Enjoy. It feels like such a difficult word. A friend once said to me that I need to learn how to (take a break and) enjoy.

Maybe my friend was right.

Maybe I need to learn how to enjoy just spending time basking under the light of joy.

Maybe that’s why, this 2019, I set one of my two yearly goals as this: To delight in the LORD and enjoy Christ.

Excavating the Old in 2019

Two months after the start of 2019 I strangely had the desire to study the Old Testament books, most especially the select books that I had been neglecting — This is an area that I should brush up on. I know the Old Testament books by title but I never was able to get through the first few books apart from the Psalms and Proverbs and a few passages that are usually taken out of context.

This time I studied the books in reversed order. And then I made a discovery! There’s this book that despite sticking out like a sore thumb I never had the interest to read: The Song of Solomon.

At first glance the book looked perfect for my goal: It talks about the joy of love, albeit romantically. And it explores the wondrous feelings of the heart.

Maybe this book will teach me how I can better enjoy Christ.

The Song of Solomon is a poetic book that is 8 chapters long. And here are my key takeaways from my discovery:

1. Made for one another.

The book tells a tale of two lovers: A Shulamite woman and her beloved, a shepherd/king. From the king’s eye, the woman stands out among the rest. He described her with many rich words spanning across almost all the chapters of the book, an exuberant expression of his admiration of her.

It stands the same for the woman, he was described with many rich words. Their admiration of each other spans the entire book. It is of no argument that they revered each other. It almost seems like they had no other else.

2. Seeking, and not finding, yet still seeking.

Yet despite of seemingly made for one another, the book did not shy away from exposing their struggles. The book tells a pattern of seeking, not finding, but still seeking (Chapters 3 and 5). Chapter 5 climaxes to this point where the woman goes out to search for his king but only to be beaten down by the city guards. Yet despite of this beatdown, the very first words that comes out of her lips are this: “If you find my beloved, tell him that I am sick with love.

Her mind is consumed with the thought of him and her heart consumed with his person.

3. Intensity of love.

It is also quite clear how the book is filled to the brim with passion and feelings. The intensity of their love is almost like the centerpoint of this book. The book is filled with all these passionate and creative expressions of their love for one another.

There are two points that stand out to me however: First, how the king describes the woman as a “sister”. Second, how the woman has this habit of using the phrase “Sick with love.”

I can wonder. Maybe the word “sister” denotes the woman as being a “sister in the faith”. Maybe this was written to signify the importance of constraining romantic love and marriage to fellow believers. To the second point, maybe this phrase was used to denote that the signs of love possibly causes symptoms of “being sick”, where the normal things give its way for the abnormal.

Christ and the Church

The book may have been included in the Bible canon to describe a Biblical model for the husband and wife. To that I agree, but if I may add also, to my eyes, it also paints a picture of Christ and his Church.

I can see the book as describing this relationship: Christ as the king/shepherd who loves his church; And the church, being in a fallen world, experiences this struggle of seeking the LORD Jesus Christ.

Sin is this thing that keeps our hearts from seeing the LORD.

But just like the bride, we are called to have our heart unswervingly seek him still.

To persevere and not give up.

To have our thoughts consumed by the wondrous overwhelming thought of Him.

And in devotion and passion, to have our hearts stirred up by Him.

Recently I’ve been struggling in my idea of enjoying work. Work has been non-stop both for my startup and my dayjob, and burnout just seems to be around the corner. I’ve been finding it difficult to enjoy doing my work. And it bothers me, both the struggle from the high demands of my work and my lack of enjoyment in it. The latter bothers me significantly more.

I tried to break down why I’m having the struggle to find the needed enjoyment. I found three things:

  1. I found that doing work is heavy when I feel that I’m working for someone else;
  2. I found that work limits my creative goals and creative juices when work is itemized;
  3. I found that work is drudging when I am doing it only for work’s sake: To deliver.

And from identifying theses causes to my problem, I tried to find how I usually enjoy my work.  And this is what I found out: I believe that work should be enjoyable, that work should be creative, that work should fulfill my purpose. And this can be done by going back to basking in the fundamentals of my work, namely:

  1. The enjoyment of of building something;
  2. The enjoyment of learning new things;
  3. The enjoyment of solving problems;
  4. The enjoyment of making ideas into reality;
  5. The enjoyment of knowing that my work has a purpose.

