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Almost 30 and still single: Is there something wrong with me?

by Sharon Lim | 31 October 2017, 7:59 PM

Although people are increasingly getting married later in Singapore, I’ve always wanted to get hitched before I hit 30. I’m turning 29 in a few months … But he’s still nowhere in sight.

I came to know Christ when I was just 14-years-old. But I wasn’t too committed in church back then because of the parental objection I faced coming from a family of unbelievers.

Regardless, most of my secondary school years were spent being in and out of relationships. I had issues with self-esteem and being in a relationship made me feel desired by the opposite gender.

Back in those years, I wasn’t able to see that only God could fill my heart. I wish I had known then that another person could never complete me.

Somewhere along the way my need for human love overtook my love for God.

I only stopped casually dating guys when I turned 17. I had grown in my walk with God, and I committed to serving God with my youth. In that year, I was rooted in Christ and I no longer felt the need to be needed because I realised God’s love was really enough.

Having entered the workforce, romantic relationships have gradually become a focus in my adult life – as they have for most people my age. As I do not have a large social circle, I tried expanding it with the opposite gender through dating platforms such as the Social Development Network (SDN).

But somewhere along the way my need for human love overtook my love for God. I decided to take matters into my own hand.

I got to know a guy on SDN who professed to be a Christian, though he was unchurched. Almost instantly clicking, we got along really well. He was about 4 years older than me and was doing well in his career. We met up several times and things were looking pretty good.

He must be the one. I started putting so much hope in this potential relationship and began to invest all my time, effort and energy in it. Yet as we continued to date, this guy never spoke a word to me about officially getting together.

I wondered about the mixed signals: Was he waiting for me to speak up? Was he shy? I was confused at the ambivalence between being friends and lovers, but I still hoped.

Mustering all my courage, I asked him the magic question over WhatsApp: “Do you think we’re meant to be together?”

I saw that he read my message, but it took him a very long time to reply me. My heart raced while I waited all day, anxious at the answer he would give me.

After what seemed like an eternity, he finally texted back. But the message tore my heart up with each word: “I enjoy spending time with you and we share many common interests. You are really a nice girl and whoever gets you will be a lucky man. But I’m very sorry, I don’t think we are meant to be.”

For almost a year, I had spent every single day on the phone with him! We spoke and shared deeply until we had no secrets left.

He would pick me up from the gym every weekend to go for dinner and catch a movie together. He took leave for my birthday just to give me a surprise. Every single thing I told him I would like to have, he’d make an effort to get it for me the next time we met.

So that “break-up” text came as a shock. Reading it, I felt a tangible and physical cut deep in my heart. Heartbroken, I decided that I would cut off all connection and contact with him.

From then, it would take me 2 whole years to recover from a relationship that never happened.

I kept asking myself: “Why are you crying over a relationship that never happened? We weren’t even together, it’s not even a break up – stop crying!”

I didn’t know then, but the illusion of intimacy we’d cultivated over that year had turned into an unhealthy soul tie.

But still the tears came. The pain was real because I was so emotionally attached to him. I didn’t know then, but the illusion of intimacy we’d cultivated over that year had turned into an unhealthy soul tie.

Perhaps the painful break-up was the consequence of taking matters into my own hands. If I had sought godly counsel instead of being so impulsive, perhaps I would not have had to go through such a painful lesson.

I knew God forgave me when I repented for my lack of trust, but I wasn’t spared from the consequences of my wrongdoing.

But in mercy He also led me back to Him – just as I was all ready to trade His love for earthly love. He met me where I was in my pain, and saved me from a deathly mistake.

It was easier to be single in my early 20s. It got a lot harder after 25. I grieved when I realised I was about to turn 29 and was still single. The dream of being married by 30 was dead.

And one by one, all my closest girlfriends were either getting married or already becoming parents. I would feel so bitter whenever I received wedding invites. A part of me was really happy for my friend but another part … I confess that my envy was eating me up from within.

I hated having an envious heart. I confessed it before God and asked Him, “Lord, I have great difficulty making sense of my singlehood. Is there something really wrong with me? If so, can you just tell me so I know? If there is nothing wrong, why am I not attached? Why?

God grew a heart within me that now firmly knows He is bigger than my desire for marriage.

