Sunday, 23 September 2012

Bringing my request to God

        Regrettably, I sometimes tune out when a certain priest conducts Mass because I abhor the way he mixes politics with religion. But when my favourite priest walked down the aisle towards the altar this morning, I was determined to sit up and pay full attention.
        And I am so glad I did!

        "...The fact is you do not have what you want because you do not pray for it. You pray for something and you do not get it because you pray with the wrong motive of indulging your pleasures..." (James 4:2-3)

        This part of today's Bible reading struck a chord in me and I would have easily missed it had I been smiling indulgently at the little boy who sits in the pew ahead or mentally checking the list of groceries to pick up after Mass.
        I have been praying for IT but I have not been praying earnestly enough for IT. It has become a mantra that I automatically add in at the end of my prayers. On hindsight, I realise that I have never seriously sat down to talk to my Lord about IT.
        I often deny that I truly want IT. I opt to thrust the subject of IT to God, choosing the convenience of Him knowing the deepest desires of my heart.
        I now know how wrong it is of me to do that.
        My Father in Heaven is waiting for me to go to Him, acknowledge that I really want IT and tell Him in our daily conversations.

        "Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; and the door will be opened to him who knocks." (Matthew 7:7-8)
        I have never knocked, sought or asked. Therefore, I have not received. I shall now knock on His door, seek His comfort and ask for IT.

        "Do not be anxious about anything. In everything resort to prayer and supplication together with thanksgiving and bring your requests before God."  (Philippians 4:6)
        Ending my prayers with a simple line, as if it is done as an afterthought or as a matter of unimportance, is definitely NOT bringing my request before God. I will stop doing that and sincerely bring my request for IT before God.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Flying the Flag in my Heart

        As Bulan Kemerdekaan (Independence Month) approaches its end, it is apt to dedicate a post to my beloved country. I cannot help but swell with pride as I think of how much progress Malaysia has achieved in fifty five years. From being a little known post-colonial country, she has made herself seen and heard. And for this, we have Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, our fourth Prime Minister, to thank for.
        In recent years, there have been constant calls to fly the Jalur Gemilang, our national flag, in conjunction with Bulan Kemerdekaan. I applaud all the patriotic Malaysians out there who answer the call. My dad, who is one of the most patriotic men I have ever seen, never fails to fly the flag in front of our house.
        However, I do not need to join the ranks of those who fly the Jalur Gemilang, be it in front of houses or atop cars, to affirm my patriotism. I love my country in my own way and fly the flag in my heart.
        As a teacher, I make it my responsibility to instil in my young impressionable charges the love for our country. Come National Day every year, I ask my students what Hari Kebangsaan means to them. I get them to write down their honest answers (after a little brainwashing by doling out examples of answers like "It is a day to be grateful for freedom and prosperity", "It is a day to appreciate the present and work hard for the future"). Then we stick their answers on the class noticeboard as part of the class decoration for National Day.
        Should anyone speak bad about my country, I will not hesitate to defend her. From young, I have witnessed how my dad swiftly rises to the defense of Malaysia whenever a Singaporean relative belittles our country. I do not mind being branded as rude and disrespectful should I answer back an elder when he or she is condemning my country.
        The on-going branding of 1Malaysia to stress on national unity and ethnic tolerance does not stir much excitement in me. And this is not because I do not love my fellow Malaysians of other races. I most certainly do, and already practise the ideology. I definitely do not need a "wake-up call" to stand united and to live in harmony. One of my best buddies in primary school was a Malay girl. I used to go to her house on Saturdays and we would have tons of fun together. In university, one of my closest chums was an Indian girl and the two of us engaged in a lot of mischief together. Whilst teaching in Sabah, I gained two very good friends, one being an Orang Asli from Perak and another being a Malay. After getting our respective transfers nine years ago, we are still in constant contact. When this Malay friend required financial assistance upon her husband's sudden demise a few years back, she turned to me and I did not disappoint her. Isn't this what 1Malaysia is all about?
        I have never taken part in National Day parades or flocked to the stadium to attend concerts held in tandem with the celebration. But that does not make me any less patriotic. I celebrate National Day in my own way.
        Remembering to pray for my country is more important, I believe. This, I do, from time to time, when I lead the prayer during the school assembly on Mondays. This, I also do, on National Day and on Malaysia Day.

        So as we celebrate Malaysia Day on Sunday (16 September), I thank God for blessing our country with peace and prosperity. I pray that Malaysia will continue to enjoy these, and more. And after my morning prayer, I shall have my kopi-o ais and nasi lemak for breakfast, and then buy a big packet of kacang putih to munch on for the day. 
        Happy Malaysia Day!!!