By Carolyn Soong
After I started my working career as a young marketing graduate, I climbed the corporate ladder very quickly. I was offered the position of Merchandising Manager only after three years into my career. I was the youngest manager appointed in the multinational company I was with. As a greenhorn, it was not easy for me because of my age; moreover there was much talk[LT1] in the office on whether I will make or break it. As it got to me, I certainly did not want to lose an embarrassing battle of failure and “losing face,” so much so that I often conformed to the ways of the world to earn my place. I repeatedly told myself that I cannot fail and must do all it takes to succeed and to prove my worth. My heart was hard like steel and it had no place for spiritual matters.
The course of my life started to turn when I entered motherhood. Perhaps it was the beginning of God’s way to show a then unbeliever like me that there are greater, more powerful things at hand – Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
It was very challenging to juggle between the demands of work and the demands of my young toddlers. During that time, I was already on a regional role that required me to travel extensively. I recalled an incident when I was due to travel and be away again for two weeks. As our stay-in maid, Ras, was helping me to load my travel luggage into the airport taxi, 2-year-old Isabelle thought that Ras was the one leaving and she began to wail profusely. Ras hurried back to cuddle Isabelle in her arms and she was immediately comforted. I bid her goodbye and planted kisses on her, but she did not shed a tear. My heart was deflated and I felt devasted. I cried silently throughout that trip and berated myself for the attachment my daughter had with Ras and not with me. Eight months after that episode, I wrapped up my career and finally bid farewell to the corporate world to focus my efforts on raising my children, raising them well.
Peter, my husband, came home from work one day telling me about an invitation he received from brother Koay to attend a church service at the Klang Church of Christ. We enrolled the girls for the Sunday School programme whilst Peter and I began to study the Word of God, through brother John Quek, who patiently nourished our nascent faith for two years. In all honesty, the initial lessons were the hardest because I had so many doubts; I questioned “Is this for real?”. As aptly described in 1 Corinthians 2:16 “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I suppose consistency and perseverance was the key in keeping the momentum going. Over time, I begin to cherish every session when we dug deep into the Bible, cross-referencing verses and the teachings of Jesus, reconciling teachings in the New Testament with the accounts in the Old Testament. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” – Romans 10:17.
We also observed that our daughters have learned a lot of positive things through the Sunday School programme one of which was their ability tell stories of many biblical characters such as Abraham, Moses, Joseph and Jesus. Through these teachings, good habits are being instilled into their young hearts, with a hope that they will shape their moral foundation and lead them to obedience as they continue to grow up as children of God. In today’s society, our children are constantly exposed and bombarded with so many types of influences from social media and friends. We cannot block them out entirely from these vulnerabilities but thankfully we have the Word of God as our key authority to rely upon and to fall back on. Whenever the children get “off-course,” we address the issue by guiding their hearts and mind back to Jesus’ teachings. We constantly pray and hope that they will not depart from them – Proverbs 22: 6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
It has been five years since our baptism and as the Word of God begins to take a deeper root into our hearts, I have come to realise that our behaviour, our thought process, how we live our daily lives, what we say, and how we respond to challenges – all have naturally transformed over time. It was like Saul, when he accepted and believed in Jesus Christ, the scales fell off from his eyes and he could see for the first time – his outlook on life and worldview changes. Looking back, I can affirm that becoming a Christian has renovated my heart and made it new; just as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” I have now learnt to put God first in all things that I do. When confronted with challenges in life, I am constantly reminded of Jesus’ teachings and how He would have dealt with the matter and how I should too as in 1 Peter 2: 21-25 “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
As I am now “born again”, with my heart renovated, renewed and transformed – a new way of living opened up for me and I am forever thankful to have known the enduring word. 1 Peter 1:22 “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever”