Finding my voice again


A few of you may have noticed that I’ve not posted a blog in a long while. A lot has happened since then, in particular, last November I got a new job, moved house & got engaged in the space of a week!! What with commuting to work, planning our wedding & doing normal life, I’ve been quite busy. But that was not the main reason I’d not been writing blogs. Since all this change happened in my life, I struggled a lot with my emotions, & struggled to be my true self. & the thing is, there were no particular circumstances that appeared to be causing this – in fact my life had been really good, at least on an external level. But internally I felt overwhelmed by my emotions, & was struggling to process them. I’d become afraid of my emotions, scared of being left alone to face them, & struggled to connect with God, because time alone with God forced me to face up to my emotions. The passion for God I once had seemed to have vanished, & it felt like a part of me was missing. But God kept finding ways of getting through to me, as He always does, & I slowly found strength to keep moving forward.

You are my peace

Mike has been an amazing support to me; always showing love to me in whatever state I’m in & always trying to work out how to support me better. He has been a safe place for me where I have freedom to just be. But I started to realise that this was too big for us to handle alone; that we needed others fighting this with us. It was difficult to open up to others, as it was hard enough trying to work out what’s going on inside me, let alone explaining that to others. But it was very useful to talk to friends about it, as it helped me stop feeling as isolated & gain some new perspectives for how to find a way through it. My friends helped me to realise that I’m not powerless against my emotions or the thoughts that drive them, but that I can change my thinking using God’s Word.

However, I was still afraid of my emotions & frustrated with myself whenever I struggled to face them. When I read the ‘I will not live in fear’ chapter in Power Thoughts by Joyce Meyer, I realised that a lot of my emotional issues were to do with fear & that God was using this situation to deal with these fears. This chapter explained that ‘feeling fear is simply the temptation to run away from what we should face & confront’, but that ‘courage is not the absence of fear, it is progress in its presence’. God was challenging me to be strong & courageous in the midst of my emotions, but instead I felt weak & timid. However, I’ve had to learn that being strong & courageous is not about how I feel, but it’s a decision to refuse to live in fear. It’s about trusting God & relying on His strength so that I can face my emotions rather than run away from them.

strong and courageous

I also kept feeling frustrated with myself that I wasn’t who I wanted to be. My heart was, and still is, to be someone who lives for God & not for myself, someone who really invests in others & seeks to make a difference in their lives, but I did not see that happening. I wanted to be hungry for God, but I would get distracted seeking after other things instead of God, as this was my coping mechanism. But God kept reminding me of who I really am – that I am strong & courageous, an overcomer, someone who lives out of love, even though it didn’t feel like it. He told me that though I felt I was not who I wanted to be, that actually I’m so much more than I can imagine. That by His grace He doesn’t see my failings, He only sees all who I could be.

One time at church I felt God saying to me that this season of emotional struggle was coming to an end, & later my parents were saying this to me too. One of the things I had found difficult was not knowing how long this season would last; there was no definite end point & I had lost hope of coming out of it. At first I struggled to believe that this season would be ending soon, & I started feeling angry with God that He could expect me to rely on Him & keep seeking Him when He was not giving me the strength I needed to do so. But in the midst of this, I still chose to keep worshipping Him and trusting Him as much as I could. The next morning, I heard UCB Word for Today on the radio, and the message was just what I needed to hear. It was comparing spiritual growth to a woman being in labour, & I realised that I was struggling so much because I was spiritually in a time of labour. I felt God was telling me through this message that this very painful time of labour was coming to an end & it will be worth it, as I am giving birth to something very special. & just like having a baby, what will come forth through this time will change everything. Once this hit home for me, it brought me so much hope & helped me to see purpose in my pain.

Even when it hurts

This revelation brought breakthrough in my life, & I felt connected to God once again & much happier for a short while. But it is still a work in progress learning to manage my emotions. When my emotions dropped again I reminded myself that I have power over my emotions & I don’t have to let them have power over me. But though I still struggle with being controlled by my emotions, it has been easier to connect with God, & I’m finding real joy in worshipping God again. One of the things I found most difficult earlier this year was that worship was often very painful to do, as for most of my life worship was often where I found my greatest joy. Worship is the main way I express myself most deeply & find my true voice. The focus of worship should be to bring glory to God, rather than for any selfish reasons, & I think God really honours when we worship Him even when we don’t feel like it & when it is painful to do. But it has been wonderful rediscovering the joys & the power of worship.

I’ve recently been desiring to find my first love for God again, & I’m starting to find it. I’m starting to worship God when I’m tired instead of getting distracted with other things some of the time. I’ve been particularly impacted by the song “So will I” by Hillsong United; it very beautifully describes God’s power & awesomeness as the Creator of the universe, how all things were created to bring Him glory & of the heart of God for all of us. It has deeply challenged me to live my life as worship to God & to have a heart like His.

so will I



Power Thoughts – Joyce Meyer:
“Keys to Spiritual Growth” – UCB Word for Today:
So will I – Hillsong United:


Going through the furnace again


I’ve previously written about my journey of getting my dream job and how that time of persevering helped me to develop an ‘un-dashable’ hope when pursuing that dream. But what do you do when you’re no longer living the dream; when you have what you dreamed for, but that dream starts to die?

That’s what happened to me; after 14 months as a medical writer, I lost my job after a long hard battle to overcome the difficulties I was facing. The time leading up to this was the most stressful time of my life, but it was also a time where I had really grown and overcome so much within. Though I did not get the breakthrough I had wished for, I had breakthroughs in myself in so many ways.


Learning to find peace

This year has been particularly emotional for me, and I’ve had a lot of difficulties managing my emotions well. Ironically, during the most stressful months I’d ever experienced, I learned to handle my emotions a lot better and to find peace and joy in the midst of it all. Early on, I was determined to not let the enemy steal my joy, and to keep holding onto God’s words for me no matter what. I also became a lot better at dealing with stress, though this wasn’t easy by any means. During a particularly stressful period, God told me that He will keep putting me in stressful situations until I learn to trust Him!! God used that time to deal with issues that were causing me to get stressed, and that helped me to become more resilient.

Learning to persevere

When I had one month left to fight for my job, I lost hope for a few days, and was overwhelmed with the desire to give up there and then. The previous month had been incredibly tough, and I was desperate for a way out. But I realised that this was not the answer. I felt that I should leave this in God’s hands; that He should decide whether or not I keep this job, not me. God said to me, “I don’t expect you to carry on if you really don’t want to, but do you really wanna be thinking in years to come, ‘what if I held on for just one more month?’ ” This really resonated with me, and gave me determination to persevere that little bit longer. I also was reminded of the ‘Teacup story’ by Joyce Meyer at this time, which compares us to a lump of clay that has to go through moulding, being put in the furnace to set it, being painted with smelly paints, then being put in a much hotter furnace before it becomes the beautiful teacup that fulfils its purpose. I felt that I was going through the second furnace, which was so painful that I didn’t know how I would get through it. This analogy helped me to believe that there was purpose in my suffering, and that the end result of it would be worth it if I persevere.

all can be redeemed

Learning to let go

During this time, I remembered the biblical principle that a death always comes before a resurrection. I felt that I was experiencing the slow painful death of my dream, which was a part of myself, but that this death was necessary to bring new life and fruitfulness (John 12:24). I was reminded of the passage where Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, the one God gave him to be the fulfilment of His promises for Abraham (Genesis 22:1–14; Hebrews 11:17–19). And I felt that this job was my Isaac, and that like Abraham, I should be willing to lay down this job, believing that either God would provide the breakthrough I needed to keep the job, or that He would resurrect something new out of this. I continued to hold onto the words God gave me concerning this job, believing that He could still fulfil those promises even if I had to leave. I continued to have an un-dashable hope that was based on God and not my circumstances.


