Written By Alyssa Tan, Singapore
Unlike many of my peers who submitted countless applications to various employers even before they graduated, I had only intended to send out a single resume. I was so set on pursuing a specific career in educational therapy that I could join only one organization that I believed could enable me to do this.
After graduating, I sent in my application and was shortlisted for an interview. I thought that this was the ideal path for me as it aligned with my interests and I could help others—why would God disapprove?
Well, there was a small issue that I had to work on a weekend, but I rationalized that God (being God) would protect my time on Sundays such that my church commitments would not be affected. So in my prayers, I didn’t ask whether I should go ahead, I simply asked Him to help me get through each round of selection smoothly and ensure that I had a suitable work schedule.
On the morning of my interview, however, I found out that I had dengue fever. Out of concern, my parents stopped me from going for the interview, so I postponed it. Three days later, still ill, I went for the re-scheduled interview. I wasn’t confident, knowing that my performance could have been much better had I not been at the mercy of a mosquito.
So it came as a great surprise when I was called back for a final interview. To me, this was a clear sign from God. “This was it,” I thought. There was no way I could have impressed the interviewers on my own, with my less-than-coherent responses; I believed that it had to be God working to move mountains on my behalf. I was confident that I would ace the final interview, be offered the position, and start my career happily.
Then I was rejected.
I was at a loss; it just didn’t make sense. Was I not good enough? Why did God give me false hope, shutting the door when I was so close?
I felt like one of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness after they left Egypt. God was with them every step of the way, guiding them where to go: “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night” (Exodus 13:21). If only, I thought, God could also appear to me in a cloud and speak to me in a loud booming voice, telling me clearly when to go ahead and when to stop.
Instead, as I continued to read about the Israelites’ journey, God spoke to me through His word.
“Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped . . . Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out” (Numbers 9:17, 23).
Reading this, I realized that the Israelites’ faith was tested daily. They could not predict when the cloud would stay or lift, nor did they know whether their journey would take two days, a month, or a year. They could only trust in God and respond in obedience, waiting for Him to reveal their next step.
Perhaps that is what God wanted me to learn: that following His will is not about reaching a specific end-point in life—be it meeting that soulmate or landing that perfect job—but about turning to Him and trusting Him for each step of the way. It is not about asking God to align His will with mine, but to seek Him and follow His leading for the right way forward.
Eventually, God placed me somewhere way out of my comfort zone—in a communications role within the maritime industry. It has been challenging but the experience has also equipped me to serve Him in ways that I would never have expected to (one of which is writing this article).