Adventure—this was the word the Lord gave me at the beginning of 2019. This year, I was to complete my studies at Trinity Theological College (TTC) and apply to enter full-time pastoral ministry in the Methodist Church. “Adventure” spoke to my fear of the unknown and breathed a new perspective: it would be an exciting journey with God.
And what an adventure it has been!
One unexpected turn in the journey was that of my husband and I taking in a second foster son (aged seven) in February this year, adding to our already full household of three biological sons aged eight, 12 and 17, and first foster son aged 11.
At the time, I wondered if I should delay entering ministry to give more time for my new foster to adjust to us, and us to him. The Lord, however, clearly conveyed that the original plan remained. Humanly, it made no sense, especially when I considered that this child had challenging behaviours stemming from deep rejection.
Nonetheless, I obeyed. When I returned from my TTC Graduation retreat in May—the first time I had had to be away from my second foster for a few days—I learnt that he had thrown massive tantrums in my absence. The graduation celebration of the following week was overshadowed by the clouds of my anxiety.
In the following weeks and months, through a combination of play therapy, firm but loving parental discipline, close cooperation with school teachers, and much, much prayer, he has stabilised and improved tremendously. Thanks be to God!
On 1 Aug, I began work as an Assistant Pastor at Christ Methodist Church. I had envisioned a stressful return to full-time work. The reality, however, has remarkably been quite the opposite. I now feel a greater sense of liberation, largely due to my having no choice but to release control of household matters: on weekdays to my capable domestic helper; on weekends to my endlessly supportive husband. It was the precise remedy that this recovering perfectionist needed.
My new workplace has been nothing short of delightful with wonderful colleagues and a welcoming congregation. It is also a precious privilege to be part of the larger family of TRAC and Methodist pastors. I still have a long way to go, but it has already been deeply satisfying to embark on fulfilling the calling God has placed on my heart so many years ago.
The words of the second stanza of the modern hymn “My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness”, by Keith and Kristyn Getty, resonate with me:
My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who walks beside;
Who floods my weaknesses with strength
And causes fears to fly;
Whose every promise is enough
For every step I take,
Sustaining me with arms of love
And crowning me with grace.
My heart is filled with thankfulness to the God who walks beside me on this great adventure. This is also the same God who walked beside us—literally—more than 2000 years ago. Emptying himself, the eternal One took on frail flesh in a stunning declaration of His great love for us. Immanuel—God with us—is the God who still walks beside us today.
As He has walked with me, He too will walk with you.
Tay Li Ping is Assistant Pastor at Christ Methodist Church.
Picture by ThaiPrayBoy/Bigstock.com