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A Path Carved By God

Title: A Path Carved By God
Artwork by: Patsy Shaw (@shawmuchart)
Description: 
We often find ourselves looking for peace and security in the wrong areas. We believe that if we could just get the right job, earn the right income, or find the right spouse, then all will go well with our lives.  We are drawn to these desires because we think they will satisfy us, but it is only when we yield our desires to God, and allow Him to etch out His path for our lives, that we can truly enjoy a life of lasting satisfaction. 

I chose to express my journey through linoleum block printing because it’s the perfect medium to convey what a life of following Jesus looks like. Once I carve out the linoleum block, the piece takes on a new form and is forever transformed. In the same way, once God calls us to Himself, His gospel changes not just one small aspect of our lives, but every area of our lives. We might not know exactly what the final image looks like, but He knows what image He has in mind, and with every carve that He makes in our lives, we can trust that it will lead to something beautiful that displays His glory.

 

We make decisions on a daily basissome bigger than others. When my time at Penn State University drew to an end, I found myself at a forked road. I had a one-way ticket to the Philippines, where I grew up. There, a luxurious life of medical school, weekend shopping sprees, unlimited TV shows, and every material comfort my heart wanted awaited me. Or I could stay in the US without knowing what my next step would be.

Even though it seemed logical for me to head home, in my heart, I sensed God had something very different for me.

 

All my life, I thought I wanted to become a doctor just like my parents, but deep down I knew there were other reasons behind my ambition: I wanted to prove to other people that I could do it, and I wanted to earn as much as I could so I could accumulate even more luxuries.

However, all this changed when I was in college. It was here that I experienced what it was like to be part of a church community that loved God and people well, and I was drawn to them. They taught me all about God’s grace—God’s unmerited love for us even though we have done nothing to deserve it, and were instrumental in teaching me and building my faith. Now that I had discovered a community that is so rich in love and grace, my old life at the other end of the Pacific began to pale in comparison.

 

As I considered the options before me, I was faced with a lot of uncertainty. While I had a set path carved out for me back home, I had no idea where I would work or live if I remained where I was. I was afraid of these uncertainties, but I was even more afraid of losing God and the richness I had found within the church community here. 

Dealing with these uncertainties meant that I had to depend on God every step of the way. And He proved Himself faithful by providing me with a job in Philadelphia, a church, and great roommates. I may live in a small house, and my heart aches for my family occasionally, but I can say that God has made my life far richer than I could have ever imagined.

 

I was searching for peace and security in my old life. But along the way, I found a treasure that far outweighs my earthly desiresthe joy of belonging to His Kingdom. Matthew 13:44 says, “The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field”. Like the man who has found the hidden treasure, I “sold” my old life so I could buy the fieldcontinuing to live life with my church community. 

 

 

2017: The Year My Resolutions Failed Spectacularly

Written By Priscilla G., Singapore

I’ve had years in which I did not meet my new year resolutions, but never a year in which I failed in my resolutions as spectacularly as I did this past year.

This August marked my fifth year working as a journalist with a media company in Singapore. While I had my share of bad days at work, I loved my job. I enjoyed meeting interesting people and telling their stories. I specialized in covering social issues—issues that affect disadvantaged groups—so I felt the job was meaningful. Though my working hours were flexible at best and irregular at worst, God gave me the grace to still be able to spend time with family and church.

At the start of the year, one of my resolutions was to get a promotion and win more awards for my articles. To me, these goals were attainable. I’d won awards before. And I wanted a promotion as an affirmation of my work, not so much for the pay rise.

 

The Shocking News

Long story short, not only was I not promoted, I was told in October that I would be redeployed the following month. I was to be transferred to another department and take on a job that I did not ask for nor want.

The news came as a shock. Many of us had seen the company’s restructuring exercise coming, but I did not expect younger workers like myself (I am in my late 20s) to be affected. I knew of at least three others who were redeployed, and at least four who were retrenched.

The month before I was told of my redeployment, my supervisor had nominated me for an award. And as of 6:30 p.m. that fateful day, I still had not heard about my own redeployment—the human resource department was busy talking to the many employees who were retrenched, so I was informed about it at about 6:40 p.m.

Until that day, I had never cried so much in a day before. I cried when I spoke to my supervisor in the office canteen immediately after being told the bad news. I tried to hold back the tears when I returned to my desk. I cried during a cell group meeting later that day. I cried to God at home, until about 3:00 a.m.

I loved my job. I loved it enough to stay on for five years without a bond, and to stay on while at least seven of my peers quit before I did. But I now had to move to another job within two weeks.

During the prayer that ended at 3:00 a.m, I asked God several questions: What just happened? Why? Was I not a good steward of the gift, of this job You gave me? Did I make my job my god? What did I do wrong? If I did something wrong, why didn’t You give me some sign or warning? Usually the Holy Spirit convicts me when I sin, but this redeployment was a bolt from the blue.

 

God’s Leading and Provision

Amid all those tears, I felt God assure me that the redeployment wasn’t my fault. He reminded me that all the authority figures in my life—my parents at home, my cell leader in church, my supervisor at work—did not sound out any problems when I got busier at work.

He also helped me realize that the career move was something He wanted. I have had several signs from God, since the age of 12, that led me to believe that He wanted me to be a journalist in that company. I had the conviction that I would quit only if the signs leading me out were as clear as or clearer than the signs leading me in. To me, the redeployment was a clear sign to move out, at least for this season in my life.

I also felt assurance of His guidance. Two days after hearing the redeployment news, I listened to a sermon about following God’s signals and road map. One of the first verses mentioned was Psalm 32:8: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Perhaps because the verse is written in the first person, it felt like God was speaking directly to me.

Eventually, within less than a month of being told of my redeployment, I found a new job in the corporate communications team of a social service agency that serves people with disabilities.

Events moved much faster than I expected, but I do not think my career move was a rash decision. I did not just settle for any organization with a job opening; this new job met various criteria I had. For instance, the organization serves people with disabilities, and I had covered news stories on the disability sector, so the job was not totally unfamiliar territory. My salary expectations were met too.

I am also thankful that I could sign the job contract and submit my resignation letter to my previous company before leaving for a mission trip. The security of knowing what lies ahead gave me more peace of mind during the week-long trip.

By the grace of God, I will start my new job in January 2018. I am thankful for the lessons I have learned through this episode of failed resolutions.

 

 1. Turn to God

I have learned that going through disappointment with God is better than going through it without Him.

It was helpful to have advice and words of encouragement from friends, but God’s presence and words were more satisfying. They gave me comfort and healing from the bitterness towards my previous company, so I could let go of the hurt and move on. They gave me direction and wisdom when I needed to know where to move to next. They gave me courage and hope for the future. The nearness of God is a good thing (Psalm 73:28).

It is important to turn to God first to deal with the emotions within, rather than denying them and going to the extreme of being task-oriented. I find it interesting that in Philippians 4:6-7, Paul says that if people present their requests to God in prayer instead of being anxious, “the peace of God . . . will guard” their hearts and minds. He could have used the word “filled”, but “guard” suggests a defence against something. Peace can guard us from making unwise and rash decisions.

 

2. Accept reality and focus on making informed decisions

There were moments when I found myself thinking about the if-only’s and what-if’s, or dwelling on the “why me?” question. But God reminded me of a popular Christian quote: “God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

So, for the first few days after hearing the redeployment news, I focused on gathering information so I could make informed decisions. I went to find out more about the content marketing job that I was redeployed to, and what my options were if I did not want to accept it. I learned that it would still involve writing, but it was not journalism and would involve writing for a variety of clients, not necessarily the social service sector. I knew early on that this was not what I wanted, so I focused on thinking more about what other jobs I wanted. I narrowed it down to journalism and a corporate communications job in the social service sector. Eventually, it came down to the latter.

 

3. Be thankful for what God has given

Despite what I was going through and even before I found my new job in the social service sector, I could find some reasons to be thankful to God. I realized that many of the dreams I had wanted to achieve as a journalist had been fulfilled, even if I felt my time as a journalist was being cut short. I think Christians are often in the headlines for wrong reasons, so one of my dreams was to feature the good work of the body of Christ.

Over my five years as a journalist, I was able to, by God’s grace, write a story about a church’s unique calendar for needy residents in the community, a story about a pastor with cerebral palsy, and another story that had a brief mention of a Bible verse (Psalm 55:22). I also wrote a personal column which included a quote from Christian author John Piper.

 

When I start my new job next month, it may not be smooth sailing, and I probably will have to get used to many things. But I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness and provision, and I believe that having opened this door of opportunity, He will also empower me in the journey that lies ahead.

ODB: He Leads Me

December 30, 2014 

READ: Psalm 23 

He leads me beside the still waters. —Psalm 23:2 

In Istanbul, Turkey, in 2005, one sheep jumped off a cliff and then nearly 1,500 others followed! In the end, about one-third of them died. Not knowing which way to go, sheep mindlessly follow other members of the flock.

No better word picture than sheep can be found to illustrate our need for a trustworthy leader. We are all, Isaiah wrote, like sheep (Isa. 53:6). We tend to go our own way, yet we desperately need the sure direction of a shepherd.

Psalm 23 describes the trustworthiness of our Good Shepherd. He cares for us (v.1); He provides for our physical needs (v.2); He shows us how to live holy lives (v.3); He restores us, comforts us, heals us, and bountifully blesses us (vv.3-5); and He will not abandon us (v.6).

What a comfort to know that God gently but firmly leads us! He does so through the urging of the Holy Spirit, the reading of His Word, and through prayer. God is the reliable leader we need.

In acknowledgment of our dependence on the Lord, we can say with the psalmist, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.”

— David C. Egner

Like sheep that sometimes wander from the flock
In tangled paths of life to lose their way,
I need my Shepherd’s hand and watchful eye
To keep me always, lest I go astray. —Sanders

The Lamb who died to save us is the Shepherd who lives to guide us. 

ODB: Amazing Guide

November 16, 2014 

READ: Joshua 1:1-9 

Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken. —Joshua 21:45 

When actors and actresses make a movie, it’s the director who sees the “big picture” and the overall direction. Actress Marion Cotillard admits she didn’t understand everything the director was doing in one of her recent films. She said, “I found it very interesting to allow myself to be lost, because I knew that I had this amazing guide. . . . You abandon yourself for a story and a director that will make it all work.”

I think Joshua could have said something similar about the director of his life. In today’s Scripture passage, the newly commissioned leader of Israel is standing at the threshold of the Promised Land. More than 2 million Israelites are looking to him to lead them. How would he do it? God didn’t give him a detailed script, but He gave him the assurance that He would go with him.

God said, “I will be with you. I will not leave you” (Josh. 1:5). He commanded Joshua to study and practice everything written in His Word (vv.7-8), and He promised to be with Joshua wherever he went. Joshua responded with complete devotion and surrender to his amazing Guide, and “not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken” (21:45).

We too can abandon ourselves to our Director and rest in His faithfulness.

— Poh Fang Chia

He leadeth me! O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be,
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me. —Gilmore

Faith never knows where it is being led; it knows and loves the One who is leading. —Oswald Chambers