Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (Ps 37:4).
From my teenage years until marriage, I lived with my parents in an HDB apartment near the beach. I found solace in long jogs along the beach at sunrise or in the wee hours of the night when one could hear the waves and the wind. When my wife and I left Singapore in 1996 to work in China, one of my prayers was that the Lord would give me a place to go jogging wherever we dwelt. And the good Lord has always given me a place to jog all these years.
Recently, I went on a teaching trip to one of the big coastal cities. The students that invited me were on a tight budget. They asked if I would like to stay in a hotel downtown or in graduate student housing near the campus. Knowing their financial constraints, I chose campus housing. After all, it was only a three-night stay. The place was clean and comfortable. The canteens offered good food at great prices.
But there was no place to go jogging.
I walked around the hospital and apartment complex. There was simply no decent place to run as we were in the midst of a very crowded part of the city. I thought that the lanes would be clearer in the morning, so I got up at 5 am to jog (my poor student liaison had to come along). But even then, there were wholesalers and hawkers everywhere. Finally he told me to try the college track at the sports stadium. I was thinking, “Why didn’t you tell me about that earlier?”
There was indeed a beautiful track at the stadium. People were jogging. But alas, the security guards told us that we had to get a pass, and although I could get one as a visiting lecturer, it would take three days to process the application.
I was quite disappointed. I recall telling the Lord that it was alright, as He had given me a place to jog all these years and I should not complain about not being able to run for a few days (though I did add that I wanted some solace in the huge city). I packed away my running shoes.
That afternoon, I had a call from a Singapore number. PC Yap, a friend from my schooldays, cheerfully said, “Hey Lai Yong. Guess what? I am in China on a business trip, so I thought to give you a call.”
What a surprise to discover that we were in the same city that weekend and we were only 5 km apart. Yap was in a 5-star hotel and I was in a campus hostel with no jogging facilities.
He said, “Lai Yong, I have a 1-for-1 deal in this hotel. I get two items for the price of one. Meals, rooms, buffets, breakfast. Come over.”
I replied, “Never mind the food and the sashimi, although I like that. Is there a gym in the hotel?”
He checked and said, “They have a beautiful gym here!”
I went over, had a great buffet breakfast and an even better workout at a very nice gym, and very thankful that our God is faithful beyond words. It was not just about giving me the desires of my heart. I had been somewhat reticent about coming to give a guest lecture – for what was the use of adding my two-cents worth of words on a university campus where libraries overflowed with books and data? The Lord is not in the business of granting trivial desires – though that is His delight - His answers affirm us to go on doing what He places in our hands, and His showering us with blessings are reminders to give all glory back to Him. God is good and faithful indeed.
Dr Tan Lai Yong teaches in a medical university in the Greater Mekong area. There are some 10,000 undergraduates on his campus and he was placed last in the recent university sports meet 3000-metre race. He hopes to do better in the next academic year.
(This article was first published in Jun-Jul 2009 issue of Impact magazine)