Wednesday, September 26, 2012

moving away

moved to wordpress.

Monday, April 2, 2012

midway there

At the midpoint of my peds clerkship, the fires of desperation and survival should be kicking in. the Shelf is nigh!
Yet I find myself squandering time with abandon. I flounder like a man with no direction, no insight into the murky future. My wheels spin as I only see here and now, and I become disillusioned by the present. The present is filthy, disorganized, a veritable mess. Is there a plan that I can follow to go where I want? Is there a palpable sense of urgency?
I need one. I need a plan. Yet how can I, if all I see is the present? I cannot, I know, but when does anyone have time to spend with God? if not with Him, I waste it frivolously. Like today, with distractions, with frustrations, which do not culminate in knowledge. I do not appreciate the beauty of learning - I am only here to please myself, it seems!
And when I do not have the pleasure, I am left bereft of any motivating factor. Yes, it does seem that I do not know what drives me, and am thus sans engine, sans rudder.

I must meditate on God's will and the how to bring honor to His name daily. Daily.
1. Understand and grasp knowledge (truth) to apply to my fellow man
2. Strive to be a peacemaker, not a rabble-rouser

Friday, September 30, 2011

cell group night

ahhh cell group. it was amazing to serve my little brothers and (many) sisters tonight with Steph&Stephanie, Caren&Karen, Wayne&Kevin haha.

I do believe it is refreshing to be actively engaged in ministry and community, and I have the privilege of doing ministry with Wayne, my current roommate and dear disciplee :)

It is a privilege, a joy, an honor to be able to feed, encourage, and just BE with them. Truthfully, I looked forward to this night as motivation to get through the horrendous night of Renal yesterday, and it really gave me the strength to push that last hour so that I wouldn't be shell-shocked by the difficult exam and be rendered unable to serve.

And thoughts from tonight:
1. There are so many lonely people, and community is truly something that needs to be built. For the sake of these individual people, for the sake of God's kingdom! Truly there is a dearth of loving, compassionate Christians and SUCH an enormous need from new Christians and nonbelievers! The harvest is ripe, but the workers are few. The workers are overworked, they are underfed, they are ill-equipped. What can be done? Pray, then, for the Lord of the harvest to send them. My prayer is that my co-workers in this cell group would be inflamed and guided by the Holy Spirit so that they are FULLY equipped for every good work that is necessary in this battlefield.

2. Truth is essential. To not preach it is folly, and to conceal it is madness. Without truth to discuss, there is no longer any real encouragement! From our discussion group today (we were reading Matthew 7, on the parable of the foundations, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount), it was wonderful to draw out the truth that our foundation is built not on some amorphous, undefined "relationship" with Christ, but on the very words of Christ. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Truly the Word of God, the Gospel, is preached into our lives through the Word of God. Without it, there is no way we could come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord, no way to build a solid foundation! Christ says it explicitly - that "whoever hears my words and puts them into practice" would be like the individual building their house on the rock.
The danger to not holding this truth is fully evident: if we go around deluding ourselves that we have this "relationship" with Christ APART from the Word of God, we will ultimately find our foundation built on some other human construct - relationships, misguided philosophies, even community. And then, how great will the fall of that house be! May God protect and preserve the people of this group from that unhappy fate!

All in all, a wonderful evening. May God be praised, for His name was made much of tonight :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

living water

lately, life has felt so dry-devoid of love for others, filled with a panic-ridden fear that actively devours my joy.
academics have become wearisome, a point of duress. It is difficult to write what I feel because I would not like others to read the thoughts I have to pen down.

Yet here it is: I despaired. I looked back at my academic record, at my abysmal mediocrity. I wallowed in the shame and worry of rankings. I envied my friends who were at more prestigious places than I. I pored over the accounts of luminaries here, to the conclusion that they were far gone, and besides-I could never have been mentored by them!

In the pit of my despair, God reached down with His hand and brought me up. He restored me with a phone call to the people who love me best.
"Hullo [insert childhood endearment]. your father and I were just about to sleep. 要禱告嗎?"

YES. I needed prayer. More than that-I needed someone to listen. I needed stability, I needed love, that bedrock of emotion that would allow me to hurl the darkest insecurities, to articulate my most strangled thoughts-and absorb them. To embrace me, to strengthen me, to restore me.

