Written By Calvin Woo, Malaysia
What should I do after graduating? What job should I look for? Should I start something of my own? Should I pursue a higher level of education? Is this the right time for a relationship?
These are normal questions that all of us have asked at some point in our lives. But for reasons unknown to me, these questions troubled me so badly that they affected my mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
I was at the crossroads and trying to make a life decision. I was so worried and anxious about my future that my heart was overcome with a wave of unrest. I felt helpless that I could not control all aspects of my life, and began to question myself and my abilities.
I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t eat well or sleep well at night, since I was constantly trying to find answers to my questions. I consulted my friends and family members for answers and validation, hoping to give my heart some rest and assurance. But my questions continued to come and go like the tide, crippling my productivity and my life as I lost focus of myself, my loved ones, and God. I tried really hard to resist and fight the questions—by distracting myself with other things, binge-watching movies and drama series, and going on a beach holiday. I tried to escape my thoughts, but somehow they always crept back in.
One night, I was alone in my room battling my thoughts, and I decided to cry out to the Lord.
“Lord, I’m worn out! Please take me out from this storm. Speak to me and show me Your way.”
Tears rolled down my face as I cried out. I was lost and did not know what to do, but yearned for direction.
A few weeks later I was traveling in California. My heart still burdened, I suddenly felt a prompting to go hiking in a forest of redwood and giant sequoia. My mind quickly drew up the perfect plan to get to the woods early in the morning.
When I walked through the entrance of the forest trail, it was as if I had entered another dimension. The towering redwoods and giant sequoias left me in awe, and I was at a loss for words. The beautiful sunlight cutting through the canopy hit my face. I closed my eyes, listening to the creek flow. And for the first time in months, I took a truly deep breath.
I continued to walk deeper into the belly of the forest and came across a quiet grove with a creek, and the giant sequoia and redwood as a backdrop.
I sat alone by the creek and closed my eyes as I took in the beauty of God’s creation. As I moved away from the noises of my usual surroundings. . .
I heard a whisper, rebuking my heart.
“Quiet! Be Still!” (Mark 4:39)
At that moment, tears from my still-closed eyes started to roll down my cheeks. I felt great peace and deliverance from the bondage of anxiety and worry. The liberation and freedom I felt were beyond words, and could only be expressed with tears of gratefulness and joy.
In the quiet grove, I prayed and thanked God for His great love for me. His purpose in bringing me to this redwood forest was to remind me through His creation of His greatness and power. It felt like I was being embraced by the surrounding trees, and I could feel God’s love flowing in my heart.
I had spent the past few months looking everywhere for answers to my questions, and my efforts only stirred the storm of unrest in my heart. But in that solitude in the forest, I could finally hear God in the midst of the storm.
As I continued walking along the forest trail, I reflected on my wonderful experience, and immediately penned down the moment to serve as a reminder of God’s great love and goodness. As I looked up to the redwood trees, with sunlight cutting between the leaves, I was reminded of God’s almighty hands at work in His creation—and in my life.
God is in control of all things
As followers of Christ, we are not guaranteed a problem-free life, but we know that our trials are a process that strengthens our faith in Him (James 1:2-4). Challenges and difficulties in our walk with God will only strengthen our faith and help us learn to lean on Him in times of trouble. Simply put, challenges are sometimes necessary to keep us grounded in Him. And when challenges do come, we know that we have a refuge in God.
When troubles, anxiety, worries, and trials loom over our heads, it is easy to let our emotions and feelings dictate our reaction, but we need to know that we can be still and know that He is our God (Psalms 46:10). For He is the Lord that waves and oceans obey, and whatever may come, He has already overcome it. But we can’t hear His words of comfort if we are rushing or trying to solve our problems on our own—just like I hadn’t been able to for the past few months. It is only when we are still and quiet that we can truly listen to God and hear what He has to say.
I am in no way implying that you should drop everything and go to a redwood forest. But we can all take time and find a quiet place to reverence God and reconnect with Him. Instead of trying to take control of everything in our lives, we need to slow down.
Try dedicating the first 15-20 minutes of the day to reading the Word of God and praying (and yes, put your phones away!). This is a good starting point for reconnecting with God. Slowly, as you try this or other methods, you will find what works for you in making time to be alone with God.
Often, we worry and are anxious when we lack the ability to control our own circumstances. When this storm of anxiety hits, we need to slow down, take a deep breath and pray. We need to humble ourselves and seek God by recommitting our lives to Him and putting Him first in all areas of our lives. God is in control of all things, and He is right there with us every step of the way. When we let God be the captain who steers our lives, we know that whatever direction He takes us in, we will be safe.
When God rebuked my heart in the redwood forest, I learned to let go of the wheel and let God be the captain. This process is not an easy one. But even though I am still waiting for answers on the next steps of my life, I know that God is ever faithful and will lead me on the right path for my life. This knowledge keeps my heart at rest.