God didn’t reply me then. And to be honest, even today I find He is still silent about this area of my life. But I’ve come to realise He wants to deal with me before even talking about marriage, especially when I came across a reflection question in a book I was studying: “Are you willing to live the life God calls you to – even if it doesn’t include marriage?”

I wrote these words without hesitation: “YES! Because life is not just about marriage and there is definitely more to it!” I was surprised at my own answer. I read what I wrote twice. It was surprising, but it was also a heartfelt truth.

God grew a heart within me that now firmly knows He is bigger than my desire for marriage.

As I invite Him into this area of my life, God has been using my season of singlehood to do a thorough work deep within my heart. In return, I am purposefully using my singlehood to serve Him in ministry. I’m investing my time to mentor someone. I’m picking up music lessons – guitar and keyboard – with the hope of serving in my cell group and deepening my worship and quiet time with Him.

I have also spent 2.5 years completing a Master’s degree in counselling to upgrade myself as a full-time counsellor, and to better serve His people. I’m learning how to eat alone and travel alone to countries. But now I’m doing all these things – stepping out of my comfort zone – with security in the Father’s love for me.

Perhaps you don’t believe in “The One” – and that’s alright. I’d still like to share my personal conviction: Before The One comes, I need to be the right one first. And part of the process of being the right one is to let God deal with my unresolved issues first.

Only then can we enter marriage without constantly expecting our spouse to meet needs that only God Himself is able to meet.

My encouragement for anyone in a similar situation as me is to yield yourself fully to God. Let Him into your life, and He will do a new work within you.

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Man on a mission: To the marketplace and beyond

by Jonathan Cho | 9 November 2018, 4:41 PM

I haven’t been on a mission trip in some time. The last trip that I recall was sometime in 2010 to Hatyai, Thailand.

It was such a wonderful experience – one that I will continue to look back upon fondly: Moments of deep intimacy with God and the team, seeking His will each day for what we should do next and how best to do it.

Last year, my wife and I committed to set aside a portion of our annual leave to doing missions beyond our doorstep. Things got slightly complicated when we realised in the middle of the year that we were expecting our first child, as it restricted our travel and movements.

But it was this very turn of events that caused me to consider: Is going overseas the only way for us to participate in “mission work”?

The answer seems obvious, but for some reason most of us still carry a conventional view of missions that paints a picture of overseas travel, crossing cultures and nationalities, eating different food, speaking different languages.

I’ve long held that view myself, and as much as we know that missions begins at our “doorstep”, it somehow doesn’t resonate as quickly with us.

As a compromise, I took a short break from my full-time job instead to spend a three-month stint with Youth With A Mission’s Discipleship Training School (YWAM DTS).

It was a bittersweet transition for me to take a sabbatical from work and have a time-out from the marketplace. I found myself suddenly liberated from the demands of working life but thrust into a community of people that I was not quite accustomed to seeing on a daily basis.

Being a missions agency, YWAM is basically made up of – wait for it – missionaries. Most of my DTS course mates were also full-time church workers, and I was amongst a minority who spent their Monday to Friday (and Saturday) working a full-time job in the marketplace, and only my “leftover” time in Christian ministry.

As a “marketplace” guy, the first few weeks at YWAM was definitely a challenge. Questions like: “Are you planning leaving your job to go into full-time ministry or become a missionary?” were in abundance.

I often found myself embarrassed by these questions; they were of course well-intended, but it left me feeling almost like a second-class Christian – what had I been spending the past 5 years of my life doing? Did it count for nothing?

In an attempt to give an adequate answer to these questions (and to assuage my own internal conflict), I would answer: “I’m a marketplace missionary”. It sounded confident, but the truth was that it was borne out of insecurity.

Faced with questions like these, I grew uncertain of what my role in God’s story was, and I was definitely desperately trying to find my place among this group of amazing missionaries.

Theologians and Bible scholars have long studied and contemplated the meaning of missions – what God’s mission in the world is and what the Church’s mission should be.

In my simple and (if I may say) child-like view, missions is essentially this: God’s agenda. And if so, we must certainly accept that God has an agenda everywhere – not just in the out-of-country locations that often form the “missions destinations” in our mind, but also in our offices, corridors, schools, homes, and streets.

We may not realise it, but even being in this “concrete jungle” requires us to “cross cultures”, speak different “languages” and be “all things to all man” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

Imagine the fresh graduate accountant who is thrown into the deep end of the pool, having to navigate a new office culture, adopt a fresh set of terminology and social language for meaningful interaction with his peers and supervisors.

