Arthur Chin, Queenstown Lutheran Church
Despite growing up in a Christian family, I did not appreciate God’s presence in my life simply because the desires of my heart were not aligned with His will. I was focused on earthly desires as I pursued achievements in school and tried to please others, afraid of being judged for living out my Christian life. I could not reconcile how my faith in God could allow me to achieve my dreams, and thus, for the longest time, I shut my heart to His voice.
My early days in Junior College in 2011 were a great struggle. I faced atrocious academic results and repeated losses with my school rugby team. Seeking comfort in binge eating, I quickly became obese. I was robbed of self-confidence and became trapped in an endless murmur of self-reproach. I cast my anger on God, not understanding how a loving Father could leave me in this fallen state. I tried to escape this negativity by striving harder with my own abilities – but failed. Indeed, the flesh is weak, and I sunk into depression. Before the ‘A’ levels, I was trapped in negativity again, but this time, I turned to God. I felt convicted to kneel down, praying in the Spirit, and I was filled with a supernatural peace like never before. I trusted that God would carry me through the examinations, and I did not have to fear. Certainly, it was only by the grace of God that I managed to complete my ‘A’ levels and achieve decent results.
It is ironic that we only begin to appreciate God’s work in our lives when we face trials, which in fact stem from our disobedience. Through my academic struggles, I knew that God is real and He answers my prayers. However, I was still not ready to let Him reign supreme in my life, and thus resumed a lifestyle devoid of God. Yet, our ever gracious, loving, and merciful God was not going to leave me be. He can turn trying circumstances around and work miracles; it is then that He is magnified, His light shining brightly to overcome the darkness in our lives. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10, NIV)
In 2013, I entered the army and took up triathlons to keep fit. Despite having repeated visions of crashing while cycling, I continued to train, not understanding the visions. A week later, I crashed into another cyclist at high speed. I fractured my mouth bone, lost four teeth and had completely detached gums, on top of all the body lacerations. I vividly remember staring at the pool of blood and panting hard, as if to assure myself that I was still alive. The recovery process was one of the hardest periods in my life. When I first wore dentures, I could not eat without having them dislodge constantly and; simple actions became extremely challenging. Any remaining self-belief I had was eradicated. I was irate at God and overwhelmed by grief upon seeing how heartbroken my family was. I thank God for their unceasing support and prayers.
Soon, I returned to the army to complete my training. Back in camp, I had few people to turn to. In desperation, I turned to God. I would kneel down and cry out for Him to show me that He still loved me, to bring people into my life to affirm my worth. My prayers would end with me in tears, completely wrecked. I laid down my sins, insecurities, questions, and pain, all before the Lord. Yet it was in such vulnerability, where I was stripped of earthly titles, that I felt truly safe and secure, with the warmth of His everlasting love resonating in my heart.
When I decided to surrender completely to the Lord, He opened my eyes and gave me the wisdom to appreciate the tapestry of His amazing work in my life. I was given numerous leadership opportunities, but this time, my worldview was changed – I saw it as God’s work through which His glory would shine. When I partner God in His work, I no longer work in fear of judgment from men, but with knowledge that my identity and worth are anchored in Christ Jesus. Praise the Lord – I left army with a handful of personal accolades, but I now know that He has not given me these titles to affirm me that I am loved and worthy. Rather, it is His mighty hand that carried me through the wilderness. He has blessed me with wisdom and newfound strength as I learn to seek Him, and walk in holy obedience and complete dependency.
Before leaving the army, I knew I had to improve my relationship with our loving Father. When I shared this with my sister, I was surprised to learn that this had been her prayer for years; God had now answered her in His time. In another divine twist, my friend Meng Ren shared his plans to attend TLBS and invited me to some sessions, where the Holy Spirit convicted me that this was the place that I needed to be to learn more about our loving Father and equip myself with a deeper understanding of the living Word. My journey at TLBS has been nothing short of amazing, and I thank God for the spiritual food that I have received.
In retrospect, the brokenness in my life was due to my rebellion against pursuing God, despite His prompting for me to commit my life to Him. Through the trials I have experienced, I have learnt that God shall never take the second best position in our hearts, and that my earthly desires for human affirmation came from a lack of understanding of the truth and God’s promises for us. He is sovereign and has a special purpose for each of us in His Kingdom. “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4, NIV)
I am now learning to discover God’s plans for me day by day, while laying before Him my selfish desires. In all things that I do, I also give thanks and sing praises to my amazing heavenly Father, who knitted me together in my mother’s womb and loved me from the very start.