Learning that I am enough

There were many times when my confidence really got knocked, particularly when I kept getting negative feedback. I had become much better at taking feedback, but the volume of the criticisms took its toll. It was so tough to find that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t meet the expectations put on me. I had to keep reminding myself that I am enough; that I do not have to be any more but that I am amazing the way I am. Though losing my job could be considered a failure, it was really a victory, as I didn’t let it defeat me and was determined that I would come out of this stronger.

I am enough

Learning to dream again

When I finally left my job, it was pretty emotional, but was also such a relief. I was really looking forward to having some space to process, recreate and to dream again. However, it took me a bit of time to find a sense of purpose again when I suddenly had so much free time. I no longer felt useful, and it sucked the motivation out of me. But God gradually started speaking to me, particularly as I read a book called ‘You are already amazing’ by Holley Gerth. I realised that I put harsh expectations on myself, and felt the need to always feel useful, and God was wanting to set me free from that. I was learning to just be, rather than trying to always do, and to be more gentle with myself. I was discovering more about the ways I am wired, and that it’s best to focus on serving in ways that fit well with my strengths, rather than trying to be everything to everyone. I was learning to focus on being consistent, rather than on constantly trying to improve myself. And I started to reconsider and open my mind to new possibilities of jobs that I could pursue. I started to dream again, believing that I can still find a job that is suited to my strengths and skills, and in which I can come alive and be me. Though I’ve had many dreams that have died or been broken, I’ve also experienced God healing and resurrecting dreams in the most wonderful ways. Therefore, I dream all the more, knowing that God loves to bless us beyond our wildest dreams.

come away

The real meaning of ‘I love you’? (repost)

Hi guys, for those of you who don’t know me, I now have a boyfriend, which is very exciting for us both :D. I’m sure I’ll be sharing more of our journey together on this blog in the near future, but for now you can read a snippet of our story in my new blog entry for Christ Central: Our relationship has been an amazing journey so far, and we’re learning so much about what real love looks like, as well as learning more about ourselves and each other. I hope that our journey of becoming more one with each other will be an inspiration to many.
Big thanks to John at the ‘What Is Real True Love?’ blog for inspiring my blog entry with this beautiful post:

Losing your identity – and how to find it again


ringI had a dream the other night that I lost the ring I bought in Israel, which is quite precious to me. I was frantically searching everywhere for it, and I kept finding other rings that had Hebrew writing on them, but they weren’t mine and they probably wouldn’t fit anyway. The people around me looked down on me & had no sympathy for the distress that I felt. I eventually decided to give up looking, and I didn’t have much hope that I would see it again.

That ring is very meaningful to me, as it has a special verse written on it in Hebrew. It says “I am my Beloved’s; His passion is for me” (Song of Songs 7:10), which represents the revelation that I had a few years ago that my identity is that I belong to Jesus and that He loves me passionately. So I felt God tell me that the dream represented how we can lose our sense of identity, and we can try searching in many places looking for it, but never find it. We can find many counterfeit identities along the way, but they don’t quite fit, and they’re not truly who we are. The truth is, the enemy tries very hard to steal away our sense of identity, and no matter where we look, we’re not gonna find it by ourselves. So the message of the dream was to stop searching for our identity, but also to not give up on finding our identity or settle for a lesser identity. The only way we can find our true identity is to come to God, who gives it to us, and will keep giving it back to us no matter how many times it gets stolen away.

Recently I’ve had a lot going on, and being a very emotional person it felt like I was going through pretty much every type of emotion from one extreme to the other. But the other night the chorus of ‘Good, good Father’ by Housefires pierced my soul once again:

Those simple words brought home the reality of who I really was, which I had let slip away from me. I’d become very much aware my weaknesses, limitations & mistakes. But these lyrics reminded me that I’m not defined by those things; they are not who I really am. I’m not defined by how much praise or criticism I get from people, or how well I perform or achieve. I’m not defined by my social anxieties or my tendency to break under pressure. I’m not defined by my lack of discipline & focus, or my many mistakes. I’m not defined by whether I have someone to hold, or how I’ve been treated by members of the opposite sex. No, none of those things matter to God, ’cause He’s a good, good Father. He sees who I really am- He sees me as His own; as one that He loves with a love that is stronger than death. His love is what gives each one of us our identity & worth. No one knows you like He knows you, yet you are of infinite worth to Him. If anyone thinks you are of any less worth (even if that person is you!), then that means nothing really, as they don’t truly know you like He does. He sees your true potential, & all you are capable of, but most of all He gets you, & understands fully why you are the way you are. & knowing that your identity is in being loved by Him takes the pressure off so we can quit trying to be someone we’re not & can even stop trying to do all the right things for the sake of being seen as a good person. We can learn to just be, & when we do so, we are gradually transformed to become more than we could ever wish to be. This is a process, & I’m still learning. I feel like I’ve spent my whole life fighting to overcome, to find my voice, to be who I am. But maybe it’s not about fighting, but about knowing who I am, & not letting that be taken from me whatever the circumstance.

"Those who look to Him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed." Psalm 34:5

Containers of power — the impact of words and stories


"Words are containers of power." Joyce Meyer.As someone who has recently become a medical writer, I am well aware of the power words have — power to influence, to educate, to entertain, to tug at the emotions, to change lives. I love my job and it seems a very good fit for me — it combines my love for science and for writing, my attention to detail and creativity, and my love of learning and variety. And though it’s not an obvious choice of job for someone who wants to make a difference, I do find it very rewarding. I feel I am making a difference in various ways, whether it’s by promoting drugs that can be a big help to certain people, providing good service to our clients, helping my busy colleagues with their projects, helping my company to become more successful and influential, etc. These ways of making a difference are relevant for many other types of jobs too.