Missions is essentially this: God’s agenda – and God has an agenda everywhere.

What then do we make of this? It may be a matter of mere terminology, but I am reminded by this simple definition that I am in every sense, on a mission everyday.

A mission to seek God, to know what He’s thinking when He sees what we see around us; to understand His agenda for the people around us and places we enter; and to partner Him in what He intends to do.

I can have that same level of “deep intimacy with God, seeking His will each day for what we should do next and how best to do it” in my daily work, as I do on an overseas mission trip. This life is our mission field.

And as His children who seek to do His will in every arena of our existence, I dare say that we are all on a mission all the time; each one no less in “full-time” than the other. Full-time is a posture more than it is a position.

Towards the end of my course in YWAM, the community gathered to pray for those of us who were returning to our different spheres: Overseas missions, church, and the marketplace.

By that time, through the teaching sessions, I had learnt to accept and even embrace my role in the story that God was writing. This meant that I had resolved to return to the marketplace and seek an understanding of the work that God was doing there; to seek the shalom of the very city and office that I had long been placed in.

In every sense, the time of prayer was like a commissioning – a sending out. Many things were said, but what I remember most was the parting conversation that I had with one of the experienced missionaries. Before this, I’d never had the chance to share my thoughts with her.

She came up to me after prayer with a word of encouragement, saying this: “You know, Jon, although you are going back to work in your office, you are as much in the mission field as I am, as we are – in fact, the ground there in the marketplace may even be much harder.”

For those of us in the marketplace, our work and ministry is not second-class at all.

I have often repeated those words in my mind, not because I need the affirmation, but to remind myself each day that I do have a purpose where I am each day; to carry the heart and mind of God to the people I meet and the work I do.

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
Abraham Kuyper

The path back to work since then hasn’t been entirely smooth-sailing, but my mind often traces back to moments like this as a reminder that for those of us in the marketplace, our work and ministry is not second-class at all.

Yes, there may be daily tasks for us that may not intuitively fall into the category of “Christian ministry” as some of us have come to understand, but I am learning that God definitely has an agenda for wherever He has positioned me, even in this bustling city.

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7)

The stark reality is this: There is a group/category of people that is within my specific reach because of my geographical location, profession, skill-set, and placement – and these are people that the heart of God is after.

In an age of technology and easy travel that makes our world a global village, we can easily extend our lives to friends from all nationalities simply by taking a walk on the city streets. Perhaps that is exactly what Jesus longs to do the most through each one of us, to reach those in every corner of the earth, first-world business districts included.

As I write this, my mind returns to a moment when I brought my two-month old daughter with me to work for a visit. It was exhilarating for me simply because I wanted to show her what I was up to everyday.

She may not have completely understood the full picture, but I found myself carrying an innate desire to reveal it to her and help her get it, even if it would take the next few years for me to do so.

I wonder if this is how God the Father looks at us – we think that we are bringing Him with us to work and to the office, but perhaps He is the One bringing us to work with Him.

And as His children, He calls us to partner Him because our mission must be this, as modelled by His Son Jesus Christ: To do only what we see our Father doing – and that He is always at work, everywhere in the world.

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Wading through grief and the broken heart

by | 8 November 2018, 12:02 PM

It was around 4pm on a Monday.

My friend sent me a text that a mutual acquaintance of ours had just passed on. From suicide, to be exact.

Is it even possible to grieve over someone you barely knew?

As I spent the next few days trying to process this, more bad news came my way.

This time it was 4pm, again, on Thursday, in that same week.

The sudden phone call was from my mum, which was strange, because she never called me at work unless it was an emergency.

“Your uncle just passed away. He’s gone.”

As her voice struggled to remain calm on the other end, my mind drew a blank.

I realised in that moment that grief is all the same. While it can manifest differently and take on different intensities, it is all still the same thing. Grief is …  Grief.

The question that lingered over my head then was: Now how?

ACKNOWLEDGE IT

From a completely logical and human perspective, both of them had left way “before their time”. That friend was in her twenties, just like me and my peers. My uncle was months shy of walking his own daughter – my cousin – down the wedding aisle.

