I had a refreshing and amazing weekend spent with the community at a special retreat where I learned more about the Catholic faith and ways to be a better Christian leader through servant leadership (putting others before self). It is truly reassuring that Jesus is the answer to everything. He is the answer to all our questions and doubts. The two key takeaways from the retreat would be the concepts of both Affirmation and Identity which I will touch on later.
The first session “The River of Life” was about our own river and the rapids that we have encountered. I found that it has never really crossed my mind that I could lead and that with all my imperfections, I could not be deemed worthy to lead. Rapids are our frustrations and expectations to meet them and the dryness that comes when there is no motivation or inspiration left in us. One of the more relevant questions to me in this session was “How is your river flowing now?” I felt a sense of tiredness as I have alot of things in my mind but Jesus tells me that he will guide me as long as I follow him.
“Our hearts are made for you Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you”- St Augustine
It was my first time trying to write a poetry piece during the retreat and it’s entitled, “Where am I right now?”
I feel that I am in the ocean- drowning and gasping for air
Amidst the loneliness,pain and suffering
I do not know where I am going to find help
Suddenly, I see a light, a bright light.
Is that the help I sought for?
The light to guide me home?
I begin to swim towards the light
Relishing in the soft cool breeze on my skin
As darkness surround me, I ask myself-where is God?
Light- to keep me from straying from the path of righteousness
I hear a voice in the light
The voice says, “You are my precious creation and child, even when the world comes down on you, know that I am always with you in that ocean.”
Find comfort in me, in the light
Right now, I know that I can lean on God!
Because,he can SAVE ME! and that he will lift me up even on the darkest of days.
The next session would be on the concept of “Identity” that I could relate to as it reminded me that I must not be ashamed or embarrassed to associate with our Catholic and personal identities. Many times, I have been on the receiving end of not knowing my identity as I tend to follow the labels that I hear from others. Labels such as stupid, not worthy or unintelligent have cast much doubt on my self image. This could also be a catalyst for internal tension and insecurities to occur. Our beloved identity as stated in Genesis 27 is that “You are made in the likeness of God and his image.” With the desire to know Jesus better and accepting God’s love, we can befriend our insecurities and overcome them.
During the session “God’s Invitation to Love”, I felt loved by Jesus because it was made clear that Jesus loves us no matter the good or bad that we have done. It is in his invitation that he wants us to open the door of our hearts to trust in him Jesus which is to be vulnerable. I am still trying to be vulnerable because it is never easy and I believe with time, I will get there. To experience Jesus fully, we have to:
1) Trust in Jesus
2) Be vulnerable to him
3) Fall in love with him
4) Surrender everything to him
I also learned to discern and pray for charisms which come from God and act as channel of love to others. It helps us to use our strengths and desires to evangelize and enter into the life of holiness. Though it is not easy to be a leader, I am willing to put my life on the line in contributing back to the community with whatever I can give.
In 1 Cor 12-14, “For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many parts — all the parts of the body, though many, still making up one single body — so it is with Christ.We were baptized into one body in a single Spirit, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as free men, and we were all given the same Spirit to drink.And indeed the body consists not of one member but of many.”This gives me the assurance that we all have a part to play in bringing Jesus to those who are still finding for him. I went away from the retreat feeling much better in terms of knowing that I am worthy in the eyes of Jesus and that I have nothing to fear.
I would like to extend my thanks and deepest gratitude to the retreatants, service team and all those who helped make this retreat a success. It has given me the passion, commitment and confidence to desire to serve the community with greater resilience and zeal. We will continue to pray for each other and we also find time for Jesus because he is always ready to be with us in prayer and in every moment of our lives.
Join me as I pray for the courage to draw people together in the community, spirit of leadership and the virtue of compassion to be of service to others.
To end this blog post, I would like to dedicate this worship song by Hillsong called “The Potter’s Hand” to Jesus for his providence and support in instilling in me the fire for service and in reaching out to others.
“Beautiful Lord, wonderful Saviour
I know for sure all of my days are held in Your hand
Crafted into Your perfect plan
You gently called me into Your presence
Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord, to live all of my life
Through Your eyes
And I’m captured by Your Holy calling
Set me apart, I know You’re drawing me to Yourself
Lead me Lord, I pray
Take me and mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand
Call me, You guide me, lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand”
Praise God for this empowering and wonderful experience to see Jesus work in the many different communities and the friendships that were forged!
Written By: Darren Chan Keng Leong