him.
Now, these people fell into the curse of familiarity, isn’t it? Here their savior is with them, yet because of familiarity, they refused to look deep into who he really is. Because of pride they refused to acknowledge that he could possibly be their savior.
I mean let’s think about the same mistake we could have often made also. Of course, none of us come close to Jesus’ perfection, we are all sinners. But didn’t God give us a family for a reason? When we are in trouble, our friends could forsake us, but our family were there for us. When people condemned us because of our wrongful ways, it is our family who stood by our side. It was our spouse, our parents who wish the best for us. It was our children who brought much joy to us. Yes, we are all sinful, we aren’t perfect, but didn’t God used our family to teach us patience, endurance, kindness or even character, isn’t it? So if you are having strife and conflict with your family members during this circuit breaker, ask yourself: Are you expecting too much from them? Or have you been taking them for granted?
Testimony: U know, as a pastor, I counselled many people. And I always feel sad for people who treat outsiders better than their family members. There are some people who simply believe success is gotten through the opportunity given by outsiders rather than the support of their loved ones. Now, what I’ve come to see is that these people don’t make it far. Ponder through this fact: If you lack the substance in you to bless those whom you are familiar with, I mean what do you have in you to bless the world? Or how far can you go? But the one who appreciates and knows how to love his family is one who has broken the curse of familiarity. I would say he is a genuine person; he is a genuine giver. Such a person is blessed and he will be a blessing. Now, use this circuit breaker to think through what I’ve said. Learn to adapt to your family members. Learn to see why God put them around you. If you can be a blessing to those around you now, then you are equally equipped with the capacity to be a blessing to many others.