Friday, April 24, 2009

“Be Thou My Vision”

Written by Natalie Wong. Posted by Peter Yong. Article distributed by Wendy Tiong.

For those of whom do not know me, I’m Natalie. I grew up in a Christian family, attended GMC throughout Sunday School and served a lot in JMYF before I left to study overseas at 14. At that time, I loved God unquestioningly. I trusted the bible’s principles taught to me and had lots of head knowledge. But because as a child, I hadn’t really gone through much testing myself, the reality of God’s grace had not really sunk into my heart.

I moved to the UK to start university and I felt like I had everything going well for me. I joined the Overseas Christian Fellowship (OCF) and went to church every week. That gave me a kind of comfort and routine that I was still close to Jesus, even though, retrospectively, I was probably very far away from him in the heart. This distance from God had been built up gradually during my years in high school where I had a large group of non-christian friends which made me always question Christian values.

I felt I earned this spot in university through hard work in high school and because I had gotten my Christian life sorted by attending church and fellowship, I was free to do as I please as a reward. I went out a lot because I felt confident I could do well in my exams, so I had a lot of fun, got influenced by people who didn’t put God first in their life and eventually got together with a non-christian guy. I knew this was wrong from the start (because I was taught from a very young age that Christians should not be yoked with unbelievers). But somehow I managed to convince myself that I could bring him to Christ with my own strength and that it will be ok. See how the devil deceives!

At the end of first year, that’s when everything started tumbling down. My studies hit rock bottom which meant my future job prospects were looking very small. I broke up with my non-christian boyfriend as I started to realize that a relationship with a non-christian was really not working out and causing me a lot of pain emotionally and spiritually. My relationship with God was dry and barren and I felt that he wasn’t listening to me. My parents were disappointed in me because of my unwise choices in studies and relationships. Even my close friend(who was a nominal Christian ) whom I had relied on for much emotional support that year in UK had decided to move back to Australia.

I felt very alone and knew something had gone really wrong in my life. In the moments of despair, I turned back to God, who had always been patiently waiting for me to come back. It was a humbling experience to really let go of all areas of my life which I had self-sufficiently built up and pass it back to God. At this really down point in my life, I was encouraged by the people in OCF to serve as a bible study group leader every week. I remember telling God, “You’ve gotta be joking. My life is in a mess – and you’re asking me to serve you at this point in time? I’ve made a lot of mistakes I need to sort out first before I can serve you in OCF! I need more time than ever to study this year and get my books up to scratch” This was when God really pounded the idea into my head saying – Rely on my strength, not on your own. I am the God Almighty, I can help you through this! But first, repent and give me the first fruits of your time and a willing heart. Seek First My Righteousness!

So I committed to serve God as a bible study leader with the first fruits of my time. God had blessed me more than I could imagine in the difficult second year of university. There were still consequences I had to bear for the unwise decisions I made and certain friendships I had to resist. But, in giving him my weaknesses and some of my time for his glory, I was blessed with close Christian fellowship, a greater understanding of the Word of God and the strengthening of my spirit. Every time I am tempted to do things my own way, I am reminded of the hymn “Be Thou My Vision” which I used to sing at church when I was young. This experience has taught me that I am where I am today, because of God’s great love or not because of my own achievements.

There are still constant struggles in my life to slip back into living life how it suits me, but I can look back and remember God’s faithfulness and how he had brought me through the valley. This grace and faithfulness that he has shown to me helps sustain me through difficult trials and reminds me that God will never give up on me, as long as I am willing to humble myself and draw strength from him, knowing that Jesus sympathises with our weaknesses because He has been tempted in every way yet was without sin.

I just want to end my sharing with this verse from:

Jeremiah 9:23-24

23 This is what the LORD says:

"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom

or the strong man boast of his strength

or the rich man boast of his riches,

24 but let him who boasts boast about this:

that he understands and knows me,

that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,

justice and righteousness on earth,

for in these I delight,"

declares the LORD.

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