By Samantha Tham, images curated by Angelica Goh
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20). The story of the prodigal son has always been familiar to me, even before my personal encounter with Jesus. The unconditional love of the eternal Father has always brought me a sense of peace. However, I had not known this love until I encountered Jesus.
I was doing well with a stable family, good friends, and a comfortable lifestyle. I was fairly grateful, but overall, I lived a very worldly life. I defined myself by material standards and I could never be satisfied with myself. I was engulfed by my own hurts and problems that I did not know how to deal with and often projected them on others. Enslaved by sin, I saw no need to change myself and believed the many lies of the adversary. I was like the younger son, in a faraway town from the Father’s house, who did not know what he was doing with his life and was thoroughly unhappy. Something had clearly been lacking from my life. I felt empty very often and I simply could not be content when I had tons to be grateful for. I thirsted for the fullness of life, but I did not know where to find it.
I began to seek God slowly, by means of attending retreats and involving myself in community. I was curious to know so much about this love and fullness of life that seemed to invigorate these people! I knew that all that I needed to do was to keep my heart open to the Lord and to trust Him.
God began to move powerfully in my heart, through the people around me. He blessed me with the gift of Christ-centred friendships formed with my fellow brothers and sisters in my university community, FIDES. These people have stirred my faith more each day and allowed me to experience God’s love so profoundly through them.
Retreats were a safe space for me to be formed spiritually and they renewed my desire to know the Lord more each time. Cell group has also truly been a safe space for sharing with fellow sisters about our troubles, casting our burdens to the Lord and lifting each other to Christ. The loving support of my family, especially my mother who inspires me deeply with her unwavering faith, have also blessed my journey in Christ.
The wounds that afflicted me for years were brought to my knowledge and past hurts were unearthed. The Lord remained gentle and loving with me, giving me time and space to heal and grow. The loving Father waited for me at His house and had embraced my homecoming with open arms. “And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.” (Matthew 18:13) He did not condemn me for my mistakes but simply celebrated that I was the one lost sheep that had returned.
“Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the way and while He opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32) I call to mind the story of the walk to Emmaus. Upon reflecting on my faith journey, I felt like the disciples who were mourning over the death of Jesus: I had been downcast because I placed my hope in the world. Jesus came to where I was, and He walked alongside me. I could not tell it was Him at first and I walked with Him. Unbeknownst to me, the spirit gave me the openness of heart to invite Jesus into my life and make Him my friend. Looking back, I believe God knew the stirring in my heart that was longing for Him and He nudged me back on the path home. The Lord opened my eyes to recognise that it was Jesus who had been walking alongside me all this time and that my heart was indeed burning within me for the Lord. Jesus revealed to me that I need only place my hope in Him.
I imagine my current season of my faith journey as a voyage on a hot air balloon. I am entering the winds of change and possibly even storms loom ahead. However, I enter the uncharted skies with no fear because Jesus is my captain, and He paves the route for me. I pray the spirit will renew the fire in my heart and keep it burning for Him so that my hot air balloon can only soar higher and my faith in the Lord will only continue to grow.