Today, I had lunch with God.

On the 23rd of April 2010, I turned 18. People may say that 18 is the year. The big event. The turning point to reach adulthood. This is the culture in Australia, and it is marked with your real IDs to enter the clubs, casinos, or such. Now when you do groceries in Coles or Safeway, you can actually go into the liquor part and buy some drinks there. Back in Indonesia, we have sweet seventeens, which are usually celebrated with big parties and such things. I’m 18 now. And what’s the difference?

As a child I really do like birthdays. 10 years ago I would not be able to sleep properly the day before my birthday, wondering what kind of gifts that I would have; how many dolls, games, clothes, anything, that I would get. My house would be decorated with balloons and ribbons, with a big chocolate cake or cheese cake that had my age number on it. Then there was the blowing of candles. The singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ song. The ‘make-a-wish’ part. The taking of pictures. And the list would go on. Somehow I would find it similar with Dudley in Harry Potter movie (I think it was the Sorcerer’s Stone one), where he calculated the birthday gifts and he wanted more gifts than the previous year.

It was me, on my birthday, 10 years ago, as a child.

On my 16th birthday, 2 years ago, I began to concern about other things, not in the gifts and such anymore, but in appearance. I remembered going to school with a hairstyle different than usual (usual: pony-tail, a bit messy, glasses, and such), and practically just appear ‘neater’ than usual (I guess you would know what that means lol). I woke up ‘till 12 o’clock midnight the night before, wondering on how many people will remember my birthday; how many of them would send me text messages; how many of them would call me and be the first to say, “Happy Birthday”. I would move the ‘birthday messages’ to a particular folder and ‘count’ them, as well as I would constantly check facebook for the birthday wishes.

I went back from school, blew the candles on my birthday cake, and went for dinner to a nice restaurant with my mom and dad. I was happy. But the happiness did not last long. It was all physical. Yes, it was special, but not as special.

Then came my 17th birthday. The birthday that every girl longs for. The culture in Indonesia was to give surprise to every single person that turned 17, and for the girls, it’s time to be a princess and hold a party.

People like surprises. I know I do. But by the time it was my turn, I didn’t know if it was special anymore. It turned into a routine.

But I guess, it’s better to have a routine surprise seventeenth birthday than to have none at all.

I did wonder, and still wonder, on those people who don’t have a surprise birthday party. Do they feel left behind? Do they feel excluded and no one cares for them?

Then came the big party. The gifts. When a person holds a sweet 17th party, they will have lots of gifts. But if they don’t, they will receive hardly any (except for some close friends – maybe).

I held a sweet 17th party that was so special to me. It was the birthday I long for, and I was satisfied by the party I had (not all of my friends were satisfied of their parties. Some even regret for having one). I was very blessed that almost all of my friends did come to my party (out of 70 people that I invite, it was only around 10 or so that did not show up). It was not a big party, and I did not hire an Event Organizer or made my party in a 5 stars hotel ballroom (which I really want before, but then realized it was not worth it). But it was kind of ‘homie’. It was warm, and for me, it was great. I had fun. I saw my friends were having fun with the games and such as well and I felt happy. I had the most fantastic birthday surprise (the sweet seventeenth video that my big siz, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s brother made), and it was magical.

But after a few days, it lost its magic. I didn’t say that I didn’t like it, I did like it, do like it, and will still be liking it for another 10 years. But then, it will just become another memory. I still watch my sweet 17th video sometimes, and I’ll be reminded of how happy I was at my 17th birthday. But it was temporary.

(anyway, this is my sweet 17th video, i love it so much ;))

And this is my 18th birthday.

On my 18th birthday, I had lunch with God.

At this age, I no longer wake up until 12 o’clock midnight or frequently check facebook and text messages or count the number of gifts that I have. I have decided that I am going to give my 18th birthday to God.

It was Friday morning and I went to the university as usual. But at lunchtime and during the free period – I went to the park, sat there, opened my Bible, and wrote my journal. I made my birthday resolutions and I reserved a seat beside me. It was for God.

It was a different experience.

And somehow, more impactful.

