12 Oct The Spiritual Quest… to Brokenness
I was born in a Singapore Chinese family where religion is a mix-bag of ancestor worship, Taoist and Buddhist influenced rituals. Personally, my spiritual quest has been varied and “all over the place”. One of the books we studied listed some common spiritual quest positions (listed below) and I have been through (ticked) many of these positions at various phases of my life.
As a “scientific” mind, I’ve been highly skeptical of religions and of the existence of a God or gods. There were other times when I do believe in the existence of God/gods with no particular affiliation to any. I had my “all religions teach good things” phases and even “religions cause people to behave irrationally and sometimes extremely irrationally” phases. In my early working life on the trading floor, it’s pleasure maximizing, YOLO living. Yet around the same time, I was going deep into studying various types of “Fengshui” as a form of “risk management” and “insurance” tool with a desire to manipulate and control Life which is too uncertain. There were times I enjoyed visiting various temples and religious venues, praying and worshipping whichever god it was. Japanese, Thai, whatever.
In my conscious mind, I disliked Christians. In my heart I persecuted them and quite enjoy arguing against their faith and their God. I’m especially happy when Christians appear stuck or dumb-founded with my questions and arguments. However my personality is not argumentative by nature so most of the time I avoid any conversations of any religion related topics with Christians.
<side story> One day much later when I was showering, Holy Spirit did a “throwback” for me. He reminded me that I used to go to church when I was a teenager. That I used to visit this house church behind King Albert Park, that I had another cell group and we used to meet in Bible House. As glimpses of such forgotten memories come back, I went to research and seems like I might have been involved in Evangelical Free Church and Presbyterian Youth groups. I asked if I had accepted Christ back then. God didn’t answer me. The only memories of church and Christians I had, before Holy Spirit did a “throwback” for me, were bad experiences I had with another church.
By His grace and mercy, He never lets go, He is always reaching towards us.
There we are, in 2016, age 33, married with 1 son, been through different phases and positions spiritually with a worldly, mainly self-centered worldview, I found myself (by “accident”) having a scholarship to take a Post-graduate degree in University of Cambridge. To me it’s a great sabbatical as I have absolutely no intention to study yet have this prideful belief and confidence that I will pass, as I have always done so in my student life. Cambridge was my best year ever. I totally enjoyed the year and felt more confident then ever of my grand plans to become the most successful student in my cohort! Haha. I truly felt at the peak of my life that year in Cambridge.
From this place begins my journey to brokenness.
At this place, the heart is hardened by decades of self-reliance, pride, worldly teachings and living, judgement towards others, unforgiveness, striving, need for control etc. There is no room for God in such a hardened heart.
The journey to brokenness through my own death bed experience, my prolonged pain and illness, my son’s illness and how we almost lost him over a year softened my heart very much. The hardened layers were peeled off event after event, day after day.
In the middle of this process where God was softening my heart and calling me back to Him in quite a profound way, I saw Him. I share about this at:
For the entire journey to brokenness, God is ever so merciful. He sent many Christians to us. Early on when I was bed-ridden in Cambridge, the person who came up to our house is my Singaporean secondary school classmate. He works in London but somehow lives in the small city of Cambridge. He later shared with me that he was rather hesitant to pray for me as it is more likely that I would have rejected his offer. Truth is, I was too weak physically to say no. Bless my brother-in-Christ for his obedient heart to God. His prayer touched me and gave me peace and strength. God sent many other Christians to us, praying and supporting us. All these prayers and love were seeds sown deep in our hearts. Subsequently I also found out that there were prayer warriors in the background, in their own private prayers, praying and interceding for me and my family. When my son was in hospital, God sent a Pastor to the ward to pray. Sean’s school (St James Church Kindergarten) prays for him and his teachers came to the ward to pray. Ironically I was quite against the idea of St James Church Kindergarten but somehow Sean goes there. Another story testifying to God’s grace and guidance in our lives even when we did not believe.
It was basically a period when we were greatly humbled, hearts were softened. We were quite broken and empty in almost every aspect of our lives. At the same time, there were a lot of prayer support around us. God sends people to us and continuously reaches out to us. We began to see the hand of God over us as he led me to the surgeon who eventually healed me. This was right after I saw Jesus and asked if He would heal me as I write in “First Encounter With Jesus”. He didn’t answer me when I asked Him but the answer was Yes. He went far beyond this physically healing, He has healed us in every aspect.
When I was fully healed, my son suddenly fell sick and we almost lost him that first 24 hours. When he was waiting for his blood transfusion and we weren’t sure what would happen to him, I remember clearly I decided to leave the hospital to go attend my TCM appointment. The reason was I needed to care for myself so that I can care for the family. The moment I stepped out of the hospital, my tears cannot stop flowing. I remember the taxi driver didn’t want to take my money when he dropped me and just asked me to take care. This was surely the event to soften our hearts (especially my wife’s heart) more. Both of us were eventually fully healed. My son’s “condition” came as mysteriously as it left.
Interestingly after all these, I was still hesitant to join my friends to explore “Christianity”. That’s how hard I was. I finally agreed to join an Alpha intro session as I reasoned internally that they have been very kind and encouraging and I felt bad. I wanted to join one time only. That Saturday afternoon, the video shown spoke to me. Somehow I signed up for the whole course. I guess I was curious to find out more about the person I saw and the “force” that lifted me up to the sky, coupled with a very very soft and humbled heart.
Over the next few weeks, I encountered people who were very different from the people I have met my whole life. They seem genuinely joyful, loving, humble etc with no agenda. I asked many hard questions and they were patient and not pushy. By the 3rd week I had invited Jesus into my life and I was sincerely sorry for the sins I had committed. I didn’t know this was called “accepting Christ” but it didn’t matter. God looks at the heart. All he wanted was a sincere repentant heart, desire for Jesus and our faith in Him being our Saviour. I didn’t tell anyone because no one asked anyway.
I was genuinely looking forward to Saturday Alpha sessions, enjoying the people I had persecuted, the good food and hospitality, the videos and the discussions that followed. Next comes the 2D1N Alpha weekend away. I was half-hearted to join as we were running very low on finances and I didn’t want to pay for a “holiday”. Eventually we went and it’s heavily subsided anyway. Turned out to be one of the most important decisions of my life.
So there we are. Very broken in many aspects, soft and empty hearts, had repented and accepted Christ (for me, not my wife yet). The perfect soil for the Holy Spirit to grow the seeds planted in us in His divine ways.