By Aloisius Stephen, Working Adult (Spero Community)
Jesus has called me in His own unique way to walk with Him. In the journey thus far, despite failing to recognize His faithfulness due to my self-reliance and lack of trust, He continues to open my eyes and mind to see His presence and help. Faced with trials and difficulties, He helped me to grow by giving me strength and walking with me to overcome it together. These experiences have truly strengthened my conviction that the journey towards perfect communion with Christ is one that we undertake with Him by our side.
I grew up as a cradle catholic and was simply living my faith as a Sunday catholic. It was only before I entered university that I started to read the bible on my own and rediscover who God is; and this was the beginning of my conscious walk with Christ. Shortly after, I was introduced to the catholic community in NUS, and it was then that my faith grew more personal as I learnt more about Jesus and His great love for me. Initially, I felt inadequate due to my seemingly unremarkable and ordinary conversion, and it caused me to hesitate especially when it comes to offering my service and openly living out my life in Christ. Back then, I was probably seeking a sign, or a miracle; something extraordinary to happen, thinking that my conversion was incomplete without it. Yet, there was no denying that my life has been transformed. It was clear that I have grown in my desire for the Lord. I was able to feel the Lord’s presence in prayer, especially with the community; I had a renewed appreciation of the mass, and I could no longer imagine living a life without Jesus. Then, in one of the retreats I attended, God revealed the truth that He wants me to hold on to: that I am His beloved son. I realized at that point that His call of holiness is for me to be set apart by living out my unique identity through the distinct gifts that He has given me, and despite His desire for me to become my best, He never demands beyond what I can achieve right now. This episode made me recognize that my seemingly ordinary conversion and faith journey is no less extraordinary. In fact, it was a personal and special call by God. I have also learnt that He has never short-changed me; every time I feel like He has not given me enough was in fact moments when I have chosen not to receive or rely more on Him.
Over the past few years of walking with Christ, by His grace my faith continues to grow, most notably through were the difficult instances. In the face of trying time, be it at work or in my relationships, I would find myself either choosing to be self-reliant or asking the Lord to take away the pain or problems I was facing. Looking back, it occurred to me that it was precisely my self-reliance that made me overlook Jesus’s helping hand reaching out to me. He was not absent, but I was the one who chose to be absent from Him; He did not stay silent or chose to ignore my plight, but I was the one who turned away instead of keeping my eyes on Him. In these moments, whenever I choose to turn to the Lord in prayer that I could always feel His presence the most. Even if my heart is burdened or frustrated, it is the act of turning to God and being present with Him that God’s faithfulness shines through. However, far too often, I would turn to Jesus asking him take away the agonies and obstacles. Unknowingly, I was desiring a path contrary to where God is waiting for me, because He is there to face the pain with me and give me the strength to overcome it. God knows that only through overcoming the trials can I truly stop fearing it and grow in faith. He clearly made know this truth in how Jesus chose to face an excruciating death and conquered death through His resurrection, so that we need not fear the power of death anymore. Walking with Christ through difficulties have truly changed how I expect the Lord to work in my life and deepen my awareness of His presence and understanding of His ways.
I know that my journey ahead will still be filled with obstacles, and there will be times when my faith in the Lord will waver. There are still times that I will fear and worry as I think about my future, but right now I know the Lord is here, and that gives me hope. And even if at some point I do stray from the Lord, I am certain that He will always be waiting and looking out for me.
God has called each of us and gently led us in His special way to grow in our faith and to live out our faith. In spite of our failures and in our sufferings, He is there to extend His love and faithfulness to us. I pray that all of us may persevere in our walk with Christ and joyfully bask in His love and faithfulness.