I’ve always been a lover of stories and of sharing stories. I’ve been told that I write in a way that tells a story, both in scientific and personal writings. As a medical writer, I feel that I am helping pharmaceutical companies tell the stories of their drugs and their research. I love to learn and to share knowledge with others, but not just for the sake of increasing knowledge — I want what I learn to change me, and make a difference for others. I think the main way I feel that scientific knowledge changes me is that it gives me insight into the creativity of the Creator, reveals mysteries of His intricate design, and further reveals that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Of course, scientific knowledge about health can also make a big difference in helping people to make choices regarding their own health. When applying for medical writing jobs, I was particularly drawn to the companies who considered one of their core values to write in a way that really connects with people in order to shift their beliefs, change their behaviours, and ultimately improve their lives.

turning pageBut the stories I’m most passionate about are personal life stories — I love to share my story, and to hear others’ stories. When someone shares their story, they are sharing the depths of their heart, and I get to really know them. I am a huge believer in the power of our stories, and I think we can sometimes learn far more from a story than from simply sharing knowledge. Stories can really stick in people’s heads, and also can touch their hearts deeply. And with personal stories, people can draw parallels between their story and your story, and this can bring a change in their story. Now some of you may think that your story is insignificant or too broken, but the truth is that the power in stories is much more in how you tell them than in the content. In the song ‘Turning Page’ by Sleeping at Last, there is a line that goes “though we’re tethered to the story we must tell, when I saw you, well I knew we’d tell it well.” In life, we suffer many difficulties, & we’re not so much in control of the content of our story, but we do have power over how it is written, i.e. the way we live & how we respond to our circumstances. Another line in the song goes “your love is my turning page where only the sweetest words remain.” What I believe this means is that love can re-write our story. I have found that God’s love has so transformed me that it has re-written my story — redeeming all the brokenness and mistakes I’ve made, so that they reveal God’s goodness and faithfulness.

I do believe all words have power; often much more than we realise. I really desire for my words, whether written or spoken, to be God’s words — that they will be what people need to hear, and that they will bring positive change to their lives. I’ve been inspired by Isaiah 50:4 recently, and it has become my prayer that my tongue will be taught by God, and my ears receptive to His voice, so that ‘I may know how to sustain with a word (those who are) weary’. The bible talks a lot about the power of words, both for good and for evil. Proverbs 18:20 says that there is the power of life and death in the tongue, and in other places it says that words can deeply harm, but can also bring healing (Proverbs 12:18; 15:4). Words can feed and sustain the spirit of those who hear them (Deuteronomy 8:3, Proverbs 10:21), and when we speak life-giving words to others it also sustains and satisfies us (Proverbs 18:20–21). Pastor David Yonggi Cho believes that our words also have power to speak things into being, and writes this in his book ‘The Fourth Dimension, “Claim and speak the word of assurance, for your word actually goes out and creates. God spoke and the whole world came into being. Your word is the material which the Holy Spirit uses to create.”

sustain with a wordThere are 2 analogies in the bible that spring to mind about the power of words. One is of words being like a sword — rash words are likened to sword thrusts in Proverbs 12:18, but God’s Word is called a double edged sword that pierces through the soul and spirit and discerns our thoughts and hearts (Hebrews 4:12). God’s words have power to penetrate through our hearts and souls like a surgeon’s knife, so that things that harm us or hold us back are removed and our issues are dealt with — so that we can be healed and transformed. His word also has power against the powers of darkness, and is our weapon that enables us to overcome (Ephesians 6:17). The other analogy is of words being like a fire — James 3:5–6 describes our tongue as a small fire that can set a whole forest alight, bringing destruction. But our words can also bring God’s fire — a passionate love that transforms lives and destroys the works of darkness. Jeremiah describes God’s words like a fire in his heart that he cannot keep in (Jeremiah 20:9). When God’s love truly ignites our hearts, it cannot be suppressed — our lives become transformed and we cannot help but share it with others.

Since our words have such power, we should be careful about what we say, but also be encouraged that our positive words have more impact than we realise. We don’t need to necessarily say much to make a difference, and if we talk a lot we’re more likely to say the wrong things (Proverbs 10:19). And we don’t have to shout from the rooftops for our words to make a difference. The song ‘Turning Page’ ends with this line: “With a whisper we will tame the vicious seas, like a feather bringing kingdoms to their knees.” Sometimes the words that are whispered in an intimate moment make more of a difference then the words shouted to many people. The still small voice of God impacted Elijah more than the loud displays of God’s power (1 Kings 19:11–13). And God is a big fan of using things that seem small and insignificant to change the world. So don’t worry if you don’t feel your words are being heard by many people; you may be making a world of difference to those who do hear you. And remember that actions often speak louder than words — the story you live is just as important, if not more so, than the story you tell.

with a whisper

An un-dashable hope


Some of you will know that I recently started my first professional job :). I’m now an associate medical writer, which mainly involves writing on behalf of pharmaceutical & biotechnology companies. The projects can be very varied, & can include scientific journal articles, drug marketing brochures, drug information leaflets, regulatory documents for clinical trials, PowerPoint presentations for conferences & other events. It’s a job that involves a lot of liaising with colleagues & the clients we work for. So it’s quite different to working in a lab, & I have a lot to learn & take on board. It can potentially be stressful with multiple deadlines, juggling several projects at once, constantly having my work critically reviewed & perhaps dealing with difficult clients. But it’s also varied, fast-paced & intellectually stimulating, & it can be rewarding for some people. I do frequently have to explain to people what a medical writer is, so I thought I’d write a description here before I get asked again :P.

So how did I end up going from researcher to medical writer? When I started my PhD, my heart was set on being an academic in biology. But the realities of research were not what I had hoped for; I found it extremely frustrating & demoralising, as my experiments seemed to be going nowhere for the whole PhD. Though I have a lot of perseverance, I just found that the work was not rewarding for me anymore, & I’d had enough of research. I still dread the thought of going back to work in a lab! I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do instead, but when I wrote my thesis, I found I enjoyed that more than the research. So I thought that doing a writing job would be ideal, as I have a passion for communicating knowledge & truth in ways that are clear & engaging. My desire is not only to inform people through my writing, but that what they learn will impact them & bring about a change in their thinking & actions. A few previous members of my lab went on to become medical writers, so I looked into it, but wasn’t sure at first if this is what I wanted to do. But eventually I got assurance from God that this was an ideal career path for me to follow, so I ran with it.

The journey of getting this job was not easy though. I spent 4 months applying for jobs, doing writing tests & going for interviews, & I did have some setbacks. This is my story of how I got to where I am now, & what I learned along the way. I hope that it will encourage you to persevere in following your dreams & help you learn to overcome the obstacles in the way.

The first job I applied to was through a recruiter, & the recruiter call the next morning completely caught me off guard! They seemed keen to interview me before Christmas, but the interview date kept being delayed, & I’d almost given up on getting an interview. I was annoyed that they made me do a writing test over Christmas, which had very vague instructions & involved a large amount of work. I felt it was a sacrifice to be spending my Christmas on this task, particularly if I didn’t get the job. But God reminded me that I’m doing this task for Him, not to get a reward, & that I need to be willing to sacrifice not just for a season, but that it should be a continual thing. This was tough for me, as I felt I had sacrificed a lot for my PhD, & I’d had enough! But I did the task, & a month later I finally got an interview date, which was 23 hours later! I had already been travelling for 2 days & then had to wake up at ~5am to go to this interview, & in spite being exhausted I did surprisingly well. I was amazed at what was coming out my mouth; I’m sure it was God giving me words to say. I didn’t get the job because I wasn’t enthusiastic enough, but really, under the circumstances I wasn’t surprised that I lacked a bit in enthusiasm.

deserts will bloomGetting turned down for the job was tough for me, as it brought back the pain of dashed hopes & frustrations from my PhD. & later that week I was knocked again when I didn’t get another job, this time after the writing test. This really discouraged me for a while, as I thought I was a good writer, but this company thought my writing was not good enough. I wondered whether I was really cut out to be a medical writer, & didn’t know where to go from there. But I realised that God was humbling me & showing me that I need to rely on Him, not on my own ability. He was also teaching me how to handle rejection, frustration & setbacks, which are things I have struggled with for a long time. I did really struggle to keep pursuing this dream for a while, but I did persevere in drawing near to God in spite of how I felt.

