by Nicholas Wong
Hi! I’m Nicholas. I am 26 years old and recently graduated from University. I come from a family of five, and we are quite religious. Being a cradle Catholic; I attended Catechism class, joined Catholic communities, and served in multiple retreats and outreaches. However, despite all these, I was only just a “good” boy – I knew about my faith but believing in it, was a separate thing.
Throughout university,, my faith became legalistic – followed out of fear or emotional highs, and often reduced to obligation. Consequently, following Jesus was something I picked and chose at my own convenience. On a deeper level, I was bitter, lacking real meaning in my life. I was frustrated with God over my rocky relationship with my family. Ultimately, I was resentful towards God as my questions of where He was were often met with silence. Thus, I concluded that I was the master of my own fate and would rather rely on myself rather than God. Consequently, I lived in dualities. At church, I appeared satisfied and close to God. Yet outside it, I sought worldly pleasures, indulged in idolatry of things, hurt and was hurt by people along the way. This only led to more loneliness and frustration.
It was only by God’s relentless pursuit of my heart that stirred my desire to come SOW. However, this was often overshadowed by my skepticism about whether the Lord would reveal Himself to me. Little did I know, He had amazing things in store. In SOW, I learned to walk in tandem with the Lord, and more importantly to let Jesus walk with me. The Lord revealed that I had possessed a broken image of Fatherhood. More importantly, He invited me to let go of my self-reliance and to cooperate with the plans He has for me.
In a prayer session, the prayer team revealed an image of a sword stuck in my heart with Jesus desiring to give me living water. Through God’s Grace, even though I did not feel Him emotionally, I took this message to the adoration room. Though I felt left out, I thanked God for His presence in the lives of others ; humbly trusting that my turn would come too. It was this small act of surrender that paved a way for Christ’s light to enter my heart. In another session, I pushed through my feelings and submitted myself to the Lordship of Jesus. As I surrendered, I felt a pair of hands reaching to pull out this sword in my heart that the prayer had seen. It illuminated the darkness, revealing a garden with a well of living water at its centre. I felt full; I was seen and held, never abandoned by the Lord.
However, in my grapple for control, I allow God to be who He is and Father me. Crucially, it was only through surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus; tthe process of being healed and restored began. Under the strength and safety of my Father’s shelter, I could be free and grow into the person that God has made me to be. Through Jesus’s love for me, I too can become a loving person.
This was most evident as I returned home on the weekend. Though my environment hadn’t changed, I had changed. I became more joyful; making sure that I greeted my family members whenever I got home, and spent a few minutes sharing about our day. Faith was no longer a transactional or emotional thing, but a response to Jesus’s love. From being more intentional in saying grace before family meals to setting aside time to journal daily; prayer had become an opportunity to rely on, receive, and be reminded of God’s truth. In a way, this also renewed the faith of my family members during this season of life – changing the way in which my siblings approached family prayer times and their faith.
Though integrating and dealing with the consequences of my past has been difficult, I am more confident that Jesus accompanies me on this journey. One instance that showed me this was when my brother shared with me about a hurt that I had caused him when we were younger. In response, I chose to acknowledge his feelings and apologise for my actions. This was surprising to me as I would usually be defensive. It was only the Lord who could have softened my heart during that time. With that said, I am still a work in progress. There are still moments where I grow impatient, lose my temper and take my family for granted. However, rather than letting it be, I find myself becoming quicker in turning to Jesus during these moments. Through my small “yes-es” of being more loving in the words I use or changing the way I perceive members of my family, I create space for the Lord to enter and heal my relationship with my family.
Just like St John the Baptist’s words, “more of you Lord, and less of me”. For those who have known the Lord for a long time and have become indifferent or are on the verge of giving up on God, I invite you to come down from your tree of self-reliance, to make room for the Lord to enter your lives and tend to your hearts today. When we entrust our whole life to Jesus Christ, we lose nothing but gain an eternity with Him. For nothing is impossible with God.