Postscript on Psalm 139

A few of you wanted to know more of what I meant by “transformational process” in my last Reflection posting on Psalm 139. Allow me to share a personal example (related to another posting today), which is more beneficial than a dollop of theory.

Some years back, when we were still in missionary service in the Philippines, my mother requested that we return to Singapore to be with her, as my younger brother had migrated to Australia. We were very reluctant, as I was the team leader then, and we were actually beginning to make some progress in reaching out to Filipinos, apart from coping with the horrendous murder of one of our colleagues. But I recalled my earlier undertaking to my mother, that any time she needed us, we will return. So we did, but with heavy hearts.

However, a phone call from my younger brother changed all that. He was delighted that we decided to sacrifice our work, to bare the burden of looking after my mother, and that “I deserved it.” He laughed. For whatever reason (possibly alluding to the period when I was in the UK, when he was staying with mother), his adverse comment was unprovoked. I was furious. As you might gather, it became a very short conversation.

My reaction, however, bothered me no end. What was the ‘root’ issue that my brother had triggered? For days I searched my heart to understand what a repulsive creature I had become. Eventually, I was ready to listen to my own heart and what my Creator may be saying, and increasingly, my motivations became clear. God’s direction for me had changed, but I was caught in my missionary rut. I was self-centered, and family was inconsequential when it got in the way of ‘God’s work.’ I was a contradiction. I needed to refocus, to let go of the past, all of it, and willingly follow Him. My request, then, was that He gives me a deep abiding love for my mother, one that went beyond a mother-son affection, and the necessary skills for her caring. He did gradually.

The transformational process was not simplistic, and the alignment involved my whole being, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The change was unprecedented and enduring. In a strange sort of way, I had my brother to thank. We are on talking terms again. That was one of several major transformations in my life.

I am sure we all have had transforming experiences. For example, our salvation or ‘new birth’ was a monumental transformational journey. These events were probably uncomfortable initially, as they challenged our hardwired unconscious thinking patterns. The resultant change was for a new perspective on particular issues, and hopefully, for us to become better people as witnesses in this fallen world. I believe God has a purpose in transforming us here and now, to be like His Son, and to prepare us for life in eternity. Presently, however, we are all works-in-progress.