At this time my parents reminded me of the book ‘The Fourth Dimension’ by David Yonggi Cho. One of the main messages of this book is about the importance of praying very specific prayers & calling forth the answer to prayer. God gives us authority to ‘speak things into existence that don’t yet exist as though they did’ (Romans 4:17) because we are in covenant with Him. Now some people may think that if we pray specifically (e.g. give me a job at this company) then we may be praying what we want rather than what God wants. But I do think we should be bold in our prayers yet open to hearing God & for Him to bring His will about. & I have found that if I ask for the wrong thing then God makes that clear to me one way or another, or prevents me from getting it. So I don’t think we have to worry too much about whether we pray the right prayer, but we should pray with both boldness & humility. Prayer is not about us simply asking God for what we want; it’s far more than that. It’s about partnering with Him & taking an active part in His plans, so it requires us to not only speak but to also listen to Him & seek wisdom & a specific word from Him to guide our prayers. The book has much more wisdom about how to pray effectively, & I do highly recommend it. But it is not a magic formula; we need to have faith & perseverance in our prayers, even when they don’t seem to be ‘working’. I’ve found that if we’ve not got our breakthrough yet, then God still has more to teach us through the process of persevering.

After a few weeks I went to a conference, where I heard someone explain that to be ‘more than a conqueror’ (Romans 8:37) means that we’re not constantly battling but that we live in a place of victory. When I heard this, I nearly cried! I had been feeling for a while that my family & I have been constantly battling to overcome various things for most our lives & I was feeling weary & fed up of it. So this word was quite challenging for me to accept, but it did help me have a shift in my attitude to one of hope. I started to claim by faith that I’m more than a conqueror through Jesus, & therefore I live in victory. Though I still had battles to fight, I started to believe that I already had the victory, that I already had the job. I was convinced that the right job for me was already mine in the spiritual realm; I simply had to hold onto God’s promise to see that job manifest in the natural realm.

At this time I started to get inundated with writing tests & interviews from quite a few companies. I had almost given up on these companies, as I had heard nothing for those few weeks. But now I seemed to be getting a lot of favour, which encouraged me. I had 2 interviews in the same week, both for very good companies, & I really wanted to get one of them. When the first one turned me down, I was quite gutted. But the first thing that came to my head was this: ‘God, I don’t understand, but I still choose to trust You, & I’ll dare to put my faith in You again’. & I realised that this was a key to conquering frustration & disappointment. Though I’d not yet received the breakthrough I needed, I had received breakthrough in my response to setbacks. But then the second one turned me down a few days later, & that was really tough. I was crying, & thinking ‘what else could I have done?’ I kept having my hopes dashed with different jobs turning me down, & knew I couldn’t go on like this. So I cried out to God & sought Him for a fresh word that I could hold onto, so that I could get back up & fight again. & He gave me a few words that really inspired me & enabled me to overcome the frustration & disappointments.

Photo credit to Kelly Chan. Words added by me.

Photo credit to Kelly Chan. Words added by me.

One of the things God taught me in that moment was from Hebrews 6:18-19, which talks about hope being the anchor for our soul. These verses tell us to ‘hold fast to hope’, & I realised that this is different to raising our hopes. Raising our hopes is about our emotions but holding fast to hope is an act of the will; it’s a hope that doesn’t depend on emotions but is ‘steady & sure’ no matter what. & our hope should be based on our covenant with God, not on anything else. Any other hope is like a light flimsy anchor that gets dashed & broken, but true hope in God is like a weighty strong anchor that keeps us connected to God’s presence. This hope is a hope that doesn’t depend on circumstances but sees beyond them & surpasses them. This is a hope that is ‘un-dashable’, & it allowed me to conquer frustration.

At this time my Dad told me that ‘it’s not about the job’ but about God’s plans & purposes for my life. & then I realised that I needed a bigger picture perspective, so that my main focus was not simply to get a job that I am happy in, but to come into my calling at this time. This helped me to stop obsessively focusing on the job, but to fix my eyes on Jesus & seek first His kingdom. This also gave context to my setbacks, & I saw that God was using them to get me to the place He wanted me to be & prepare me for what was to come. I had learned to have vision of being a medical writer, but I realised that God wanted my vision to be far wider than that. God was calling me to be a medical writer to place me where I can really make a difference, influence others & bring glory to Him.

Shortly after this, I got another interview. & this is where I really started to see God’s favour. The interviewers really liked me & were interested in knowing me as a person, not just in terms of the skills I could offer. They were able to pick up on a big part of who I am as a person & were just generally very helpful & honest. Though I was flexible about where I’d move to, I was very happy with the location of the job too. They asked me to attend a second interview, as they wanted to be sure I had the confidence required for the role. Confidence is something I have lacked for a long time, & though I’ve come a long way in overcoming this, I’m not the most naturally confident person. This can mean that even when I perform well at interview, someone with more confidence is favoured more. But I knew that if this was the right job, then God would make a way for me to get it.

I had a confident hope that I would get this job, but I tried not to get too excited, as I had now learned that an emotional hope is not helpful & prone to be dashed. This was a hope that was calm & expectant, committed to trusting God whatever the outcome. This kind of hope is easier to keep consistent, as previously I would fluctuate between getting over-excited & then worrying about not getting it. But eventually the phone call came, & I was offered the job. Now I could get excited!! The next 3 weeks were a whirlwind of flat-hunting, packing & clearing out, sorting things out & spending time with my friends before I left. & now I’ve moved, & my life has changed so much. It’s new & exciting, but has been somewhat overwhelming at times. But I’m starting to settle here now, & I do find the work I do quite rewarding. God has faithfully prepared me for this new season, & I’m sure my future here will be very bright :).

I am my Beloved’s: insights from Song of Songs


song of all songsWhen I was in the second year of my PhD, I was beyond frustrated & very lonely. Loneliness had been a part of my life for a long time, & it kept coming back to haunt me at every opportunity. In the midst of this painful time, God revealed to me that the root of this stronghold of loneliness was a belief that no one truly loved me. Though I had experienced much love from people & from God, yet my heart didn’t truly believe it was real, due to the rejection I’d received in the past. & so I was like ‘ok God, thanks for telling me this, but what do I do about this??’ I didn’t get an answer then, but I soon began to see that this is a God who goes to great lengths to get His love through to us. I found that again & again, God would connect with me, give me revelations & show me love in ways that were tailored for me. & eventually, His love did get through to me, & gradually yet dramatically changed my life. The loneliness within me broke, & though it would be a lie to say I never get lonely, but it’s now quite a rare occurrence, & I can shake it off much easier.

