by Christopher Martinus, 22 years old
Before coming for School of Witness (SOW), I was very self-centred. Being awkward around large groups of people, I preferred to be alone. Furthermore, I didn’t like trying new things. Somehow, everything worked out and university was decent. I even secured a job beginning this March. I thought life wasn’t too difficult for me although struggles came and went.
Having encountered the Catholic community at NUS which was full of people with a deep and genuine desire for Christ, I grew deeper in my relationship with Jesus and was more willing to share my faith with others. This was where I placed my identity in; that I had a relationship with God. I placed myself on a pedestal and looked down on others thinking that they did not love Him as much as I did.
Yet, I still felt lonely and purposeless. I struggled with pride, lust, and envy, repeatedly falling into sin and going for confession without much change. I felt like my faith was an illusion and my desire for Jesus was an act. I was confused about my identity; wasn’t I supposed to be someone who loves Jesus? Why was I still sinning? Why had I been feeling so empty? I immersed myself in YouTube binge-watching and card games to distract myself. I ended up with no direction, becoming a product of my environment.
In SOW, God saved me from my ungodly self-reliance and spiritual pride by firstly healing my distorted relationship with him through Jesus. He revealed to me that my disordered identity of striving and pride was rooted in my desire to please my earthly father. As my earthly father often shows emotions of disapproval towards me although he is my biggest example of sacrificial love, I believed the same about God the Father, thinking I have to earn his love.
God revealed His love for me through Romans 8:32, “Since God did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up to benefit us all, we may be certain that, after such a gift, that He will not refuse anything He can give.” This is how much he loves and desires for me. He isn’t disappointed at my sins but rejoices over me. He reminded me that He is the only one I need to please. For the first time in my life, I can claim wholeheartedly that I am God’s beloved son. My identity is not “I love God”, but “God loves me”.
Next, Jesus desired to save me from my wounds and sins by making me aware of my hopelessness, indifference and self-centredness. I couldn’t accept my imperfections and brokenness. This was amplified when I felt short-changed as I had to head home to Indonesia for the Chinese New Year break and miss a healing session. In that moment, Jesus reminded me of his presence and through his grace, I finally was able to accept all of my brokenness and surrendered them to Jesus.
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As I responded to this invitation to live a life in Christ, I still struggle with temptations. I wondered whether I made a mistake and wanted to take control of the situation again. It was in this that Jesus revealed that in my doubting, I was still unable to trust him. He revealed to me that, like King David and St. Peter, I can choose to fall into His merciful hands. I can choose to live freely, without constantly second-guessing myself because He loves me. Through this revelation, He opened my eyes and I started letting go of my control over my life. I try living freely and when I stumble, I pray: “Lord, save me”.
Jesus was bringing new life was for me to connect with others. While I struggled in the past, now I feel a growing desire to reach out to others. I sense a deeper conviction in God’s love and a greater courage to share Jesus. I claim that when I abide more in Him, I am stronger in Him.
I claim that God’s work in me is truly growing. As I recall my past encounters with Him, His grace flows more and more within me. I still struggle with living this new life, but this time I know I can fight alongside the Lord. Instead of being reliant on myself, I can rely on His wisdom and power.
My brothers and sisters, will you let Jesus love you and let Him work in you, even when it will not be comfortable?
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