It is nearly the end of the first day of the brand new Year 2017 as I begin to write this post. It seems now that 2016 just flew past swiftly...and another year of my life is history. Makes me wonder what 2016 means when I am one day hopefully at Heaven's gates!
I do not make New Year resolutions the way I used to in my pre-Divine days. Even then, I was not one who made many New Year resolutions personally like some of my friends who actually had a list of New Year resolutions. I made a few in my mind and that essentially provided the impetus or zeal in what I tried to achieve in that year.
The older I get the more I value the potential of what each New Year could mean. Perhaps it is because when I was younger, death was like some distant destiny and there was so much to do and to live for. For some reason, I never entertained the thought that I could also die young until my elder sister did - when she was 43.
By then, I had started thinking on and off about what the meaning of my life was but it were little episodes in a hectic lifestyle I was leading in the corporate wold.
Until God decided that I should be aware that I have a plan to fulfil for Him too!
God has a plan for each of us. Yet how we choose to respond to God's Call is entirely up to each of us. Once we say "YES", how we choose to live for Christ is based on our journey of faith and our deepening personal relationship with Jesus. It cannot be static. I know the difference of my relationship with Jesus when I first realized He has a plan for even for me (during my 1st Divine retreat in February 1998) and now nearly 19 years later! Like in any relationship, we need to commit our time and heart to Jesus and learn to do His Will. Learning to do God's Will and not our own is the difficult part. It is easy to say but difficult in reality to live purely to do God's Will. First we need to let go of our pride, ego, personal will and learn humility and being a handmaid/servant of Jesus.
The last month of the year is always an intense time of prayer and reflection of how I have lived my life for Jesus and what should I focus on in the New Year. It is a difficult time as it is also the busiest period of my ministry where I am really exhausted each day. It is the time that I most want to "hear" what God wants of me and to get assurances from Him - that there is no reason to be afraid. God is in control. This is something many of my Catholic friends overseas have also shared with me regarding their careers and of their church/apostolic ministries. How do we know if God wants us to continue with our ministry, which ministry should we focus our efforts, should we look at taking up new ministry initiatives and so forth. We want to have the security of God showing us a clear sign of what we should do. Yes, it would make our choice easier if we know what is in store for us.
For me, I have found the need at year-end to seek the spiritual guidance of a priest. Somehow in having to articulate my fears, concerns and personal ministry initiatives for the New Year, I feel Christ's Peace and very often clear signs and "revelations" during the year-end Divine Thanksgiving Adoration service and the New Year Vigil homily. Spiritual guidance is crucial because sometimes we are too close to our problems/concerns to recognize the "root" of what could be troubling us or the need to refocus on our spiritual call. Our focus is on the "worry" and not "what" could be causing the "worry" and of trusting God in a tangible way
When we we choose to live God's Plan for our lives, I have found personally some areas I must always be aware of:
- Daily Personal Prayer and Bible Reflection
- Ongoing discernment of how I am living for Christ.
- Whose will am I living for? God's Will or my will?
- The courage and honesty to share my own personal weaknesses, anxiety and concerns in living God's Call to me with a Spiritual Director.
- Listening and being ready to recognize when God is speaking to my heart. It may feel like God is not saying anything. Yet Jesus reveals to me what I need to know.
- Do I trust God enough to believe in His Providence?
- When I say "YES" to God's Call, I need to truly trust He is going to be there with me through the good and bad times. I am never abandoned.
Whether we are serving in church ministry, full-time ministry or in our personal life as a committed Catholic, I am reminded in a very powerful way this year by the Word of God that discipleship is costly. However, God's Providence which is what truly matters is promised to me - to gain the crown I hope for eternity:
“If anyone wishes to after , he must deny himself,
and take up his cross and .
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it;
but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
The hymn at the at the top of this post "MY HANDS, MY HEART, MY VOICE" by SELAH - spoke so powerfully to my heart when I heard it for the first time tonight. I encourage you to please take the few minutes to let the lyrics flow into your heart to be touched, anointed and strengthened in how you will live with deep commitment and purpose for Jesus in 2017.
As 2017 begins, I take this special opportunity to thank God for all our Friends of Divine especially those who have stepped forward in helping Divine's evangelizatiion and charitable initiatives. There is much I have learnt and gained personally in coordinating Divine's 2016 evangelization missions in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore from the parish priests, dedicated retreat organizing team members, and many Catholics who have stepped forth for new Divine evangelization initiatives in Asia-Pacific. Each of you have added a depth to my personal ministry in Divine. The Friends of Divine network that we have is a vibrant and integral part of our Divine-Potta ministry - your prayers and deep commitments make the Christian difference to many other hearts in your parish, country and the world to have a God-experience.
May each of you, Friends of Divine, be blessed mightily to be Christ's ambassadors to the world!
Have a Joyous and Fruitful 2017! To God be all Glory!