A 24 part bible study on Song of Songs by Mike Bickle played a big part in helping me to find this breakthrough. The study became a journey of God opening my heart towards His love. I would highly recommend going through the whole study if you can, even though it is long. The study has many great gems that won’t fit in one blog entry, so I’ll just give you some of the highlights that had the biggest impact on my life.

The book of Songs of Songs, also known as Song of Solomon, is a love song that was probably written by King Solomon. There are many different interpretations, & generally it can be interpreted to talk either about romantic love between a married couple, or about God’s love for His people. I’ll be talking about what it means in the context of Jesus’ love for us, particularly for those who choose to develop a relationship with Him. In the New Testament the Church (as in Christians in general) is referred to as the ‘Bride of Christ’, due to the passionate love Jesus has for us. So it is not the only part of the bible that compares our relationship with God with a romantic relationship. We believe that marriage was created to be a picture to help us to understand the relationship we can have with God. Song of Songs reveals God’s pattern of how we grow in passion for God. The beloved (or she) can represent the Bride of Christ, & she starts with an immature love for her Lover (or he), who can represent Jesus. Throughout the book, her love becomes more mature, until it reaches full maturity, & provides for us a picture of how our love for Jesus can also reach maturity.

Cry out for intimacy with Him

bibleSong of Songs 1:2-4:

“Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth! For Your love is better than wine; Your anointing oils are fragrant; Your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love You. Draw me after You; let us run. The King has brought me into His chambers…”

Mike Bickle mentions in his study that the mouth is often used to symbolise God’s Word. God’s Word can expand our hearts to receive God’s love & allow us to become more intimate with Him. We are meant to cry out for intimacy with Him. Wine represents enjoyment & celebration, so when it says that ‘Your love is better than wine’, it means that God’s love for us is better than anything in the world that can give us pleasure or happiness; it’s more than anything the world can offer us. ‘Draw me after You; let us run’ talks about drawing near to God in intimacy & running with Him in ministry. It’s sometimes hard to find a balance between seeking God’s presence & serving Him; we tend to do one at the expense of the other. But our life vision should be to do both, as we need that intimacy with Him in order to have the strength & ability to do all that God has called us to do. We are meant to run from the overflow of our relationship with God, so that we are not running on empty.

His love is a banner

banner over meSong of Songs 2:4 says: “He brought me to the banqueting house, & His banner over me was love.” In the Hebrew the ‘banqueting house’ is more literally translated as ‘house of wine’. So this means that God wants to bring us to a place where we celebrate in His love. Mike mentions that a banner or flag is used by a nation or group to identify who they are. So if God’s love is our banner, that means that we find our identity in His love. This verse also reminds me of Jewish weddings, where a prayer shawl is raised above the bride & groom to represent the bride coming under her husband’s covering & coming into covenant with him. This means that when we are under the covering of His love, we are safe & secure because of His covenant with us. I am also reminded of one of the names of God ‘Jehovah Nissi’, which means ‘the Lord is my banner’. This name is mentioned in Exodus 17:8-16, which describes a battle between the Israelites & Amalekites. When Moses lifted his staff in the air, then the Israelites were winning, but when his hands lowered then the Israelites were losing. Eventually Aaron & Hur had to hold Moses’ tired arms up, so that the Israelites could gain the victory. So if God’s love is a banner, then if we hold His love up high in our lives, like Moses held his staff in the air, then that is how we gain victory over the situations in our lives.

We ravish His heart

Song of Songs 4:9-10:

“You have ravished My heart, My sister, My bride; you have ravished My heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, My sister, My bride! How much better is your love than wine, & the fragrance of your oils than any spice!”

To be ravished in this context means to be overwhelmed with joy or delight. There is a lovely song by Bethel that starts with the line ‘Your love has ravished my heart & taken me over’. But in this passage it says that we ravish the heart of God! ‘One glance of your eyes’ refers to a look of devotion towards Him. Mike mentions that in the bible the neck often represents the will (e.g. the Israelites were sometimes called ‘stiff-necked’ as they were often stubborn & refusing to obey God). So ‘one jewel of your necklace’ refers to a response of obedience to God’s will. It’s an amazing thought that each look of devotion towards Him & each act of obedience, no matter how little, would actually ravish the heart of God. Some of us can often feel that we are not good enough for God & that we can’t meet His expectations for us, but that is a complete lie. As far as God is concerned, He sees us as beautiful because of our love for Him, even if it seems so small & insignificant to us. & He even says that our love is better than wine to Him, so He values our love more than all the splendour of His creation. Let that sink in!

We belong to Him

I am my BelovedsThere is a verse that is found 3 times in Song of Songs, but it is slightly different each time. 2:16 says: “My Beloved is mine, & I am His…”. 6:3 says: “I am my Beloved’s & my Beloved is mine…”. Whereas 7:10 says: “I am my Beloved’s, & His passion is for me”. These subtle differences represent a complete shift in the focus of the Beloved in her love for Him. At first, her focus is more on Him belonging to her, then it switches to a focus on belonging to Him. But in 7:10, it is not even mentioned that He belongs to her; the deepest desire of her heart is to belong to Him, because of His love for her. This part of the study is what had the biggest impact on my life; I now wear a ring that has Song of Songs 7:10 engraved on it in Hebrew, to remind me that I belong to Him, & that this is where I find my true identity & belonging. & it also represents my commitment to give my heart to Jesus first & foremost, rather than chase after men. This has changed my life, as I discovered contentment & belonging beyond what I had ever experienced, which is not dependent on having a man in my life.

The power of love

stronger than deathSong of Songs 8:6-7:

“Set Me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.”

Mike explains that a seal of wax spoke of a king’s ownership, protection & authority, & was his guarantee that what was written will be done. Jesus invites us to let Him seal our hearts with His love, which is a sign that we belong to Him & are submitted to Him, & that we are under His protection & have assurance that He will fulfil His covenantal promises to us. His love is a love that is not only as strong as death, but is stronger & defeated the power of death. His love is a jealous love in the same way that if I had a lover, I would insist that he does not go off with other girls, but would belong to me alone. Jesus wants all of us, & He relentlessly pursues us until He has all our heart. His love is passionate; it’s like a consuming fire that cannot be diminished by any circumstances. The end of 8:7 could have various interpretations, but Mike thinks that it means that if we truly gave everything for love then we’d not want recognition or honour for it, as the power to love is the only reward that we’d seek. This is the kind of love Jesus has for us, & I encourage you to not settle for a lesser love. This love has transformed my life far beyond my imagination, & continues to do so day by day.


Mike Bickle’s study on Song of Songs:

Treading on mountains- my PhD journey


Looks like I’ve not blogged for over 7 months! A lot has happened in the meantime; I’ve written my thesis & passed my viva, which means I’ll be becoming a ‘Dr’ :D. The PhD has been a very difficult journey for me, which has stretched me to the limits, but by God’s grace I’ve been able to persevere & overcome. I believe that God has used my PhD as a training ground, particularly to prepare me for pioneering new things for His kingdom (which I write about in No holding back: This blog entry is a summary of the main things I’ve learned through my PhD.

One of the main things I struggled with during my PhD was that I was getting very little breakthrough in my experiments; most my efforts seemed to be fruitless. Over a year ago there was a moment when I was crying out to God, asking Him why I’ve not had a breakthrough yet. His answer was that He was teaching me humility & submission! My thought was ‘ouch’! & then He reminded me of Habakkuk 3:17-19 (ESV):

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail & the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold & there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places.”

These verses challenge me to rejoice in God, even when my greatest efforts are fruitless & the circumstances seem hopeless. It requires humility to ‘give thanks in all circumstances’; even when God’s ways don’t seem to make sense. The key seems to be to not look to our circumstances for happiness but to find joy in God alone. Which is much easier to say than do! It has been tough to keep pouring my life into this PhD when my heart was no longer in it. But eventually I found that my joy was not dependent on achieving anything, feeling that my work is meaningful, or even in having my needs met- what really mattered was whether I was close to God. When I am close to Him, I find supernatural strength, ability & an overcoming spirit, so that whatever ‘mountain’ comes my way no longer overwhelms me but it’s under me & I tread on it! When we take on His challenge to ‘come away’ with Him to climb mountains of difficulties (Song of Solomon 2:13), we find that He endows us with His ability to bound up the mountains.

So what is humility? I believe real humility is to have confidence in God rather than in ourselves. Some people may think that humility means being weak, but actually I’ve found that being truly humble is empowering. Pride often involves keeping up appearances, which can hold you back from expressing the real you. But humility empowers you to be yourself & do daring things, as you no longer give a damn what people think of you! In order to deal with my pride, God had to change my sense of identity & worth. I used to base my worth largely on my achievements & what people thought of me, so when I was not achieving & not gaining the approval of my supervisors it really got to me. But when I learned to find my identity in being loved unconditionally by God, then I gained a new confidence that wasn’t shaken so much by circumstances. & I found that when I quit trying to prove myself, then God started to prove me- I gained new favour from people.

My old sense of identity not only resulted in pride, but also led to dashed hopes. Whenever I saw a glimmer of hope in my experiments or love life I pinned all my hopes up on this, & it was often devastating when these hopes kept getting dashed. It’s important to have hope, but I’ve realised that you should be careful what you base your hope on. If your hopes are birthed from a desperation to be loved or for people to think highly of you, then those hopes will fail you. But if your hopes are rooted in knowing God’s unfailing love, then these hopes are un-dashable. But to find these un-dashable hopes, I needed to find healing from these previous dashed hopes. The memories of my hopes being dashed held me back; I was scared to go all in with my PhD, in case I fell into despair again. My Mum felt that Psalm 86:17 was a word from God for me, & that my ‘enemies’ refer to my disappointments: “Give me a sign of Your goodness, that my enemies may see it & be put to shame, for You, O Lord, have helped me & comforted me.” This really spoke to me, showing me that God’s favour & comfort will put my dashed hopes to shame. I also held onto Psalm 126:5-6, which reminded me that though my efforts have been painful yet joy will come, & it will be worth it in the end.

I also started to learn what submission to God really looked like. Submission is something I find very difficult, & I’m still learning. But I’ve found that submitting to God has helped me to deal with life so much better, & brought so much joy. I believe the motive of true submission is love; we obey God even when it’s a sacrifice because of our love for Him. When I started writing my thesis, I was challenged to seek first God’s kingdom & His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), which meant that I put God first rather than my thesis. Writing a thesis tends to take over your life, & it did for me at times, but it was not my number one priority in my life. Though I did not have time to be engaged in lots of ‘ministry’ at this time, I was faithful in what God had called me to do, though outwardly it did not appear to be that much. I’m the kind of person who likes to do lots of things, particularly things that allow me to spend time with people &/or make a difference. But I felt God had told me to concentrate on being rather than doing, & that I needed to cut down on the things I do when writing my thesis. That felt like quite a sacrifice for me, but I realised that God had called me to write this thesis for His glory, & doing too many other things (that He didn’t call me to do) would distract me, drain my energy, & cause me not to give my best for what He had called me to do at that time. I was challenged (& still am challenged) to live my life as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1), & as ironic as it sounds, I’ve found that being a sacrifice has felt very rewarding!

So what does seeking first God’s kingdom look like when most your time is spent working by yourself, & you don’t leave the house that much? I realised that prayer is the most important part of advancing God’s kingdom. & when I say prayer, I mean proper battling & persevering in prayer, with the focus of your prayers being ‘Your kingdom come; Your will be done’ (Matthew 6:10). I’ve always struggled with praying regularly & consistently, but when my mindset was to put first God’s kingdom, I was compelled to pray & keep praying. & when I started to pray regularly with this passion, believing that my prayers are powerful, I was transformed. My prayers became very bold & anointed, I became much more spirit-led & courageous, & I started to really bless some of my friends. & I found that as I made God’s kingdom my top priority & focus, God gave me the focus & drive I needed for my work. & believe me, I would not have been able to sustain the motivation & intense focus required for writing my thesis without God. I actually enjoyed writing my thesis for the first 3 months; though it was hard work I did enjoy drawing everything together & making a story out of it. Not only did God give me focus & passion for my thesis, but He gave me the ability to handle the stress very well, as spending time with Him each day gave me peace for my soul. I don’t work well under stress at all, so this reduction in stress really helped me to work to the best of my ability. I worked very hard when I was writing my thesis; though I did not work an excessive number of hours & always had a day of rest each week, when I did get my head down to work I was usually very productive with my time & maximised the hours that I did spend working. This was very useful, as it allowed me to take adequate rest, & the balance of work & rest allowed me to sustain high levels of working for the 4 months. & it also meant that I had time to really commit to my main life group; despite being busy writing my thesis I still was able to go the extra mile in contributing to the group & supporting the other members. This enabled me to find an even deeper sense of belonging than I had ever experienced before, & being in this group really helped me to grow & to be sustained as I was writing my thesis.

