By Karina Wong, Fig Tree (Working Adults Community)
“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
And His righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you
Ask and it shall be given unto you
Seek and ye shall find
Knock and it shall be opened unto you
These lines might be familiar to many – I myself have hummed to its tune religiously during hymn times from my convent school days, without any sense or comprehension of its underlying richness.
Two decades later, I muse at how God has allowed me to experience the meaning behind these words, and give thanks for the journey that the Lord has led me onto – to search for Him, find Him and discover the treasures of His love.
Having been baptised Catholic at 5, I had the privilege of experiencing a Catholic education and attending Catechism till secondary school. I recall how weekend tuition classes eventually came in the way of Catechism, but something stirred in me to search for another Church to attend Catechism.
I was fortunate that the lively ministries and friendships in my parish anchored me in Church till post-Confirmation. Yet, my younger self had not come to really know Christ and I was still very much exposed to the secular ways. Temptations abounded, and I fell many times especially while studying overseas. I found myself very much out of a place and losing my identity and self-worth to fulfil societal expectations to land a prestigious internship/job, and that first-class honours that nearly every Singaporean student aims to achieve.
All of these which I failed to, and other personal challenges brought me to a dark season of my life post-graduation. I fell into a state of depression. Tears and negativity were a mainstay, and nothing brought joy. Providentially, the Lord blessed me with a supportive family and my first job, which surrounded me with many God-fearing and zealous Christians. Among which, a dear sister nudged me to join the Fig Tree Community under the Office for Young People.
There was really no turning back from there. The beauty of community grew on me, as many brothers and sisters inspired and reintroduced me back to the faith. Instead of the post-retreat highs which I interpreted to be God’s presence and being a Sunday Catholic in the past, I came to know God more intimately as my Father, loving saviour and cornerstone. Community brought a discipline of faith and Christ’s constant abidingness in my life.
Gradually, I opened up to allow Christ in, especially to seek God’s healing in my past wounds and to continue to soldier on with the recurring hurts I was facing with a family member. It was an on-going process that amounts to peace and acceptance in knowing I was not a sum of the wounds – but that Jesus wholeheartedly loves me for who He made me to be, and promises me the strength and grace to overcome any crosses I have to bear. I took heart that these wounds could be put to good use in time, to encourage others who may experience the same toil.
Having experienced God’s tangible love through community and healing, I desired to continue to seek Him and to be a more faithful disciple. This involved many more ‘Yes-ses’ to God where He called, such as serving and journeying with others through retreats and community. As I grew in faith, it also grew more difficult to say ‘Yes’ as the Lord seemed to ask for more of my time and effort.
Eventually, I served as a shepherd for the community twice. The 3 years of service was entirely humbling and a time to be further chiseled. Community living is not easy, and probably at times tougher as a shepherd. During the journey, I was challenged to dream for the Church, and to focus on doing it with God’s grace, rather than focusing on my limited capabilities. He taught me to keep striving to develop a deeper sacrificial love, to love and serve my brothers and sisters.
Beyond these victories God has won in my life, He continues to remind me of His unwavering presence with the blessings of what each day brings. I am still a work-in-progress, falling for occasional worldly pursuits and faltering to trust in God’s plans. But my heart is full, knowing that the Lord will always be my anchor.
I pray that these little testimonies bring comfort and hope to you, especially if it has been an uncertain and challenging season – that in your own search and journey, our good Father is just a knock away, waiting for your heart to give Himself wholly to you.
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13