Are you doing your job?

Have you ever felt that God has placed a certain somebody in your life for a specific reason? That just by meeting and getting to know that one person, changed the entire course of your path in life?

I believe that God places specific people and certain experiences (both good, bad & extremely painful ones) in our lives, to remind, correct, guide and teach us certain things and lessons that are so very needful, especially when we lose sight of what our direction should be in life, when we lose faith and get disappointed by the many trials we face in life etc. These people/experiences show up and ever so gently or maybe even harshly give us a hard knock on our heads and tell us to WAKE UP! To get us to re-focus our minds and re-align ourselves onto the straight and narrow path again. To get right with things and clear up whatever mess we’ve been making and been too lazy to clean up. Of course, these things i’m referring to aren’t just talking about our mistakes, but many other things such as re-igniting that spark or passion for something in particular, giving us an idea or something new to fight and work towards. Giving meaning in our lives once more.

Can you think of someone or something in particular? Well, I can. In fact, more than just one. Here are a couple examples.

My first major thing I suppose would be my 2 year National Service experience firefighting in SCDF. It basically gave me a wake up call to learning how to persevere and pace myself in life (even when things sucked so bad I honestly didn’t think I could survive/get through it, solely relying on the core things that kept me sane and surviving. I’ve always been a pretty fit person throughout my life. But firefighting training was on a whole new different level itself. Not only was it physical, but mentally, spiritually and emotionally exhausting for many various different reasons. Heat training wasn’t easy for one, having to climb tens of storeys at one go with heavy gear and dummy casualties in full firefighting gear in ever-sunny crazily hot and humid Singapore, exercising in the sauna and especially the lack of water provided (to simulate a real situation when we would be severely dehydrated but still having to work at such an intense physical level.) Spiritual level also because you really have to look deep within yourself when everything seems so dark and hopeless, especially with certain colleagues/superiors you have to work with that aren’t very good influences and with bad habits, you tend to subconsciously get influenced whether you want to or not. This is why one of my favourite quotes is- You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. It is SO true. Choose your environment and people in your life very carefully, because it IS going to have an impact on your life. During this period of time, I had to really look deep within myself, my core values that I wanted to live by, family member support (I am SO thankful to have been born into such a loving and stable family who really loves me for who I am and supporting me in any way they can), my Christian faith and upbringing, and other loved ones around me who constantly reminded me of the hope and knowing that all these things were just going to be a season and temporary period in life. Without any of which, I know would have made it impossibly tougher to handle.

Secondly, getting to know William Lu in first year of university. He has been a Godsend, and I sincerely believe that God has placed him in my life for a specific reason. I talk more about why and how he has made such a big impact on my life here.

Thirdly, my past relationship with Isabel. My time knowing and being together with her, changed my life. Although it was not all smooth sailing during the 3 years and she has since moved on, I still remember it very vividly and fondly. I wish her all the very best in life. She taught me how to love, how to give, give and give again when you were running on empty. How to forgive, even the unforgivable. How to sacrifice and place and give someone priority over oneself. How to be whole, yet dependant at the same time and so much more. She was and will always be my first love. But God intervened and things were not meant to be no matter how hard we tried. This taught me so much I cannot jot it all down, and my writing this will not what we had justice. At the end of the day, a major lesson I learnt was that God should always, ALWAYS take priority in our lives, and not each other. And if He says let go, don’t try to hold on and keep struggling, because the end result will still be the same, but just with a whole damn lot more hurt in the process of that struggle. When you know it isn’t meant to be, just make it a clean cut and not end up in the dreaded in-between stage.

Fourthly, getting to Christian. He has been a big motivator, companion and friend both spiritually and in school. Both of us are studying with the intention to pursue a post-graduate medical degree. Although both of us come from such different backgrounds (him from the States and me from Singapore), God brought both of us migrated over to New Zealand in the same year 2011 and enrolled in the same biomedical course. Both of us had been praying for a Godly friend for company in Biomed, and the better we got to know each other, the more similarities we discovered. Christian has been a big source of motivation and encouragement in my university journey so far, and the weekly bible studies gymming sessions and conversations we always have, have always helped remind me that God is ALWAYS in control of things, and that I do not have to worry. If He means it to be, it will happen. I tend to stress over things like my grades and day to day assignments/commitments, and he always tell me to chillax. 😂 Thanks bro, for always pointing me back to God even when things aren’t looking so great. I hope that when you go back to the states next year and I to whichever country for studies/whatever plan God has in store for me, that we will never lose this connection we have with each other. God will use you for great things, I am sure of that.

