Seven years ago, as a single woman, I lived in a small Swiss village about forty minutes drive from Geneva, seeking ways to transition out of the mission organisation I was working with at that time.
I had a sense of staying in Switzerland, particularly in Geneva, but I didn’t know how. The only logical way I could think of was through securing a job. I prayed about it and felt the encouragement from God to do so. And I did.
I had never looked for a job up to that point since I joined the full-time ministry right after graduating from university. I had to prepare my very first CV from scratch. I sent it out to dozens of job openings, volunteered for NGOs and international conferences, met new friends, and waited.
Spring came and left before summer officially arrived. I heard nothing back.
My Swiss permit was to expire in September. I didn’t know where to go next.
“God, what do you want me to do now?” I had asked the question before I started to look for a job. I only acted on it after I felt a “yes”. Since no job opportunity came my way, I was utterly confused and doubted if I heard God right.
In John 10:10, Jesus said: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (ESV )
Often, we have misconceptions of this abundant life. We cheapen it to the money in our bank or followers on socials. Surely it would exempt us from sickness or hardships. And when life gets hard, we question God’s goodness: “I’ve believed in you and done well. Why me?”
I certainly had asked the kind of questions during that dry season of transitioning. I’d committed to full-time ministry since the age of 23. I’d been a good Christian. Now, all I wanted was a suitable job to live in Geneva, which I felt called to do. Why didn’t it happen? Did I do anything wrong?
In this episode of her podcast, I appreciated the host was teaching us that sometimes after we ask a question, we don’t get the answer right away, but instead, we get arrows pointing us to the next thing.
Looking back, I understand now that I didn’t do anything wrong. Searching for a job was an arrow for me at that particular time.
That arrow led me out of my comfort zone, my Christian circle, directed me into an unfamiliar, wider world where my belief and values were confronted and tested.
I got a little lost when mingling through conversations of status and luxury brands. But eventually, I found my way back. I remembered who I was and the larger purpose of my life.
In those long months of navigating and hustling, I was after an answer. But God was after the formation of my character and deeper surrender.
I’ve come to understand better the abundant life promised by Christ in John 10:10. It isn’t a promise of a pain-free, easy life, nor wealth or successful careers, but a promise of becoming whole, the most authentic version of ourselves. Those tensions in delayed gratifications stretch us to grow, bear fruit of the Holy Spirit and mould us into the vessels for God’s glory.
And isn’t growth the sign of life? The more we grow in Christ, the better we could grasp His purpose in every circumstance, the more abundant life and grace we would receive to become.
I didn’t get a job in Geneva because God had a better plan for me.
A Taiwanese pastor I met at a church retreat invited me to study at the seminary he had founded in Barcelona the following January. I was reluctant in the beginning but eventually said “yes” to that two-year program.
While working on the registration and visa application, a friend offered me a three months interpretation job for the training they ran—an excellent cushion to land as I was transitioning out of my current environment, which also provided me just the right length of Swiss visa extension.
Halfway into my study in Barcelona, I got engaged to a man I met during my job searching days in Geneva. After receiving my Master’s degree in Christian Studies, I moved back to Geneva as his wife two years after leaving that city.
A beautiful full circle. A story that didn’t exist in my anxious, fearful mind back in the days when I was desperately demanding an answer. But as I chose to surrender my desires and plans to God and willingly, without much understanding, follow the arrows, I got to watch His story about me unfold. What a privilege!
My friend, do you know you are also in His story? Sometimes, the circle is more extensive than what we imagined, and we aren’t able to connect the dots because the story hasn’t finished yet. But we already know the very end of the story, don’t we? Since the creation of the world, it has been destined with a good ending.
“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. ” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT)