How long, O Lord, am I to cry for help
while you will not listen;
to cry ‘Oppression!’ in your ear
and you will not save?
Why do you set injustice before me,
why do you look on where there is tyranny?
Outrage and violence, this is all I see,
all is contention, and discord flourishes.
Then the Lord answered and said,
‘Write the vision down,
inscribe it on tablets
to be easily read,
since this vision is for its own time only:
eager for its own fulfilment, it does not deceive;
if it comes slowly, wait,
for come it will, without fail.
See how he flags, he whose soul is not at rights,
but the upright man will live by his faithfulness.’
2 Timothy 1:6-8,13-14
I am reminding you to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord, or ashamed of me for being his prisoner; but with me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God.
Keep as your pattern the sound teaching you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. You have been trusted to look after something precious; guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.
‘Which of you, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from the fields, “Come and have your meal immediately”? Would he not be more likely to say, “Get my supper laid; make yourself tidy and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink yourself afterwards”? Must he be grateful to the servant for doing what he was told? So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, “We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.”’
God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the spirit of power, and love, and self control.
I have just come back from Spain, where I walked the Camino de Santiago, along the Camino Frances, starting from Leon. By all accounts, the three weeks I spent journeying outside of the comforts of home (literally), exposed me to the elements as well as to myself. From the harsh noonday sun prior to crossing into Galicia, where the whether was unpredictable, chilly and damp, each day brought forth challenges which we’d normally not face back home.
I also met dozens of pilgrims and listened to their stories of why and how they were on this road. Some were seeking answers, some carried the prayers and burdens of loved ones, others were heavily laden by their own circumstances back home; yet, despite their sufferings, you could see and hear in them the conviction they had as they spoke powerfully about how Christ sustained them through each day.
As for me, I was rewarded each and every day on the road. With shelter, food and a camaraderie forged through hours of walking. And just as I was wondering if Jesus would ever appear, He did so, about 12km outside of Santiago. The moment is forever etched in my heart as He gave me a smile and a big hug through tear-stained eyes. And then He walked with us into Santiago and dined with us. I could never ever describe well enough the feelings I experienced that day – joy, relief, sadness, fear – all rolled into one. But for me, this was my ‘Camino moment’.
In the ensuing days which I spent in Santiago and the surrounding towns, I fully understood why some pilgrims do this each year. It is an opportunity for us to really break away from our normal, everyday lives and to just be ourselves. And to be with God. From the glorious sunrises I had the privilege of enjoying on high mountain passes each morning, to the cool breeze and pitter patter of an incessant drizzle, the Lord was always present. In the faces, gestures, laughter and tears of our fellow peregrinos, to the welcoming smiles of those who ran the albergues, we never lacked anything along the Way. All we had to do was to ask.
Brothers and sisters, not all of us will have the opportunity to walk the Camino. I have been truly blessed and, as many testify, a part of me remains there in Spain. But as Christians, we are all called to walk our own ‘Way’ each and every day of our life. The signposts are there and He is definitely walking with us. Let us all learn to harness the power that He has given us and not allow ourselves to wallow in fear and anxiety. Rather, let us walk on proudly as sons and daughters of a loving, merciful and giving God.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for boldness to confront our fears and to take courage each day as we awake, so that we can confidently face all the challenges that come our way.
Thanksgiving: Lord, thank you for empowering us with your spirit.