“We’re busy reassuring one another that God wants us to do what’s safest for our families and to pursue God in a way that looks suspiciously similar to what we’d naturally do if our only concern was our own comfort and happiness.”
Letters to the Church, Francis Chan
I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to live a story that God writes, rather than one that I construct for myself.
Over Christmas, the abundance and excess of this season made me wonder if this is what God truly wants for us. I wonder if all this abundance in our lives actually obstructs the sound of God’s voice in our lives. That our middle-class dreams of comfort are more the chapters of the story we are writing for ourselves than the one that God is writing for our lives.
In the last six months I have been having conversations with people about leaving my stable job to pursue what I feel God is calling me to. I know He’s placed young people, ministry, teaching the Word and the nations on my heart.
I understand that it is important to be responsible for ourselves financially, but I wonder if we have been wired to pursue a life of stability and comfort so much so that it has overtaken a life filled with Gospel dreams.
The church of the New Testament was wrought with persecution and suffering. It was a staple, an expected occurrence if we followed Jesus Christ. Francis Chan elaborates on a theology of suffering that frankly, is quite alien to our Singaporean church. I will not go into this too much, so do read his book “Letters to the Church” as he reflects on his journey from megachurch pastor to his current theology on what it means to do church.
And I don’t mean that all of us should quit our jobs now and pursue suffering. I believe that all good things come from God and should be enjoyed. But I guess the question is, are we pursuing God wholeheartedly? His heart for the broken, the poor, the marginalised? Or are our choices more about ourselves and our own comfort?
Chan writes, “Part of the reason we have created a culture of non-committal Christianity that avoids suffering is that we don’t treasure Him enough. We want Jesus, but there are limits to what we will sacrifice for Him. We want Him, but there are lots of things we want in life.”
How sobering! Do we truly want Jesus? Can we sing ‘Christ is enough for me’ with all our hearts knowing that if in the next day, like Job, we lose everything, we will still worship the Eternal God?
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord
I feel sometimes the reason why I don’t live a life of abandon for Him is because I don’t know the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus. As I meditate and marinate in His Word and know Him and His promises more, the more I count things as loss. My job, sure, have it. My stability, sure, have it. My status, sure, have it. My reputation, sure, have it.
Paul writes that a life of counting all as loss, helps us to know Christ. And unless we die to ourselves, face trouble and suffering, how else would we experience the power of his resurrection?
There’s a sense of wariness sometimes when people say they are leaving their jobs, moving and giving up things to pursue what God is calling them to. I’m not a proponent of reckless abandon and non-commitment to our season.
But as I move closer to making this decision about pursuing God’s story for my life instead of my own, I’m starting to celebrate when people tell me “this is what God is calling me to do, so I’m going”. It’s becoming a normal thing. As Christians, being called to do the counter-cultural thing, to give up a stable job, to move towards financial instability, to risk our own families on the frontline of missions, should be the norm!
Instead, the abnormal Christian life of comfort and ease has become the norm. Instead of gospel conversations, we talk about work and bosses and paydays and bonuses. The next holiday we are going on, the holiday we’ve been on, where we’re eating, what car to buy, house renovations, house buying.
When I asked friends at my birthday party what I should do more of, a resounding response was ‘date more!’ I don’t understand that. I mean, I understand it, they want me to find someone get married settle down. But Like Chan says, ‘Other kinds of good news stir more emotion than the gospel’ I wonder if this desire for me to settle down is more of a worldly desire than one fuelled by the gospel (Sorry guys! I love you!).
But the story that God is writing for my life is far bigger than that. As I sat in Seoul listening to the guest speaker from YWAM talk about unity of the Korean church (North & South), the passion of the Mongolian church to reach North Asia, my heart burned with God’s heart for the nations. As I sat and saw youths at FOPx crying out with such desire for God to transform their lives and their country, the pastors praying for the unity of the church in Singapore, I wept for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
His version of my life story is far greater than what I can even imagine. And my life story is only but a snippet of an incredible blockbuster film that He is writing.
And I don’t believe that it is for a select few. I believe that God’s heart for all of us are equally big. His dreams for us so massive. If only we would open our ears to hear His heart, and to seek Him with all our hearts and find that He has incredible things in store for us. More than financial stability, more than accolades, than promotions, more than family happiness.
He is inviting us to be a part of the Kingdom blockbuster He is writing. To be an invaluable part of His story. To live the adventure that He is calling us to.
Comfort is such a blessing from God, but it can also be the devil’s distraction to keep us from stepping into the story that God is writing for our lives. What does your heart burn for? What are you hoping to see done in your lifetime? What are the gifts He has given you? Has He been speaking to you about pursuing something radically different from what you are doing now?
A note to those who already have something on your heart, and God is calling you to go.
There’s obvious provision and opportunity to go but there is apprehension, and pushback from people around you. My advice is pray, draw close to Him, hear His heart, be near Him, stay in good spiritual community, seek the wisdom of those who’ve gone before you. If God is calling you to missions, speak to missionaries. If God is calling you to social work, speak to those doing social work especially those with a gospel-filled life.
Then do it. And watch the adventure unfold as God leads you into some of your most exciting days. If you’re choosing to walk into God’s story, there will be resistance. Steel your heart for potential persecution/suffering & stand firm in light of the devil’s attacks throwing doubt and deception your way.
For some of us, we have a dream but it just does not feel like the right time.
God is preparing you, much like the training season of the protagonist in a story. Maybe it is not time yet to go, but there is something on your heart. I would say, keep at it! Keep seeking God, laying your desires at His feet. Trust Him that in this wilderness season of waiting, He is growing you in your character. He is also weeding out things in your life that obstruct the Holy Spirit working in you. Trust and trust and trust! Seek His heart always, that He is in the end, your ultimate goal. So even if He never calls you out to that thing you feel strongly for, you are deeply known and loved. And that has to be sufficient for you.
Maybe you’ve never considered a life sold out to Christ. But reading this post has stirred something in you. There has to be something more!
Well, the beauty of a life walking with Christ is, there is always more. He has a beautiful and perfect plan for your life. Instead of just reading the stories of those who have done great things for God, seek God and ask Him what His story for you is. What is He calling you to? It could be something simple like serving the local church. It could be pastoring the young friends in your congregation. It could be being a light in your marketplace for the gospel and telling your colleagues/employees/employers about Jesus.
It doesn’t have to be in the world’s terms ‘spectacular’, like a Watchman Nee or a Francis Chan. Whatever it is God has called you to do/be, it would be an adventure. Like a black and white picture coming to life with colour, or like a wild animal enclosed in a cage for years finally stepping out into the wild again. And it would be massive for the kingdom of God, because His economy is different. He doesn’t look at the number of people you brought to His kingdom, He sees how you have stewarded what He has given you, your heart for Him. I believe that in heaven, the widow who gave those two coins and lived a simple life of loving & fearing God, would be side by side Billy Graham, the incredible evangelist.
What an adventure we can live with God if we would let Him author our stories, if we joined Him in the writing of the chapters.
In this next season of my life, I’m excited to see what He has in store. I honestly have no idea what is coming my way. I just have little puzzle pieces that God has given me to steward. Connections with people, random deep conversations about life, God’s heart for His church. But His assurance is so overwhelming. Last night as I prayed and conversed with Him, again and again He said to me “You’re on the right track”.
There is so much doubt and uncertainty, but nothing beats the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. One thing I am certain, is that I’m right in the middle of a story that the Creator God is writing, and I can trust His authorship, and enjoy the adventure of a lifetime.
I pray the same for you. ❤