Monday, March 25, 2013

Navigating Through the Crisis of Belief and the Journey of Faith




Three weeks down and my water walking experience continues… Actually, on the second thought, I can hardly describe it as walking but more of keeping my head above the water experience.

Everyday is like a roller coaster of emotion.  I experience ups and downs all in a span of one day.  Oh how quickly I can forget my focus when a slight form of discouragement comes my way.  Three weeks after job hunting, still no hopes of any job prospects but instead more rejections.

Rejection and after rejection, it is easy to succumb to surrender and retreat.  It is so easy to give up and be done with all these dramas.  But where do I go from here?  I have already made my move.  I am already here.  No use of looking back.  I have nothing to look back to.

I have come to the point of doubting myself and worse, doubting my beliefs.  God, are you there?  Can you see me?  Can you hear me?  Did you not lead me here?  Where are you?  Where is your provision?  Where are your promises? … I am 33 years old (and will be turning one year older in two months time) with no job, no love life.  All I have right now are my 7 boxes of clothes, shoes and bags.  

When I stepped out in faith, I expected God’s provision to come swiftly and smoothly land me in to career of dreams.  However, it does not work that way. As I rambled off my accusations and doubts, a soft still voice gently whispered to me, “Just embrace the enormity of the situation.  Because after you have surpassed this, you will never be the same person that you were in the past.”

I have realized that before I can receive God’s provision and His promises, I still need to go through a process – a process of transformation and preparation.  This process that I have to go through is a faith building exercise and a character formation program. There is no message without a mess and no testimony without a test.  I should aim to understand the message and pass the test.  Men of great faith in the bible also went through a period of long waiting before they received the fulfilment of God’s promises.  Joseph waited for 13 years, Abraham waited for 25 years, Moses waited for 40 years.  And so I have to wait… patiently and expectantly. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and He shall make your path straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

God is too wise to be mistaken and He is too good to be unkind.  There is a bigger picture to this than the current colour that He is painting in my life right now. My desperation is God’s opportunity for Him to reveal more of Himself to me and manifest His works in and through my life.

And so despite of what is going on, despite my hopelessness and despite of how I feel, I still choose to hold on to Him. I know He knows what He is doing and so I put my trust in Him.  As long as I am where God wants me to be, then everything is perfect.  If God’s will for me at the moment is for me to go job hunting, then so be it.  I shall be job hunting with all my heart.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus,

Grant me the kind of faith that speaks of my love for you.  Let me bring all my cares to you, believing that with you there is nothing too big, nothing too heavy.   I cannot change people’s minds but I know you can.  I know that you can also turn around the situation no matter how hopeless things may currently seem to look like.  For nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible with you.  As I wait on you, please give me the peace that only you can provide.  In the meantime, please make me a joyful job hunter, knowing and believing that You have everything planned for and provided for, and in your sweet time, you will lead me safe to my destined career path. Amen.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Walking on Water



It has been two weeks since I braved myself off to a new adventure here in Melbourne, but it seemed liked I have been here for two months already.  It has been a roller coaster ride.  I have my moments of ups and downs (well, it has mostly been downs but I try to pick myself up again).

Two weeks ago I embarked on this new adventure full of hope, full of confidence… Two weeks later, I find myself in the thick of my life’s greatest faith challenge so far.

My first week here was a shocker to me.

My first day in the big city left me lost and confused.  I tried to read the train and tram maps as best as I could but to no avail.  Somehow, I kept on taking the wrong train/tram or set down at the wrong stop. I asked for help from some people but they also ended up giving me the wrong information.   I found myself round and round, traversing back and forth in the same direction somehow.

In the end, I decided to go home from the city on foot.  I ended up walking under a 34-degree afternoon for almost two hours.  I have never felt more alone in my life.  But I held myself up while I was walking.  I had to be brave for myself.  I had no choice. At that time, being strong for myself was the only option I had. The Navigation App on my phone is my newfound best friend.

My first job interview with a recruitment agent was brutal.  No smiles from her, not even an eye to eye contact. There was no proper candidate care. She would cut me whilst I am talking and would not even care to know more about my personal motivation, goals and career aspirations.  All she cared about was my experience.  Fair enough.  But how about my potential?  If I am just judged based on my experience then I would not go to where I want to be.  I know I can do more than the chances that I have been given so far, if they would only let me.  The interview somehow made me feel that I was there just to fill in the numbers.

I really felt bad after that interview.  I treat people they way I expect to be treated.  My basic interaction principle is if you can’t help the person, at least don’t hurt them.  The goal is to maintain the other person’s self esteem.  If you can’t uplift his/her self-esteem, at least maintain it and not degrade it. 

But that’s the thing, the problem is me because I have set wrong expectations on other people.  At that moment, I encountered life’s teaching moment.  Just because I do not eat lions, I cannot expect lions not to eat me.  Truly I am in a lion eat lion world now.  But no matter what happens, I made a pact to myself not to change my dietary restrictions and stand up to my grounds not to eat lions.  After all, there are still far better alternative ways to win in this game. This all the more has challenged me to rise above the surface and prove to them that I can make it through the goal, despite of what they think.  In this game called life, I play fair.  But I play to win and so I will have to play very hard.

Every day realities were challenging my faith and putting my hopes to the test.  Admittedly, there were days that I acted like a coward and just cry to my heart’s content. So much so that Bestie and her boyfriend had to come and visit me on my first weekend here.  “Operation Saving Private cRhyanne”, so they said.  It was nice to see familiar faces in a foreign place.  But when they left, I was back on my own.  This journey, this battle is something I have to personnally face myself.  Thankfully, though I am not totally alone in this fight. I go back the One who led me here and His promises to me.  He is no man’s debtor. Surely, He will not leave me empty-handed.

