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I wasn't ready to be a father at 18.

Once, I was an absent father. When I decided to stop running away, God redeemed me and restored my relationship with my son.

Editor's Note: Names have been changed for anonymity.

I wanted to be included in everything my friends did.

Never feeling good enough, I’d seek attention and approval from others and I found comfort in friends or relationships.

Back in 2011-2012, I started going to Impact Life Church. When I couldn’t see how God was real in my life, I left and started to focus on other things. Soon after, I started a relationship with someone from my school.

I didn’t set any guardrails in this relationship.

Things escalated quickly. She became pregnant and just like that, I became a father.

I definitely was not ready to be a father at 18. I was so fearful because I didn't know what to do at all. I felt like I had disappointed my family.

I just wasn't ready to face up to the responsibilities.

I chose to escape from my problems by spending my time gaming or at my CCA in polytechnic. Then I’d go home, sleep, and the cycle repeats. I chose everything but spending time with my son. I didn’t man up, and I was an absent father.

My relationship with my wife also started to deteriorate. She started cheating on me multiple times. That was the lowest point in my life. I was so depressed everyday. I was so overwhelmed with the pain that I started turning to smoking and clubbing for comfort.

I was smoking at least 1 pack a day and going to clubs 2-3 times every week.

I skipped a lot of classes and pushed many people away. I had no motivation to do anything at all. I felt ashamed, lost and alone.

In November 2019, one of my old lifegroup members, Lionel, invited me back to church. I decided to go but honestly, I didn't expect much.

During the second week of attending church, the sermon spoke right to my heart. The speaker shared that God hasn’t forgotten me. He said that "God is the potter, and we are His clay". At that point, I believed that I was too far gone to be saved because I had done too many bad things. But that day, the Holy Spirit helped me to see that God can shape my life and redeem it for His purposes! After this encounter with God, I decided to rededicate my life to Christ.

Not long after, The Holy Spirit prompted me to quit smoking.

It was strange because I never saw it as being something wrong. I asked my friend about it, he taught me that my body is a temple of God and that’s why I ought to keep it healthy. This time I was convinced that I should quit smoking.

So I tried to stop, but it only lasted 6 days.

I kept trying again and again, but each time I barely lasted a day. I felt guilty and ashamed I couldn't do this one thing God called me to do. It was then that my friend, Jackson, shared with me a verse which says:

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” - John 8:34-36

When I read this verse I started thinking, “Why am I choosing to be a slave?” I realized that as God’s child I wasn’t helpless against sin anymore. This changed my entire perspective, because now, I understood that I had a choice!

That day, I told God that I was making a choice.

I am choosing Him over everything else in my life, and I was going to do that not just with my words, but with my actions as well. I was going to choose a life of obedience.

That week, Pastor Daniel preached the first sermon of the "That's Old School" series. The sermon spoke so clearly to me.

For the first time, I saw that I had zero spiritual discipline my whole life.

I wasn't spending quality time with God and that was why I didn’t experience God the way I saw other people did. That was why I didn’t understand my position and authority as a child of God, and that was why I didn’t have victory in my life!

After the sermon, I chose to spend quality time with God every single day.

I also surrendered all the cigarettes I had on me to Jackson. As I read and meditated on God’s word, I felt God's presence like I never had before, and I heard Him so clearly.

God revealed to me that He is bigger than the strongholds that bound me.

He helped me to see that when I smoked, I was trying to fill a hole in my heart that only God can fill. But now that I can draw near to God, I really don’t need to smoke anymore. Usually I would feel moody when I tried to quit smoking, but this time round, I didn't feel moody. Instead, I truly felt free! Today marks my 10th week of being smoke-free. I started praying to God everyday to restore my relationship with my son.

I decided to stop running away and I started spending a lot of time with him. God is merciful and He really restored our relationship. Now we are closer than ever. Usually when his mother asks him “Who do you want to live with?”, he would answer “Mummy”. But the other day, when his mother asked him the same question, he said, "I want to live with both of you equally."

When you start working on your inward life, your outward life begins to change.

When I was focused on quitting smoking, I failed because I was using my own strength alone. But when I started spending time with God everyday, God Himself gave me the strength to break free not only from smoking, but in other areas of sin like unforgiveness, lust and anger. I stopped fearing the opinions of men and craving people’s attention.

When I look back, I can really see how God is so real in my life.

These transformations in my life cannot be of my own effort, they are only possible through God’s power working in me. I am still on a journey of growing, but I’m confident that God is there with me every step of the way.

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