I’ve attended Impact Life Church since I was 13 years old. To me being a good Christian means to read my bible daily, going for Worship Experiences, attending Life Group and mission trips without fail.
While all these were good things, I didn't realize how I equated activities to my identity. I thought I knew better since I’ve been in church for more than a decade.
Sadly, slowly over the years, unbeknownst to me, my heart was gradually becoming hardened.
I didn't realise how prideful I was until a Cambodia Mission Trip two years ago. I found myself dreading the daily debriefs with Pastor Daniel Cheo and the leaders because I didn’t have anything amazing to report. And, I couldn’t be genuinely happy for what God was doing around me in the lives of others.
All I heard were the voice of condemnation, telling me that I was not performing well.
At the end of the Cambodia trip, I asked my Life Group Member, who was on her first Mission Trip, how she felt about the trip.
She responded with so much faith in God, and upon hearing how much faith she has in God, I started tearing.
After this trip, I realised in my preoccupation with wanting to leave others with a good impression of me, I had completely left God out of the picture, even on the mission field! On hindsight, it’s ironic how I thought I could produce supernatural works without being plugged into His Spirit.
I started questioning why I thought the way I did as I knew something was very wrong with me but I couldn't put my finger on it. I also found myself comparing with others who were sharing praise reports and comparing my Life Group with others.
Slowly, I stopped meeting my members for discipleship regularly as I was fearful.
Subsequently, over the years, I started becoming bitter about many things and life. I knew that I was spiraling downwards but I couldn't control it.
I didn't know what was wrong and I kept trying to fix things my way.
I kept trying to do the “right” Christian things but my outcome was still the same, I was still bitter and dead on the inside.
At the beginning of this year, I finally decided to meet my Zone Leader Becky.
I decided to tell her everything that I've been feeling.
During our second meeting, I thought Becky would help solve all my problems, instead she just shared the gospel with me again.
She told me why Jesus died for me.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
- John 3:16
Upon hearing what she said, I teared.
In the last eight years, I’ve not cried in front of others because I wanted to maintain the ‘have it all together’ image. I’ve heard and said the gospel countless times but it was at that moment, the love of Christ became so much clearer to me.
Even though I was a complete sinner and lived only to look good to others on the outside, God still loves me! At that moment, I felt so loved. I was that person He died for.
God began to reveal to me that I had gotten it wrong all along! I have been trying to measure my worth by comparing the fruits of my ministry with other people. But I had not spent any time on tending to the soil of my heart.
The fruits of my ministry were never meant to be a measure of how much God loves me!
My value is based on God's grace and not by my good works.
There is simply nothing I can do to add or subtract from God's love for me.
I thought that my many years of being and serving in the church meant that I was a better Christian than others. But I got it all wrong. It doesn’t mean that if you are in church long enough, the change you experience in your life is greater.
I let pride and comparison creep into my heart, and I honestly was in a worse off state than before. My heart soil was filled with thorns, the cares of this world.
Although I wanted the Word to take root in my heart, I cared too much about my status and how others looked at me. Because I was desperately trying to prove my worth both to God and to others, I couldn’t accept the entire truth of God’s grace for me. As a result, I didn’t produce fruit.
That same week, during Life Group, I decided to share my honest feelings and struggles.
Through the tears, my Life Group Members did not see me as someone who wasn’t good enough; they didn’t condemn me. Instead, they encouraged me.
So, I started on a journey of learning how to be a child of God again. Not a Life Group Leader, but simply His child. He loves me as a Father loves their child.
As I understood God’s grace and love for me, I wanted my Life Group Members to experience this as well. I felt prompted to go on a fast, but it was so difficult. But God told us not to despise small beginnings. In just three weeks, many things happened.
I resumed meeting my members for discipleship again. This time, I didn’t want to rely on past experiences and head knowledge. I simply wanted to share what I experienced about God and do life with them. I can’t change the hearts of the people who were placed in my care; God is the only one who can bring about true change. I simply have to point them back to Him.
Misery truly follows those who cannot separate who they are with what they do.
I am learning that my responsibility is not to make the fruits grow, but to tend to the soil of my heart, to ensure that it is soft and uncluttered by worldly cares, ready to receive the seed of God’s Word.
A verse that I held on to in this period: