This question has been one of the most popular questions among Christian youths and young adults. However, the question in itself has an issue. The issue is “for me”. Does God exist for us or do we exist for Him?
As I am writing this, I am guilty myself. Moving towards 40s, existential questions intensify. As energy level drops and a feeling that my time on earth is getting shorter, I ask myself if I have actualised myself or at least on the journey of actualising myself. This is a common worldview in our affluent Singapore society because most of us are on the higher levels of Maslow Hierarchy of Needs. Most of us do not worry if we have food to eat but we are concerned if we have meaning in life. Actualising ourselves is a natural need. Nonetheless, it is flesh. From the Old Testament to the New Testament in the bible, it is clear that it was never about an individual’s purpose but it was always about God’s purpose. From prophets to Jesus to His disciples, they were on God’s assignments, going through difficulties to fulfil God’s purposes, than feeling good about themselves.
We tend to be obsessed with the call than the caller. But a call loses its meaning divorced from the caller. (Idea origination from Pastor Benny Ho.)
The issue is not about the need for fulfilment. The existence of a need reveals its necessity, in built by our Creator into our design. The issue is fulfilment in who and what. What or who is our reference point? I have been deceived to think that I have to find fulfilment for my life when it is supposed to be finding fulfilment in God through completion of His will.
The “for me” portion is probably not to be a goal but a reflection. That after I have finished the race of life and fought a good fight, I look back and give thanks for my purpose on earth than to be a focus from the start. My purpose is supposed to be a hindsight conclusion while His purpose is supposed to be my foresight goal.
As we become new creations, renewed by God’s Spirit, may we adjust our worldview so that we may be truly fulfilled in the way God has designed. That the longing in our hearts achieves the divine role it was design for.
God, what is Your will? May Your will be done on earth as it is heaven. Amen.
*Reflection after attending Day One of AWE 2020. For more information on aligning yourself with God, check out: https://archippusawakening.org.*
How do we know what is God's Will?
1. Pray and note promptings in your heart (Some people have dreams, some people have visions etc. most usually hear nothing but just have tuggings in the heart.)
2. Be clear about God's character and principles through the Bible (Check every promptings against the Bible. God's promptings must be aligned with God's Word.)
3. Seek godly counsel (Consult trusted and mature people to hear their views and guidance.)
4. Notice the circumstances you are in (The circumstances we are in are God-ordained. They usually spell out clearly for us our roles and duties. These could be God revealing His will.)
We tend to think of fulling God's calling as a euphoric moment when it is made of mundane small and sometimes irritating and difficult tasks.
Much like couples anticipating an exhilarated moment after the wedding only to realise that what marks a marriage life are mundane small tasks of waking, working, literally putting food on the table, eating, cleaning and sleeping. And repeat and repeat and repeat. The euphoric moment of the marriage is felt after years of these mundane moments, looking back and realising the intimacy built over the years.
Take for example Elizabeth Elliot, Jim's Eillot's wife. It was only on hindsight that her persevering work among the Huaorani Tribe in Ecuador, the tribe which killed her husband, had significance. What characterised her daily life the years after Elliot passed away was coping with grief, raising her 10-month-old daughter without a father, the daily life of reaching out to a group of people foreign to her and other mundane house work. There was no glam; no excitement but diligence in every day tasks. These routine undertakings evenutally amounted to a meaningful life.
Hence, let's seize the moment to be diligent with what God has put in our hearts and hands. Let's not spend time seeking and evaluating about significance till a later time. This is a note to myself lest I concern myself with lofty matters and my heart and eyes become haughty. In pursuing a significant life, I hope I do not end up seeking after myself instead of God. That would become my greatest tragedy.
We are often concerned if we choose right (if we are choosing God's will) because we are fearful that if we select the wrong path, we will face unnecessary hardships. This is a lie. Even when we are right in the centre of God's will, we may face difficulties. Sometimes, precisely we are right on track, our "enemies" may attack. Notice that most prophets of old while they performed miracles in public, they suffered depression and deep heartaches. Most of Jesus' disciples face persecutions, trials and untimely deaths. Let's be seeking God's will because of our devotion to Him and not to secure a path free from troubles. Be warned of this fallacy!
Every year, I look forward to my birthday. It is a day I validate myself (刷存在感). My insecurity often pushed me to count how many birthday wishes I received, even though I think it is stupid to do so. I also await my husband, Asher, to do something great for me. Most of these birthdays ended up in disappointment because no matter how many birthday wishes I received, there will be this internal feeling that it is not enough. Then the day just ended. It ended empty inside. The day did not fulfil the anticipated exhilaration. In some years, Asher just casually (last minute see which restaurant is available) bring me out for a meal and the day wound up without a card (a minimum expectation I have of Asher) and I cried. In fact, one year, I bawled.
However, this year was different. Somehow, I had no expectations. It wasn't that people's care don't matter anymore but maybe I have subconsciously disassociated my value with people's care or lack of care. Perhaps I was distracted by my other internal rollercoaster and my insecurity paled. Perhaps there is a greater awareness that birthdays signify another year older (and I am beginning to dislike the unalterable fact that I am aging.) In any case, this year is one birthday that I feel (not in past tense because I am still feeling it) so wrapped in love.
Asher decided to celebrate my birthday all weekend, instead of one single day, starting on Friday evening. Every day, he planned a place to bring me that we have never been before. Usually, I would like a little more control by asking where he is taking me (so I know what to wear) or what food we are having (tasty food to me is key to a date). However, this time, I thought maybe I should extend my husband the care I offer to youth. In order to encourage youth, whatever initiative they have, as long as it is not immoral or have dire consequences, I will support and go along. This way, the youth would be more motivated to suggest things and take actions. It occured to me that maybe I need to be nurturing to my husband as well. So I just dressed up and went along to wherever he planned. All the venues he chose were enjoyable and the food were delicious. So instead of anticipation towards a single day, before my expectations could build, my birthday celebration began. Without any expectations, every day was satisfying.
Besides birthday wishes, throughout the actual day (Monday), friends sent breakfast, lunch, and pre-lunch (for us to curb hunger because the delivery person delayed), cupcakes, cheese cakes and my parents bought me a cake (Every year Asher arranges a cake cutting session with my parents to continue a childhood tradition). The day ended with a Zoom chat with a group of buddies and a "surprise" card from Asher (I found it on the bedside when I was about to sleep). All in all, it was a lovely day!
However, birthday celebration did not end on Monday! My colleagues tried to send lunch on Monday but the store slipped up and it was changed to next day dinner. Hence, birthday celebration extended to Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, another friend specially travelled to my house to deliver her homemade peach gum. I had thought that she happened to be in the neighbourhood only to realise that she took a bus over just to give me a belated birthday treat. Later in the afternoon, someone sent a Starbucks drink and dessert as another belated birthday treat! So our fridge is filled with all the sweet treats that I can munch on all week. I feel surrounded by love all week.
It is ironic that when I crave for love, it feels so lacking. When I am enough inside, I am more loved and I feel more loved. Birthday celebration became all week long instead of one day. Every birthday wish that I read over text or social media feels more heartfelt than a number I was counting. Perhaps we shortchange ourselves when we dwell in our insecurities. When we accept ourselves more fully and embrace how God has made us, we love and receive love more freely. As I age, I began to realise that birthdays are more meaningful to a child's parents than the child. It is a celebration of a life they brought to earth and a celebration that they managed to feed and grow the child well. I thank God for all the love of friends and family sent to me this birthday. I thank God for creating me and the way I am. I hope in the days ahead, I can more fully embrace who He has created me to be and how He has ordained my days to be that I may be a blessing to Him and others.