Work for God, not people

At the office, you work hard, but somehow your efforts seem to go unnoticed and unappreciated. Worse, a colleague whom you know who has bad conduct and doesn’t put in the same hours or effort seem to get all the praise and accolades.

Are you in that situation? Well, I was for many years. There I was, putting in 7-10 hour days working hard in my quiet little corner while one of my colleagues, whom I know was literally MIA in the office, was getting praises for her work.

The situation was particularly difficult for me to deal with because that colleague had hurt me and badmouthed me to the bosses before.

The whole thing grated on my soul and I complained to God bitterly about it. I didn’t understand why God would bless (or so I thought) a person who behaved in such a manner, and I most of all didn’t understand why God would bless her especially after she behaved so badly towards me. God, I whined, don’t you see the injustice in this?

I had two choices then:

  • I could show my displeasure by slacking off at work, “punishing” my bosses so to speak.
  • Or I could obey God’s Word which says:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men … – Colossians 3:23

God also said to me:

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. — Galatians 6:4-5

So, I stopped whining (though I slipped at times) and proceeded to work hard as if I was serving God. I focused on my conduct, rather than on that colleague’s conduct.

For a time, I didn’t see any rewards. My colleague continued to get praises while I seethed quietly to myself. But over time, I saw the fruits of my obedience.

First, my bosses gave me a good bonus. They began praising my work more and more.

However, my colleague went unpunished. Although I was puzzled by my bosses’ inaction, I chose not to dwell on it (though I failed at times). At times, I still wondered about God’s “slowness” to act.

Recently, my boss gave me a very good appraisal, and said that she would promote me. She even thanked me “for being a good worker”.

Basically, eventually, my obedience to God’s Word was rewarded.

As for that colleague? Word has it that she was given a bad appraisal.

But do I rejoice in her misfortune? Not really, though I must confess that I felt extremely validated by the news. I rejoiced, however, because I chose to obey God, and God rewarded me for it.

To quote the pastor who preached at my church today: “When men forgets, God remembers.”

So if you’re facing a tough situation at work today, I just want to encourage you to think of Col 3:23 – work as if you’re working for God. And whatever your problem, do not focus on the conduct of others but be more concerned about your conduct.

After all, ultimately, our Boss is God himself. And pleasing the Lord is always a pleasure!

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Dying to self

Day by day, God reveals things to me … basically, things that have gone wrong that led me to this state of brokenness. And yesterday, the lesson was about dying to self.

I had a difficult conversation with a pastor and his wife yesterday. I say difficult because I realised that what they were asking me to do was surrender to God, and I didn’t realise how difficult it was for me to do that.

They told me that I had to do a few things to recover, and one of those things that I found difficult to accept was to “go to church every Sunday”. I “worked hard” to break away from this dogmatic stance, or at least, what I thought was a dogmatic stance. And to return to that state where I feel that I had to attend church every Sunday was frightening to me. I told them that I was afraid of losing myself if I submitted to this new lifestyle.

I imagined that girl – that weak, terrified little girl who wanted so desperately to be part of the church family that she twisted who she was and buried her strength and will – and I balked. I don’t want to go back to being that girl.

I realised, of course, that I didn’t want to surrender. It was excruciatingly hard for me because I relied on my brains so much to survive and excel.

However, this morning, as the usual anxiety reared its head, I broke down and told God that I surrender, even if I don’t know how to exactly.

I have come to a point of brokenness where I just don’t know where to turn to anymore. I can’t rely on my brains to get out of this one anymore, so all I have is total surrender to God.

It just wasn’t easy.

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I can’t do it alone

Despite God revealing to me the root cause of my anxiety, the anxiety did not immediately go away. That night, when I got the revelation, God did bless me “peace that surpasses all understanding”. But the next day, it crept back when I saw my hair. No matter how many times I looked at it, I can’t seem to see any good or positive light in my locks.

I began to despair, wondering what I had done wrong or whether I could get the peace back.

I remembered the times when I thought I’d never recover from the hurt, or the pain, or the situation I found myself in. Like the time when I thought my education was in jeapordy. Now I can look back and grin, because God the Provider blessed me with a scholarship which, by the way, I didn’t even apply for. I’ve gone through many situations which I thought I’ll never survive, but I survived them.

Quietly, He told me: “This too, shall pass.”