Too long I have labored under the idea that my personal time with God is enough. Yes, I do bask in the warmth of His Spirit-but those times are rare, and I am so quickly hungering for more! It is true that He is sufficient, but I also need the gentle caress of His hands, I need His feet to come to my doorstep. I need my brothers and sisters.

And that hour with my father and mother was sweet. It was full of gruff fatherlike exhortation, tempered with (ever-unselfish) maternal grace. A word from God, spoken through His servants:

Philippians 3:13-14
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.

I was exhorted to look forward at Christ, to wrench my gaze from the ever-disappointing record of the past-and look to my glorious future! For I am not defined by my record, but by the great work of God in me.

Thanks be to God, for His gift of living water. In all my parched selfishness God gave me refreshment for my soul.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Deogratias Niyizonkiza

This afternoon I listened to an elegant, unassuming Burundian with a rich, deeply complex narrative. He is an individual who has faced massacre, impending murder, constant fear, utter loneliness-and has emerged having wrestled with these demons and overcome. I have an immense respect for this man, Mr. Deogratias Niyizonkiza, whose genuine connection to the spirit of the Matthew A. Carter memorial lecture has taught me the fundamental importance of love, the immense power of focused, wise, and strong compassion, and the fundamental sameness of humanity.

“I never thought that I was poor, because I had parents who taught me that though we (the children) have no food, we have our parents. And they love us.” This statement’s power comes from the simple portrayal of the human need for others’ love. I deeply resonated with this bare truth, because it reminds me of what I hold to be most dear: my mother, my father, and my brother. Love from family and from precious friends is and should be the motivating force behind the efforts to achieve my personal best. The glittering trophies of accomplishment and prestige have an almost irresistible allure, yet they cannot and will not be enough to sustain a lifelong passion. Rivalry, though potent, will ultimately burn out. Love, even of the fallible human sort, seems to be the only thing holding our lives and dreams together.

I believe Deo embodies compassion honed by wisdom, focus, and strength. He is not a hopeless idealist who believes in a one-man crusade. He demonstrates the value of using what gifts we have at our disposal-what relationships, connections, and degrees-towards a uniquely personal passion. While I have to agree with his offhand assessment of him having “jumped the gun” by prematurely departing midway through his medical studies, I deeply admire the powerful desire and genuine concern he showed for his fellow countrymen and women. He inspires me to achieve excellence-to be passionate about achieving what some idealists may deem “unnecessary” credentials-for the sake of leveraging all our blessings for the sake of others.

Finally, he reminded me of a very critical point: that we are all thoroughly human. We are to wallow in that shared experience, to drink it in so fully that no air of arrogance, of presumption, or of self-pride can poison our souls. We did not, and could not, have chosen to be born in a certain nation, at a certain time, to a specific set of parents. Our shared humanity and undeserved blessings instead bring the rich joy and glorious responsibility to bring blessings to others. Thank you, Deo, for showing me what it means to bring healing to those who have lost everything-the emaciated man dying on the dirt floor of a hut, or the child abandoned in the jungle-and, more importantly, for showing me the power of love to restore hope.

*Mr. Deogratias Niyizonkiza was the speaker for the Matthew A. Carter memorial lecture, who after being homeless in NYC as a refugee eventually attended Columbia University, the Harvard School for Public Health, and Dartmouth Medical School. He now is the founder of Village Health Works, a holistic clinic and medical care center in Kigutu, Burundi.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Med school reflections #1

