When the opportunity to work at Thir.st arose as my graduation date drew near, I was initially excited about the prospect. I’d been working part-time with the ministry for some months by then as I’d some free time during my FYP season, and had found it meaningful.
But it didn’t take long for worries to infiltrate my mind.
What about a good, “stable” life? What about career progression? I felt I was too young to go into full-time ministry. Too young to be giving up my ambitions. Too young to be giving up my life for Christ.
I knew what saying “yes” meant. It meant having to die to my personal dreams and desires – to choose Jesus again and again in this area of my life. I wasn’t averse to the idea of full-time ministry. What truly frightened me was what getting so serious with God now meant for my responses to Him in the future.
If I said yes now, I’d have to say yes to bigger and bigger things to come – and was I even ready for that level of commitment? What kind of costs would I have to bear then; what else would I have to give up?
But as my friends and I began preparing our resumes and rehearsing interview platitudes, the idea of working at Thir.st slowly faded into the back of my mind. I did everything my peers did, yet I honestly still felt … Incomplete.
I think a part of me already knew where God wanted me to be, but I couldn’t help but make backup plans. It won’t hurt if I just do up my resume, I argued. It won’t make a difference if I go for all those career workshops.
One thing led to another and before I knew it, I found myself standing outside a registration-only talk held by a company I was interested in. I had taken leave and travelled from one end of Singapore to the next just for this because I believed networking in person would increase my chances of getting in.
I was too convicted to say no to God, yet too afraid to say yes.
But somehow, after making my way to the venue, I couldn’t bear to take another step through the door.
I stood at the entrance, trying to convince myself for what seemed like an eternity.
“It’s just one step,” a part of me whispered.
The other part shook its head firmly. “Why flirt with temptation when you already know where God wants you to be?”
Deep inside, I knew why: I was too convicted to say no to God, yet too afraid to say yes.
And that’s the worst place to be.
When it says in Psalm 37:4 that God will give you your heart’s desires, we often jump to the comfortable conclusion that He will give us what we want. But have we ever thought that as we “delight ourselves in Him”, His delight becomes our delight, and His desires for us slowly become our desires?
If He truly is our delight, He gives our hearts their desires, that we will want what He wants.
Looking back on that season of job-searching, that was what was happening to me. It was like falling in love with someone and growing to love the things they love. But it was still a weird feeling, realising God was weaving His desires into my heart, all while having my own.
I didn’t know how to make sense of it at all! I began fasting and praying to gain clarity on this issue, hoping to align my will with God’s.
One day, He spoke to me through the story of Esau (Genesis 25:29-34).
As the firstborn, it was Esau’s birthright to inherit a double portion of his father’s estate. But one day he comes back from a hunting trip tired and hangry, and when Jacob makes an offer, decides to trade this birthright for a bowl of porridge.
“He said to Jacob, ‘Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!’ Jacob replied, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ ‘Look, I am about to die,’ Esau said. ‘What good is the birthright to me?’” (Genesis 25:30-32)
Consumed by his hunger for immediate gratification, he saw more worth in what could instantly fulfil his desires than an inheritance he’d yet to see. Little did he know that by forfeiting his birthright, he also gave up his rights to be part of Jesus’ lineage.
It wasn’t that Esau’s concerns were invalid or wrong (he was hungry!) this episode had simply revealed that he failed to see the value in what he was being divinely given. Esau sacrificed his eternal rewards to satisfy his temporal needs.
It felt like God had shot an arrow straight through my heart as the Holy Spirit unpacked this story for me. All along, I’d been counting the cost of saying yes to God. But that afternoon, God showed me the cost of saying no to Him: A destiny lost to the concerns of day-to-day life.
I didn’t mention it earlier, but I didn’t make it to the career talk that day. I turned around and went back home. A while later, I said yes to Thir.st – yes to God.
But to be honest, it can be hard to see how all the small steps I take add up to a grander destination. Does what I do really matter? Even after one year into full-time ministry, old doubts and anxieties still show up at my door from time to time.
During times like this, I have remind myself that while I can’t fully count the cost, I can count the steps. Each day, I believe I’m taking a step closer to where God wants me to be.
And that’s enough for me.