Written by Judith Bangar
What can God do in a two-day online retreat? A question laced with doubt and an almost condescending tone. This was how I entered Kickstart 2020. Circuit Breaker left me isolated in dealing with university applications and my poly graduation. I applied for a course that was different from what I had been studying for the past five years. My heart was filled with so much uncertainty. I struggled to bring my frustrations and worries to the Lord. I guess a part of me felt that God was the one that caused it. That left me indifferent towards Him and His goodness.
During the first session, the speaker asked “Where are you?” paralleling it to God’s call to Adam and Eve in the Garden. It felt like God was asking me this question. My reply was “I am here”. But God further probes asking, “You are here but are you with me?” This question at the start turned into an invitation throughout the retreat – the Lord inviting me to be with Him. To not just show up but to open my heart to Him and in that to be with Him. As I opened up to Him more, the Lord revealed this area of self-reliance rooted in my heart. I needed to be strong and independent. That there was no one I could depend on. This area was extremely challenged as Jesus Christ stood so contradictory to this lie.
Having been raised in an environment where gaining control and striving was the only way to go by, He revealed that letting go and being with Him meant freedom and joy, and that was something available to me. In a prayer activity, as I was moved to articulate my fears and anxieties, I was met with a gentle Lord that called me to fix my eyes on Him. To lean into that gaze, to trust that He is good and desires goodness for me. Such a simple invitation but one that my heart desired so greatly. To lean into love. This was the start of untying the knot of self-reliance especially in the area of academics in my life. In that, letting Him be Lord in that area.
Almost one year after Kickstart 2020, God is still working in my heart, in this area for me to move from self-reliance to God-reliance, especially in my community. My community members often challenge me to not be afraid to be vulnerable about my weaknesses by encouraging me to share openly and offer these areas to the Lord through prayer. It has been that has allowed me to desire more for the Lord in my life and in the lives of the people around me. It is so easy to be swept away by the doing and striving in uni but these spaces with the community have allowed me to be more consistent in my relationship with Jesus. I realised that my invitation to the community was the Lord’s way of saving me in this season of my life too. Without this space, I would have been left grasping for the demands of the world. Jesus continues to remind me that He desires freedom for me. Jesus Christ desires for you to be free especially in your vocation as students. How will you respond to this invitation to freedom in your vocation?