When I was 18 years old, I had asked God for my mission in life.
“Are you willing to suffer for me?” He had asked.
Stunned and abashed, I confessed that I wasn’t ready to say ‘yes’ to such a question.
The Lord lovingly replied, “Until you are able to say ‘yes’ to this question, you are not ready to know your mission in life.”
And then He told me that if I was willing, He would make me his soldier. But there would be arduous training ahead so that He could get me ready.
In the past 16 years, I have learned to say smaller ‘yes’s. Here are a few of the most poignant lessons I have learned about myself and God in the process:
1. God takes every ‘yes’ I say to him very seriously. His response to each fiat is to bring me into deeper relationship with Him.
2. God is not content with just a foothold in my life. He wants ALL of my life. Every. Single. Moment. Of. It. Like an ardent lover He desires my entire being, and I need to learn to deal with that fact. If I say ‘yes’, it means I’m going to belong to Him entirely.
3. God will respond to my desire to serve Him by showing me my true colours. He will show me how weak I am, how wounded I am, how flawed I am. And He invites me to behold, accept, and love myself in all my glorious imperfection. (This lesson alone causes tremendous pain and suffering!)
4. God truly lays the heaviest crosses on those whom He loves most (St. Teresa of Avila). That is because the mystery of love is in His Cross. The more open I am to receive His transforming love, the more of His Cross I accept into my life.
5. No matter how much I desire to do for God and others, how involved I may be in ministry, God always redirects my focus inwards to the work He is doing in my soul. He asks me to deepen my bond with Him in every way. He asks me to spend more time with Him in prayer, to learn to live more deeply from His Word, and to live a life that is ever more coherent with the Eucharist. He reminds me time and again that the moment I take my eyes off Him, I cease to live for Him.
6. Living for Christ is not only difficult for myself, it also causes discomfort in others around me. I need to accept that I can only choose to please either Christ or others (or myself!) – I cannot please both.
There is so much that God wishes to change in me and so much that I struggle to give up that I am almost constantly in pain! But it is the pain of God digging deep into my soul, excavating fossilised hurts, so that He can occupy more of my heart. It is a suffering that is necessary because I need the healing and transformation.
When I look at people like Pope Francis and our Archbishop William Goh, and how powerfully God works through their lives, I am humbled by the thought of how much suffering they must have opened themselves to in order for Christ to so thoroughly possess them. The life-long discipline of an intense prayer life, the hours spent adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, the fiat of every moment.
Young love makes promises that fidelity and sacrifice fulfils. When the day comes that I am on the cross, and I can bless and forgive those whom I have felt put me there, then I can say that I truly know how to love. Then, and only then, would I have said my deepest ‘YES’ to Christ.
“If anyone wants to be my disciple, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will anyone gain by winning the whole world and forfeiting his life?” Mt 16:24-26