It seems that medical school naturally draws out the sinful tendencies of selfishness. I didn' t quite realize it until recently, but it really promotes the idea that I need to get things done, that I need to make sure I know my stuff, and-at the end of the day-it is my responsibility if I know the material (for the test, or, eventually, for the patient) and are able to manipulate it correctly and in a life-saving manner.
Yet sometimes it does get to be a bit much.
Medical school as an experience has already placed tremendous pressure on my friendships, my relationships with others-even among my newfound friends I find it difficult to make myself available to them in a way that facilitates true bonding-because I'm afraid that I will get behind on my study schedule and lose precious time for-what else?-studying.
Additionally, I realize how my mind is so geared towards absorbing large quantities of information that I don't really question what I'm learning. I just absorb and absorb, I imbibe huge quantities of raw data, sift it to the essential data, and then chew on my streamlined version over and over again. Yet it takes so much out of me! On top of that, I have to integrate the spatial memorization of the human anatomy, with all its strange connection of term memorization and visual identification, with innervations, vasculature, and function thrown into the mix! AND ON TOP OF THAT, Histology with all its lists, its horrendously detailed and complex questions that require you to compartmentalize your mind into the rooms of Bone/Cartilage, Skin, Muscle, and the Immune System.
When do I have time to ask questions?
Why do I feel that my already non-inquisitive mind is being further pounded into submission by this torrent of information?

Why do I fear that I am losing sight of others when I place my studies first?

It's a difficult feeling to have-of guilt, of longing to know someone else-and you simply don't know what others are thinking. It's maddening, in fact, to always be guessing at others' motives, to place up that mask of confidence when underneath you tremble and wince, writhe and rage.
Yet is this all part of human passion? Isn't this part of what we discussed in small group yesterday-that fundamentally men are driven by how others perceive them? Yet how much grace we receive when we can voluntarily give that up? It sounds so easy, right? "BE independent! Don't care about what other people think-just be yourself!"
what empty words! How can one be independent from the world when he is merely cutting himself off-but never truly being able to divorce himself because he lives, breathes, and exists in this inescapable reality?

But we have the transcendental reality of God-more specifically, of Christ. We have the confidence and hope in His promise, in the Word of God, in his Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts. Who has known the mind of the LORD, or instructed Him as His counselor? Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge, or showed Him the path of understanding? (Isaiah 40:13-14)

In small group yesterday we did the Lectio Divina method of reflection on Isaiah 40, and it was deeply rich and insightful for each of us. I believe that God used it to speak clearly into my heart for the agony I would suffer this upcoming few days. Faced with the prospect of such mounds of academic and scientific information, along with the due stress that such impending doom has on my relationships with others-God speaks into my heart: trust not in your own wisdom, nor in the counsel of any other fallible human being. Know that I am the LORD, the everlasting God! I am the source of all wisdom, of all knowledge-give glory and thanks to me while you study, and live with the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:6-16; esp. verse 16, which references Isaiah! How awesome is that!
"For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

May I dwell with the mind of Christ firmly in my possession, and not allow stray thoughts to haunt and dog me-and may His wisdom be given to me.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I met a stiff today

In the morning, I was greeted by this passage from 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

I thought it peculiar that God would choose to speak this into my heart-that I was going to see an earthly tent, yet I was to fix my eyes on the eternal house in heaven. I was going to understand what it really means when Paul says the body is an earthly tent. I don't think I ever gave serious thought to death, to what a living human being looks after the breath of life has left him. I always thought it would be rather bothersome, yet still an occasion for rejoicing, because I know I will be going to my Lord.

So I saw, I touched, and I laid bare (literally) a dead body for the first time.
Call it a cadaver, a "donor," my "greatest teacher," but that was a human body.

It was...disconcerting. Especially at first, as we raised up the electric blue body bag. It was a very clear sense of-woah, this is real. I'm really going to cut open a body. And this body does not smell very nice.

The first incision was together, with further dissection rotating through each of the members. I must admit that although this is supposed to be a defining moment for many doctors, for me it became more of an intellectual challenge-how can I fit those pretty charts, those nicely drawn muscles with this stiff laying before me, with all its imperfections, its yellow gobs of fat, its not-well-defined musculature?
And worse, how can I cut this man up without hacking the critical pieces to bits?
I looked at this as an ultimate challenge-to fit together a conceptual understanding of the human body with the reality in all its formaldehyde-laced glory.

And so I realize that this body was, indeed, a last gift by this anonymous donor. I am tremendously grateful for the incredible chance to learn from him, yet I can now also better appreciate the temporal nature of the body. So often people worry about their appearance, about their physical attractiveness-yet what does all that working out and starvation diet achieve when our bodies are merely tents? I look forward to that divine building-to be clothed with a dwelling that will never perish, one that is free of all the imperfections and vices of the human body.