When I handed over responsibilities as Lead Pastor, I was mindful the Lord was leading me into yet another new season in my discipleship walk. I remember a dear brother asking me what the new season might look like, to which I responded that I desire to remain purposeful, and that it would be a step by step walk of obedience.
Now looking back, the early years of my discipleship didn’t appear to be too long ago. Shortly after hearing Jesus’ call to “follow me”, I had the joy of being discipled through the ministry of Varsity Christian Fellowship. Those were the early foundational years, of being grounded in the Word, learning about “trusting in the Lord with all my heart” (Proverbs 3:5-6), growing in the faith and with opportunities to serve. I’ve learnt it is an ongoing and experiential journey.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 brings up four truths for me in my learning journey as a disciple.
First, the reality that we are creatures bound by time. Seasons come and go. One generation follows another. We walk and work within the constraints of time.
Second, though time-bound, God has “planted eternity in the human heart” (v 11, NLT). We sense that longing. Yet, we face the reality that on this side of eternity we’ll not fully fathom all of God’s ways.
Third, in His love and grace, God provides gifts for us, in season (v 13). I have learnt that whatever time (including timely opportunities), talent and treasures made available are truly God’s gracious gifts, placed in my hands. And God expects me to steward these gifts wisely.
Fourth, the exhortation to walk in awe before God (v 14).
I remember and thank God for the seasons He has led me through — in personal and family life, and along with that opportunities to serve Him in the marketplace, in church pastoral ministry and cross-cultural missions.
Let me share just one episode to testify of the Lord’s gracious leading through one seasonal change—the move from the marketplace to ministry in cross-cultural missions. It was in 1985 when the Lord impressed upon me to uproot from working in the financial sector and to enrol as a fulltime student in a Bible College. There was no clarity on the “what next”—just an invitation to trust Him.
It took me seven years before I made the move, primarily because I was wrestling with God. The banking career was rewarding. I was climbing up the corporate ladder. I was also engaged in church ministry, serving as a young elder. Family considerations, especially the expected disruptions and related adjustments to our daughter’s education weighed heavily on our hearts. The Lord was patient and gracious; He provided wonderful assurances and constant reminders to trust. So, it was in 1992 when our small family made that move, for this disciple to commence studies in Regent College, Vancouver as a middle-aged student. We experienced major adjustments in various fronts. But the years of learning, growing and ministry opportunities were enriching.
Toward my final semester, I was still unclear on the “what next”. By providential arrangement, I was placed in an Alliance Church for internship. This church held a missions conference with Pastor Hsueh of SIM East Asia as guest speaker in Spring 1994. Unknown to Hsueh and me, this was to be the venue where I would be introduced to him, to deliver a specific message from the Director of SIM East Asia, for me to serve in the Missions Agency. This was indeed the Lord’s answer to my prayer as I had been waiting to hear from Him for three years. This “introduction” led me to serve in SIM, in various capacities over the past 25 years, with the privilege of participation in global missions. Amazingly, all the gifts placed in my hands have been drawn upon for application at various junctures.
The discipleship walk is exciting. It’s a journey of learning and growing, following Jesus, recognizing and appropriating God’s gifts, provided in season. Praise God, this time-bound creature has the joy of looking forward to my eternal heritage. I am learning that satisfaction is found in knowing God and discovering His ways. It’s an ongoing pursuit, trusting in Him who chooses to reveal of Himself in real-time.
By Ps David LT Yap