God, Our Provider
God has blessed me with an eventful life journey that is fraught with uncertainty but through it all I learnt that He is sovereign, in control and He provides.
In Singapore we are very good at planning. We map our education path, 6 years in primary school, 4 years secondary school, 2 or 3 years in Junior College/polytechnic and then off to the work force or army before perhaps some university time and off to the work force!
We are told to take control of our career path. Spend 2 years as an auditor then 3 years as a financial controller then perhaps try being a manager for 4 years and fingers crossed perhaps a finance director.
From cradle to grave, we plan, we plan and we plan~
It’s as if we've lived our lives even before it has even begun!
But God knew us before we were even born; He has a plan for us. And if we accept His invitation of salvation, we can lift our heads high and boldly live assured that his guiding hands will be there to provide.
Back in 2008, crafted from prudent financial planning, I sought out and received a scholarship to study in Japan. It covered my cost of living and school fees thus I needn’t worry about my finances. Nevertheless I lived like any other local student. I learnt Japanese, ate beef rice bowl lunches and cut discount coupons for groceries at the supermarket. I had a knack for picking up the Japanese language and was soon doing lucrative side jobs like doing translation work, teaching Chinese to children and giving business English classes to Japanese office staff. I studied tourism after Japanese language school and passed my local tour license test on my 1st try, while 70% of the other applicants including most of my classmates failed. I had some local and foreign classmates but my pride got in the way and I never sought to know them better.
Reflecting on my experiences I recognised the good things that God provided with the scholarship and the talents that he showered upon me. From my papered sheltered bubble life in Singapore, he sent me out away from Singapore to Japan, that set me on a path to become independent, to grow in his word, away from the distractions and the expectations baggage I could leave behind in Singapore.
On my issue with pride and ego, He showed me that with the talents he has given me, I could be the salt of the earth and used it to connect people together, but instead with the wrong attitude, it could make me proud and become a barrier to interacting with others. Nevertheless, He loves his imperfect children and continues to display his grace and provides for me.
From studying tourism in Japan, I got tired of horsing around, and thought it was time for a degree. Next thing I knew I was on a plane to London to study economics. But without scholarship to start with, there was much more uncertainty and I prayed deeply if this was the right direction, and if that was where he wanted me to be. Prudent spending and with the allowance from the scholarship and other lucrative side jobs gave me enough savings to support my own living expense for my first year. In my pursuit of financial independence, I also interned in various banks over the 3 summers during university. With these summer jobs I was able to stay self-sufficient for both my 2nd and 3rd year, without having to swipe my dad's credit card and even had some surplus to fly back to Singapore too.
And so once again, God provided.
From my two examples, I am reminded about the old testimony where the people's faith was tested on two occasions. Firstly when God through Moses parted the Red sea in Exodus 14:21, and when God through Joshua parted the Jordan in Joshua 3:15. In the first instance, the people's faith was raw. Some still worshipped their Egyptian gods and only started to return to God as Moses led them out of slavery. And so without getting their feet wet, Moses parted the red sea for all the Hebrews to cross. But in the second instance, the people have been worshipping the Lord for years now. And as we learn in Joshua, the priest holding the Ark had their feet dipped in the brim of water first before the water of the Jordan was parted and the people passed over dry land.
Similarly, while my walk in Christ was in its infancy before heading to Japan, God gave me a “Moses” to part the Red Sea of financial uncertainty in a scholarship so that I could cross on dry land without getting my feet wet. But as my understanding and faith consolidated and grew, at the point before heading to London, the uncertainty ahead without financial support, I was like the Ark bearers beside Joshua, who needed a leap of faith to walk into the Jordan get their feet wet, their faith tested, before God was willing to part the water.
As I grow in Christ, God doesn’t just coax me by granting wishes like a genie the moment I throw a tantrum and throw the toys out of the pram, he expects more maturity and more growth from us. And now… I’ve just bought my own place, got myself into hundreds and thousands of dollars of debt. I think you can say in the ark bearer’s terms, I’m up to my neck underwater in debt…
But I’ll confidently say to you my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, “Do Not Worry.”
You who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life?
For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? "And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?…
If you have any uncertainty in your life, and you're unsure whether or not to take the plunge, do pray hard for it and if God intended the path for you, He will part the waters for you.
Take heart my brother, God is sovereign. He is in control. He provides.