I smiled and thought to myself, “Well, if only I can say that I have lunch with God today!” and that’s what I do =).

As I sat there in the park, it began to rain. It was around 1:30 PM and my next tute was at 3:15, so I prayed, “Lord, please, let it rain at 3:15 when I went to my tute.” And that’s what happened!

I was able to sit in that park for another 2 hours before it rained. People will think that it was a coincidence but I would say otherwise. ;)

On the day before my birthday, I have decided to make my first brownies in Melbourne (=p) and then I would give it to the others. My birthday theme for this year is ‘being a blessing and appreciate others’. I went to the church on Sunday and gave the brownies (I really do hope that it is delicious… uh no…) and I gave 18 ‘thank-you notes’ to my church friends. I just hope that they know that I appreciate the little things that they do – it might be just saying a ‘hi’, or giving a ride home, or sharing their experiences of God and such. But I want them to know.

On the 25th of April my sister also has her birthday, and we decided to give free chocolates and candies to small children that we meet. We went to the botanical garden and began to give the chocolates. And man, THAT WAS HARD! Never thought that it will be that hard. It was hard to talk to strangers (and I am calling my self a Bachelor of Arts student that wants to major in Psychology and Media and Communication? Lol). But we managed to give to around 8-10 families, and I was happy that we did. It was quite an experience, and maybe for next time I will give balloons instead (just like what Jaeson Ma did!)

I had a different kind of birthday this year, and I guess it was more impactful than the previous ones ;).

out of ordinary

This is what i called out of ordinary, my first ‘interesting’ experience in Melbourne:
I was sitting in the library and doing my online fortnightly Critical Thinking test.
Suddenly the fire alarm rang and I did not even take notice of it.
I began to look around and not even one person got up to get out of the building.
After the fire alarm sounded for the second time, people began to look around and pack up their things – slowly.
I was confused whether or not to submit my test, but then I decided to submit my online test (I hope it won’t be too bad, it was only half done,, lol) and walked outside the library.
People walked slowly as if nothing happened, and from the distance I saw a fire truck came.
I migrated to a park nearby, and just realized that I have submitted the test. Oh well… lol.

d.e.t.e.r.m.i.n.a.t.i.o.n.

I have made up a project to myself (if not I will never do anything for the rest of my life =p), which is to TALK TO ONE STRANGER each day. And this excludes the ‘thank yous’ to bus driver, and ‘hi, how are you?’, of course! =p

It’s hard to talk to strangers! Well, I’ve started this so-called ‘project’ 2 days ago and in the first day I only manage to talk one sentence to a mother who brought her 6 months old baby girl in the train, “She’s very cute.” Not quite an experience… But at least I’ve tried… (hahaha, this is an act of consoling myself =p).

Anyway, I manage to talk to a stranger today! Well, after letting go 2 opportunities to talk to other 2 strangers (I was very scared, I dunno why), I managed to talk to a girl sitting beside me in a tram to Melbourne University (the third opportunity lol). Well, I didn’t talk much, just asking of whether she is a student in Mel-U, and what major does she take, and where does she come from, and general things like that… But, I actually feel happy after that! lol.

Before I did actually talk to her, I was very sleepy and her face also conveyed the same thing. Furthermore, our faces were like… blank and as if we had a bad mood or something. But after we did start our conversations, we begin to smile and do our casual talks – and believe me, it feels good =). I manage to wish her a great day ahead, and I feel soooo happy (hahaha, unbelievably, I even laughed when I do write this down).

But hey, it will take little things to do greater stuffs right? It doesn’t have to be something big, what it needs is an action! (and this is my determination to start my actions). If I usually read novels in the trams and trains, maybe I will do less of that and engage people in conversations.

One time I forgot to bring my novel and I began to observe people – what do they do in the trams, trains and such. It is kinda sad when you see people just playing handphones, listening to iPod, and giving blank stares to each other. Very few people are seen talking to each other (excluding those who have friends etc traveling with them in the train!). Time can’t be repeated, so why don’t we use our time to actually do something good? =)

Soooooooooooooo,,, I’m going to do this (determined determined determinedddd), and we’ll see how that goes =). Who knows that I can share the gospel??? (well maybe it is still a looongg way ahead, but you’ll never know unless you’ve tried, right?)

