Where are you headed this year?

As we reach the end of 2018 and the start of another year, it’s a great opportunity to stop and reflect on the past to help refocus and set the tone for the future. This past month has been a time of reflecting and refocusing, particularly as I approach graduation from medical school (as long as I pass my exams!) and starting work as a doctor. I recently prepared a Bible study for the local CMF (Christian Medical Fellowship) student group – although intended for healthcare students, I thought I would share my notes on here as it probably applies to all Christians, whatever their field of study/work.

Where have you been running towards this past year? What have been your personal, professional/academic, relational and spiritual goals? Have you achieved any of them?

Philippians 3:8b-14 tells us that Paul’s goal was to know Christ. To fellowship in his sufferings through identifying with him. To live in the power of his resurrection. To become more like Christ in his death and resurrection. To be one with him.

8b … that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Our identity is first and foremost as a citizen of God’s kingdom (Phil 3:20-21). We must keep reminding ourselves that we are not defined by our work or study, our role in society, our achievements or failures; we must keep focused on eternity. Whatever work we do, let us remember that it is only a temporary role in which we serve the Lord. He has called us to run this race towards the completion of our salvation. It is not a personally-set target that we achieve through our hard work, but we run (note that we must still be active, not passive) towards a heavenward call from God to us, towards His pull of grace.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day busyness of life and lose track of where we’re actually going. When you feel like you’re surrounded by mountains of things to do, or things aren’t going the way you expected, lift your eyes to refocus on Jesus and remember why you’re here – to love and serve the Lord, because He loved us first.

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your[a] life,appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

We must daily fix our eyes on Jesus. A daily intentional refocusing at the start of the day. Our hearts are inclined towards self, pride, others’ opinions, achieving good results. We need to make an intentional effort to set our minds and hearts on heaven. To know Christ. To fellowship in his sufferings through identifying with him. To live in the power of his resurrection. To become more like Christ in his death and resurrection. To be one with him.

Were your goals last year in line with your higher calling? Do you need to shift focus or adjust your goals? What targets will you set yourself for the next year? How might you live it out? What might that look like in your day-to-day life at work, home, church etc? The rest of Colossians 3 is a good place to start if you’re stuck for ideas 🙂

I was surprised to find an article posted by Desiring God yesterday that ties in quite well with this post. Check out “When our waiting will be over” by Jon Bloom – it’s about a song that reminds us of the promise of Home we hold on to and stirs up hope in our hearts again.


An overdue update..

I’ve had a very long break from writing! Apologies to anyone who popped by during that time and was disappointed to find nothing new.. Life got in the way and this blog got left behind. Hopefully this will not be ‘the one post every couple of years’ but the start of another (long) streak of posts!

Here’s a quick summary of what I have been getting up to..

Intercalation (year out) – I took a break from medicine after 3rd year and studied a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and metabolism. In the UK, a pre-med degree is not compulsory. Instead we have the option to study a bachelor’s or a master’s in something different/specific for a year, mid-course. Korea tends to be obsessed over the newest ‘super-food’ in trend, whereas the ‘balanced plate’ and ‘5-a-day’ is mostly a struggle to achieve in the UK. I wanted to find out more about evidence-based nutrition and how it actually affects our health. The degree provided a good foundation and overview, and gave me experience in research. I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed public/global health and research!


King’s College London graduation!

Returning to med school wasn’t all easy. My intercalation year required different study methods, and I had to relearn how to study for medical exams. It took a little while to become comfortable again with some practical skills too, such as how to take a history from patients, and inserting a cannula. On the plus side, I returned feeling refreshed in my motivation for medicine again! I noticed many of my friends experienced burn-out during or after 4th year, so perhaps a break before 4th year was well-timed for me. Although some details needed reminding of, taking a year out seemed to have helped me take a step back and see the bigger picture in medicine.


In front of the mission hospital!

4th year was fun! I had rotations in clinical specialties. Having finished general medicine and surgery by 3rd year, this year was a time to apply it to particular patient groups i.e. palliative care, older people’s medicine, psychiatry, obstetrics & gynaecology (women’s medicine), and paediatrics. Things started to finally make sense!

Elective – at the end of 4th year, we had a placement module where we could arrange to experience medicine in a different setting. I went with a friend to a mission hospital in Zambia for 4 weeks. It was an eye-opening experience, and a blessed time of rest – learning to ‘be still’ and listen. God often seems to work in unexpected ways, and this was true of my time in Zambia. More on this soon!

Final year – after my long-winded route through medical school, it is here. I am now a month into my last year of medical school. Yay! Applications for foundation jobs are in, exams are looming, and big changes are just around the corner. This year I have rotations in acute medicine, shadowing an FY1 (most junior) doctor, and another elective but within the UK. I have noticed I am already growing in confidence (and competence!) as I begin the transition between student and doctor. It’s going to be an exciting stressful year!

Despite being quiet on this blog, I have continued writing in my journal and hope to share some of this over the next few months. I know I said I would start posting life updates and food recipes a while back – hopefully I will be able to keep my word this time. Please be patient with me though, as things may get busy this year again!

Lessons from Mexico – #1

This summer I went to Mexico with WEC (World Evangelisation for Christ) UK on a short-term team missions trip for 3 weeks. It’s taken me a while to organise my thoughts and find the time to post them, but here are a few of the lessons I learnt whilst I was out there. I realised after writing the first lesson that this will take longer than I thought, so I will be continuing it as a series. I hope and pray it encourages you!


Morning sunrise in Tepoztlan

Lesson #1: the power of testimonies

We had the great privilege of sharing our testimonies with many of the local families and church members. I could see it was encouraging for those who already believed, and intriguing to those that were yet to believe, to hear a group of young people from the other side of the world sharing with them about Jesus and how he entered into our personal lives.

However, as the missions trip was nearing its end, I began wondering if any of the seeds we had sown would bear fruit – whether sharing our testimonies would lead to the salvation of any, let alone many! I know that sometimes we are not granted the privilege of seeing the fruit (and we must be patient and faithful in those times), but I asked God to show me some small sign to encourage me to keep sowing.

Our God is good and He listens to the smallest of our prayers!

On the last day, I was reading John chapter 4 and a verse caught my eye. It was from the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman – a well-known story. Usually I focus on the conversation between Jesus and the woman, but this time I noticed what happened afterwards. The woman ran into her town telling everyone about her encounter with Jesus. Sounds a lot like evangelism, or sharing testimonies. When it comes to telling someone about Jesus or sharing our testimony, I often find myself afraid that nothing will happen, wondering if it’s worth it all. But here’s the encouraging part:

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

The power of testimonies is that it leads people to Jesus! Some of the town people believed in him before they even met him, because of the woman’s testimony. Your testimony could be the key that the Lord uses to open the door of someone’s salvation. How exciting is that! It’s easy to think leading people to Jesus is only the pastor’s role, or for someone more knowledgeable about the Bible. So often we just try to get them inside the church one way or another, hoping that as soon as they step inside, something magical will happen. With this approach however, I think there may sometimes be an underlying belief that the church is a building, or the church is the leadership – no, the Church is all the believers, including you and me!

According to this story, something as simple as sharing how Jesus has changed my life can spark an interest in people’s hearts for more of Jesus and his words. Getting into the word of Jesus actually happened afterwards, leading even more people to believe and strengthening the faith of those who already believed.

How great is our God, that He chooses to work through our testimonies! I hope this encourages both you and me to keep sharing, and to see with the eyes of faith the fruit it might bear.  Let us continue running the race and fighting the good fight – for the glory of God, and for His Kingdom!

A grieving friend

I feel this is an important topic that affects everyone. I hope this encourages anyone grieving, and helps those around them understand a little more of what they might be going through. This is something I wrote in the confusion and pain of my own experience of bereavement.

The death of a loved one is an interesting thing. It isolates you from them and the rest of the world, yet at the same time they have never been so close. You can talk to them at any time but you never hear back from them. They are always there but never there at the same time. Death is the end and the beginning of two completely different lives, that are somehow interlinked by the lingering memories. What happens to the promises that were made in this life? Are your promises still valid?

You enter this strange blank void whilst still living the life the world demands of you. You’re here but not. It’s almost like floating in mid-air, except it’s not even air, it’s just nothingness.

All the things people say to comfort you, which you are grateful for, you know already. It still doesn’t make sense though, or resolve the blank ache that casts a shadow over you. You laugh and smile but there’s still something missing that rids your laugh from being as it was before.

God has brought me through and healed me from this painful experience. I have learnt to trust Him and lean in on Him even when I don’t understand. As always, He has made me stronger and my relationship with Him deeper. This Bible verse really blessed me and gave me strength:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.

Isaiah 43:2