Once I finished writing my thesis, it has been tough to maintain the same focus on God I had, as it was much easier to get distracted when I didn’t have such a big, important task to complete. But it has been wonderful to be free of the thesis; in the last month of thesis writing I was so sick of the thesis & really wanted to ‘get rid of it’ :P. I’ve had chance to rest & recover & do different things that I didn’t have much time for. But then I had to prepare for my viva, & it was really tough to find the motivation to look at my thesis again after all the ordeal I had with my PhD. But I felt God say to me that I have to be willing to sacrifice again, & that being a living sacrifice is not just for a season, but it should be a constant thing. So I got my head down to revise for the viva, & it was very tough at first. With other things also going on, I started to feel that my burden was becoming too much. But I went on an inner healing course, & was reminded that we should serve out of love for God, not in order to gain a reward. This hit home, as I realised that I was seeking to do well in my viva to have something to show for 4 years of hard work, frustration & struggle, i.e. to get some kind of reward. But I realised that I should be doing it for God, to bring glory to Him, & therefore the outcome shouldn’t matter so much. & then the pressure just went right off. The viva had been such a big deal for me all these years, & something I had always been dreading, so I was amazed at how un-stressed I was on the last few days before the viva!! & on the morning of the viva, I was full of joy & worshipping God! I started to feel nervous when I reached campus though. My supervisor gave me a pep talk beforehand, which started with ‘it’ll be gruelling, but it’ll be over!’ :P. Which was very true; the viva was very intense, & I didn’t enjoy it; I couldn’t wait for it to be over. But I managed to perform much better than I expected, & the examiners said that I did a good job at defending my work. & by the grace of God I passed :D.

I expected to be so happy after passing my viva, but it didn’t happen; I needed some time to recover from of the ordeal of my viva. & honestly, though becoming a Dr is a big achievement on an intellectual level, to me it paled in comparison to how much I have grown & overcome within myself during the PhD. I’m so grateful to God for all He has done, & how He’s enabled me to discover potential in me far beyond what I could have imagined. It’s been a long painful journey, but also one that’s led me to find fullness of joy.

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6 (ESV).

Hope can take my tears and turn them into the seeds of my own breakthrough.

Godly sexuality


So I’ve previously written about my beliefs about sex, & I started to explore the concept of ‘godly sexuality’. I’m now gonna expand on this concept, so it may be helpful to read ‘When 2 become 1′ ( to give you the context. But to summarise, I felt that to stay sexually pure is not about suppressing our sexuality per se, but about expressing it in a godly way. At the time I wasn’t sure exactly how that worked in practice, but felt that sexuality is much bigger than sex & romance, & that finding intimacy in friendships can be just as fulfilling as romantic relationships.

One important question to ask about this topic is actually, what is sexuality? I don’t think a dictionary definition is too helpful here, as our culture always associates sexuality with the physical act of sex, or the attraction that can lead to sex. But I reckon there is a lot more to it, ’cause I believe that there are emotional, mental & even spiritual aspects to sex, so then sexuality should encompass all these things! I believe sex is about 2 people becoming one- in spirit, soul & body. The worldly perspective puts the physical aspects on a pedestal, & the spiritual aspects have mostly been lost. But a godly perspective is the opposite- it puts spiritual aspects first, & physical last. & I think this is the key to maintaining a godly sexuality- it is committed to start from spiritual one-ness, perhaps leading to one-ness of soul, & eventually leading to physical one-ness with the one you marry. So in reality, godly sexuality isn’t about suppressing your sexuality, it’s about expressing it in a fuller way!

Now many of you may not agree with the view that keeping sex within marriage doesn’t involve suppressing your sexuality in any way. & you’ll be right to an extent- you often need to suppress your physical & emotional desires for this, but the purpose is so that your spirit can be more fully expressed. & at the end of the day, I believe your spirit is the real you, so you’ll actually be living more true to yourself. The thing is, if we always act on our emotions & impulses, we can cause a lot of damage to ourselves & others. Lust in particular has the capacity to consume you & distort the way you relate to others. Sexual brokenness has a uniquely damaging effect on our identity & our ability to connect with others, as the nature of intimacy is that it makes you vulnerable. But sexual wholeness is uniquely satisfying & euphoric, & it’s a gift God gave for us to enjoy & protect. & I believe you can experience this without having sex or even having a lover- I’ve found that it’s in God & through family that I’ve found wholeness.

So how can we put this into practice when we start to get tempted? I don’t think there’s an easy way to break free from lust. It starts with a desire to change, but that’s not enough- we need God to enable us to be strong against temptation. I’ve recently been praying for God to help me to say no to instant gratification, & that He’d set me free from its hold on me. & God will help you if you come humbly & really cry out for His help, but it may take a long while. It’s a process that can make you feel very vulnerable & uncomfortable, as it can be very hard to face your own darkness. But I believe it’s worth it in the end, & will allow you to be controlled by your convictions, rather than your feelings & appetites.

I reckon that the path to sexual wholeness is first of all, to find one-ness with God, in spirit, soul & body. One-ness with Him is really all we need, but God did create in us a need for other people. The bible urges us to have one spirit & heart, so this means that we are to experience spiritual one-ness with the whole Church. We can’t be emotionally & mentally intimate with every Christian though, as that’s not physically possible for us on earth. But God did intend for us to have people who we can become one in soul with; people we feel safe to be ourselves & be vulnerable with. & if we find someone who we can experience deeper levels of spiritual, emotional & mental one-ness with, then this is likely to be a good person to marry! If the person & time is right, then we can embark on becoming one flesh- spirit, soul & body.

But the purpose of all this should be that we partner together to pursue God & bring His kingdom on earth. When we unite together, we can synergise together to enable each other to be all we were created to be. Different people bring out different aspects of us that we may not have otherwise found out, & we are called to encourage, comfort, build up, spur on & serve one another in what ever way we can. At the end of the day, our sexuality & relationships should all point back to God, & be a reflection of the amazing crazy love that God has for all of us.

No holding back: things I’ve learnt during Lent & Hope Fest


In my last blog entry, I wrote about my desire to pray against injustice & seek God about what I can do about it. I anticipated that this time of Lent would be a time of preparation, where God would reveal more of His calling for me & increase my heart for serving Him & others. I also felt that this would be a time of breakthrough in my life. Lent has been both very difficult & very beneficial, as God has been working in me & teaching me a lot. There were many times where I struggled with stress & despair, mainly related to the PhD, because I have less than 6 months left to finish. I have very few positive results, so I’m attempting to keep working hard in the lab plus write my thesis in my spare time. But in spite of this, I had a lot of really good prayer & worship times, & God’s presence kept breaking through in the midst of my struggles.

On the zip wire at Hope Fest.

I had been seeking revelation about what my calling is, & where my research fits in with this. I keep struggling to remain passionate about my work, but now one of the reasons is because I’m itching to do more to serve God & make a difference. This is my real passion, & it has often felt like the PhD restricts me & drains me of my time & energy. I do believe that my work is a significant part of my calling, as it gives me opportunities to reach out to people who I may not normally be able to reach. But it’s sometimes hard to see how I’m reaching people when I’m having to work like mad, sometimes by myself. So God revealed to me that my work is my training ground, & the things I’m learning through my work are equipping me for my future callings.

One thing I’ve been learning is to let passion be my driving force rather than fear. I was getting very stressed about the PhD, but I don’t work well under stress at all. I’ve found that working hard out of fear leads to burn out & despair, but working hard out of passion can be sustained. Now some people may think being passionate means you’re always feeling happy & excited about your work, & that this can’t be sustained. But in reality, passionate people are also willing to grit their teeth & make sacrifices for their work, probably more so than those motivated by fear. The actions may be the same for both motivations, but the difference is the reason- fear works hard because it can’t bear to fail, but passion works hard because it believes it’ll all be worth it in the end.