I spent that entire week going through a myriad of emotions. Initially I tried to coerce myself out of what I was feeling, to go on “business as usual”. But the more I tried to pack my emotions into the closet, the more out-of-control I found my emotions to be.

I was shocked. I was angry! I was shaken deep within me. I was in disbelief; I was confused. I was not okay. My heart was … Broken?

The first step to approaching any kind of grief – no matter how silly or severe it might appear to you – is to acknowledge it. There is no shame in grieving. For some people, it might look like a lot of weeping, for some it might be just silent solitude.

Acknowledging my grief was doing myself justice. I wasn’t going crazy; I wasn’t being a wreck for no reason. As I let myself experience the full measure of the sting of my grief, that was when the room for healing opened up.

TALK ABOUT IT

But that being said, our grief, when not handled with properly, can potentially be an agent that isolates us from community. People. Friends. Family. When not managed, it can even walk us into depths of darkness – alone.

Yes, talking about grief to others may be an extremely painful and difficult task, but the body of Christ is called to bear one another’s burdens. People may not fully comprehend the gravity of your situation, but it’s healthy to let community be the safe place for you to ventilate your spirits.

It was difficult for me to bring up my loss to the people around me. I didn’t know where to start, or how to even say it. But once I got it out, the people around me rallied together around me and watched out for me. That made things easier.

REST ON IT

In times of grieving and mourning, it can be really exhausting. Sometimes you think you’re over it, only to find it returning without warning. Sometimes it comes and goes like a wave, sometimes it looms over you like a persistent fog.

Throughout that emotionally difficult week I also found myself going through an extremely packed schedule – work events, ministry meetings, gatherings with friends whom I hadn’t met in months … And even a wedding.

Shuttling to and fro from one appointment to another while trying to keep my emotions under control in front of people took a real toll on me. Not only was I physically tired – my mind was all over the place too.

Eventually I realised that I needed some time of quiet and solitude at home and I did just that.

It is okay to disengage from the world around us and go to rest. Take time to nurse the pain, and find peace in disconnecting with the daily hubbub and connecting with God.

SURRENDER IT

Personally, I’ve found that it is easiest to process my grief when I surrender it fully. It is in surrender that I find that I have no use for answers.

Surrendering my grief, in the midst of all the tears and confusion, means that I can trust God with it and all that other stuff that comes along with it. Surrender means exchanging my situation for God Himself. Surrender turns my what-ifs into even-ifs.

That even if it hurts, I will still choose Him. He is still good, He is still sovereign, and He will carry me through.

That is what we must do in the midst of our pain. And in the midst of the aching pain felt deep within me, that was what I did.

/ christina@thir.st

Christina is a designer who memorises Pantone swatches. Her standard bubble tea order – oolong milk tea with 25% sugar, less bubbles and no ice. She also dreams of raising her own pet penguin one day.

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“I walked out of my same-sex relationship, and stepped into church”

by | 8 November 2018, 10:56 AM

I first meet Melissa (not her real name) at her home. She’s dressed in a white shirt-dress, with shoulder-length hair softly framing her face. Looking at her, you wouldn’t have imagined that Melissa once sported what she calls a “pineapple hairstyle – extremely short and spiky” in her younger days.

“I was always very boyish,” Melissa tells me with a laugh. “My mom said that when I was in Kindergarten, I just hated it whenever they put makeup on me and tied my hair into pigtails for school recitals.”

Growing up, she hated Chinese New Year.

“When you meet relatives, parents don’t want you to be who you are for the other 364 days of the year. For that one day, you’d better be who your parents want you to be. But honestly, I would rather forget about the angpow than to be in a dress,” she confides.

That was when she was still a kid and didn’t have a choice but to comply. But as Melissa grew, she discovered the power of choice and started to make decisions for herself. This included rejecting wearing skirts and dresses, cutting her hair short and getting into a same-sex relationship.

“It didn’t feel wrong to me,” Melissa says. “I mean, I was very boyish and I liked to care for someone in a way they couldn’t care for themselves. And because in school I was like a butch and this girl was super fem, so people would just feel like we should get together.”

PUTTING FAMILY FIRST

Melissa’s first and only relationship lasted for five years. She tells me that during those five years, she was confused if it was right for her to be in a same-sex relationship.

Although most of her friends encouraged her relationship, she knew her family had a more conservative stand. And while they never confirmed their suspicions with Melissa, she could feel that her parents were uncomfortable with it. The idea that her family found it hard to accept this side of her always stayed at the back of her mind.

“As much as I loved my girlfriend, I loved my family a lot. I just could not stand the fact that I was letting them down,” Melissa tells me.

“After all, they raised me, even if they didn’t fully understand what I’m doing. So I just felt like I shouldn’t put them through that.”

“I didn’t go to church just to get an answer about my sexuality. But as I stayed, those answers came.”

This was one of the key factors that led to her calling time on her relationship.

“I came out of the relationship because I had enough – not of my same-sex attraction (SSA), but many other things,” she says. “I looked at my temperament and how I behaved in the relationship. There was a problem with my attitude. It was just very destructive. Even without talking about my SSA – I knew I needed to work on me.”

And so she made up her mind to split from her ex-girlfriend. The breakup cost Melissa not just her relationship, but her friendships too, as mutual friends began to take sides.

At this low point, she decided to turn to God.

“I WANTED TO HEAR FOR MYSELF WHAT GOD HAD TO SAY”

“Even before I left the relationship, I wanted to go to church because I was so troubled. I wanted help.

“My friends around me who were Christians – they were just very happy. They are just the friendliest people on earth. So I explored Christianity because I felt like that was the best place to start over … I didn’t know where to seek help but I just knew that church was the best place to seek help.”

Hearing this surprises me. If I were someone struggling with SSA, the last place I’d turn to seek help would probably be the church, which is still learning how to welcome the LGBT community. I ask Melissa if she knew the Christian take on homosexuality when she stepped into church.

“I heard from some of my friends that it’s a no. But I wanted to hear for myself. I didn’t want to just take their word for it,” she says.

“But putting myself in a church was just the start for me – to see if it would do anything for my character. I didn’t go in just to get an answer about my sexuality. But as I stayed, those answers came.”

“What happened?” I ask.

“Nobody told me. The conviction just came,” she replies.

Melissa explains that she sees the Bible not as just another book, but as the original manual for life.

“That means everything I need to know about right living is going to be in there, right?”

“My conviction is that I was born biologically a female, and all these years I have been forcing myself to be something God did not create me to be. So what I had to do was to accept it as it is – accept the truth as it is – and allow the Word to convict me and change the way I think.”

“KEEP CHOOSING GOD”

The change didn’t come instantaneously; it took years, she notes.

“I couldn’t just put on dresses and feel like a girl,” Melissa says. “Too fake already.”

Instead, she began by allowing herself to be associated with her femininity. “My friends in church would go, like, ‘You’re so pretty!’ – Please lah, I had super short hair,” she says, laughing at the memory.

“Maybe people had complimented me in the past, but I just shut them off because I never wanted to associate myself with being pretty or beautiful. But now I was trying to move in that direction, I took the encouraging words and was like, yes, I can be beautiful too.”

Slowly but surely, Melissa also learnt to give up on her personal desires and embrace God’s good will for her. At this point in her life, she has come to a point where she says she is able to yield to God in terms of her sexuality.

On how she would advise someone who finds it hard to come to reconcile their faith and sexuality, Melissa nods with understanding in her eyes.

“I guess my advice would be to keep loving God.

“Some people love God so much and they go like, God can you stop making me gay? But still, they find they are stuck with that. But it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love you as much,” she says, bringing to mind Paul’s struggle with the thorn in his side.

“Today, you’re struggling with being gay; someday else you’ll struggling with something else. Just keep loving God and do what is right. He will give you the breakthrough.”

“Don’t hate God because the church didn’t love you well enough.”

The breakthrough she refers to doesn’t mean to completely rid yourself of SSA. In fact, there was a time when Melissa felt the surge of attraction to a girl – this time in church! So she understood perfectly that there can be times when our flesh rises in mutiny against our spirit-man.

Instead, “breakthrough” is the capacity to keep choosing God regardless of the sin we are battling with.

“Homosexuality, addiction, lies … Who says we can’t love God even when we have all these struggles?” Melissa emphasised.

“Everyone’s capacity to handle difficulty is different. We just need to keep choosing Him.”

FOCUS ON THE VICTORIES

How can the church support people who are struggling with SSA? Melissa’s advice: “Just welcome them. Don’t say things like, ‘I love you but I hate your lifestyle’. They don’t need another person to tell them their lifestyle is wrong.”

