By Joshua Lowe, NUS
In the past two years since coming back to the Lord, he has invited me to live a life led by him and turn my dreams over to him. This has been a difficult thing to learn and do because I have spent most of my life depending on myself, making my own decisions and chasing my dreams. Ultimately these were destructive to who I was, and who God created me to be. When I re-encountered the Lord, He invited me to follow him again. Over these two years, I have begun to scrape the surface of what laying down my life and following him means.
Surrendering what I thought my life would look like
One of the things I learnt was that in following the Lord, I must surrender my ideas of how my life and mission will look like. When I first started school, I thought that I would figure out what to study, and excel in it in no time. I also thought that I would have an abundance of time and capacity to journey with people and be on mission for the Lord. In following the Lord, I also thought that the tensions in my family would improve and that our problems would gradually disappear.
However, the reality of these two years have been quite different from what I envisioned. Being a disciple in university didn’t mean that I wouldn’t have problems figuring out what I was passionate about and wanted to study, or doing well. What I envisioned of mission also did not materialize. I struggled to live outwardly and be present to my CG and people I journeyed with because I was not coping well with the demands of school and other issues in my personal life. At home, the family situation continued to be tense, without any signs of improvement.
Through all this, I asked the Lord why I faced all these problems, when what I had envisioned was seemingly good. I knew that God is a faithful God, so it was not a question of ‘if’ he was faithful, but ‘how’ he would be faithful. He does not forsake me.
Through prayer and over time, the invitation from the Lord was to surrender my dreams, plans and images of how I thought my life would turn out. While these were good, the Lord revealed that he had better plans that were for my good, and that would allow me to grow in love, humility and dependence on him.
Total dependency because I cannot but he can
Through these experiences, the Lord has also begun to show me how much I need him in my life. He revealed that many of these dreams, while good, were rooted in self-preservation and relied on my own human strength.
At the start of this year as a CGL, I had many dreams and ideas of how my service would look like. However, a lack of prayer and pride prevented me from turning to God or to the people around me for support. Instead, I isolated myself out of shame from being unable to achieve these dreams and goals that I had set out to achieve. Through the grace of God, several friends and mentors begun to hold me accountable for my actions out of love for me. They brought me to Jesus through their prayers when I couldn’t or didn’t bring myself to pray, and reminded me of my goodness when all I felt was shame. These lessons were humiliating, but also graciously humbling, because I could begin to be unashamed about the reality of my weakness. I can begin to say now that “I cannot, but God can. I am unable, but God is able. That the Lord’s grace is sufficient for me, for his power is made perfect in weakness. For it is when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12: 9-11)”.
In these two years, I have grown in surrender of my dreams because God’s dreams are better, and learnt of my weakness so I can rely more and more on the Lord. He has shown me the wholeness of living an integrated life, surrounded with people who love the Lord. He has broken and continues to break the chains of self-condemnation that I have, and has allowed me to receive affirmation and encouragement from the community around me. He has shown me a life I could never have imagined for myself. He reminds me to rely on him through the community that he has blessed me with. These lessons are still ongoing, because I often return to self-reliance and control. But the Lord is faithful, he continues to beckon me to trust and depend on him, giving me many, many chances to do so. He knows that I will not always succeed, but he is patient and forgiving. He is faithful, and will always be.
Are you interested in knowing this God who gives you more than you can ever imagine? Be not afraid to take the first step in knowing him, he is beckoning you.