When I first became Christian, I realised that believing in a God wasn’t difficult.
It was believing that He is a God who is sovereign and good that was the problem for me.
As one who lived with much opposition from my parents for being Christian, it had been difficult to maintain my faith journey with God. However, I wanted to glorify God with what I perceived to be my “gift”, which I had believed to be my athletic ability at that time.
This was around when I was in Secondary School. I had been competing in Track & Field events for close to 5-6 years at this point.
In Secondary Three, my personal best had earned me a qualification ticket to the open trials for the ASEAN Youth Games. It was always my dream to represent Singapore in high jump and I was so incredibly excited about this opportunity.
Months before the trials, I worked harder than ever. I restricted my food intake tremendously to lower my body fat percentage for optimal performance, worsening the eating disorder that I had been struggling with at the time.
While I was already training 5 times a week with my coach for 4-hour sessions each, I ran an extra 8km every day. My period stopped and my hair started falling.
My body fat soon dropped to around 12.2% and I was experiencing heart palpitations. However, I refused to stop. I stubbornly believed in the mantra “no pain, no gain”, and thought I was glorifying God by pushing myself to the limit.
Just 16 days before the trials, I was involved in an accident which resulted in a hairline fracture and a slight dislocation of my tailbone.
While I was lying on the stretcher, angry tears started welling up.
All I could think about was the ASEAN Youth Games and I started sobbing. I knew that there was no way I could compete anymore. I was placed in a ward and went through a series of tests, including multiple X-rays to confirm the injury.
Hours passed as my eyes traced the spinning of the ceiling fan above me.
I was practically immobilised and morphine had to be injected into my back every few hours to numb the excruciating pain.
Angry and disappointed, I vented my frustrations on God.
“Why me? I am trying my best for You, God. I am fighting to have faith. Are you serious right now?”
Representing Singapore had been my obsession for years; I had lived, breathed and existed for the sole purpose of being able to do that.
I was using God to achieve a goal that I had set for myself – I wanted God to bless my kingdom, for my glory.
I struggled, lying on the hospital bed with anger and frustration. “Isn’t this what I was supposed to do?” I asked God.
Then I felt a gentle nudge in my soul. A calm and soft voice pierced through my mental chaos: “Are you sure you’re doing all these for Me?”
I was unable to answer. Hours of grumbling and angry prayers crumbled into silence as I realised how self-righteous I had been all this time.
God was never my focus. I was.
I was using God to achieve a goal that I had set for myself. There was never God in my plan or purpose. It was all driven by me. I wanted God to bless my kingdom, for my glory.
It hit me that I was the one who was perpetuating my own suffering and pushing myself beyond limits that weren’t purposed by God. I lay in silence with Him all night, weeping as I felt His comforting presence sweep through me.
“God, help me. I really don’t know what I’m doing.” I prayed repeatedly until I fell asleep.
The next day, I remember waking up and sitting up on my bed – then suddenly realising I shouldn’t have been able to sit up at all.
“Stand up,” I felt God prompt me.
For the past few nights including the one right before, I hadn’t been able to sleep peacefully because my back was so swollen, bruised and painful. But now I felt no pain sitting up. In fact, it almost felt like my back wasn’t swollen anymore.
I touched my lower back and when it seemed fine, I grabbed the side of the bed and stood up. Holding my IV drip machine, I tenderly took a few steps.
I started crying again.
“God is good! God is good! I am healed!” I cried out, attracting the attention of the nurse on duty.
“Wait, weren’t you scheduled for surgery? What happened?” She asked as she rushed up to me.
I shrugged. “I’m not sure, but I can walk now! God healed me!”
A doctor and a group of nurses sat me back down on the bed and ran a series of tests. I asked repeatedly during the X-ray, “This is not the morphine, right? God is real, right?”
After two more X-rays, the doctor told my dad and I that we could go. “There’s no crack in the tailbone and the alignment is normal. I can’t explain this, but there is no need for surgery.”
I walked out of the hospital that day, amazed by how God did what He did. It was a miracle that was beyond understanding and beyond me.
Strangely enough, I recovered in time for the National Track & Field meet. This time, I decided to compete for God. Training frequency was reduced and I loosened my diet restrictions, placing my full faith in the One who had healed me. He was going to be the one powering me through the competition.
I eventually broke my personal best by over 20cm to come in 2nd place, after having only come in 3rd for 4 years in a row previously.
Even my coach was surprised. “I didn’t bring a camera because I thought it would be the same as previous years,” he said. “I’m proud of you.”
As I stood on the podium, I realised that this truly wasn’t my achievement. It was all God’s.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do can simply be declaring, “God, this is my passion. I surrender it to You. Take it and use it as You will.” It is easy to be on fire for our passion and be led by it, but it is surely at best a good gift – and a horrible master.
Be on fire for Jesus and see Him show you that your passion can be greater and better than anything you’ve ever envisioned for your life.
The story that He is writing for us is always greater than what we desire for ourselves.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20)