God Changed My Black-and-White World to Sparkling Technicolor
Two years ago, I was a young corporate lawyer and would never imagine that I would one day find myself doing church work overseas. At that time, I was satisfied with my life, having a comfortable job with good pay, attending a cell group at the Young Adults Ministry (YA) of St. Andrew’s Cathedral (SAC) on Saturdays, and taking the occasional vacation to interesting places with my family or friends.
A paradigm shift in my mindset began at the end of 2011 when I went for a YA Retreat. Coming directly from a fast-paced job and routine, it was really difficult to quiet myself down and listen to God. But God patiently waited four days for me to clear my mind and my heart so that I could finally hear Him. God reminded me that He loved me and was waiting for me to come back to Him again. Partly because of work, I had been drifting away from God and even though I was aware of my spiritual decline, I was dragging my feet to come back to God.
After this encounter with God, I was filled with joy and excitement to turn my life around! I remember returning to the YA meeting and sharing how knowing that God still loved me and calling me to come back to Him had made my world go from black-and-white to sparkling Technicolor. This kind of “injection” of joy and life can only come from encountering God, not from our hobbies or holidays or people, no matter how much we enjoy them!
From then on, I started to pursue God more seriously. I made efforts to balance my workload in the office so that I wouldn’t be too tired to spend quality time with God daily. God helped me by getting my superiors to accede to my request. The following two years were a time of learning to discipline myself to stay connected to God through quiet time every day and to humble myself. Actually it was quite a painful time but it was rewarding. Although it hurt at times, looking back, I am so grateful for His discipline, because He disciplines those He loves. If God doesn’t care about us, He would just let us go our own selfish, self-destructive ways.
Over those years, God wrote more and more of His truths on my heart. Many things that I had learnt in Sunday school and in church had stayed in my head but had never really settled down into my heart. Now God was personally etching them onto my heart so that I would never forget truths like how He is never disappointed in me, because He knows me and knows everything I would do before I was even born; how He will never ever leave me, no matter where I go.
In 2013, I finally had the courage to leave my job after five years in legal practice. I didn’t have a clear idea of what I was going to do next, but a big part of what motivated me was knowing that God would always be with me and would keep me from making a “dead-end” mistake. I had thought that I was all ready to do His will, but little did I know that God still had plenty of work to do in my life and many lessons to teach me: about being humble – like knowing that God is God, and I am not; denying myself and truly meaning it when I pray, “yet not my will but Yours be done”, and more.
God continues to teach me precious lessons in my time here in Hanoi. I am grateful every day for the chance to be here, to see what God is doing and to be instructed by the Master Himself. But the greatest joy is knowing that God takes joy in me, totally apart from what I do for Him. It is not the places I go, or the things which I do, or the sacrifices I make which bring Him glory, but the fruit of the Spirit that is borne in my life as I remain in His love, whether in Singapore or Hanoi or anywhere else in the world.
Author: Ms Sandra Ooi (Sandra left her former job as a corporate lawyer to be sent out by SAC to serve in Vietnam. She is now back in Singapore and worships at the 9 am Sunday Service with her family.)
First published in The Courier, July 2015.