In July 2018, the world watched and waited with bated breath as the Tham Luang cave rescue got underway. The goal was to pull 13 Wild Boars – 12 boys and their football coach – out of the cave before time ran out.
As I followed the developments of the rescue with fierce loyalty, the Lord began to show me lessons I could draw from almost anonymous characters in this high-profile episode.
Amid the many heroes on scene, I was most intrigued and inspired by two brilliant cave rescue divers who personified calmness and courage in the face of danger.
Rick Stanton and John Volanthen were the British cave diving experts who first located the boys after they had gone missing for nine days.
Volanthen’s role in the rescue fascinated me: He was an IT consultant who had a passion in cave diving.
He was quoted as saying: “I dive for passion and always wondered if it would have purpose. Last two weeks was what I prepared for my entire life.”
And that got me thinking. God created us for a purpose, but do we know what that purpose is? Having passions is great, but knowing our Kingdom assignment – our real purpose – is key.
Realigning with Christ
I know what it feels like to be misaligned with God’s purpose for me.
However, I did not realise it – how misaligned I was in my body, soul and spirit – until I literally collapsed onto the floor in the 5th floor car park of Plaza Singapura.
I was wheeled to the accident and emergency department, and was subsequently diagnosed with a slipped disc.
During my recuperation, I had no regular income but I had regular quiet time with God. It was during this time that God showed me how misaligned my life had been.
Reflecting on my 15 years as an educator, I realised that I had been running on the performance treadmill and relying on my own strength to accomplish things. No wonder my body protested. I was burnt out.
God whispered to me that I was called out to be in alignment with what He wants to do in this season. I was to be anything but aimless. I wanted to finish strong and to be able to say I had done what God had assigned me to do.
As I focused on intimacy with God, my body began to recover, as my soul and spirit were restored. I also began to receive assignments from Him.
God said to say ‘no’ to teaching and ‘yes’ to writing. That was challenging because I would have no regular income.
But as I learnt to obey Him, He encouraged me. When my second book, Precious Moments in the Wilderness, was published, I received encouraging reports of how the book had been a blessing.
One email from a caregiver excited my heart: She was reading my teaching anecdotes from my first book, Precious Moments of a Teacher, to a 77-year-old retired lady suffering from dementia. Usually unresponsive, this lady began to move her hands and a smile appeared on her face.
The caregiver told me how encouraging it was to see her patient progress; she was prompted to write to encourage me. I knew in my heart then that God was affirming my obedience.
In choosing Kingdom assignments, I was experiencing unspeakable joy and a sense of purpose amid challenges.
I began to do things differently. I learnt to let God empower me and to work from a posture of rest. That meant having to completely trust Him and obey Him – not relying on my own strength or wisdom.
I have been awakened! I do not want to go back to sleep again.
A different perspective
Being awakened to God’s assignment in your life does not necessarily mean you have to quit what you are currently doing in search of something else.
I have always loved my friend Siew Hoon’s story. After seeing motherhood as a God-given Kingdom assignment, her perspective changed completely.
She began to see her children through the eyes of Jesus. She started praying God’s will for them and learned to surrender them to the will of God and to trust Him.
She also began to see her role as a daughter-in-law as her Kingdom assignment. As she cooked dinner for her parents-in-law, she cooked it with love and learnt to make sacrifices for them. She testified that this really made a difference.
The Lord encouraged her that by doing so, she was impacting them for Jesus. Her life became purposeful. She is no longer an aimless Christian.
Growing in the waiting
However, waiting for God to reveal your Kingdom assignment is not always easy.
Between the years 2013 and 2016, after my resignation as a school teacher and as I was recovering from a burnout, I entered a season of the wilderness.
While the first three years of waiting for my Kingdom assignments were bearable, I started to become impatient at the beginning of 2016.
At the time, the dean at Tung Ling Bible School (TLBS) had asked me to enrol in a three-month leadership course there.
I had taken it to mean that God was providing a stepping stone to transit into His assignment for me. Upon graduation from TLBS, however, God appeared to be silent.
I questioned Him how long I must wait. The Lord answered me: “It’s not about how long you wait, Lay Leng. It is how well.”
In my five years serving God in Archippus Awakening, a movement that sounds a clarion call to Christians to align themselves with God’s will, I have observed that many want to know their God-given Kingdom assignments.
But many (like I was) may not be willing to wait.
Yet it is in the waiting that I am changed from running on my own strength to resting in His love. In the waiting, my soul is purged from self-fulfilment.
As my soul shifts towards security in Christ, my spirit rekindles with joy. I learn to depend on God and not take things into my own hands. I learn to dealign from self and align with Christ.
As Psalm 40:1b says: “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.”
I am encouraged that God can inspire delays to accomplish something for His purposes actually only achievable in the delay. But the Lord Himself shall bring to pass all that He has purposed and promised for His glory.
What is the delay you face? Perhaps you are discouraged that you are not going to receive your God-given Kingdom assignments.
Take heart. As He did for me, He will do the same for you.
As you focus on the aligning, He will do the assigning. As you wait, wait well.
So, how should we wait well? Allow me to share three tips.
Faithfulness in the waiting
Obey whatever God has asked you to do. Even in the small things, be faithful. As you wait for Him, know that He may be waiting for you. Have you obeyed His last instruction for you? Listen to Oswald Chambers’ words of wisdom: “When you know that you should do something and you do it, immediately you know more.”
Surround yourself with Kingdom people. Besides coming back into intimacy with God, I cultivated Kingdom friendships. I prayed relentlessly with various friends, even as we connected over tea and waffles. Nourish your body, soul and spirit. Let family and friends love you.
Don’t abort the process. Embrace it. God is in control of the timing. The story goes that a boy snipped off a bit of a cocoon when he perceived that the struggling butterfly needed help to emerge. The butterfly did emerge easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shrivelled wings. The butterfly’s struggling was nature’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, making it ready for flight.
Are you struggling while waiting? Something beautifully strong is emerging from the wait.
And finally, I leave you with another insightful word from Oswald Chambers: “Beware of paying attention or going back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something that you have never been.”
This excerpt was edited from Lay Leng’s most recent book, Precious Moments on Assignment, and is republished with permission. Precious Moments on Assignment is available to purchase online from $10.