by Joanna Tan (above photo, left), 19 years old
Life before SOW was repetitive, boring and mundane. I felt no purpose in my life and it seemed that everyone around me had plans for the future and were sure of what they want to do in the next phase of life. Everything felt like a competition and a competition that I kept losing in. It always ended up in disappointment, both to me and my parents, especially since many of my cousins were much smarter. Thus I resorted to running away from everything. If I couldn’t be the best at anything, then why even try? In all these, Jesus was nowhere to be found. Or rather, I didn’t want to find Him. Last year, I went through A levels (what I think as the worst period of my life thus far) without Him at all. No prayers, no thanksgiving, just disappointment and frustration because I had the belief that praying would do nothing since He couldn’t help me improve.
However, upon entering SOW, Jesus, as always, found a way to call me back into His loving arms, even when I was in such a distant and barren place. He called me back to new life in Him. It was during a para-liturgy on the Father’s love where I was struck by how His love is never failing, and how He stops at nothing to bring sinners like me back home. All He cared about is that I had returned and that my return made Him so happy. Before my return to the Father, I was filled with the shame and guilt of running away from such a loving being. Thus I found it difficult to take the first steps to approach the proxy father. However, the father was the one who first approached me, just as the father first approached the prodigal son.
As he hugged me, it felt so good to be held in the Father’s embrace. All my guilt and shame from running away were washed away and all that was left was me and Him. To Him, it never mattered how far I had run. He told me and still continues to tell me that I’m unique and that He has a plan for me. At that moment, uncontrollable tears fell because I couldn’t fathom His great love for me. How can it be that the one who created the heavens and the earth cared so much about me returning home? This immense love that came rushing to me is something that I pray to never forget. His love is truly insurmountable and can break all chains – chains that tell me that I’m insufficient, that I’ll amount to nothing and that I’m unloved. The evil one bound me with these chains, but Jesus is the one who broke them and freed me, allowing me to run to the Father and be with Him.
More testimonies on the images of God and the Father’s love:
Now that Christ has found me and embraces me, I’ve made the promise to never run away from Him. He holds me safe in His arms, what more could I want? The riches of the world may be tempting but God’s love can really offer so much more than that. From a heart of anger and frustration, Jesus has replaced it with a heart of patience and love. Like a tree which does not fruit immediately, I will need to make the choice to prune and look after this heart. Every time I choose Jesus and say yes to Him, the tree grows a little bigger and my heart grows a little stronger. With this new life in Him and with the Father’s love to dwell in, I want to live for Him and I know I have to stay faithful and keep trusting in Him. When trusting Him gets difficult, I’ll have to remember how He has worked in my life and have faith that He will save me. Even though the future still remains unknown, I know now that my God will always be with me.
He leaves no sheep unfound and will keep looking for you too. Will you allow yourself to be found by Him?
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