At the blink of an eye, we are already on the 21st day of Lent, which also marks the beginning of the second half of the Lenten season. Thank you for your continued participation and journeying with us. May the second half of this retreat symbolize our entry into the second half of our lives, or rather, the beginning of a new chapter in our lives!
People often say that in order to succeed in life, whether at school or at work, the key is to have a head start, or to “win at the starting line”! So, how should we plan and prepare ourselves in the marathon of faith and spiritual life in order to ultimately receive the crown of life? Where is our “starting line”?
On the thirteenth day of the retreat, we mentioned that our ability to live with dignity depends on whether we can “stay awake”.
As we were created in the image of our Heavenly Father, we possess unmatched dignity, which we cannot deny! Therefore, living with dignity is not only our calling but also our responsibility!
We must also humbly acknowledge that we cannot learn to “stay awake” on our own. We need a teacher. But who on earth is more qualified than God, who created us, to assume this role as our teacher? Moreover, everyone of us was individually created as God’s masterpiece, but not made in cookie-cutters! We each have unique features and personalities, endowed with different charisms, born and raised in different families, destined to live and serve in different environments, and given different graces and life experiences in order to accomplish missions that others cannot bear. It can be said that each of us is unique, with our own distinct characteristics, whether they are strengths or weaknesses.
This “uniqueness” is the reason why no one can take our place! That is to say, our roles and missions are set apart and tailor-made for us, that no one else can “wear them” or “fit into” them better than we do.
Therefore, our relationship with God, who created us, is also unique. In the eyes of the Father, no one can replace our identity and role in His heart. We are not dispensable in the eyes of our Father. Our Heavenly Father deeply cares about whether we can live with joy and meaning, have a personal relationship with Him, and bear fruit in our lives. No one is excluded!
Therefore, there is no “divine handbook or blueprint” that can serve as a reference for building a personal relationship with the Heavenly Father and for us to master the techniques to remain fully awake. You may ask, “What about the Bible? Isn’t it The Book from above?” Yes, the Bible is the Word of God and it indeed can be considered a divine handbook. However, simply studying the Bible without living out its teachings will not make a lot of difference in our lives! Only when we use the Bible as a means of communicating and praying with the Heavenly Father, can this divine book have an impact on us. In other words, nothing, and no one in this world can take our place to go back to the Father, personally ask Him why He created us, His hopes and dreams for us when we were created, how we can personally relate to Him, what qualities we have yet to discover in ourselves, what He expects of us, our unique calling and mission, and so on.
This personal “instruction manual” for life cannot be obtained elsewhere.
We must turn to our Heavenly Father, meet with Him one-on-one to obtain this life manual, which is tailor-made for us individually, teaching us to live our lives fully awake and with purpose!
That is why we proclaimed yesterday that this extremely important encounter with our Heavenly Father is not only a turning point in our lives, but it can even be considered as the “starting point of our lives”.
I bet you would understand that if we want to “win at the starting line” on our journey of “learning to live,” we need to turn to the Heavenly Father early on. We should not continue to blindly move forward without a clear understanding of our own “instruction manual” for life, thus wasting our precious lives!
Is the direction of your life clear? If there is a mentor in your life who could guarantee your success, would you be willing to seek His advice?
Have you ever taken a wrong turn in your life? Do you wish to have a life with more purpose and clearer goals?
Have the things you once pursued in your life changed? Do you desire what God desires for you?
Our Father in heaven, I am so grateful for Your constant and never-ending acceptance, patience and grace in my life. Even when I have taken wrong turns or strayed from Your will for me, You have always been there, waiting for me, and have never left or forsaken me. How could I ever deserve such a blessing? Please grant me the greatest determination to return to You, to find in You my true self and be able to understand clearly Your original purpose for me. I pray that from now on, I will live with greater clarity and purpose, so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me! I pray this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.