There was a time in 2nd year when I was really pushing myself to work hard, & my motivation was fear, & I resented my work at the time. I couldn’t sustain this, especially when my experiments were not working, & I felt useless & depressed. I realised that now I was scared I’d fall into despair again, & this held me back & prevented me from giving my best for my PhD. Eventually I asked my life group for prayer, then I started to break free from this fear & feel much more positive. God has been giving me insight on how to cope with the workload, & it basically boils down to committing to put God & His kingdom first, staying in the Holy Spirit’s flow & not giving in to instant gratification. Though this is easier said than done!

Isaiah 40v31 describes being in the Holy Spirit’s flow- it’s like soaring on wings like eagles, which fly by allowing the winds to carry them. It describes running without getting weary or faint- this is the kind of energy that I’ll need to complete my PhD well! But I realised I’m like an eagle who is afraid of falling, as it has been broken & damaged before. It’s not that I don’t trust God to catch me when I fall, but I know that I can still get hurt. It’s like lead climbing- I’m not afraid of falling to the ground (I have trustworthy belayers!) but I don’t like the sensation of falling, or potentially getting whacked into the wall! So I’m like an eagle who keeps flapping its wings, trying to do things in my own strength, as I refuse to lose control. But this only wears me out, so I end up falling anyway. So God is challenging me to let go of my control, & to fully rely on Him.

Recently God revealed to me that He gave me an adventurous spirit ’cause He’s called me to be a pioneer. Because my research is quite pioneering, I now know just how difficult it is to be a pioneer. Pioneering is an adventure, but it’s a type of adventure that involves hard work & discomfort, & can be messy, lonely & frustrating. It may appear unfruitful & unfulfilling for a long time, but it can be really worthwhile. This got me thinking about what it means to be adventurous, & I realised there’s a difference between those seeking adventure for instant gratification or an adrenaline rush, & those who pursue an adventure that requires tenacious determination to see the rewards. I believe the truly adventurous people are the pioneers; they find fulfilment in the journey & in giving their all just as much as the end result. I fall into both categories though; I am willing to persevere for my passions, but I also am addicted to instant gratification. I think this prevents me from finding fulfillment in my work, as the rewards are not instant, & only come through perseverence & ‘luck’. Being a pioneering researcher has been very tough, but it has been training me for future pioneering. & I hope I can use what I learn to teach others to find breakthrough & to raise up more pioneers. I believe we’re are called to be pioneers to an extent, as we’re called to make a unique contribution in our lives & our legacy.

I went to a retreat called Hope Fest over Easter, & I knew that it would be a significant time for me. It was very fitting for me that it was being held in an adventure centre called Pioneer Centre! The theme was ‘Thy will be done’, so I knew it would be challenging! God really did some big things in my heart during Hope Fest, & I believe my life is now changed.

During some of the worship times I was crying a lot, as God was doing some inner healing in me. The main thing He was revealing to me was that I had let fears & a mindset of inadequacy hold me back from what He had for me. Though I’ve come a long way in overcoming my fears, I still was gripped by fears of rejection, criticism, failure, etc. These have inhibited me from being sensitive to the Holy Spirit & hearing from Him, particularly concerning things way out of my comfort zone. They have also held me back from dreaming big & from being intentional about sharing my faith. The interviews with Jerry & Marcus struck me ’cause they both mentioned being criticised, yet they chose to persevere, as their passion for God’s call was so strong. & it’s through their perseverence that they were able to overcome & be fruitful in their ministries. So God challenged me, asking me whether I was willing to be uncomfortable, put down, criticised, rejected or make mistakes for Him. He wanted me to come out of my comfort zone, so that I could grow into new giftings, rather than just stick with what I’m comfortable with.

During the last evening of Hope Fest, I experienced a fresh freedom in worshipping God with dancing. One of the songs we sang was ‘Christ is enough’ by Hillsong, & when we were singing the bridge, I felt led to change the words ‘no turning back’ to ‘no holding back’. This was my declaration that I wouldn’t let fear or anything else hold me back in living for God anymore. It wasn’t until after Hope Fest when I discovered that the bridge is actually from a hymn (‘I have decided to follow Jesus’), & the story behind the hymn is quite dramatic (you can read about it here: It was the last words of a convert to Christianity in India who was martyred along with his family for his faith. The crowd were so struck by how strong their faith was that the whole village accepted Christ! So knowing this story gives extra meaning to the song; it’s a declaration that we are giving our lives to follow Christ all the way, even if it leads to suffering or death. ‘Christ is enough’ is inspired by the hymn & conveys why we’re willing to live this way- ’cause Jesus is the only one who can satisfy us; He is everything we need. He is more precious than life itself to us. & we seek to say ‘not my will but Yours be done’ no matter what, because we know that ‘it’s only in surrender that we’re free’ (All that I am, Rend Collective).

Later people who felt called to pioneer new outreach/church planting were asked to come to the front. When I heard this, something just clicked in my mind. When God told me He’s called me to be a pioneer, at the time I was just thinking about science, since the PhD was occupying most of my thinking. But I knew there was something more God wanted me to pioneer too, but I didn’t quite know what that was until Hope Fest. So then I went for prayer, & pastor Vincent prayed for me. His first words were something like ‘I think God is saying not to procrastinate!’ I panicked slightly & cheekily thought ‘can’t I wait until I finish my PhD first?!’ But I knew that God would want me to start small, & I didn’t wanna delay God’s plans for me any longer. Later Jerry was asking me about this call to pioneer, & he said that for him pioneering is very fulfilling & where he gets his biggest joy. So that really encouraged me, ’cause my experience so far in pioneering in science has not been fulfilling. I guess some people find scientific research fulfilling, & I hope I will soon. But I realised that pioneering for Christ’s kingdom is the most fulfilling thing, as it leaves a legacy with eternal implications. Even if it’s unfruitful for a long while, I can be assured that I’m doing something that’s really worthwhile.

At the end of Hope Fest I went up to give testimony of what God has done in me over Hope Fest. I knew that overcoming my fears would still be a process, but I was now committed to not letting them hold me back anymore. Hope Fest was awesome but I wasn’t sad about leaving, ’cause I knew the real adventure & challenge starts when I go back to normal life as a changed person! Both me & my brother were buzzing on the journey back from Hope Fest, & I was so happy at how God was working in his life too. When I started back at work after Hope Fest, my mind was buzzing with ideas about my calling. It seems that now I’ve committed to not let fear hold me back, that my dreams that were buried were starting to be re-awakened. Though I’m not so excited about my work at the moment, I’m excited about what God has in store for me both now & in the near future.

“He’s awakening the hope in me
By calling forth my destiny,
He’s breathing life into my soul
I will thirst for Him, and Him alone,
He has come like the rain
That showers on the barren plain,
So my heart and tongue confess
Jesus Christ, the hope of man.”
– Hope’s Anthem, Bethel.