Where’s God in the Picture?

I’ve been on a mini hiatus from the blogosphere again. Totally unintended though. Well, it’s because I haven’t exactly been in the best headspace lately. I’ve been worrying about my life (not for my life, I’m not in danger thank God). A lot. And particularly the kind of worry that begins with the question, “What if this (insert situation name here) fails?”

Totally disgregarding Matthew 6:25-34. You know, that do not worry passage.

In fact I’ve gone and done just the exact opposite. All week long for the past couple of weeks, I’ve jumped back and forth many plans in my mind and found peace in none. Many of them sound like backup plans for possible failures in my current endeavours. I’ve even thought that if one day, I make a total flop of my current ministry work and have to leave, then perhaps I’ll venture into opening a cafe that doubles, no triples up as a bookshop plus florist plus art studio plus cozy music corner. Oh oops that’s quadruple upping. The plan is to set up this quadruple cafe thing, let it run and when it’s steady, I’ll finally be able to go do missions work overseas just like I’ve always sensed God calling me to in my long term future. Key caveat: without having to worry about income. I’ve also researched on how I can tap on eligibility to buy my own house using my CPF in 5 years’ time so that too can become side rolling income while I maintain my job.

And so this has sent me on a downward spiral in all kinds of ways and on multiple areas in my life. I don’t know why I felt such a need to carve elaborate backup plans, but I’m willing to bet it has something to do with excessive worry, and worry from a lack of trust in God. I truly don’t know the measure of my faith until God says to me, as if using a loudhailer and stopping me in my tracks, “You’ve gotta stop worrying and start trusting me!”

In yesterday’s dinner conversation with a friend, I found myself thinking aloud the same brand of worry in the area of friendships. With all my friendships, there always is the looming question in my mind: “What if this fails one day?” To that she said, “Where is God in this picture?” I managed to squeeze a tiny try of an answer last night, but today I’ve given it more thought.

As I reflect a little more today, I realise that I tend to build relationships up to a certain level of intimacy and when it reaches that point, I start to wonder how much further the friendship could go before something happens and the relationship sours. Long before anything even happens and unbeknownst to these dear, dear souls , I build safety barriers and find safety nets so that the crash wouldn’t be so hard-hitting if something really does happen to the friendship. Especially since becoming a ministry staff (where church friends are also the volunteers I “manage”), this has brought a new level of complication to relationships that I haven’t yet worked through. I began to doubt people’s sincerity and the strength of each relationship.

In this way of thinking, there’s very little room for hope and genuine love. There’s a whole lot of self-preservation and fear. I’m afraid of intimacy that demands my vulnerability and potentially getting hurt in the process. There’s worry rearing its ugly head again. The kind of worry that begins even where nothing has happened. I really need God on this one, to intervene in my mind, help me unlearn and relearn His approach to relationships. Gosh, how did Jesus love the disciples so dearly given that He knew for sure how they would desert and betray Him when push comes to shove? How did Jesus keep His head in a good headspace when the lines between ministry and personal life were blurred? Maybe it’s not about finding this elusive line that’s supposed to magically bring harmony and balance.

I’ve been hanging a banner of worry over my neck and that banner weighs a ton more than God would have me carry. That banner spells “inevitable disappointment in the future whether sooner or later” but I know in my heart of hearts that this is not how God designed me to approach life. I have trained myself to become a pragmatist in response to experiencing hurt in life, and while some pragmatism is beneficial since it increases wisdom, my pragmatism is tinged with the absence of hope. In this picture, where is my God in whom I hope?

Looking at another friend’s missions funding page this morning, I see a glimmer of God in my future, a thrill of hope. Before she left for her missions stint in South Africa (you go girl! So proud of you), she started a funding page that needed X amount of money. I’ve had the privilege of journeying her from the very start of this whole process – from conception to execution. I remember how I would see with my own eyes, funds rolling in online and offline. I saw how people would pass her envelopes and angbaos. In today’s page update, I saw that she had received funds waaayyyy exceeding what she stated she needed. When the missions stint was merely just a dream we were discussing, we never saw God on this day, a great big smile on his fatherly face giving her a nice thumbs-up and a knowing wink, knowing how He’s provided all the funds she needed with extra to spare.

Back to the topic on future plans – my one day maybe cafe (ooh One Day Cafe’s not a bad name!); my future missions tripping life, my future income churning house, my future whatever… I think dreams are good in and of themselves. And God has given us a great gift to be able to dream. But it’s far better to dream from a place of hope than because of fear. “Where is God in this picture?” is a far better question to ask than “what if this fails?”

God, show me where You are in all life’s pictures.

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