Written by: Jasmine Yow (Photos by: Joseph Koh)
Learning God’s definition of success
From the beginning, I knew that 2019 would turn out to be a year of transitions.
During my tenure at my previous place of employment, God had placed an emphasis in me to train those who were new to the company. While I enjoyed my position heading up the internship portfolio and had worked well with my team, I knew that I had accomplished all that God had laid on my heart to do there.
In February, I stepped away from it and left my previous company after six years, giving up a shot at progressing in my pharmaceutical career and a steady paycheque…only to tread into the unknown.
God had told me, more than a year in advance, that this season in the marketplace was coming to an end, to the extent that he provided the date for me to submit my resignation letter. While he was clear about the end, He had given me no information or guidance on new beginnings.
Every time I was on my laptop, idly searching through a job portal or for opportunities to further my studies overseas, a gentle yet firm instruction would beckon: “Close the browser. Your next season will not be found here.” Similar to Abraham, who was holding onto God’s promise that he would have a son despite his old age (Genesis 15:4-5), the words from my Father stood in stark contrast to my reality.
As soon as the excitement from the newfound freedom and holidaying wore off, my soul began to fret. What if I had heard wrongly? Had I crippled my future prospects by leaving my position earlier than I should have? How could God leave me clueless and without preparation for the next season ahead? The cry of my heart shifted from curiosity to frustration as I persistently asked Him: “What is next, God?”
The weeks stretched into months, to the point that well-meaning friends and colleagues began to offer me connections to jobs, and cautioned me not to wait any longer given that the economy is slowing down. Struggling not to birth Ishmaels, I rejected and pushed all of them aside, even though I could not offer a proper explanation to their questions, other than a weak protest that the position was simply not what I was looking for.
The situation came to a head one Saturday afternoon two months later, when I presented my questions yet again to a Father that would only give repeated assurances that He had a plan and that everything was kept perfectly within His timing and control. I did not want sentiment; I wanted a plan.
Resisting the temptation to delve into more job searches, I turned to listings of Christian events, with the reasoning that spending a night or two attending a Bible study would be better than having an empty schedule. This led me to discover a week-long open house from a Bible school on the book of Romans.
On the first day of the open house, the speaker opened the study with Romans 1:1 “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God…”. Expecting him to skip over the introduction of the book and move into weightier topics further in, I was aroused out of my morning stupor when he spent the next 20 minutes on this singular verse. He spoke of how every person created had a God-given purpose, yet few would choose to prepare and be separated from the world to fulfill it.
As he continued to expound on this topic, clarity started to pierce through the haze of confusion in my mind. God revealed that in my haste to jump from one place to another, I was impatient to leave this gap of time behind, and had not realised that it was a gift to me to slow down and realign myself to His purposes and His plans for my future.
In the certainty of my previous role, I had acclimated to the endless activity of my hands and the clutter of my mind, such that I was hearing God’s voice through a distracted heart.
Yet, Christ’s challenge to every believer was that “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). In God’s mercy, He needed to clear all that was vying for His rightful place in my life. What profit would it have been to me to gain the whole world but lose my soul (Matthew 16:26)?
The week ushered a mounting emphasis on this point, with a steady prompting to stay with the school in their year-long full time programme. At the end of that week, I decided to obey.
Today, I stand six months away from my previous job, halfway through a year of waiting, but I have found such comfort and security in my Saviour and His nature — away from the plans and choices I could have afforded. I can confidently say that placing my hope in Jesus has not been a futile endeavour; He is a Lord who understands us perfectly and know when exactly to act.
Through the past few months, God has revealed and undone multiple mindsets that have stealthily crept into my life. From the ending of the last season to my surrender of control into His time of rest, not once have I been found lacking any good thing. He has scheduled all things in His perfection, and will continue to do so in the days ahead.
God has started in me a journey to redefine success on His terms — not to achieve a greater position and worldly prestige, but to understand the greatest place of security I have in Him. I am learning about a cultivating intimacy patiently and experiencing the salvation (Greek soteria: welfare, prosperity, deliverance, preservation, safety) that Jesus has won for us. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Even as news of the ailing job market abounds, aggravated by talks of an impending recession, I am confident that the One who is preparing and sanctifying me for His purpose is faithful, and will do all that is necessary (1 Thessalonians 5:24). I do not have many more answers from the time I sat at His feet begging to know, but I wait in quiet belief that everything I need for the next season shall come when the time is right.