Taking that gap of faith
The month of April is an important time-frame for every Polytechnic graduate: it marks the end of a three-year battle of endless deadlines and project meetings. Standing at the finish line, this question would weigh upon everyone’s heart: “Should I continue studying or start working?”
I found myself in this exact situation six years ago.
I remember the final two months of Year 3 so clearly. Everyone was busily planning out the next step ahead. The overarching question being asked continuously was: “How? You going to Uni?” A majority of my classmates had made their decision to continue their studies (some had even received scholarships), and a handful of them were heading into a job.
I found myself in limbo. I did not want to jump into another few years of poring over books nor did I see myself taking up a full-time job. I felt that the Lord was leading me to take a gap year.
“Huh?! What ‘gap year’? Why take break? Why waste time?” It was unanimous among the adults that this was not a good decision. Moreover, when I shared my thoughts on taking a gap year with my peers, many stared at me in amazement and some were critical of my seeming aimlessness.
To be very honest, I, myself, was not convinced that taking a gap year would be the wisest decision. I did not know anyone else around me who had done the same, and it seemed like it would be a rash decision. My heart was filled with more questions than answers: “What am I to do in this one year? Would I fall behind my peers? Is this really from God?”
On 21 February 2012, I made my usual way to Singapore Polytechnic. During my daily commute from Pasir Ris to Dover, it was a habit for me to tune into God’s voice. As I closed my eyes and started speaking to God, I felt Him speaking straight to my heart, “Amanda, you are on a faith-filled adventure, for to live is Christ and to die is gain. Would you choose to live for Me?”
As a series of visions and verses flashed in my mind, I found my heart burning with fresh devotion unto God. The conviction was so strong that I bought a ring and engraved it with: “To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain. 210212.” I’ve been wearing that ring as a daily reminder ever since. It sealed my decision to take a year’s break from the pursuit of earthly things and to seek first the Kingdom of God.
I wanted to learn and understand what it meant to live in close partnership with the Holy Spirit. It was a year where I let go of my personal dreams and ambitions, and abide in God.
More than seeking approval from my parents on this radical decision to press the pause button on life’s progress, I wanted their support and encouragement. To my surprise, my prayers were answered. Despite the huge question mark that hung in the balance in relation to my future, my parents blessed me and journeyed with me through the most transformative season of my life.
In my gap year, the door opened for me to work as a Teacher’s Aide in a Normal Technical Secondary 2 class. Beyond being an academic aid in class, these students began to confide in me as their mentor and friend. This was a season where I was moved with compassion for the broken and ostracised, and where I tasted the tenderness of God’s heart for His Children.
I recently met one of my students at Changi Village. I was getting a drink when a young man called me from behind, “Miss Teo! You remember me?” It took me by surprise because I did not recognise who he was, but to have learnt of his progress in life and academic pursuits brought great joy to heart, and reminded me of how precious every child is to God.
After mentoring these students for a few months, the Lord led me to join an overseas missions school at Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and to spend two months in Cusco, Peru.
During these seven months away from home, everything (and I mean everything) in my life was emptied and laid before the Lord. From the deepest and darkest parts of me to the questioning of my faith, God began to surface and deal with every brokenness and sin within me. Even though I had been a Christian and church leader since I was 12 years old, it was in YWAM where I first encountered the reality and power of Jesus’ love and sacrifice on the cross. To me, 10 February 2013 was my moment of first love with Him, and that changed my life entirely. Attending missions school was the most pivotal season in my gap year, and perhaps, my entire life.
I came back to Singapore with a renewed vision of Christianity, and decided to work in Church for six months, before starting on an internship at a luxury hotel for three months, and finally landed myself in a full-time job as a Marketing Executive while taking up a part-time degree course in May 2013.
Through this gap year, the most important thing I’ve learnt is: God knows best, and this life is not my own. I didn’t understand why He would lead me on this detour, and I had no intentions on going to missions school, but what seemed to be simple steps of obedience turned out to be such a transformative experience.
During this time away from school or full-time work, I learnt that this life I live is not my own. From career to marriage to relationships, I no longer live for myself, and I better understand the gravity of obeying and seeking after the heart of God. I am finally on a faith-filled adventure with God, trusting that He knows best.
If you’re at a similar life transition today, I urge you to avoid going through the motions, and be intentional with your decisions. Take time to pause and pray; inquire of the Lord just as David did; and allow His peace, wisdom, and word to guide your every step. It is easy to walk through life blindly, but perhaps God is leading you towards an unexpected slip road or detour. Wherever God may be leading, pursue His voice bravely, whether it is a gap year, a course that is outside of your comfort zone, or a step of faith into the working world. God knows best — He’ll never leave nor forsake you.