I stepped out in faith and left a promising career in the Philippines.  I stepped out in faith a left a cozy and comfortable life in Adelaide.  I will continue to step in faith as I continue this journey in Melbourne. 

My two weeks here has reminded me of Peter’s experience when he stepped out of his boat and began his walking on water experience.  Initially, Peter did it successfully but when the winds came, he got distracted and removed his focus on Jesus, thus he began to sink.  I feel the same is happening to me. 

When I bravely resigned, I was bold, brave, full of faith and confidence. I felt unstoppable, as if I can reach the highest stars.  I felt joy, I felt peace.  But when I arrived here, the winds of the competitive job market realities had me distracted.  Instead of focusing on to God, His words, His plans for me and His promises, I chose to look at the bleak realities.  And where we put our focus us, gets to be magnified even more.  And so I succumbed to fear, intimidation, depression and hopelessness.  I therefore lost my ability to walk on water.

Thankfully, Peter’s story did not end in the part where he drowned.  He called on to Jesus and Jesus saved him.  This is a reminder for me that I fix my gaze back on Jesus and He will surely save me. When God calls us us to do something, He will be faithful to complete it (and even increase it).

I have not mastered my walking on water experience.  I am still treading through the waters very carefully. Calm waters do not make a skilful sailor or in this case a water-walker. There are moments that I am lured to the call of the winds.  Sometimes I take a glance (I try not to but still I do!) but I immediately remind myself as to where my focus should be.   I am weak but my God is strong.  With His help, I will be able to defy gravity.  Only through Him will I be able to make it to the other side of the shore.

Two weeks down, how much longer will I have to wait for the shore?... Now this calls for a lesson on patience.  How long will it take? …  As long as it takes until I have learned it well.  How long? …. Personally, I think this is one tough lesson to learn…  Are we there yet?

Thursday, March 07, 2013

New Twist of Fate



The idea toyed on my mind for almost over a year.  I did not do anything about it because I was hesitant, scared and was willing to settle within the safety net of my comfort zone. However, I felt deep in my heart that it is time for me to move… interstate.  I prayed about it and asked for God’s confirmation.  Circumstances after the other have provided tell tale “signs” (and even made more reinforced by that one fateful Sunday lunch time incident) that I leave the peaceful and quaint Adelaide and move to the fast paced hustle and bustle in Melbourne. 

When I left my home country, I achieved what I was looking for in Adelaide – a stress-free, peaceful and simple life.  I was not prepared to let go of that.  However, life has become so conveniently peaceful that I feel that there is no growth for me.  I am just running around in circles, with my visions fixated on the past.  Then I realized that I am afraid of change.  What a better way to conquer my fear of change than putting myself in to the heart of it. Time now for a new adventure!

But how? Where do I begin?

It all began when I drafted my resignation letter.  I initially intended to prepare just a draft to evaluate within myself how it will make me feel.  I was curious.  However, upon completing my draft resignation letter, I felt a different sense of peace within my heart and my gut, telling me that it is time.  And so I handed it over to my boss. 

Everyone was surprised – my boss, my officemates, even Bestie ("S").  But I told them that nobody is more surprised and even shocked than myself.  I could not believe what I had just done.  I tendered my resignation, giving them three weeks notice – without any solid plan to bank on.  No work, no house to stay, no ticket yet. Nothing except my hope and my faith.

However, after taking that one big bold step, everything then fell in to place, one baby step at a time.   Then everything went so fast.  Too many things to do, too little time.  I had to wrap up a lot of tasks before I move.  I barely had the time to think about the future.  Everything was centred on the immediate demands of then the present.  People ask me if I found a job.  I told them I will worry about that when I get there.  Back then, my greatest concern was finishing everything in Adelaide.  Thankfully enough, I managed to find a room to rent in a good and considerably posh suburb, just 7km southeast from Melbourne CBD.  This was the only preparation I had insofar as Melbourne is concerned.

In between my busy schedule were various invitations for my “going-away” parties from my different circles of friends.  Despite my hectic schedule, I never declined to any of those invitations.  I committed myself to meeting each one of them because of course I will be missing them.  This has made me realize how much love I have from the friendships I have built over time in Adelaide.  Adelaide has become my home.  And sadly, I have to leave. 

Why, oh why? … Because I have to.  I do not know why just yet.  All I know is that I have to.

I am not ready but God is.  I do not know what lies ahead but God does.  I do not have to understand everything for now.  All I need to do is humbly submit and trust in His great divine plan.  God is able and therefore I must be willing.

In my prayer time, whilst I was still meditating on my decision, God has given me His promise:

“I will go before you and will level the mountains, I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.  I will give you treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” (Isaiah 45:2-3)

Initially, I was doubtful.  I prayed again for further validation.  Lo and behold, when I opened again my bible, I was directed to Ezekiel 36:36 and it states,

“… I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it”.

Enough said.  I was humbled.

I am scared of moving to Melbourne.  I am scared of braving another change in my life.  I am scared of the unknown.  But I am more scared of missing out on God's promises, His plans for me and what could yet be the greatest adventure of my life.    Our lives are defined by the opportunities we get ... even the ones we miss and those we pass aside.

And so I am now here, just four days old here in Melbourne. I do not know where this road leads me, but God does!  Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.

God, into your hands, I commit my life, my everything.  Please take care of me. Be my Provider and my Protector as I go through this process of new adventure.  Amen.