Oh yeah, the plus point of this project is to build my confidence and to speak more fluent English! (hahaha)

Gatekeepers.

It’s your mission. It’s my mission. It’s everybody’s mission.

The gospel.

When Pastor Jiggu Bogi got up there and said that he’s going to talk about missions, I feel that God keeps reminding me of some things.

During this past month I’ve been reading a book about eternity, salvation, judgment, and hell, but I never really live up those faith. No actions. Nothing. I am ‘wearing a mask that never fits, an imitation of human under my skin.’

And this is my story.

Before I went to Australia to study, I was in Singapore for around a week, and now I believe that it is not a coincidence. I went to Bethany church service and the pastor said that, “Young people, it’s time to GET SERIOUS with God. If you never really be serious with God, now it’s the time for you to change.” That was my slap. I never took God seriously before.

Oh yes, I do go to church, I pray everyday, I read my Bible, and I say that I love God. I praise Him, and worship Him. But I was never 100% serious. I still compromise with sins, and live my life for myself. So right there, at that very moment, I decided to get straight with God. No more playing, no more in the ‘grey’ side. I want to get serious.

Soon after I went to Australia for further study, and I began to read the book “Driven by Eternity” by John Bevere. From that book I began to be reminded about the concept of salvation, judgment, hell, and eternity. I know these stuffs before – but I never really thought about it until this past month. It came very vivid to me that we are called – to preach the gospel.

Not long after that the pastor in IPC (Indonesian Praise Center, the church I am going in Melbourne), preached about the ‘gatekeeper of hell’. Yes, I know that all non-believers that do not know Jesus will go to hell. But, I never really thought about that. I always think that, there will be always another day to talk about Jesus. There will always be tomorrow to talk to them. Let other people (e.g. the pastors) do the preaching, I am not obliged to share the gospel to them. But I was wrong.

We are the gatekeepers. You know those people – your friends, your lovers, your parents, your families, your colleagues, whoever they are – if they don’t believe in Jesus, if they don’t believe in the gospel – they are going to hell. We are the gatekeepers of hell. How come I am actually letting them pass, and not pull them away? How come that I actually KNOW THAT THEY ARE GOING TO HELL, but not even once I TELL THEM ABOUT THE TRUTH?

Even in the radio, I heard about the salvation and the judgment day. In the cell group, I am reminded of the salvation again. Again and again and again, I’ve been reminded to all these things – but yet I never respond correctly.

Today, it was the peak. When pastor Jiggu Bogi got there and said that it is our mission to share the gospel – it struck me, again. The preaching of gospel (he summaries it to 5 points: 1. God loves us so much. 2. Everyone has fallen short before the Lord. 3. God gave His only Son to die on the cross so that our sin can be forgiven. 4. Jesus was raised from death. 5. If we believe in Jesus, we can be forgiven from our sins and receive salvation) is OUR JOB.

…There was a session regarding the Holy Spirit, and I guess, this became very personal to me.

I am a person that always wants to be other people. When I see those people who have talents in music, in singing, in dancing, in multimedia, in preaching, etc; I want to be like them. I always think that, “Lord, I want to do everything for You, but I can’t do anything. They can sing, they can preach, let them do the work. If I have all those talents then I can serve You.”

The point is, if I am someone who’s ‘big’, then I can serve the Lord.

Never once I saw the gifts that I have within me.

Never once I thought of being faithful towards the little things.

I am a person that always judges others; a person that thinks that, ‘I am better than the others’. I live as if I’m going to live forever – that I can never die. But who am I, really?

Just a vapor in the wind, nothing.

I am a person that always asks for the Holy Spirit to come, for the Lord to do His ways in my life. But I never search for Him. I only ask Him to come, to bless me, to live inside my life; but I never search Him. And today, it hits me – hard.

What right do I have to call myself a CHRISTIAN, but I’ve never done anything for the Lord?

What right do I have to say that ‘I LOVE YOU, LORD’, but yet I don’t do what His heart desires?

