7 June 2007

"Wasted Years" of my life?

I joined the Church on staff when I was 32 years old. It was an age that I would consider as my prime. This was after 8 years of working in 2 different government bodies and a short stint in a private company.

That time I felt a call from the Lord to fulfil my earlier vows made when I was in the final year of Uni. Looking back now, I figured it must have been both a call and a panic situation as I was then in a dilemma to leave my job and with a new born in the family. I guess I would never really know what it really was. It was a step of faith - a huge one, as there was a big pay cut involved. My thinking then was to go by faith and just trust Him to provide.

The next few years were tough financially. Every month I did not have enough and have to slowly sell off my unit trust investments and later my insurances just to tide through the month. I wrestled with giving tithes. Sometimes I gave, while many times I shrinked back. It was one long guilty road that I took.

The same searching question came to me over and over again, "Why did He not provide for me?" I would envy others who can bring their family for holidays or send their children for courses. Here I am only refering to the basic necessities, nothing luxurious like a trip to Australia. To my children, they know that whatever they ask from me I would surely say no. I would love to give them, but where am I going to find the money for it? These are the struggles that I faced when in my younger days I do not need to face as I came from a quite well to do family.

There was once at the hawker centre, I saw the next table had a wonderful spread of dishes for the family. That was a familiar picture - it was a regular situation for my family when I was a child. We always had more than enough. Now looking at my own children, I cried within me as I have to let the 2 of them share a plate of food and the 2 of us adults eating minimal portions. We would tell our children to buy drinks from the "Ma-Ma" store as that is cheaper.

I wouldn't have so much frustrations if I have a meaningful and challenging role to play. Instead, the church, in my opinion do not know where to deploy me - a graduate. I was the first to be in a mid-tier position, a role below the pastoral staff position. Why this and not a pastor? Sigh. In my 8+ years there, I served in many departments. It did not helped as I always seemed to be that round peg in the square hole. I just could not fit in and perform well in any ministry. I did not grow much and felt stifled most of the time. My expectations were not met, nor did I met theirs. Others were advancing and growing while I languished. My superior observed that I was like without passion, and he was right.

Finally after 8 years 9 months, when I was 41, I left. It was an angry decision and a scary one for me. The farewell with my ministry lay people felt like my own funeral. Many of them shared about my ministry in their lives. It was a good thing for my family to be there to witness all their love and encouragement.

The next year was terrible. I backslided and was at my lowest point in all these years as a Christian. It was so easy to sin now as there was no 'safety net', no accountability, and no one watching over me anymore.

It became so bad until one day I sat in my study and looking at my 3 shelves of Christian books and files, I thought to myself, maybe I should sell them away. The movie Shawshank Redemption came to my mind. I fully identified with the actor and felt that I have lost the reason to live on.

I could not pinpoint exactly how I made a U-turn in my spiritual life. Maybe not fully yet. But I have since pick up the Bible and started letting the Word of God speak to me again.

One main question that I could not answer is this, "Are those wasted years of my life?" 8 years and 9 months. I could have advanced so much in the world - my boss 2 ranks up is actually younger than me. My contemporaries are Senior managers now while I am at entry grade again.

What were lost in those years?
  • Monetary income (maybe quality of life for the family)
  • Status, worldly ranks.
  • Knowledge of worldly things
  • ??

What did I gained in those years?

  • Spiritual experiences (sp warfare - house cleansing)
  • Preaching - speaking gifts discovered
  • Teaching experiences
  • Friends made - discovered that i am very much a people person
  • Listening to God
  • MAPC
  • Mentoring
  • QC time perspectives
  • God's provision thru gifts from various ones,e.g. check of $1k from annonymous person. Many times these came through my family members.

How do I put a price tag to these things gained? How can I say that they were lesser or more than the previous list? Am I still saying that those were wasted years? Have the evil one been successful in misleading me?

Lord, renew my spiritual lenses to see clearly and to walk more closely to you, my Father and provider. Let me not hurt, nor remain angry. But let me focus on your hand of grace that has sustained me thus far. Praise God.

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