By Julian Lopez, NUS Catholic Students Society
I am Julian and in response to His invitation to serve as a coordinator in SMEC this past year, I chose to lower my nets. And today I’m humbled to stand witness to a faithful God. When the nominations and the Heart of Service form opened last year and the door opened for me to serve at His vineyard in this capacity, I immediately shut it. It clashed head-on with my plans for this academic year, particularly an internship that I had to do as part of my course requirements. With my ardent prayers, God was supposed to follow my plans to ensure they materialised and I could graduate on time. After sending out dozens of applications and attending interviews amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19, none came back successful — even the ones I had expected to clinch. Instead, Jesus had a message for me that came in the form of an announcement email from a vice-dean who said that our internship requirements could be fulfilled with modules instead. This concession had never been provided before and while it was made available, no one I knew took this offer up. It seemed almost custom-made for Julian Chris Lopez. That was the first truth I claimed — that as long as my heart is open, no door could stay shut if Jesus opens it and no door could stay open if Jesus shuts it. Jesus is waymaker.
Julian (Center), together with members of CSS SMEC*
As I stepped into leadership, it was not all a comfortable bed of roses. The more I sought to love Him and be intentional with Him, the deeper I grew in relationship with Him, my cracks began to surface. In this past year, He revealed to me areas of my life, especially my childhood that needed healing. For someone who struggles with pride, having cracks wasn’t comfortable and I really wanted to conceal them. I was really impatient and insistent that He grant me a quick fix healing. Healing doesn’t work that way though. But that impatience led me to lose trust in Him. Because how could I possibly lead others to Jesus when I was myself struggling to trust Him? He planted a little seed of hope in my heart and with that, a stick of faith that He will not fail me. And my plant of hope grew clinging onto this stick. My trust crisis though, was a part of His perfect plan that He continued to be glorified and magnified in me because it was precisely through these cracks that His light could shine through me. I was glorious ruins. I thought I merely had to lower my nets for Him but He wanted more. He didn’t just want to meet me. He wanted to take me on a journey. He wanted to show me His own heart that I might fall deeper in love with Him and I would seek to love my brothers and sisters just as He loves me. He was slowly but surely working a miracle. Jesus is miracle-worker.
Today, I may not be completely healed yet and that may itself take the rest of my life but one thing I am certain of is that I am in the hands of my God, my comforter and my best amigo. He knew what He was doing when He called me to leadership and He still does. Just like clay in the potter’s hand to be moulded as he pleases, so have I been this past year in God’s tender hand, to be given whatever He decides. He has been very carefully pruning me into the person He has created me to be. Even if the journey of leadership may sometimes be akin to climbing a mountain, knowing that I’m walking with the Lord on the climb makes all the difference. And on that journey, He simply continues to reveal more and more of Himself to me. He has shown me how in learning how to follow Him, He makes me a better leader. Jesus is promise-keeper.
My brothers and sisters, leadership is not exclusive to the eloquent, charismatic and knowledgeable. I’ve learnt that Christian leadership is simply about allowing the Lord’s light to shine through our cracks. It will not be a journey where the Lord tells you every single thing every single moment but sometimes simply smiles and takes you by the hand and leads you forward. In humility, I have learnt how it is less about me and what I can do but more about how open I can be to let Jesus work through me. And His call is not to be successful but to be faithful because Jesus is light in the darkness.
As the Lord today smiles at you and says, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”, He is also inviting you towards the deep to let Himself catch you. Why not allow yourself to walk this journey into the deep with Him? Why not allow yourself to be caught by Jesus?
*Photo was taken in early 2021, in compliance with the then MOH guidelines for social gatherings