She shares that, from her personal experience, what helped wasn’t that people told her what she should or should not do. What was useful was how the church embraced her and involved her as part of their community.

“Along the way, I updated my friends on how I was doing in this area. It helped that they weren’t very pushy, like, ‘How is your progress?’ They weren’t measuring it, like, ‘Are you doing alright? Let me help you.’

“They could just see the outward transformation,” she says, and they celebrated every victory, rather than harping on the remaining struggles.

As someone who’s been-there-done-that, Melissa has this advice for anyone who is struggling to be accepted in the church and in the larger society: “Don’t hate God because the church didn’t love you well enough. God very poor thing one. Always kena just because we didn’t represent Him well.”

I feel a twinge of sadness in my heart as she says that because honestly, I often find it difficult to love people who are different from me. I’m still learning what it means to truly love unconditionally, and I’m grateful for people like Melissa who would hold space and patiently wait as I figure things out on my side as well.

So, to all Melissas reading this: Thank you for your understanding. It can be so easy to respond to hurt with hurt, and rejection with rejection. Thank you for being brave to share your side of the story openly, so that we can all take a step towards mutual understanding.


We will be releasing a more detailed story on Melissa’s process of reconciling her faith and sexuality later this week.

/ siqi@thir.st

Siqi often loses her footwear in the office. She is also known for her loud sneezes, huge appetite, and weird sound effects. Happens to be a writer too.

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Young people, greatness is not in power or money, but love

by Isaac Ong | 6 November 2018, 5:25 PM

As Singaporeans, we know how to plan very well. Everything has to have an insurance plan. Everything is about figures – how much you have in your bank, how long have you been doing this, how many people are in your church, how many cell group members you have …

And I think as a young person growing up, I tried to find my security in some sort of amount of money, some sort of job, some sort of reputation, having some sort of partner and all these different things. But it came to this point where everything I found security in, everything I thought I’d built myself upon and tried to brand myself as had to go through the fire, through the testing, the wrestling, the tearing apart.

It was the collective years of rejection from the media industry, not going or getting anywhere; years of youth ministry, loving with all my heart and getting hurt while doing so; it was saying “no” to great opportunities like certain roles and overseas gigs because I felt God wanted me to stay and serve people.

What I knew as building one’s own name and kingdom in this world was confronted by the call to build His name and Kingdom again and again – and it left me feeling very stripped down and naked. It left me feeling like I was nobody because I’d been so trained to make something of myself.

But that also meant that there was no longer anything to my name – all that was left was fully His. And there finally came a day when every song I sang, every prayer that left my lips was life and truth as God intended me to have it. All I need is You. Having Him and nothing else was truly more than enough for me.

We keep feeling the pressure to chase these digits of success, but I really just want to live for the One and stop for the one. Because if you look at the way Jesus walked on the earth, only one figure was really important, and that was the number “1”. He lived for an audience of One – His father God. He would stop for the one – whoever was in front of Him and needed help.

We keep feeling the pressure to chase these digits of success, but I really just want to live for the One and stop for the one.

Sometimes we look at the people doing God’s work and think: “Aiyah, they must be pastors lah” or “Aiyah, they must be holy; they must be anointed” – but when we do that kind of division, we’re just giving ourselves an excuse not to live like that.

What God is searching for is simply laid down lovers of Jesus Christ. He’s not looking for people with abilities, He’s looking for people who are truly available. And when we read Scripture, it has always been the case. God used people who lived with this posture of heart: “Here I am, use me and send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

God wants to use us. God wants to walk with us. And more than the work we do, the greatest thing is to be able to partner with the God who created the entire universe. The One who made the stars and built the Sun says, “I want you. Out of all that is going on, I want you and I love you.”

And I think this has really shaped me in terms of figuring out what is the truly important number in my life. Is it how much I have in my bank? Is it how many friends I have? Is it how many followers I have? Is it how many likes that I have?

Of course, living for the One is still a decision I have to make every day when I wake up. Some days I even cry, telling God that I feel like I’m crazy for putting aside every other figure that I could be pursuing.

There are days where I literally have no money in my bank account. I remember there was one time I only had a couple of dollars left, and I had no idea what to do next. It was in a season where God had been speaking to me about trusting Him, even asking me to empty my pockets for the offering in church.

A couple of weeks before this, a pastor had come up to me and said, “The Lord is going to put money in your bag!” And of course I didn’t believe him. So fast forward to that day when I close to penniless and telling God I didn’t know what was going to happen to me, I felt Him say: “Isaac, I want you to open your bag.”

I was standing at a bus stop when this happened, and I hesitated slightly – why would I open my bag? I already knew what I’d put in it. But when I obeyed and opened, I found $500 worth of cash in loose 50-dollar notes, just lying inside. And I never forgot this lesson that I am always provided for – not just in finances but in the favour God brings to my life as I walk with Him.

So to every young person who wants to pursue God and be used by Him, Ephesians says it perfectly, “For we are God’s masterpiece, He has called us for a good work.” (Ephesians 2:10) That is the truth. Not the excuses we make for ourselves that we aren’t holy or worthy enough.

God doesn’t need us to make excuses. He doesn’t need us to highlight what we think is wrong with us. And we do that far too often. If I were to ask you today, “Hey, what’s wrong in your life?” You could list me a thousand things. But if I begin to ask you who you are and what you already have, it gets very hard.

I mean, a man-made phone already has so many applications, so many uses. What more a person that is created in the hands of the ultimate Maker? The last thing anyone should do is compare. God did not ask you to be second to any other person; He never compares between His children. Every one is unique.

I find that one of the greatest things that I get to do is not so much found on the stage or any social media platform, those are just vehicles in themselves – it’s getting to talk to that one person who is listening, ministering to the one person who needs it.

Truly, the greatest value – what we have that is the greatest – is found in the Word of God that says, “the greatest of these is love”. (1 Corinthians 13:13) The best thing that anyone can offer is love.

There was once I was in India for a mission trip, and we were visiting Mother Teresa’s orphanage. There were children who were physically disabled and others who were mentally challenged, and I remember getting angry with God and asking, “God, how can You be good if there are children like that? What kind of God does that?”

Immediately, God corrected me, saying “Isaac, you are looking at them with your earthly value system. Because you define success as being smart, being talented, you have now deemed this person to be of no value to you.

“But if you read the Scripture, I have said that the greatest of these is love. And if somebody can love and receive love, that person is the greatest. He is not defined by his intellect or talent or skill – but simply by the fact that he has love, and can give and receive love.”

Every human being can give and receive love.

The minute I find being on stage the “more important” thing, I have missed the point – I would have defined the greatness of my work by the size of my audience or the talent that I have.

That’s why the devil is so adamant about destroying the image of what love truly is. We take sex, which is absolutely beautiful, and we turn it into lust. We take love, which is absolutely beautiful, and it becomes controlling and abusive. We can be depressed by love. How crazy is that? The devil is working overtime to make sure we don’t understand what true love is.

Because love is where the power lies. Today, my vehicle, my medium to carry this love is simply singing. Tomorrow, it can be speaking. Tonight, it might be saying “hi” to somebody. The other day, while I was cycling, a drunk man fell into the drain and was yelling for help, so I helped him out.

That moment of love in action is just as important as being on stage. The minute I find being on stage the “more important” thing, I have missed the point. I would have defined the greatness of my work, or the power of my work, by the size of my audience or the talent that I have – not the love that I am tasked to carry.

The ability to love and receive love every day is the most exciting thing ever. It is the most powerful thing that all of us can do it right now. We can show love any time we choose to, and that makes us incredibly powerful. The devil doesn’t want us to realise that, or walk in that power.

I feel that if we understand this truth, we will no longer give excuses. So where does one start? It says in Scripture that God is not like love, God is love (1 John 4:8). And therefore, we look to Him, the God who is Love, and ask Him to help us to love.

And finally, the Bible shows us that “people know we are His disciples by the way we love one another” (John 13:35). Not by the way we sing, not by the way we preach, not by the way we act, not by how much money we have, not by our job credentials.

People will know that you are My disciples by the way you love one another.

And that is absolutely what we are called to do. That is absolutely our power and our strength. Having love who is God.

He is all we need.


Isaac serves the community with his social company Colours Global, is the youth director of Emmanuel AOGand was a finalist on both Channel 5‘s The Final 1 and The Voice (SG/MY). He often speaks in various church circles and leads the FOPx worship team. The annual FOPx Youth Conference will take place on November 29-December 1, 2018. Register here.

