Day 27 – Difference Between a Twig and a Tinder

Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. – John 15:6

What is the difference between a twig and a piece of wood? One is snapped off. Materially they are the same, at least for the first few days. But one is alive, and the other is dead.

A twig, as fragile as it is, can shoot forth flowers and fruits. Nothing in its dull tan suggests the burst of colors and taste, but they they are, fiery petals, fleshy peaches, in due time, as long as the twig clinging onto the branch. Life is not in itself. It flows through it. It is not the beginning of life, nor its end.

Sure, the twig has its part to play in the whole ecosystem of life, transferring all that sun-energy from the leaves back to the root. Still, the tree does not need the twig to live on. On the other hand, a twig cannot survive without the tree. Once it is snapped, it is lifeless. No fruits and flowers.

It is not totally useless. But it is great for starting a campfire.

The people are like the dead branches of a tree,
broken off and used for kindling beneath the cooking pots.
Israel is a foolish and stupid nation,
for its people have turned away from God. – Isaiah 27:11

Day 20 – When Washing Feet, Scrub and Soap

Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean.” John 13:10

When I was single, sometimes I skipped showers (this is a difficult confession…), and plopped into bed. After marriage, I probably skipped shower three times at most. My wife would not have me next to her unless I am all washed up. But not one day did I not wash my feet. That is where Suyun draws the line.

Our feet gets lot of use. Perhaps more than any other muscles, except for the heart. And it is impossible to keep it clean through out the day. Whether it be open-toed sandals or woolen socks and leather boots, our feet gets dusty and sweaty.

So our feet needs daily washing. We wash our hands everyday. More than once. It is unusual, not to mention unhygienic, not to wash our hands everyday. Doesn’t our feet need that same vigilance? Most of us do wash our feet daily (I hope), but we don’t see it in that same importance as our hands.

I think we treat our spiritual life, actually, like our feet. Every day, our spiritual aspirations meet the dirty roads of life, and it gets grimy. There is no way to avoid it. We will never live up to our own expectations for the day, let alone God’s expectation. So we should have a time at the end of the day, to repent. We should not just dab our feet with water but soap it vigorously as our hands. That is, when we repent, perhaps a generic “I am a sinner” doesn’t clean anything. Maybe we have to take stock of our day, and verbally repent of them. And that should not be a dour task. It should refresh us.

There were a few times when I actually said to Suyun, “These are my feet and I am an adult!” But I did go wash it anyway, because I don’t like sleeping alone. And when the warm water bathed my feet, it felt heavenly. It feels good to repent!

Day 8 – Faithful Thomas

Thomas, nicknamed the Twin said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”

It is too bad for Thomas that he got stuck with a title created to divide the bible into useful, manageable sections. Ever since the section where Thomas says he won’t believe it (resurrection) until he see it himself , Thomas was stuck with “Doubting Thomas.” Readers assume it was what the rest of the disciples called him. It is like a bully’s name-calling that follows the victim through his elementary school. The victim is forever seen in that light.

But today we see the faithfulness of Thomas. Where many were weary of going back to Jerusalem, Thomas sets his heart to follow, even to death. He is the one to sway the emotion, and so the decision, of the disciples. I imagine some of them nodding with Thomas and their courage growing as they see one of their own urging them to follow to death, a change of mind partially caused by not wanting to be outdone.

Now, it’s true that everyone abandons Jesus, even Thomas. When the moment comes, everyone’s courage fails. But isn’t this true of most of us? In our following of Christ, do we often not follow through with our own promises? Yet, we should not give up.

This is not my first Lent, but I do it as if it is my first. And it is a promise much like Thomas, that I will follow Christ to death, death of my sinful habits. And even if I went back on my words after Lent last year, I am going to do it again. And that is faithfulness too, not the faithfulness that is proven by my promise keeping, but a faithfulness that clings onto Christ’s faithfulness.

Christ appeared to Thomas when his faith left him, and showed his hands with the nail-holes. So Christ accepts my Lent commitments, his faithfulness dragging me along until I become more faithful.

At the end, human faithfulness is possible only because of Christ’s faithfulness.