Lastly, the time I almost died. I was at Whangamata, Coromandel with my sister Pearl and dad on holiday. We were exploring the area and decided to canoe out to a couple of the islands that were located a distance away from the shore. Dad joined us initially, with him and me in a double canoe and Pearl in a single. However after rowing for a while, he did not feel particularly comfortable rowing in the open sea, so we went back to drop him off and so Pearl was in the single canoe whilst I handled the double canoe myself. (Thinking back, why both of us did not take the double canoe, I honestly don’t understand and can’t remember why 😅) Anyway, so things were going perfect and we had an awesome time exploring donut island and the other 2 beautiful islands, climbing inside and up, taking really cool and awesome pictures. However, it was soon time to head back and so we left the islands and got back into our canoes to head back for mainland. At that period of time, it was around 3-4pm, and the tide was retreating and the current was pushing offshore into the open sea. It had been a pretty long day, full of rowing, climbing and doing many activities and so were pretty tired by then. We managed to make some progress toward shore initially, but after a while, it became apparent to me that the current was way too strong for me in my double canoe to handle, and I did not have enough strength and stamina left to make it back to shore. Slowly but surely, I noticed that although I was paddling forward, my canoe was moving backward. This meant that I was getting further and further away, and before I knew it, I was even further out than the islands we were once on, and even they gradually because smaller and smaller specks in the horizon. I’ve never been more afraid for my life before, and honestly thought it might be the end for us. Pearl used to be a canoeist back then in school and is still a current dragon-boater, and so is a strong rower. She could have made it back to shore, and I told her to go ahead after a couple hours of rowing. (I knew that I was only dragging her down, and thought that it was probably better for her to make it back to shore and for one survive than for both to be lost at sea.) This way, at least she could have alerted the authorities and sent for help. The worst feeling I have found is when you know and can see where safety is (the shore), yet not being able to reach it, and with nobody aware that you are in desperate need of help. You are all alone. But Pearl refused. She stuck by me and kept us going when I wanted to give up. I owe my life to her, and could not have asked for anything more. It was starting to get dark in the evening, and we had been rowing for many hours already but with no progress. We were stuck. (If any of you are wondering, we were located on the east coast of North Island New Zealand, and there was no other smaller islands that we could have rowed to. I would later check and realise that the next nearest land would have been a whole different continent, thousands of miles away. We would not have survived that in our small canoes with no food and water supply. Anyway, we were both rowing mindlessly for hours and deep down, knew that if no one was coming to rescue us, this would likely be the end. I still vividly remembering looking up at the sky and seeing a single seagull flying. I’ve never wished any harder to be able to fly. I saw the clouds in the sky and thought of the heavens and imagined how it would be like to be in heaven that very day. It was then that I prayed one of the sincerest prayer I have ever prayed, and till this day, still remember exactly what I said.

Dear Lord, if it be in your will that today be my last day, I pray that you make it a quick one and I look forward to meeting you in heaven today. But if your will and work through my life is not done yet, I pray that you show me a sign and send someone to save us. I can’t do this anymore.

Right at that very moment when I finished my prayer (I AM NOT KIDDING), I just looked around (for the millionth time) whilst rowing. It was just then that I saw a small white boat in the distance, just a couple hundred metres away I think. It just seemed so crazy, so impossible and I just could not believe what I was seeing. After a moments hesitation of realising that this was actually what was happening and not something I was imagining, I started screaming and waving my paddles. My sister looked at me and noticed the small fishing boat too. I was so afraid that the people onboard the boat would not be able to hear us! After what seemed like forever, the boat started to get bigger as it approached us, but we still kept screaming and waving our paddles like madmen. We just did not want to risk it. They were our only hope for rescue. Finally, the boat reached us and we saw an older man, by himself. He understood what happened without much explanation from us. He helped tie our canoes to the back of his boat and gave us a lift back to land. You will never imagine how scared and relieved we both felt back then. With hands trembling, skin both bruised, calloused and bleeding from the exertion, we could finally rest. That elderly fisherman told us “You guys are really lucky. Nobody passes by these waters normally during this season. It just happened that i’ve bought a new boat to test it out and something told me to return by this path, instead of the usual route that I take back to the jetty.” That night, dad, Pearl and I could not sleep, but instead tossed and turned on the bed. We gave up after a while, and decided to go for a walk by the beach we took off from that earlier morning to catch the sunrise. No words were spoken, just silence, and a heart full of gratitude and sheer shock of what had just happened the previous day. It was that night when I kept replaying the scene over and over in my mind, that I remembered the prayer I made, and knew right then that God was not done with me just yet. I am convicted and know that his work through my life is not done just yet, and am honoured and thankful for everything He has given me. This is a life-changing experience that I will never forget, and has time and time again, proven to me the power of prayer. It is not just words; God is ALWAYS listening.

I am sure that I have met other people and have had other certain experiences that have shaped my life and given me valuable reminders, but as of now, this is what I can remember. I believe that God’s calling for me is to be a medical doctor, to use that knowledge to reach out, touch and impact other people’s lives. This is especially important when they are in dire need of medical help. To help them in any way I can and hopefully, eventually bring them to salvation. I hope it has been a thought-provoking and interesting read for you.

Yours,

Paul Chong

God calls each of us to Himself in different ways. Whatever way He worked in your life, the good news is that the scales that once blinded you fell from your spiritual eyes! God has prepared a ministry for you and has prepared you for a ministry to others. 

Who is God using in your life to bring you closer to Him?

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