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“My Soul Surrenders”: Sidney Mohede’s story behind the song

by Sidney Mohede, JPCC Worship | 31 October 2018, 5:13 PM

When I first wrote this song with our friends in JPCC Worship, it was for our previous album More Than Enough.

The chorus was pretty much set and we loved that chorus. But for some reason, during that songwriting season, the verse didn’t really connect with the whole theme of the More Than Enough album. So we decided to just keep this song aside.

While we were writing again for our latest album – Made Alive – I was diagnosed with a condition in my left inner ear called Meniere’s disease.

It’s a disorder that creates an imbalance between my left inner ear and my right inner ear, and there are three symptoms.

The first is hearing loss: The hearing in my left ear is now down to about 14%. The second is tinnitus – I’ve had a constant ringing in my left ear for almost three years now. And the third is vertigo, I’ve had severe vertigo attacks where everything just keeps spinning.

It was during the time of my diagnosis with Meniere’s disease that I picked up the song again. I rewrote just the first part, and included a bridge at the end: “Where would I be, if not for Your grace that rescued me, my life surrendered to worship You.”

I realised that no matter the situation we’re in, Jesus is still the one who saved us. No matter the situation, no matter what challenges we’re facing – He is still a good and gracious God.

That December, when I first experienced sudden hearing loss syndrome, my left ear suddenly just went kind of dead. And in the first few months, I couldn’t sleep because the tinnitus really bothered me. I still hear a constant and sharp “feedback” noise in my left ear.

And my first initial response to that was to question, “Why? God, why? I’ve been serving You, I’ve been doing this and that.”

Our God is able. He can heal me, but even if He doesn’t, I’m still going to be grateful anyway. I’m still going to worship Him anyway. He is still a good God. I will choose to surrender.

I always tell my team that we are born to worship God with every single part of our being. And whenever I preach or teach, I often say that God could take my voice any time, and I would still worship Him with everything I’ve got.

Now it’s as if He has this sense of humour where He says: “What if I take your ear? What if I take your hearing?”

As a musician, listening with our ears is actually the biggest part of what we do. 70% of being a musician is actually listening and hearing, the other 30% is just playing the instruments.

It’s just like being a vocalist. You can have a perfect pitch, but if you can’t hear the pitch, you will sing terribly.

Now I can’t enjoy music the way I used to. Now I listen in mono instead of stereo, because I can’t hear in both ears.

The song Even If by MercyMe really impacted me. The lyrics in the chorus helped me to realise that my God is able. 

I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

I know that God is God. He’s able to heal me in a second. I just faced this question a lot – and I think it’s an age-old one – “But what if He doesn’t?”

I’ve been to so many healing events, where you see 50 people come up and say “I’m healed, I’m healed”But I would wonder about the 2000 other people who are still struggling and weren’t healed during that night. Because that’s me now. I’m in that situation.

There are so many testimonies about people being healed, but what happens when you’re the one in the valley?

We surrender not just when things are going good, not only when we’re winning or when we’re healed. We surrender all to Him in the good and the bad times.

There’s a song that we’ve sung since we were kids – I Surrender All.

All simply means all. We surrender not just when things are going good, not only when we’re winning or when we’re healed. We surrender all to Him in the good times and the bad times.

Our God is able. He can heal me, but even if He doesn’t, I’m still going to be grateful anyway. I’m still going to worship Him anyway. He is still a good God. I will choose to surrender.

And if you believe that with all your heart, and go through each day in the knowledge that God is with you, for you and fighting your battles – you could face any challenge.

Whether it’s physical or financial crises, relationship or family issues, know that God is for you and that God is on your side. Even though you may not see the answer to your situation, it doesn’t mean He isn’t working behind the scenes.

That is the mindset I wake up with every day.

My every waking hour is not about when God is going to heal me – it’s about what can I do to surrender myself even more.

Being grown by the Lord is not the result of trying harder, but the result of surrendering more. This is a huge lesson for me. It’s not about trying to be good, trying to be perfect, trying to live a holy life. However hard we try, we will fall short because we are imperfect.

But when we surrender, this is what we say: “Alright God, here I am. I’m not perfect, there are many things that aren’t perfect in my life, but I trust in You. I trust that You know what You are doing, that You are in control, and that You are always good.”

And life just becomes a lot easier to live with.

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