Monday, August 6, 2018

Blessed by the Camp

It started one Sunday when 11-year-old Ethel came bounding from Sunday School, "Are we going to the church camp, Mom? All my friends are going and I want to go too!"

That's how I found out that Yio Chu Kang Chapel is heading to JB in June. Since the family didn't have other vacation plans, and Singapore was so hot without air-con, we decided to join the English congregation in Hotel Renaissance.

Delightfully, the camp theme was Hearing the Voice of God. How apt, since I was seeking God's direction about my career. I had spent two years writing a book on independent autistic adults. The book was completed and in fact sent to print the week before start of camp. And I'd been wondering - what do I do now that the project is over?

In my choice of work, do I pick based on what's easiest for me? Or what pays me the most? Which door should I knock at? What if it's the wrong door? Do I wait for God to open a door or do I go around knocking? If I inquire, does it mean running ahead of God? Does "waiting upon the Lord" mean doing nothing until circumstances point a clear direction?

Such was my uncertainty when I attended the camp which our heavenly father graciously guided me to. And what relief to he reminded that our God is a loving father. That seeking his will is not walking on a tightrope with no safety net beneath. It is holding his hand and trusting him to lead me to green pastures. I need not fear mistakes in decision-making because God can always reshuffle the cards for a fresh new start.

I also learned in this camp that God wants to speak to us everyday; it is not his intention to hide from his children. And so I resolved to meet him in Quiet Time every morning and every night (I am following the devotional Morning & Evening with Charles Spurgeon), on top of homework for Bible Study Fellowship.

I am happy to say that God has been very real in his communication through his word. Perhaps because I no longer treat Bible reading as chore to be completed, but a letter from a loved one that I look forward to receiving.

Beside teaching me to hear from God, this camp has blessed me by blessing my son Calder. Calder is autistic so he'd be jumping and clapping and laughing non-stop - generally creating embarrassing scenes where we have to apologise for the disruption. But church members have come to us to assure us that it's ok, that we are a community that looks out for one another. In fact, a few even affirmed his special-ness in a very positive way - "I really like how he worships God", "He responds in rhythm to the music!", "Such wonderful joy". One youth even told us they missed him when he's not around.

And because the church was supportive rather than judgemental, we could relax and enjoy the camp. Thank you for being so welcoming. You have welcomed us as members of a different congregation. You have welcomed us despite the strange character that we bring around with us. Indeed there's hardly anything stranger than the idiosyncratic ways of an autistic child. Thank you for welcoming Calder, the "stranger".

Allow me to edify by sharing this illuminating passage:

Matthew 25: 31-40

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne...

Then the King will say to those on his right,

"Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For... I was a stranger and you invited me in..."

Then the righteous will answer him,

"Lord, when did we... see you a stranger and invite you in...?"

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

(This letter to Yio Chu Kang Chapel was published in their bulletin the weekend of 4/5 Aug 2018.)

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