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  • Christina Yap

Embracing the Seasons


ray hennessy, unsplash

I started out as a 9 year-old who accepted Jesus as my Saviour in Sunday School. It was a simple understanding that I am a sinner and Jesus saves me from hell and that because of Him, I can go to heaven. 


As I reflect back on my 48 years of journeying with Jesus, I am able to clearly recall significant transitions that took place in my walk with Him as my Saviour and Lord. These transitions helped me gain a deeper understanding that accepting Jesus as my Saviour is not just about being saved, but that it is the start of a relationship between me, a created being, and Him, my Creator/Saviour and that He has much more in store for my life than just being saved from hell.


If I can describe my life using the four seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter), I would say that when I was in my “spring seasons”, I was bubbling with enthusiasm serving in the worship team, teaching in Sunday school and sharing the gospel to people. During my “summer seasons”, I was passionate about wanting to know Christian doctrines, read the bible, pray and go on mission trips and even wanted to serve God full-time. But when it came to the “autumn seasons”, those were the times when I kind of just cruised along as a Sunday Christian, not thinking much about what it meant to be saved. I was busy with my earthly life journey and like most people, my focus was on getting a good grade in school, finding a job, getting married and starting a family. During this phase, I was content to simply attend church on Sundays.



 


Then came the “winter seasons” of my life. Looking back, I know that  I would not have survived them if not for the grace of Jesus. It was in those harsh “winter seasons” that my faith was tested and that significant transitions took place in my walk with Jesus.


The first “winter season” was in 1999. I was attending a bible study and we were going through the book of Romans, which convicted me that Christ was the only way. The irony was that it was in the midst of my growing commitment that tragedy struck.  My daughter was diagnosed with autism in the year 2000 when she was only 22 months old.

My mind went in circles as I kept asking God questions such as ‘Why me?’, ‘How do I pray for healing?’. 

In the midst of this desperate period of time, I had a fresh experience of God at a Freedom & Wholeness seminar in church. What the Bible described as a gift of the Holy Spirit became real for me. A part of this was the ability to pray in a new language I did not formally learn. This marked a significant transition for me as a Christian. A spiritual dimension to know God was opened to me, not just mere knowledge of bible verses in my head nor feelings in the heart. It was deeper. When I began to read the bible, not only did certain verses “jump out of the page” and “speak” to me very personally, I also sensed “words” being dropped into my head in my times of prayer.


One such time took place when my daughter was 11 years old. That was the year I made the heartbreaking decision to take her out of a mainstream school and enrolled her in St Andrew’s Autism Centre (SAAC).  I was shocked when I saw the unusual behaviour of the other people with autism there. One day, when I was at the beach with my daughter, I asked God how He could let my daughter be in such an environment. Wouldn’t she be “tainted" by the others’ behaviour?  As I was talking to God in my heart at the beach, I clearly sensed God telling me in my spirit that  “I took the same ‘risk’ when I sent My sinless Son to come into this sinful world.” Those words changed my whole perspective on how I view the people with autism in SAAC. Instead of fearing that my daughter’s development would be “tainted” in that environment, I became proactive in raising awareness for autism because I could fully understand the grief and frustration of the parents whose children were also enrolled in SAAC. I didn’t realise it, but God was enlarging my heart and growing my compassion.



 


Another “winter season” was in the year 2002. I was shocked to discover that the third child whom I had recently given birth to was also a child with special needs, despite all my fervent prayers and those of my godly Christian sisters in church. When I realised that, I thought that with my spiritual experience in 2000, I could surmount all challenges.  But I was wrong. The amount of tears I cried, the mental and physical exhaustion I reached during that “winter season” was beyond description.

God wanted me to go on to grow and not rely on past "success" as my security.

As I raised two children with special needs, I reached a point when I realised that all my wrestling with God like Jacob only exhausted me. This was when another significant transition in my Christian life took place when I learnt to stop wrestling with God and surrender and submit to Him.


When I surrendered and submitted to God, He showed me how to keep walking in faith – by resting in the awesome power of what Christ accomplished through His Cross. That work is so cosmic and powerful, and it is for me to keep discovering it as I lean into Jesus as the Author and Finisher of my faith. One of its effects is the freedom I have to freely go to God the Father in prayer without shame. With this, I no longer have the kind of inner turmoil I previously experienced. I feel rested internally even during the mentally and physically exhausting times of raising my two children with special needs.

   


 


Most recently, I am experiencing care for my unique self as I converse with God about what I read in His Word and am getting insights that stabilise and strengthen me. I tend to ask questions, and it is so comforting to know God is patient to answer me as I mature.


At the time of this writing, another significant transition has taken place in my life, thankfully without another harsh “winter season” to bring about the transition.

 

I hope that my sharing stirs within you a desire to encounter Jesus as your Saviour and grows in you a desire to know Him more because He wants to offer saved souls a far greater life than what we can see with our human eyes. 


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