A long time ago, a wise King named Solomon who trusted God wrote this about his experience with the meaning of life.
Verse 11: God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future. (Contemporary English Version)
In Ecclesiastes 3, King Solomon tells us that there is a time and season for everything in our lives. Yet, he reminds us that we are not alone in our seasons of change. We have a God that allows a time and season for everything and though we may not understand why things happen at certain times, God allows us to go through these different seasons of life to learn different things.
In God’s hands, everything has meaning and purpose – even through the joys or the sorrows we experience. God himself makes things happen and makes them beautiful in his time.
Come May next year, it will be my 10th year since finishing my theological training to be a pastor. It will be 10 years since returning to serve in Living Praise. There have been many struggles, pain and tears as well as joy and laughter though I must say that the tears outweigh the joys and laughter. The passing years have brought me through many seasons of learning, lamenting and experiencing the joys of answered prayers and a deeper sense of God’s guiding hand in his work in Living Praise. Being involved as a school chaplain in the lives of students and teachers gave me the opportunity to share my hope in Jesus Christ! Being involved with our young adults in their different transitions in life gave me the opportunity to encourage them to keep trusting God in the midst of trials and uncertainties.
Each of us go through different seasons in our lives and this is all part of God’s plans for us. For me, as a preacher in our Presbyterian Church, the next natural step would be to be ordained as a Minister (a Reverend). This would mean firstly, going through a licensing process that requires me to be mentored by a senior Ordained Minister from within our Presbyterian denomination, finish reading two books (pastoral and theological), completing book reviews on them and a personal testimony on my calling. Once all these are completed, I will be considered a ‘licensed preacher’ where Living Praise or any other Presbyterian Church may invite me to be ordained as a Minister in the church.
I have been putting off the decision to complete the ‘licensing process’ for a long time for various reasons. One of the reasons was my failure to pass my Greek in theological college. This requirement needs to be met before I can start my licensing process. For those who know me, I am not the academic sort. I can’t even pass my Mandarin much less Greek! Even speaking Mandarin sounds like Greek already!
A few years ago, after much prayers with my wife Hui Phing, and much encouragement from our Elders and Pastor, I decided to start working towards being a ‘licensed preacher’. I plucked up all my courage and went back to seminary to finish my Biblical Greek. By God’s grace, I managed to complete my final Greek module last November. I not only finished it but I enjoyed a new found appreciation of reading the New Testament in Greek and a deeper understanding of God’s Word in its original language. But I’ve given back everything already so please don’t ask me anything now!
In the months from September to December last year, I was thankful to our leaders for giving me a three-month period of rest. In the short break, I enjoyed the extended time with God – praying and reading. I enjoyed sharing God’s Word at a good friend’s wedding. I went for a personal retreat with a few friends, attended a talk on spirituality and attended the services of various churches on Sundays. I cycled, hiked, fished, went sky diving, to name a few crazy things I did. I rested and of course – I ate.
Since coming back in January, I’ve continued serving where I left off last year. In May, our Pastor Reverend Yuk Yee (he is an ‘ordained’ minister) informed me that I am officially on the ‘licensing process’ and a mentor has been assigned to mentor me. Yaay! While, I am excited, I am also afraid of this new season of life for me not knowing what is ahead. What happens after my completion? Should I continue the next step to be a Reverend? Will I be a good and faithful Minister? Will I be able to handle more responsibilities required of a Minister? Will ‘soh steady’ become ‘less steady’?
I worry what is ahead because like King Solomon tells us – that God has created our past and future and we will never understand the beauty of what God is doing in his journey with us in the present. However, instead of worrying, I ought to praise Him for who He is – our Father who knows our past, present and future – and enjoy all that He has given us.
So pray along with me my dear friends, that I should not be burdened with whether to be ordained or not in the future. But to know in the present, that my days have already been ordained by God and to trust Him for what is ahead in this season that he is bringing me through.
I pray that whatever seasons our Lord is bringing you through right now, you too will give thanks and enjoy the beauty that will slowly reveal His handiwork at the end of that season. When that happens, you will flourish in the beauty of his love and grace. Amen!