What right do I have to call myself a CHRISTIAN, but yet I see those people going to the gates of hell, and not tell the truth?

Am I ashamed? Ashamed of the gospel? Ashamed of God?

Am I afraid? Afraid that people will think of me as ‘weirdo’ or something?

Am I too busy? Too busy doing things FOR MYSELF, and neglect the others?

If God says tonight, “My daughter, your time is up,” what will I say to Him?

I’VE DONE NOTHING FOR THE LORD.

I have all those opportunities – in church, in universities, in buses, anywhere – but yet I sit and do nothing. Their bloods are dripping off my hands. Their souls are going to the gates of hell, and yet I’m not doing anything to stop them.

What right do I have to call myself a CHRISTIAN?

The good news is, I am still alive today. God has given me another chance.


…And you know what? it’s a process.

You can’t get straight in one day; it takes time.

But when you make a decision to give your life to God – that’s your start.

Start with the little things.

I want to give the driver’s seat to God. I want to be what God wants me to be – whatever that is. I want to live God’s purpose in my life.

I don’t want God to pass me by.

I don’t want God to be finished with me.

And who says that it’s going to be easy? It won’t! The path to heaven is narrow, and it’s difficult.

But I want to love God. And loving God means hating what He hates, and loving what He loves.

I want to be a candle in the dark. To shine the light – and send it on.

…I love You, Lord. Yes, I do. Sometimes I’m afraid, sometimes I’m ashamed; I ask for forgiveness. Forgive me, Lord. And please, don’t pass me by. Don’t be finished with me. Please Father, I know that I’m falling over and over again, but, don’t ever give up on me. I don’t want to give up. I want to live the life You want me to live. I don’t want anyone else is called because I’m not fulfilling my callings. I want to live my life for You. I am giving You the driver’s seat – the steering wheel. I know there will be times when I pull the handbrake or force a turn but please Lord, bear with me. Never give up on me.

Thank You, Lord.

I am a gatekeeper.

I am going to act like one.

But not me, it will be the Holy Spirit who lives within me.

I want to be a servant of the Lord.

I don’t want this to be just ‘one-day contract’ with the Lord.

I want it to be a ‘lifetime contract’.

But I can’t do this alone. I need God, and all of you – to keep reminding me.

WE ARE THE GATEKEEPERS.

SHARE THE GOSPEL,

Porcelain Doll

Porcelain Doll

Grey tuxedo, blue silk tie, and dress shoes
the man enters a magical shop around the corner, where little ones’ wishes come true
His eyes wander around the motionless sale items
from a sweet brown teddy bear
to the princess Barbie in a purple dress
One porcelain doll caught his eye
she is dressed in silvery white
“It’s perfect.”

A little girl with her gold tiara
sits under the sombre Christmas tree on Christmas Eve
But it’s raining inside
and she has no umbrella to hold back the tears

It’s late, almost midnight
He parks his car, enters the living room
and places the box under the tree
He hurries out, back to his work
not knowing the little girl is still sitting there in the dark
under the sombre Christmas tree on Christmas Eve

The little girl has wished for a gift from Santa
and Santa was there, but not the gift
She stares blankly at her twenty porcelain dolls dressed in all but white
and wishes upon the bright gold star,
“I want my Daddy.”

The little girl plays with her new companion all day long
and asks the silvery white-dressed porcelain doll,
“Did you hear the scary loud music,
with the sound of banging doors and broken plates
or it is just my imagination?”
She hugs her new treasured companion
as tears flow down her red cheeks
under the sombre Christmas tree on Christmas Day

The little girl cradles her silvery white-dressed porcelain doll
and sees a big black box sitting on the floor
it’s Daddy’s
Mommy’s eyes are red
Mommy, like the little girl, hasn’t got an umbrella
and Daddy
Daddy slams the big black box
Daddy hasn’t stopped the scary loud music

Daddy’s gone
and Mommy too

The little girl sits there in the dark
under the sombre Christmas tree on Christmas Day
She hugs the silvery white-dressed porcelain doll
and sings her a lonely lullaby