From the identification of the problem, to its causes, to how my enjoyment can be attained, I can then work on the steps needed for me to arrive to my goal:

  1. Instead of focusing on the reality that I am working to make my clients happy, I can focus on how I can pour out my talents and energy to my craft.
  2. Instead of just focusing on the itemized deliverables, I can allocate some of my spare time to attend to my creative goals.
  3. Instead of of focusing on delivering, I can focus on how my work has an end-purpose, and what that end-purpose is, and then working on that end-purpose instead of just remaining on the side of delivering.

In writing this something of great importance came to mind. The words of Paul echo in my ear,
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Colossians 3:23-25)

 

We are serving the Lord Jesus Christ. And realizing this, not only in my mind but to my heart and my actions, is what brings purpose to my work.

 

And this is where joy is found.

 

 

“I find to this day seven abominations in my heart:

  1. Inclination to unbelief;
  2. Forgetfulness of the love and mercy that Christ manifest;
  3. A leaning to the works of the law;
  4. Wanderings and coldness in prayer;
  5. Forgetfulness in prayer;
  6. Prone to murmur when I have no more and yet ready to abuse what I have;
  7. I can do none of the things which God commands me, while on the other hand my sinful nature springs effortlessly;

These things I continually see and feel. And because of these I am in constant suffering. Yet to the wisdom of God, they are for my own good:

  1. My inclination to unbelief: They make me abhor myself;
  2. My forgetfulness of Christ’s love and mercy: They keep me from trusting my heart;
  3. My leaning to works: They convince me of the insufficiency of all inherent righteousness;
  4. My coldness in prayer: They show me the necessity of flying to Jesus;
  5. My forgetfulness in prayer: They press me to pray unto God;
  6. My discontentment when in need and my irresponsibility when in plenty: They show me the need I have to be alert and be sober;
  7. My incompetence towards the things of God: It provokes me to pray unto God, through Christ, to help me, and carry me through this world.”

 

A paraphrasing from John Bunyan, taken from “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners”

A band called Switchfoot just released their newest album, Native Tongue! And to no disappointment do they still deliver: Their songs still feels like home.

Switchfoot was that band that I couldn’t understand. I started to check them out years way back when I met this cute girl who was so into the band’s lead vocalist, Jon Foreman. And when some years after, when I became a Christian, the more I had a hard time wrapping my head around this band. They just didn’t make sense to me. Their songs were too puzzling, their lyrics too ambiguous, their image too dark and heavy (at that time). They didn’t want to be labeled as a Christian band. And they write songs about sex , drugs, and about being a dark horse. I found them too dark, too edgy, and I even thought they went against Christianity.

But the more I grew up in Christ, the more I understood them.
The more I studied the Bible, their songs started to make sense!
The more I was exposed to the scholars before me, the more I was able to understand Jon Foreman and in what he’s trying to do with his life.

Their songs, lyrically, are filled with Biblical references, even quoting scriptures word per word. Listening to a new Switchfoot song feels like solving a puzzle. “What does this verse possibly mean? Oh, I get it! It’s from this parable, this verse from the Bible! How could I have missed it!”

Jon Foreman may not be a C.S. Lewis, but to me he sure feels like one.

If C.S. Lewis is for novel books, Jon Foreman is for music.

 

I’d suggest giving their new album a try. And while you’re at it, why not listen back to their old songs as well?

Since the start of my adulthood I have made it a habit to publicly share my yearly goals for the purpose of hijacking my personal commitment and my sense of accountability. 2018 is a special one as it was the first year that I decided not to share my yearly goals: I wanted to test if I can still commit to them even without being too loud. But I guess I’m not that resolute: I discovered that passivity crept up, reactivity became my daily habit, and now I even have a hard time recalling what my 2018 goals were.

Going back to my yearly habits, here are my 2019 goals that I will commit myself to. This year I will only have two, namely:

I will commit atleast 30 hours, 40 at most, every week towards the development of my vision, a 1st world Philippines.

Mainly this will be work directed at Progressia — we are at a stage where growth is evident, ideas are overflowing, and hard work is demanded. Even though Progressia works on a trust-based system, and it works amazingly, I’m dying to see what the effects of having a full-time worker are.

Apart from work items from our backlog, this particular goal may also include things like reading books, studying, networking, etc, as these are things that are important for the long haul.

I have counted the costs. Given that I have been entrusted increasing responsibilties in my dayjob and I have aplenty of passions and things that I want to do, this goal will require me dedication and extra consciousness of my resources, working myself to 70+ hours a week, yet capping myself to the 40 hour ceiling to leave me room for my hobbies and relationships. I’ll also make use of time tracking tools to measure my performance. I’ll also permit myself to offset hours to allow room for flexibility.

And that leaves me to my last goal:

I will aim to delight myself in the Lord daily.

A weird goal this may be (I see no quantitative nor qualitative measurement that I can measure myself against) but this is something that I feel I need to work on: Something that has been running in my mind for weeks if not months.

I will aim to delight myself in the Lord on a daily basis: To enjoy Him to the fullest.

And then maybe He will grant me the desires that He designed my heart for.

And from there everything else.


There it is. These are the two goals that I am setting my eyes on for 2019.
How about you? What are the things that you want to see in 2019? Do you mind sharing your goals for next year?

I remember the days where everyday I feel like I was on the verge of a great discovery, constantly looking forward for the sight of the moonlight for me to start working on my project: To shed light to my everyday question, “What next attribute of God might I learn next?” I remember those days, the nights where I would scour book after book, page after page, asking questions one after another just to go down deeper into the rabbit hole, hungry to learn more about God and his mysterious attributes, like a hungry hiker who’s dying to behold the beautiful scenic view of the summit that lies just right after the needed arduous hiking. Those were the days where I was constantly learning about God. The days where the learning was intentful and adventurous.

Tonight I sit in my chair as my books collect dust.  My pursuit of knowledge seems to have plateaued as compared those days. This unfortunate event means something to me because I discovered that engaging my mind in the things of God somehow fans the flame of my faith (and also that I have a pile of interesting books collecting dust). And yet, in spite of my recent cold inactivity, the Lord is faithful still. Like a father who continues to guide and instruct his child towards good upbringing, He keeps on teaching and guiding me still. When these new knowledge is not delivered through books, they are delivered to me through experience.

I feel recently that the Lord is teaching me something important: I feel The Lord is teaching me to learn to give up control.

As a person who’s self-aware of his want of total control, this is a hard thing; When you believe you believe you can do almost anything and can overcome almost anything, relieving control and giving it to someone else is nail-bitingly hard. But through hardships, through towering responsibilities, and through friends and family, I was forced to surrender my hand. And surrender I did. And through surrendering I discovered new things: I discovered the light yoke that was waiting me, the responsibility of the need for skillful delegation, the courage to rely on someone, and the faith needed to let God be God. And the ringing reminder that at the end of it all nothing is of value apart from the eternal things.

Maybe someday I’ll finish my stacked books. Maybe someday I’ll gain stronger control of things yet still be willing to give it up. And maybe fanning the flame isn’t just through to the feeding of the mind; Maybe fanning the flame also means experiencing it and living it.

I have a really weird name.

My name is something that makes people scratch their head. It stumbled my teachers, blundered cashiers, confused my then-be-managers, and baffled my business partners. Other than being a one-of-a-kind name, it purely consist of consonants, making people unsure how to pronounce it. It is weird to pronounce and equally weird to spell and write. To make things worse, people would think that it’s not my real name but an acronym for something.

But my father named me Pyl (pronounced as “pill“) for a reason.

Even though the explanation doesn’t make total sense to me, but I am told I was given such name because my father wanted a “unique”, “special”, and “futuristic” name for me. Even before I was born, I am special to him.

I was named with a purpose.

He wanted uniqueness; He wanted me to be special; He named me after the future. Maybe that explains why I’m kind of aloof, a bit prideful, and hell-bent on working towards a better brighter future.

But more than that–more than what my earthly father did–is what my Father in Heaven does. He knows my name and calls me by it. He planned me and formed me with my name in mind.

And I’m sure He doesn’t stop for a second to scratch His head, if he has one, whenever he sees or hear my name.

How comforting could that be?