By Keene Ng, Ngee Ann Polytechnic
Before coming for Empower21, I was not very socially active as I’m a shy and anxious person by nature. Also, my relationship with the Lord was on and off. Some days I would spend more time with Him and others I would forget about Him completely. I always wanted a strong relationship with God but was prevented in doing so by certain barriers like the excuses I would make. My life revolved around my studies, video games, personal addictions and movies, sleeping at 4 or 5AM and waking up at lunch time or later daily. These areas started to frustrate me when I ran out of content to watch or kept losing in video games which made me feel empty and bored.
When I first came to Empower21, I felt helpless because I tried very hard to change my sinful ways. I had been going for confession on a monthly basis where I kept confessing the same sin every time. After a while I almost gave in to the thought that I could not change and was not a true child of God. I went to this retreat seeking God’s healing, wanting to be free of my sinful ways and to be closer to Him. I wanted a relationship.
During this time, we learnt about who God is and how He works. I came to realise that God works in His own time and not our time, and that we should listen to His perfect will not our own. This meant having to minimise my distractions and place the Lord at the centre of my life. I had to learn how to surrender and trust in His plan for me, which made me uncertain as it meant giving up control. My anxiety and fear made it difficult for me to just live in complete trust that the Lord will provide. It was when I was reminded of the love of Jesus and the beauty and goodness of His plan that I was able to surrender. This was when I was being prayed over during the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit blessing me with peace and hope. This helped me to start believing in myself again and I went for reconciliation.
Since committing to the retreat from the start, I have changed my sleeping habits for the better. I am also slowly building up my prayer life. For example, on the last day of the retreat, for some reason my family did not wake up early as usual to pray the rosary. Instead of “forgetting” about it, I chose to use the free time from the retreat to pray. Over the course of the retreat, I have also tried my best to invite God into my day by offering up the little things, especially the temptations to fall back into the same sin again.
One truth I claim is that God works in His own time, not ours, it is His will and not ours. We just need to give Him our heart and He will take care of everything. As it says in Proverbs 23:26, “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways”.
So how will you respond to Jesus Christ? Are you willing to sacrifice worldly pleasures for Him?