Before I became a Christian, my life planning was obsessive to the point of exhaustion. I moved over to Australia in 2008 to pursue my undergraduate degree (which was a result of my planning since 2003). I had to support myself financially while I was doing my degree, working almost full-time hours as a door-to-door salesperson. On top of hitting sale targets I had to finish my assignments on time, and study in time for my examinations. I evolved to be an extremely self-reliant and fiercely independent person. I trusted no one but myself and I knew if I didn't plan it perfectly right, my life would be chaos. I put so much pressure on myself, and I constantly battled with anxiety issues, stress, depression and self-destruction. Very soon, I began to fall under the pressure of it all. Back then, my reason for not wanting to hear more about Christ, go to church or read the Bible was simple, I HAD NO TIME.
Shortly after I became a Christian, life was still as busy as ever for me. Very soon I realised that I had returned to all my obsessive planning, and I had to ask myself the question, "Am I guilty of sometimes going back to who I was before Christ, relying on myself and MY plans and being too busy to have time for God in my life?" My answer was "Yes".
Sometimes I feel that God has a funny way of teaching and disciplining me. He uses exactly what I am most comfortable with to teach me the hardest lesson. When I accepted Christ, things changed a lot for me. There were lessons to be learnt and disciplining to be done to make me the person God had intended from the beginning. My walk of faith in Christ had only just begun.
Planning is a vital part of my life. But do I plan time ahead in advance to do some charitable work, evangelise or make time to pray, read scripture or even meet a friend in need, who could use encouragement from the Gospels? Do I plan for God in my life and does God make plans in my life? That was the hardest life question I struggled with.
My personal reflection
The hardest lesson I have thus learned so far in my walk with Christ, is to trust Him and Him alone in my plans and His plans for me. It was hard for me to let go of who I was, my independence, self-reliance and obsessive planning, to trust and surrender all to become obedient to God. It took a lot of self-reflection with God, a lot of soul searching and a lot of faith in God. It was through my experiences, that next two verses became personal to me. Psalm chapter 127 verse 1 and Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11.
In Psalm 127 verse 1, it clearly states that "unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labour in vain and unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain". This verse sprang out to me one day when I was becoming overwhelmed with things to do and plans to finish. Through all this planning and obsessing about my life had I asked God even once to be in my plans with me? My answer was "No". I should include Him in my life, because without God I allow for egocentrism to take place and it becomes all about me and nothing about God, and all my life efforts are in vain.
As I began to trust more and more in God and His plans for me, the verse in Jeremiah 29 verse 11 became my go-to verse each time I doubt or struggle with my plans for my future. For God says: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope". When I read this verse I always feel a tremendous sense of peace and hope, for I know God is with me and for me. It is also not wise for me to worry and be anxious, for Jesus said in Matthew chapter 6 verse 33 and 34: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you; therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things".
Now I never fail to include God in every single plan of mine, seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness. I seek God's glory and will before anything else. In God my plans are always perfect, for I know that I can trust in the Lord with all my heart, lean not on my own understanding, and in all my ways to acknowledge Him and He shall direct my paths (Proverbs chapter 3 verse 5 and 6). Ever since I have learned to trust God in this way my life has been so much more fulfilling, because God's plans for me is always the best, much better than I can ever plan for myself!
Clarissa Goh is from Singapore but moved to live in Perth, Western Australia in 2008. She is currently working as a Research Assistant at the University of Western Australia, and hopes to pursue her Doctorate in Molecular Neurobiology in 2013.
Clarissa Goh's previous articles may be viewed at