The Road Less Traveled

Traveling is one of the things that I like a lot. When I was in the corporate setting, I made sure that I make time for holiday every year. One of the most profound journey I made was a six weeks journey to Europe with the main purpose of attending World Youth Day in Madrid, 2011. In preparation to our journey, we spent time researching about the places we wanted to visit. My travel buddies fared so much better when it comes to researching and planning the trip. Somehow, God has given me a lesser portion when it comes to detail orientated stuffs.

Hence, I must say I am truly blessed to be surrounded by people who has eyes for details and that include my travel buddies. Thanks to their meticulous planning, we get to enjoy our trip and build our friendship. Our journey to Europe has widen my perspective about the world significantly and not forgetting the greatest fruit out of that journey was receiving an invitation from God to full time lay mission work. As we traveled, we learnt the reality of being a pilgrim in a foreign place. Pilgrimage is a recurring theme in Christianity and I am slowly learning what it really meant to be on a journey as a pilgrim on earth.

My natural self dislike to linger on things. As much as I love people, I am also a goal driven person. In my natural mode of work, I like to solve things and move on but Jesus has invited me to a road less traveled. A road that requires me to come out of myself; to be more of Christ and less of me. The process has not been really comfortable. In choosing Christ, I  am choosing holiness on a daily basis. Allowing Christ to increase involves forgiving people that I felt does not deserve any forgiveness. The question of forgiveness is something that I believe challenges us as Christian to live a life of witness. That has been the case for me and through my journey in this beautiful yet very rough road, I come to realize my need for God. And the saying; “To err is human and to forgive is divine” rang so true for me.

I simply cannot forgive! Not with my own strength. And in this area I am glad that I can run to the One who is able to enable me. Here I would like share a snippet of the taste of forgiveness. I have experienced the direct effect of communication breakdown that causes me to be very upset with the person involved. I was so upset that I did not know how to handle it. The question of why was the other person so unwilling to just communicate rang out so loudly in my mind. I wonder if it is too much to ask for people to communicate for the sake of the relationship. In my human weakness, I was really helpless. I refused to be the first to reconcile after all, it was the other person who took our relationship for granted by refusing to communicate. But all these thoughts were bringing me nowhere. I was left desolated.

In moment like that I thank God for my Savior, Jesus. Yes, all my arguments were valid to a certain degree and I acknowledged that. However, Jesus asked;

“Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye but do not notice the log in your own eye? – Matthew 7: 3

This question from Jesus challenged me to examine my own fault in the issue. I was being really prideful in believing that I have no wrong in it. The other person may have their burdens that have prevented them to communicate with me. Or I may have been too scary to be approached. The scriptures humbled me to acknowledge that I had been hard on the person as well; greeting everyone else with a great smile but not so with the person. I was acting out of my wound and that wound can only be healed by Christ. Thanks be to God for the Sacrament of Reconciliation where I can confess my poverty and to receive the graces I need to be reconciled to God first and then to my neighbour.

I was enabled by Christ to first forgive with my heart the person who trespass against me (that includes forgiving myself for my wrongdoing) and I pray for the grace to be reconciled in my strained relationship. As I look into the journey of forgiveness, it is indeed a narrow path (Matthew 7: 13 -14). I believe it rang true for most of us. Forgiving the other is not something we can naturally do; it takes supernatural strength to be able to do so. To finally come to a place of rest in God that I can cooperate with grace brought me so much of freedom.

What I shared was just a tiny event of forgiveness but some of us were face with devastating events where we are called to forgive the trespasser(s). If God is inviting you to forgive, know that I am praying for you and please take this journey of forgiveness in love. Know that you are infinitely lovable, precious, honoured and called to live a life to the fullest.

May you be blessed!

With lots of love,

Irene

 

 

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Paid in Full

I love shopping and I love to joke whenever we gather in a small group by introducing myself in this manner; “Hi, my name is Irene and I am a shopaholic.” People used to crack up with that but for me that has been a redeemed part of my life. When I was earning a lucrative income, shopping was my regular hobby and a lot of us (myself included) call that retail therapy.

There seems to be a sense of satisfaction when the things we desired becomes official ours once we paid it in full. I used to crave for that feeling and that was the reason I had a house full load of stuffs to give away when I decided to leave my comfort to be where I am now. During the initial part of my missionary journey, giving up impulsive shopping was one of the hardest thing. Thanks to my conscience that kept reminding me that I am now fully dependent on divine providence, hence it is only right to be responsible with the money that I have.

The journey of being fully aware that all I am and have is a direct result of divine providence has been one that I would term as organic growth. It was not the easiest thing considering the high I always felt when I own something I paid in full. Looking back at my journey of financial accountability, I am really grateful at how far I have come. I know very well that I am far from being meticulously careful with the money entrusted to me but I am happy to say that I have grown to be very free with money.

If you seen me with my cardboard testimony, you would have seen my dark history being; “MONEY: MY SECURITY” and my conversion side being “GOD: MY PROVIDER”. That pretty much sums up the highlight of my School of Mission. I have been through real breaking of pride and roller coaster of doubts that finally brought me to an experience of tangible providence from God. Through this journey of building my trust (which is happening at an organic growth rate – if you are or ever been in sales, you will get what I mean), I learnt what it really meant when God said He paid for my life in full.

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I am purchased with a price and paid in full, that price cost my Saviour His life. As I slowly surrender my life to His Lordship and allow Him access to my soul, I start to comprehend the amazing gift of salvation that I have received. Jesus owns me when He paid for me in full amount. I can imagine His excitement when the transaction happened – the very moment I call Him my Lord and my God. He must be so excited to show me His plan for my life as I would be so excited to wear a new dress I bought. I want people to see me in my new dress and celebrate with me. I would imagine Jesus also wanted the whole world to know that I am paid in full, I belong to Him and that He just wanted the world world to celebrate with Him.

Looking on the hindsight, I recognised my brokenness in my pursuit of the feeling of owning. There were tonnes of insecurity in that attitude of mine. The constant need to possess indicated my possessiveness and my control-freak-ness. I am really grateful for the circumstances where God broke me down just to build me up again. In my season of breaking, it was really uncomfortable. I came face to face with my poverty. The situation where I have absolutely nothing and no one to hold on to but God alone. The journey from slavery to being in control of my life to freedom in trusting the plan of God has been one exciting journey.

In this particular area that I have allowed Jesus to be Lord, I experienced the liberation that I would not want to trade for anything else. It is so beautiful to realize that this is possible simple because God first choose as me He said in the scripture;

“You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.” – John 15: 16

It is so assuring to know that God is the Initiator. In everything, we can be sure to give Him all the credit and glory. But we can only glorify Him when we respond to Him. He invites and initiates; after which is our turn to respond.

What would I choose in times of God’s invitation? Am I generous in my response?

Oftentimes for me, I found myself struggling to respond generously as the element of fear is always present. Through those times of responding to God, I learnt that courage is not the absent of fear. Fear can either be a catalyst or a crippler. Only the perfect love of Christ can cast out fear (1 John 4: 18). That can only be attained by grace and that grace has enabled me to respond positively to Jesus; which eventually opened His floodgate of blessings in my life. In other word, my choice to respond to His invitation to follow Him has helped me to lived out my life that has been paid in full by Jesus.

Dear friends, whatever you are going through now calls for a response from you. God has chosen you in a special way and His continous invitation is His initiative to keep saving you. He loves you infinitely and desires nothing short of the best for you. I pray that you are blessed with grace to respond to Him generously.

May you be blessed!!

With lots of love,
Irene