The Realities & Joys of the Spiritual Journey

by Aldrin Relador

“And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:9)

If God were an artist, what type of artist would He be? Impressionist? Or maybe abstract? To me, God is a classical artist. His art is well-measured, perfect in form, but painfully methodical. Imagine Him chiselling a cut of marble to create a beautiful sculpture. The process is slow because He must ensure that every detail is just right. Otherwise, He will start over again.

The sculpture represents this season of my life. I know that something is being made. But lately it seems that it remains mostly unfinished; uncompleted; unaccomplished. Having worked for a year, I had hoped that this season would be one of breakthrough for me. I have already had more than enough spiritual winters with (thankfully) a few short-lived springs in between. I had hoped to attend graduate school overseas after leaving my previous job – only to be unceremoniously rejected from my preferred programs. I was disappointed, but unfazed. I didn’t know whether I felt this way because I trust the Lord, or if I know His character all too well. On hindsight, it was a mix of both. Was this a season of desolation? No – this was Him starting over again.

At times, it seemed that the Lord’s call for me was clear. I only had to stay the proverbial path until I arrived at His destination for my life. At other times, it seemed that this very path was fraught with distractions, dead-ends, and detours which sowed doubt in my heart about whether I had made the right choice. When everyone else around you seems to be either falling in love or building successful careers, you can’t help but wonder if you’re being led to the edge of a cliff. I sought answers, not platitudes. Yet sometimes, God speaks in both.

My prayer for a long time has been simply to be happy and content with my journey; to be grateful for the small joys that life brings. And I thank the Lord for every one of them. I have learnt so much in the last year about what I value, whom care I about, and the difference I make to others. In particular, I cherish the moments when I have spoken truth to those who needed to hear it – friends, mentees, and the like. I cherish them because these are grace-filled moments that would not have happened by my own merit. They remind me of why I always need the Lord. Nevertheless, I still feel mostly dissatisfied with my life; akin to the feeling of an unpublished novel, or that of an incomplete painting. Something still seems to be missing. And what is terrifying is that I do not know what it is. It is as if I am expecting something remarkable to happen. Yet it seems that nothing ever does.

Now, if you have ever felt as I have, the only sober response is hoping that God makes something remarkable happen in your life. That’s the truth. As Christians, hope is the confident expectation that He will complete what He has begun (CCC 1817). Of course, this is easier said than done. I have often been so frustrated with God for testing my bare limits. How can one trust in the Lord when it seems that He’s asking you to jump off the edge of a cliff?

Two things always stand out. Firstly and most importantly, I know that God loves you and I. Jesus suffered and died on the cross for sinners like us. We do not deserve it and yet He gave Himself freely anyway. Secondly, I know that God is faithful. I have seen the power of God restore my relationships, soothe my sorrows, and open my heart to new life. Even at my barest limits, I cannot deny what God has done. It is undeniable to those of us who have seen His power. These reasons are why I do not lose heart – despite my gut and my brain telling me otherwise. Take heart and don’t lose hope.

When I close my eyes and envision the horizon of my life, I imagine a canvas of endless yet frightening possibility. I do not know who I will be, where I will go, or what I will do. What I do know is that we have much to learn about ourselves when we journey to the limits of our hearts. For it is where God stretches our faith, hope, and love so that we may be more like Him. That’s the Christian journey. While I still struggle to find peace with its perils and uncertainty, I am working on it with the Lord. I pray that you do the same too, dear friend.

 

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