I survived my Stay-Home Notice, and this is what I learnt
Yixuan Lim // April 14, 2020, 5:58 pm
The process of deliberating whether to stay or not was a challenging one.
Bombarded with an avalanche of information from the media and people around me, I struggled to hear God’s voice amidst the chaos. Nevertheless, I strove to make a decision that was informed by God’s Word and guided by prayer.
Initially, my guiding question was: “Where can I serve best?” Compared to Singapore, where the COVID-19 situation was under control and there is an abundance of organisations to take care of the vulnerable, the town I studied in did not have these privileges.
With the elderly comprising a substantial part of the town population and many financially-disadvantaged people struggling to feed their families, I was keen to stay on and lend them a helping hand by distributing food with charitable organisations.
I thought I could be more “helpful” where I was, as compared to if I were to return to Singapore.
However, with my anxious mother urging me to head home, I was obliged to reconsider my decision.
What was the most loving thing to do? And how would my decision affect my unbelieving family: would it draw them closer to or further from God?
After nights of prayerful deliberation, I decided to return home.
Since my main ministry is my unbelieving family, I was keen to spend more time with them and find opportunities to share the gospel with them.
I also wanted to honour my parents through submission in obedience.
What was the most loving thing to do? How would my decision affect my unbelieving family?
At the same time, God guided the conversations around me in my Christian community to help me think through staying or returning.
God spoke to individual Christians in different ways, and weaved their words together as we spent time with each other. Each of them shared godly reasons for leaving or staying.
But through wise counsel and the Holy Spirit’s guiding, blind spots in my considerations came to light, which helped me be more comprehensive in my thought process.
Through all the confusion and chaos, I was reassured that God was right beside me.
As Isaiah 43:1-2 states, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.”
Thus, I was reassured that God had a purpose for me in returning home, and I was excited to be His vessel for His glory and fulfil His purpose for me wherever He leads me!
When I arrived back home, I began serving my 2-week Stay-Home Notice in a hotel.
One of the first things I realised was that with so much time on my hands, I had the choice between reading the Bible or indulging in worldly and temporal desires.
There was no one else but God I could talk to in the hotel room. But as human company was taken away, I realised that God’s company is all that I need.
I could no longer hide – it was just me and God.
God also used this precious time to deal with the doubts and sins I had swept under the carpet in my journey of faith, and I came away with three takeaways from this period of isolation.
3 THINGS YOU WILL EXPERIENCE ON #SHN
1. Trials and temptations
Social isolation makes me prone to unhealthy patterns of overthinking.
Often, these thoughts were characterised by dread, impatience and idolatry. When left unchecked, they became addictive and spiritually-draining.
Exercising self-control against these thoughts in the absence of community was an uphill battle. In community, I am more aware of my sins in word and action. However, in the absence of people, I was made acutely aware of my sins in thought!
I reflected on whether my mind was occupied by Christ-centred thoughts or earthly issues, by kingdom desires or earthly desires.
Through this fiery trial, God built spiritual muscles in my mind that empower me to think about things that are true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).
2. Reconciliation and renewal
I could no longer hide – it was just me and God.
I had the chance to re-examine myself before God – not just a superficial clinical examination, but a CT scan that exposes my hidden moldiness, ugliness and brokenness.
Difficult conversations with God surfaced many sins I hadn’t repented for, like selfish motivations, impure intentions in serving and timidity in ministry.
Broken, I was brought to my knees at the foot of the Cross in deep repentance. As I rejoiced in the gift of forgiveness by the grace of God, my relationship with Jesus was renewed on a much deeper level.
3. Equipping and encouragement
I had so much more time to study God’s Word.
This long period of uninterrupted time means that I can spend 6 hours a day reading the Bible – an unimaginable luxury while I was studying in uni!
I also had the privilege to explore Christian apologetics to better equip myself for personal ministry (1 Peter 3:15).
Additionally, to hold myself accountable in how I spend my time, I shared my daily activities & devotion on my Instagram account and to a trusted sister-in-Christ.
Since people would spend more time on social media nowadays, I hope my posts would encourage my friends that they are not alone and it is possible to rejoice even in physical isolation because we are not isolated from Jesus!
In this sanctifying experience, my prayer was to emerge from the hotel room more like Christ and closer to God than when I had first stepped in!
Even though I was isolated from human interaction, I was thankful that I am never isolated from God.
As Romans 8:38-39 puts it: “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Even though my desire to socialise did not diminish, my desire to be fully loved and fully known was completely satisfied through fellowship with Jesus.
When I grew weary and impatient, the Lord filled my heart with peace and contentment. When I was driven to tears, the Lord comforted me. Through it all, my gaze upon Jesus has grown firmer.
“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” (Psalm 107:9)
Living in isolation was definitely not a walk in the park, but I thank God for walking right beside me, for providing for all I need and for using this difficult time to sanctify me.
Psalm 23:4 perfectly captures my walk with God in my time on Stay-Home Notice: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Now that I am back in Singapore, I aim to fulfil my roles as a Christian, daughter, student and member of society with excellence and joy.
Indeed, even though Singapore has come to a standstill through the circuit breaker, the race for Christ is never over.
I’m excited to work heartily for the Lord and fulfil the purpose He has for me in Singapore!
THINK + TALK
- How has the #circuitbreaker been for you?
- What is one area of your life God might work on in this period?
- Who is someone on Stay-Home Notice or in isolation who you encourage this week?