I read a poignant personal post by Waijia and found myself nodding.. more and more profusely as I read through. She wrote out things I found too painful to write. Thoughts peppered across my blog are well consolidated in her writing.
It reminded me of my exciting anticipation as I started out this journey with God – the step of faith. Yet as time passes, the destination or point of breakthrough became more and more blurry or uncertain to me. And this waiting for the uncertain future turned from days to months to years. Every time I thought I was at the point of breaking down in shambles, God pulled me through; or thought I was at the point of breaking through in miracles, God stretched me a little further.
How people applaud that faith of leaving behind a well cushioned job for … *shrugs*. Now looking back, I realize that that faith back then wasn’t even as big as a mustard seed. It has been growing little by little since then. But a bittersweet process to me.
Anyway here’s the part of Waijia’s article that aptly describes my situation. We have different callings, but similar refining process. Same same, but different! Those in brackets and coloured wordings are modified/added in by me.
START // “It began like that. It really did. I was so excited. (When I make drastic and deliberate decisions to forge my path towards the calling God has for me), the sense of glowing anticipation made me scared, happy and giddy all at the same time. Leaving my (well cushioned job) because of the call God was leading me to (everybody’s call is different- so don’t misunderstand me that following God means giving up your specialisation, though it could mean so).
It was so much fun.
But when there is no certainty of the event ever actually taking place, in spite of all your elaborate preparations, that is painful. Waiting, in its raw form without the sweetness of certainty to make it anticipatory, is excruciating.
It’s time to come clean. Days became weeks and weeks became months. As time passed, things looked bleaker. Here we were, with the elaborate preparations and painful sacrifices made, only to find ourselves lost in the in-between, not knowing if we were actually coming any closer to God’s call for our lives. People offered us many places to serve in… but none boldly convicted our hearts through God’s Spirit.
God, are you there? Are you actually real? You’re not playing us out, are you? Not now, not after everything we’ve done? You’re not calling off the wedding and Christmas after all we’ve put into this, are you?
As these times of questioning and seeking became more frequent, this soliloquy became more isolating. Against a silent God who is attentively listening and watchfully waiting, we can mistake Him as being absent.
It did not help that as these moments with God became more lonely and desolate, the moments before men became more frenzied and frantic in comparison. Where are you going? What will you be doing? What about your job? What about your house? What about kids in future? about your career? Who’s going to support you financially? (Are you writing another book?) So what’re your plans?
As the same questions came pouring in like a drowning waterfall, repeatedly from different people, and the times alone with God became more and more lonely and bewildering, a cold, cold night settled over my heart and made it its home. I became tired, resentful of these grating questions, which had a searing effect on me, like a warm hug over a fresh abrasion- filled with good intentions, but completely insensitive and wounding. It was a friend who shared with me, “Everyone is fascinated by the next steps you are taking. It’s no wonder everyone is asking you.” (When I read this line, it reminded me of something RJ told me in the car the other day. I felt that it is probably not all negative vibes from people. It’s like a testimony – to testify that a life in God is not boring, in fact, it’s exciting!)
I started avoiding social gatherings where I knew these questions would be asked enthusiastically- first unconsciously, and then more and more consciously I noticed myself extricating myself pre-emptively from these situations; I started to grow disillusioned; I found myself repelled from conversations and events which involved people talking about their careers- taking exams, getting promoted, going overseas… When I did not do so, I found myself in tears afterwards at some point, struggling to reconcile the frenzied present with an uncertain future, wrestling with a supposedly benevolent, omnipresent, compassionate God who seemed to have abandoned us and put all my prayers on the waiting list or worse, into a spam box.
It was then, when certainty became less and less visible, that discouragement set it. After discouragement, came depression, and then my fear of becoming consumed by it. There were times where tears would come on unpredictably, after a conversation which triggered some emotional switch, or after treading through some old thoughts. The most insensitive questions would come from the people I least expected, and issues which I thought I had crucified and put to death would resurrect with a hateful vengeance.
I was angry with waiting, angry at God, angry at there not being an answer with a blueprint for so long. I had let go of so much, only to find myself before a huge question-mark. I had been patient and trusting for (years) and right there and then, I had had enough and decided it was too much.
Waiting is a funny thing. It need not be painful if one is patient. But God has His way of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g our patience, as He moulds our characters. He has a way of putting you, a piece of silver, out in the open fire like a blacksmith, purifying you under high heat, but watching ever so carefully to ensure its done properly, only letting up when He sees His own image in the shiny metal- you; He has a way of applying pressure on you, squeezing you like a grape, until it becomes poured-out wine, ready to refresh others. In the midst of all of this, I admit, I questioned His goodness, I interrogated His intentions. And slowly but surely, learnt about God’s nature, and the purpose of waiting.
Waiting purifies our intentions, sieving the good from the tainted; waiting stretches our patience further and changes our character, and most of all, waiting throws you into the wilderness such that there is nothing to sustain you except God Himself.
I am learning, that Waiting is a necessary pain, and life without pain is desirable, only if you are willing to accept the leprous consequence of stagnation and death. Pain pushes us closer to the heart of God, especially in the face of uncertainty, and develops a necessary dependency on Him that is essential in the mission field. I am learning, that the only way Waiting becomes bearable, is when through the pain and intimacy of dependency, trust and certainty in His promises is developed and sweetens it to become Anticipation. I await that. // End of Waijia Article
The best thing that came out of all these pain and anguish, making it all worthwhile, is my growing relationship with God in both my heart and my mind – my understanding in God and my intimacy with Him. On one hand I complained about the stinging pain from His refining fire, yet on the other hand, this fire is pushing me into the comforts of His arm’s embrace.
Glory be to the Lord. Amen.
Christina Siew (www.christinasiew.com) is the author of the book, ‘Love, Pinkie >.<’ (www.lovepinkie.com).