I have many struggles in life. One of which, is taking 2 weeks (and counting) to pen down my retreat reflection (OOPS =D ). While another, spanning nearly 2 decades, was in search of knowing God. In my myopic view, God is around only when I see my desired outcome. At times, I find myself desperately seeking out His tangible presence and wanting that ‘realness’ of my faith to be made known to me.
The most beautiful takeaway about this retreat was how my yearning was answered. With no expectations, I welcome the retreat as respite from the week, and was wholeheartedly ready to slip into the quiet confines of the Hougang centre for the weekend. (Well…serenity prevailed for most part, and only punctured by an exuberant Swiftie parading down the hallway in the wee hours…)
For our 1st session, we were given a selction of verses to colour and reflect upon. Out of the pool, I spotted this verse below:
It was the 3rd time stumbling upon this verse in the past 6 months. Exclamation marks ensued in my head, but, in that moment, my attitude shifted. I felt comforted and warmly aware of His presence then and there.
As the retreat progressed into the preparation for the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, I remembered anxiousness creeping in. Uncertainty and doubts were quick to plagued my mind. We had a silent dinner preceding the Outpouring, but my mind evidently did not get the memo; it was buzzing incessantly
as my mobile phone whenever my dear mother tries to locate my whereabouts.
However, the praise and worship leading up to the Outpouring was nothing short of powerful and doubts were gradually dispelled with each note. But, what cast away any shred of residual anxiousness was the very first prayer calling me to recognise God’s love. It moved me instantly, because just a few days ago I was given the exact same message during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Before, I could collect myself, a series of messages and visions were imparted. My heart was wide open, and holding on to every word shared. My mind on the other hand, was imploding with more questions marks and exclamation marks (think font size 100, bold, italicised and underlined!) while trying to make sense of it all. Mind-boggling! I came away truly grateful, humbled and joyful that God was so vividly present to me over the weekend.
I knew right after, all I really wanted was to make up for lost time and deepen my relationship with God. In the following session, Desmond aptly shared that a relationship with Christ has to be built overtime. Furthermore, the relationship deepens when there is a ‘price’ attached e.g. commitment of time etc. At this juncture, I am compelled to share this quote from “Confessions of a Shopaholic” (Uh-huh, Chick flicks occasionally contain traces of wisdom!)
The word ‘price’ usually comes with a negative connotation attached to it. ‘Price” is shrouded under the meaning of ‘cost’ given the way our world operates, focusing more on the loss. On the other hand, ‘worth’ refers to the value, the gain. ‘Cost’ is measured by our head, while ‘worth’ is measured by our hearts. Admittedly, I am guilty of always focusing on the cost. When Jesus paid the price for us, He could have jolly well counted the cost (pain, suffering, humiliation…), but instead He only saw our worth.
So, how will I price my relationship with God?
Also, I really want to point out that all the revelations during the course of the retreat never came down to me as an individual. The verse, the prayers, the messages, the visions, the joining of the dots came from those present around me. It would have been a very different story if I had encountered all these revelations directly by myself. So, while I did not get to hear the big booming voice, God deliberately chose to appear through the people around me; fellow peers who were able to support, guide and lead me to Him over those few days.
Lest we forget, we are all inextricably linked.
God created us to be in communities– even Jesus kept the company of twelve.
“He was God, yet they aided and nourished his natural development, just like food, water, sleep and other natural things did. God, in deigning to become a man, allowed himself to be nourished by human relationships, by community.” (The Call Collective).
Just like the human chain, we are all of many parts but combined together to make one whole. Each supporting the other – protecting and growing each other’s faith.
Who knew? Far beyond my myopic vision, God had already chosen the time, place, and people for Himself to be made known to me. While it has been over 2 weeks, I still find myself drawing back to that precious weekend recalling with a grateful heart to tide me through the difficult moments.