Marcella Purnama
29 March 2010

1000 years

1000 years

I envy those birds
soaring high the sky above
No boundaries, no limits
Tasting freedom I never seize

Along the way you will realize
how important the baby steps
Silly little things you used to do
worth millions more than the routines do

And sometimes soon you’ll find the truth
how prestige clouds your mind with blue
Money and fame will do lure you
with their wicked traps and mask of fool

I wonder why that time in
the crossroad I chose this route
That brought me wealth, brought me fame
but took my humanity and took my life

Redo it over, oh how I wish
When you’re an artificial intelligent, living dead
Those times you spent deceiving others
You ain’t deceive no one but just yourself

Came as a girl, never return as a woman
For I’m bound with chains of foolishness
Putting a mask that never fits
An imitation of human, under my skin

Gold and reputation, I searched them all
But it’s just chasing the wind, all those years
Way too busy, shooting the stars
For the stars I already have,
I tossed them all, and not even glance

Selfish and Foolishness were my middle names
And Deceived was my first
But my last name hurts me so
Because it’s Death that I face alone

I’ve done nothing, nothing at all
Never I live, living my dreams
All those visions I have as a youth
Went drowning through the pit of gloom
Never believe it can come true

I want to breathe, I want to live!
Don’t drag me to the grave, I’m not done yet
I still want to tiptoe along the beach,
observing birds soar the skies above

I’m not done yet, never will
I’ll never taste life, but death I will
But I’m not ready, never will
I want to live a thousand years
My one last will.

Marcella Purnama
18 March 2010

DRIVEN by ETERNITY, Part 4: ETERNITY

All these times we have talked about salvation and such to determine our lives for eternity but yet we haven’t defined what is eternity.

What is eternity?

One dictionary defines it as “an infinite amount of time”, while other defines it as “the state of existing outside time”. These statements contradict each other, but yet there’s no one that argues about that! Why is that so? The answer is: because our mind CAN NOT cope with eternity. Bible just says that, “God has planted eternity in our hearts,”: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Thus, even though eternity can not be understood with our minds, we can know its existence through our hearts.

Let’s put it this way. Normally a person will have a lifespan of 80 years. These 80 years that he has spent on earth will determine his eternity. Thus mathematically, it will be:

80 years : eternity (infinity) =  0

Thus, imagine that our 10 years will determine our lives for 1,000,000 years

10 years: 1,000,000 years = it is not 0!!

Think about it further, our 1 year will determine our lives for 100 billion years.

1 year: 100 billion years = still not 0!!

Further and further, not even our 1 day towards 1000000 million zillion years still equal to 0!! So have you realized the truth? Every second that passed, every time that has gone, all our days – it will count to our eternity. Are you scared now? I know I am. How come my one-minute of anger towards my friend will cost me my heavenly eternity? How come my 60 seconds of sulking will make me lost my heavenly eternity? And how can I spend eternity in hell? That is too unbearable!! Have you wasted your day like it was nothing, doing nothing useful and doesn’t being an impact towards others? I often do that, and now I tremble in fear! What on earth have I credited towards my eternity! Now I am more freaked out. I haven’t done anything for the Lord!

Okay, let’s see it in a different way. Take Charity from the previous part for example. She is going to spend eternity with the Lord, in the kingdom of God. She will rule with Him, and spend the rest of eternity in the most beautiful place that ever be. She will be forever joyful, have peace, happy, etc… the same goes for Selfish. Although he is not in the nicest spot in heaven (he may be only the gardener or the people who clean the streets, but who cares? Being in heaven is already wonderful enough! Too wonderful!), he will still spend his eternity with the Lord. And now think the opposite way.

Independent and Deceived. Where are they going to be? They are going to be in hell or the Lake of Fire or Hades, whatever you want them to be named (I will discuss the reality of heaven and hell in the next chapter). Can you imagine? Spending eternity in hell? In the place where there will be misery, and such… you want to go there? Hell, I don’t. It’s eternity. It’s one way in, and no way out. If people live a bad life, they can end it through dying. In hell, you are already dead. How can you escape the torments?

You can’t.

So what is eternity? And how do you want to spend your eternity? Again, you choose.