I was first introduced to the law cell group at CSS FOC in 2017, just as I was about to enter university. I always remember my time at FOC as a very warm welcome to the campus community in NUS. I’ve never been very close to my parish community and the concept of “kingdom friendships” was elusive to me. To have encountered the Lord in a very real way through the many people I’d met in CSS was a strange, but somehow comforting thought.
But being in a new environment in law school and staying on campus in Kent Ridge made me feel like I was barely struggling to keep up with the many things that kept fighting for my attention. I constantly had something to do, somewhere to be, or someone to meet. I kept feeling like I didn’t have enough time for anything. School was already so demanding and all I wanted to do was to get my life in order; to somehow maintain that tripartite of studying well, having some semblance of a social life, and if I’m lucky, getting enough sleep.
In my mind, it really wasn’t possible to fit God into my day-to-day life, and frankly, I didn’t see the need to. Surely the God of the universe must be more occupied with other things; He doesn’t need me. Surely, God would rather let me get 10 more minutes of sleep than to pray tonight. Everything put together, my relationship with the Lord at that time can be summarised this way: I don’t need God and in any case, God can wait.
As I reflect on it now, I’ve come to see the meaning of the statement that “God can wait”. It is true that God was waiting, but that didn’t mean that God was content with always being second in priority – it meant that He thought I was worth waiting for. That somehow, even as I tried to drown myself in the crowd and the noise of school, Jesus was indeed waiting for me to turn to Him and say – here I am, Lord, I choose you.
My time in CSS, in particular, has really shown me that choosing a life of discipleship is not one of escapism or one that is extraordinarily difficult to live up to. Through this community, I’ve met people who show me what it means to put a love for God into true commitment. They too are students my age, struggling with the same things I struggle with, but somehow there is a joy and a lightness that they carry in them. I cannot deny that I see Christ in them. Being a part of this journey of faith together towards Christ has been one of my most rewarding experiences in community.
I’ve spent so long thinking that my faith was something I had to fight to make happen on my own. I thought I could make my relationship with Jesus perfect by myself, that all I needed was time to figure it out on my own. But CSS has been my first place of allowing myself to admit to others when I am not ok. It has been for me a refuge, but also a place of courage; a place to love, and also a place to be loved.
St Monica (the mother of St Augustine) said in faith that “nothing is far from God.” As I reflected on what this meant in my own life, I came to see the simplicity in the truth that God is near; no matter what I have done or who I think I am. God remains near through every moment of my life, and if I am unable to see Him, He loves me through the brothers and sisters that are right next to me. I know for sure that I see Him through them.
I can say that I understand what it means to have kingdom friendships now. The true measure of friendship from God is so much more than just preaching to each other. As important as that may be, the only thing Jesus asked of us is to love one another as He loves us. I, too, am slowly learning how to let myself be loved not for the things I can say or do, but to just be loved for being authentically me.
I was listening to this song, “As You Find Me”, yesterday and it really encapsulated what God’s love is like in the lyrics, which goes like this:
“And I know I don’t deserve this kind of love; somehow this kind of love is who You are. It’s a grace I could never add up, to be somebody You still want. But somehow You love me as You find me. You are faithful and You are gracious, and I’m just grateful. To think you don’t need a single thing, and still You want my heart.”
The voices of the world around me haven’t changed. The demands of school and life haven’t magically disappeared. However, there is a steadiness in my heart and a lot more courage when I allow the Lord to quieten those voices. I choose each day to listen to the voice of love. Living my life, alive in Christ, is an ongoing adventure that continues to bring me a joy greater than I can ever explain. My prayer for you is that you may turn to Him today and let yourself be embraced in this unexplainable love. I promise you that being in the arms of God is a very safe and good place to be – for me, I know it’s a place I hope to always stay in.
Gina Koh, NUS CSS