Today, I cooked kiam peng (Chinese paella) for lunch. It is one staple food I learned from my mom-in-law. Every Sunday, after church worship, she would cook kiam peng for lunch: practical, fast and easy to put together. She cooked it in her traditional way: in a wok on the stove. No measuring cup or spoon as to how much water, oil, soy sauce etc. and the two main ingredients either beef or chicken paired with radish or mushroom. The only sure consistent measured ingredient: cups of rice.
I learned to cook by watching. It used to be that I would use the screw on the wok as my measuring line for how much water to use. 😅 If you give me a new wok, then i’d be lost. 😂
It’s been perhaps more than 2 decades since we last ate amah’s kiampeng. Through the years, my kiampeng had gone through makeovers: on woks – different sizes, combined wok and rice cooker, sliced meat, fillet or sukiyaki. On this new year’s day, our kiam peng lunch is still new and different from all the rest.
And so here’s the main point of my new year’s musings: There is always something new to create out of something old. There are often new ways of doing things; new approaches to make things work. There are new lenses to put on to see life’s same old challenges. It is possible to make something fresh out of the routine. It is thinking out of the box – to see beyond the obvious.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (Gen. 1:1-3)
This passage is quite familiar and old. Yet few months ago, when I read it again in our Bible Study Fellowship season of Genesis, these first 3 verses stood out for me. God created light out of the formless, desolate empty darkness of the earth. HIs Spirit was hovering over the surface of the deep. To hover is to remain poised in one place or between two states. God is in the midst of the void, empty, dark spaces of the earth.
God exists before the beginning of time – to create something out of nothing, to make form out of the formless, to fill up the empty and to enlighten the darkness. He is in the middle of it all.
2020 is now behind us. 2021 is before us. How should we live today? What does the Bible say about the past, the present and the future?
Two passages summarised for me – what to do with the past and what to do in the present and how to look at the future.
“Do not call to mind the former things, Or consider things of the past. Behold, I am going to do something new,”
There were many things in my past which I did wrong, where I could have done better. They are past – there’s nothing more to do than to learn from them. To let go is to be free from things that hold me down – past hurts, mistakes, disappointments, griefs and sins. God has forgiven me and set me free by Jesus’ work on the cross. He remembers my sins no more.
Even as I forget things which held me down, I need to remember past grace and blessings that pulled me through the dark times. I praise God for his sufficient grace that accompanied me and my family in the pandemic 2020. Each moment, each day is all by His amazing grace and boundless mercy.
God is constantly doing something new in each and every moment of my life. How attentive am I to his voice? Do I stop, look and listen? Am I thankful? Do I trust and obey?
Paul encouraged the Philippians with his own story -to forget his past status – not to put confidence in his position, prestige of who he was (vv. 1-6) BUT to press on….
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (3:12-14)
As a follower of Jesus, I need to live today in the image of the Creator from whom I was created. Tomorrow, I need to be better than I am today. I press on towards the goal of becoming more and more like Jesus. Do I reflect the light of the world? When people see me do they see Jesus?
2020 is a year of a deep dark world gripped with fear, grief and death. Today, I thank God that I am still breathing.. that I can still read His Word, that I still have life in me. Each breath that I take is His precious gift especially in the context of COVID-stricken world today.
2021 is ahead of me. A fitting song (by Alison Kraus, the Cox Family) comes to mind. This song sums up nicely what I pray to do with tomorrow.
I don’t know about tomorrow
I just live for day to day
I don’t borrow from the sunshine
For it’s skies may turn to gray
I don’t worry o’er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I’ll walk beside Him
For He knows what lies ahead
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
Ev’ry step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb
Ev’ry burden’s getting lighter
Ev’ry cloud is silver lined
There the sun is always shining
There no tear will dim the eye
At the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains touch the sky.
1) No worries: I need to look to the future without fear because I know God holds tomorrow in His mighty hands.
2) Hope: I can look to tomorrow in hope and joy because I know Jesus is coming soon. When He returns, I shall be with my Creator who is the beginning and the end. I shall dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.