ALL the other boys were taller and bigger. I am short and I felt inferior. I chanced upon a classified advertisement in the papers on “Secrets to growing taller”. I sent in the required $15 and waited eagerly for the “secrets” to arrive.
Imagine my excitement when the package arrived ... I locked myself in my room and opened it. Guess what were inside - a “secrets” manual and a compass. Yes, an instrument containing a magnetized pointer that shows the direction of earth’s magnetic north. The secret to growing taller is to lie along the earth’s magnetic field and allow the magnetic forces to pull you taller. You are probably smiling as you read this.
You must be dying to know, “Did I do it?” Yes, I did – a couple of times. That is the reality; when you are in need, you grasp at any offered solution ... even silly and foolish ones.
To compensate for my height deficit, I often used words to make fun of others, to belittle them and as a result, I felt “bigger” and “taller”. I also had a good way to compensate for my lack in physical stature. I sought to be better than others in character. At the end of each day, I would reflect on the day's events and evaluate my strengths and weaknesses and seek to improve myself.
I was a perfectionist and there were times when I could not live up to my own expectations. I did make progress but I realized later that if I depended on myself, I had limited capacity to change.
There was emptiness within me but I didn't know what it was. I tried to fill this emptiness with lots of activities. I attended Christian youth meetings because the girl I liked was always there. They sang so I sang, they prayed and I prayed. But I did not know the significance of Christianity. I know that God exists but I did not know who He is. I had discussions on various religions with my pre-university classmates. However, these discussions remained at an intellectual level and they never satisfied me.
During my National (military) Service, I began to take one professional accountancy examination after another. However, passing examinations soon lost its attractiveness to me. I was also involved with the then Singapore Association for Retarded Children but visiting, feeding and playing with the children did little to fill this emptiness.
In July 1975, I entered the University of Singapore but I was confused about where I was going in life. I wanted desperately to find meaning and purpose in life but did not know how. I realised now that the emptiness within me reflected the truth about man ... that man is created to have fellowship with God and he will never feel fulfilled (or reach his full potential) until he has a personal relationship with His Creator.
Pascal, a great physicist and philosopher said, "There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ."
On the second day of enrolment in the University, I attended a play by Linda Goebel.
Linda is a dramatist and she was acting out her life before she knew Jesus Christ ... how she was reaching out to God ... and how God reached down to her by sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross for her sins, how Christ was raised from the dead to give her meaning and purpose in life.
I could identify with Linda because I too was trying to reach God and find a life of meaning and purpose through my own self-improvement and good works. But my best is not good enough.
As Linda talked, I felt as if she was talking directly to me. She explained how I can have a personal relationship with God through faith. On July 8, 1975, I believed in Christ and became a Christian, a child of God.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works that on one
God began to bring about changes from within. I learnt that God accepts me just as I am because Jesus died for me. With this knowledge, I learnt to accept myself and I no longer need to belittle others to feel big. Now, God is teaching me to control my tongue that I may be careful not to hurt others with what I say.
Today, as I looked back, I'm glad that I made the decision to trust Christ to forgive my sins and give me a new life. Despite the fact that trials, disappointments and frustrations still exist, I have truly enjoyed the Christian life and will not exchange this for anything else.