Yesterday, I had to work actively to dispel the incorrect ways of thinking that had led me down the path of uncontrollable anxiety. Believe me, it was incredibly difficult. My thoughts were like slippery snakes, always finding a weak spot to strike, and rebuking them, and consciously choosing to worship God instead of worrying was wearing me down.

But this too, shall pass.

It was, after all, my first time actively putting down the bad ways of thinking that has poisoned my mind and made me a chronic worrywart.

Through the haze of confusion that anxiety tends to bring up, God told me that there’s lots to work with, and he’d work on my issues one layer by layer, like how one would peel an onion.

Yesterday, the lesson was how to battle the anxiety. It’s hard work, but it works.

Today, the lesson God was teaching me was that I cannot do it alone. Yes, God is with me, but He has surrounded me with people to help me. I need to stretch out my hand and ask for their help.

So, today, through tears, I contacted a pastor that I know and asked him to pray for me. I broke down in tears because I realise that my problem is deep but there is hope, and perhaps God is bringing out all the fear, anxiety and pain that I’ve suffered all my life. Yes, another thing He told me was that my anxiety problems began way before 2007 like I thought. It had prevented me from reconnecting with the people of God in a church eventhough He has prompted me to do so. Anxiety was one of the many reasons why church life was so difficult for me. I was anxious all the time of being a part of the family of God, not realising that I already was a part of it. Sure, God’s people were flawed and will hurt you, but if we were secure in God’s love and providence, we would not let that fear control us.

I did…

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Day 1: It all starts with God

For the last few years, I’ve been trying to figure out my life’s purpose. I thought I finally figured it out. My life’s goal was to be the best writer I can be, write a novel, publish a few books and live abroad for a time. My life’s purpose was to work towards these goals.

But The Purpose Driven Life‘s Day 1 says:

“The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind or even your happiness.”

If that is true, then what does God intend me to do? What am I supposed to do for Him? In university, I desperately asked God what I was supposed to do. I mean, how are you supposed to do something if you have no idea what you’re supposed to do, right?

God said – through a pastor anyway – that the idea I have about my purpose was correct … problem was, I had a million ideas what I was supposed to do. God wasn’t exactly forthcoming about His purpose for me. (Maybe because He suspects I tend to overcompensate and get all worked up about it.)

I still don’t really know what my purpose in God is supposed to be.

But I have a big feeling that it has something to do with my writing. Just exactly how, and whether I’m already doing it? Well, I’m kinda in the dark. But now I realise that my life’s purpose is NOT to make my dreams come true, but, rather, my dreams are a way of fulfilling God’s purpose for me.

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Hello again

God has a strange way of getting your attention, sometimes.

For me, it through was hair loss.

Around September, I started losing a lot of hair. So much so that by the end of that month, I had probably lost 30% to 40% of my hair. I spent most of October and November in a funk, depressed that I could now see my shiny scalp where there once was abundant hair. I’ve always had thick, beautiful hair, so to not have that anymore  was particularly traumatising.

Seeing a thricologist – two, in fact – in November made the matters worse. One scared me to death, saying that I had female pattern baldness. I couldn’t sleep that night because I had a full blown anxiety attack, one of several I’ve had since 2007. For a week, I was  in deep despair and anxiety. I would panic when I see hair on the floor, and would plunge in depression when I catch a glimpse of my scalp in the mirror. For the whole week, I was on the edge  of panic attacks.

In the midst of all this fear and anxiety, I cried out to God. “Why am I so fearful all the time? I can’t stand this. Please help me!”

And for the first time in a long time, I heard Him say clearly:

“You don’t trust me. You don’t trust me to take care of you through your hair loss.  You don’t believe my word. You have lost faith in me.”

And something just ‘clicked’ inside. The sense of emptiness and loneliness that I’ve had for so long … somehow, perhaps around 2007 when I had my first panic attack, I decided to stop  relying on God’s provision … on Him, actually.

When I remember how my relationship with Him used to be, I realised that I relied more on Him. If I had a big decision to make, I’d ask for His direction and advice. Now, I just assume He won’t answer, so I don’t ask. And because I believed that my future is NOT in God’s hands, and that was a myth, I felt that I had to order my life and I was filled with anxiety at my dismal ability to do so.

When God speaks, His words just send peace into your heart … because He just knows exactly what to say. God doesn’t have to say much – He has always been rather economical with His words – but the few words always heal in such a big way.

After realising the truth, the fear and anxiety dissipated. It’s not totally gone, however, because I have many issues to deal with still, but I now have a little taste about the “peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Phil: 4:7)

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