Tan Lay Leng
After more than 15 years of teaching, I resigned from the Ministry of Education in 2013 and enrolled myself into Tung Ling Bible School. Upon my graduation from the School of Ministry, pain greeted me.
It snapped at my back so suddenly and aggressively, I could not react. I slumped onto the floor. I could not sit up, so I laid down sideways. I had just parked my car on Deck 5 at Plaza Singapura. Whenever I heard someone locking their car, I called for help. No one heard me. I saw a couple walk out of their car diagonally in front of me. I thought they would have seen me, but they walked off.
I reached for my mobile phone and called a friend. Seven of us were meeting for dinner. Two early birds came, but could not locate me. One of them called me and finally found me next to my car rear tyre. They later told me that when they were attending to me, a vehicle reversed into the empty lot beside my car. We were in the driver’s blind spot. Thank God they were there to stop the driver. Thank God for protecting me.
The pain was excruciating and I could not get back to the car to lie down. My friends summoned the ambulance. I was wheeled to the Accident & Emergency (A&E) department at Singapore General Hospital, with pain pulling on my back.
A long night began at A&E. Any slight movement would induce pain. Being X-rayed was painful. Putting on the diapers was painful. Lying on the bed was painful. I was thoroughly exhausted, but I could not sleep. I was told my painkiller was already very strong and the dosage could not be increased. I could not remember how I passed the night. Morning did come.
I had suffered a relapse of my slipped disc. The running on the performance treadmill when I was teaching was taking a toll on my physical body. And my spiritual walk.
I did not know then, that I would be slipping into my Heavenly Father’s love.
“Therefore I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14
From 2013 to 2015, as I recuperated from my lower back pain, I grabbed back my intimacy with God.
In the wilderness, I experienced God in a deeper and more profound way.
Having the luxury of time, I kept reading and journalling promises from His Word, from the classic Streams in the Desert devotionals and from many other reading sources. My inner being strengthened even as many times I became aware of how I had used my own strength trying to do the Lord’s work. God kept encouraging me to patiently endure. He would not withhold any good thing from me.
He also raised friends to provide superb hospitality. They had countless chats over tea with me and sent encouraging stories and scriptures to our chat group. I was loved into my second year in the wilderness. I was lavished with extravagance. I made several overseas trips to visit friends who were doing missions work in Japan, Korea and China.
At the start of the third year without a regular income, I succumbed to the temptation of making things happen in my own strength. I applied to teach in a school and was given a verbal acceptance. The very next day, I received a call. The school decided to offer the post to another candidate. When this door closed, I experienced mixed feelings. Of excitement that God had something else in mind for me. But at the same time questioned Him: “How long I must wait?
God began to open my eyes at the seminars and conferences I attended that waiting is good for me because I had the time to seek Him to know what He wants me to do and to go do it! When I play my part, together with other awakened ones in the body of Christ, we are aligned with God’s kingdom purposes and we then move on our God-given kingdom assignments.
I began to speak at great length with my prayer partners about what it means to be the Church, what God’s heart for the Church is, and my horizons widened. God surfaced many ungodly beliefs I had, which I must put to death. He opened my eyes to see that a “good” Christian is not necessarily one who is serving God actively in church. In fact, they may be doing 10 activities and miss their assignment from God.
In the desert, over a span of three years, other deaths happened. My aunt-in-law breathed her last, bowing to cancer. Barely less than a month later, I lost two colleagues to the Mount Kinabalu earthquake. One was a friend. We had many quality conversations. I was prompted to ask him for a catch-up session but procrastinated. Then a cousin passed on. And I grappled with the death of a 12-year-old girl suffering from cancer whose video I watched at a prayer meeting that robbed so many of my tears.
At the same time, a birth took place. I documented my wilderness journey in a book Precious Moments in the Wilderness, published in 2016. It has blessed hearts of readers who wrote to share how my wilderness journey has encouraged them to press on to see God’s purposes in their own journey.
Today, I write Archippian stories of everyday, ordinary believers – Archippuses – who go about quietly and passionately to do what God has asked them to do. Their successes and struggles encourage my own heart.
I may not be receiving a regular income, like in my days of teaching. But I learnt what it means to work from a posture of rest and trust in God. There is no need to perform, no need to strive when we work from a posture of that relationship of love with God.
Also, I pray together with a small group of young adults from different churches whom I have got to know through Archippus Awakening, an eleventh-hour message that encourages saints in the body of Christ to seek God for His kingdom assignment for us that we may fulfil it. We have been praying for their generation to do just that, so that we will be anything but aimless.
In this precious journey, I have cried out countless times, “LORD, help us! Help us pray Your heart. Help us pray kingdom.”
As I stepped into the year 2020, God has been bombarding me with messages on sowing seeds. A prophetic-artist friend, Lynette Ong, used her drawing of a bird with a haversack of seeds, sowing them onto a field to encourage me that:
“Those who sow in tearsPsalms 126:5-6
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.”
As I am writing this, I start to tear. I hear the words of the Holy Spirit. He said, “Lay Leng, pour your heart out to the young adults. Work the soil.” Without knowing what I have gotten myself into, I have responded, “Hineni”, here I am in Hebrew.
What does it mean to work from a posture of rest? Our lack of rest or inability to rest can be good indicators that we have relied on ourselves more than we have relied on the Lord’s enablement. Have you been tired, cranky and irritable?
Ps Henson writes in Alignment Check, “A personal Alignment Check will quickly reveal that I have compromised in my time with the Lord, the true source of empowerment. Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to get back on track. A conscious effort to rest – to pause, to pray, to read, to worship – and I am connected with Him once more.”
Schedule time for a break. Seek the Lord. Stay connected with the Source of Power.
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About Lay Leng
Lay Leng loves ice cream waffles, the colour purple and drawing in her journal. She writes and edits stories for Archippus Awakening.