by Sarah Teo (above photo, middle), 24 years old
Before coming to the School of Witness, my faith was stagnant. I come from a family of four and we are all very involved in church work. I have been serving in church for almost 10 years, after my first conversion experience, it led me to want to serve more. I was also involved in the campus communities in my polytechnic and university. However, after many years, I had become tired. It was difficult to see God, feel God and hear God. It took a lot from me to find Him and it never really worked out. I asked myself why even after spending so many years pouring my heart out in service for God that I didn’t feel any closer to Him? It was hard for me to claim the words from Deuteronomy 4:29 “If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me”. I thought I already tried my best, and I just felt defeated. Even with faith, it was difficult to claim the truth that Jesus was with me because I couldn’t feel Him and sought out other means to gain love.
During one of the sessions, it was revealed to me that I was treating God like a vending machine. My time spent serving Him in ministry was the currency I used to earn His love. I felt that if I served at a retreat or stepped up to lead, that God will love me and will finally show Himself to me again. This made me treat my service to God as transactional. This led me to burnout and feel frustration in serving in ministry. Even as I entered the school, I still tried to find ways to serve Him and seem helpful so that I could somehow feel God.
I brought this up during a night of prayer and as the prayer team prayed, they assured me that I actually didn’t need to do all that and Jesus was already with me in my heart! They explained that I’ve been walking with my arms stretched out, not realising that Jesus was already in my heart. I have forgotten that God’s love isn’t earned through years of ministry or prayers, but it is freely given! In my search for an emotional high, I did not realise His gentle reassurance of His love for me. Jesus shows me who He is through the things I do and say, with my very being for He resides in me. The saying that “there is nothing I can do to make Him love me any more or less” was more real at that moment as I slowly opened my eyes to see the love of God that is within me.
More testimonies on the Father’s love and images of God:
This truth really set the tone for the rest of SOW as I slowly learnt how to accept His love more freely and to just be still. There was a lot of unlearning, especially in my motivations towards service. He gave me new eyes to see His abundant love for me, that I don’t need to do things to feel accepted and loved but rather, to simply receive the love of Jesus! During a personal prayer time, as I reflected on the Gospel for that day, the Lord slowly brought me to the word “stay”. It came at a providential time of the school as we were preparing for outreach and mission. Jesus was inviting me to continue to stay in His love, to stay in His house in my heart and to stay in the presence of God.
“Abide with me as I abide in You. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vines neither can you unless you abide in me”. (John 15:4)
God calls me to abide in Him and to be open to His love first, before I think of doing anything else. I am reminded that it is not by my own effort that I gain the love of God but to simply be open to His love for me. Today, I claim the truth that His love for me is free and all I need to do is to accept it with gratitude. Will you accept His love today?
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