To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. (Ecc. 3: 1)
The first time I read these words was when I was in college. My dormmate came to my room carrying a card. She had been crying. A lot. She showed me the card. Inside, I read her boyfriend’s (my close friend and classmate) letter, explaining why he was breaking up with her. In the front of the card, these words (and the one above) were written:
…A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to love, and a time to hate… (Ecc. 3: 5,8)
I read the words many times, taking in their wonder. They were beautiful words, but I was also in awe of the meaning they carried, how they had utterly devastated my dormmate’s heart.
It would be more than two decades later when these same words would come back to me. And in the more-than-seven-years of my “season of anonymity”, may I add these lines to Ecclesiastes 3:
A time to soar, and a time to be at rest;
A time to work, and a time to retire;
A time of being known, and a time of being hidden.
At thirty-years-old, I put up my own company single-handedly. Through hardwork, sweat and tears, it grew to an entity that couldn’t be ignored in the local cosmetics industry. I became known to be the youngest among a roster of successful female (as well as male) owners and bosses in the industry. My company took a large share of the market, and it also became a forerunner in promoting the latest functional cosmetics ingredients.
But for me, it wasn’t the bit of fame that drove me. I loved what I did. I believed it was the “perfect place” for me. It was a passion.
But one day, God took all my health and strength, leaving only a thin breath in my nostrils, and a great fear that made me tremble to the core.
My time of anonymity had begun.
A Time of Reading and Studying
The first two years of my physical suffering were spent studying the Word of God. (Please read also My Profile to better understand my conversion). There wasn’t much else to do, being unable to leave my bed most of the time. And I believed that it was the best thing to do. I believed that if I immersed myself in the Word, I’d find healing.
When I was too weak or dizzy to hold and read my Bible, I’d ask somebody to read the verses and chapters for me.
During these times, I begged the Lord Jesus to heal me and let me go back to work. How I had missed my work! But the suffering continued and there came a time that I instructed my beloved husband and househelps to unhook the telephone and not to receive any visitor except the pastoral workers who often came to pray and lay hands on me.
In a moment of time, my life was turned from a known figure in our industry to complete anonymity.
A Time of Learning ang Growing
After two years of being sick, I received healing from the Lord Jesus, though not completely. But I was so thankful that I was strong enough to travel to nearby provinces to attend crusades launched by our Church.
Buoyed by my regained health and strength, I desired to go back to work, though not full-time. (My husband took over the company few years prior). I began to make short visits to our office, interviewing, meeting, and discussing with staff. I started studying new technical materials.
But I felt in my heart that it wasn’t the will of God. So I begged Him to let me go back to work, even for just a few hours every week. I couldn’t imagine myself not doing the work (which had brought me much fulfillment) for the rest of my life.
But the answer was a resounding “NO”.
The hardest and most painful decision I had to make in the entire 39 years of my life was to give up my career, my work (this was in January 2007). Desiring to keep my life and receive complete healing, I vowed to the Lord that I wasn’t going back to work. I acquiesced to His will, and shed much tears in the process.
This was the season of hard learning, putting into action the Word that I had read and studied. Obedience. Studying the Word was one thing, living it was entirely another. My delicate state of health would be challenged time and again, the Lord Jesus never allowing me to miss learning each lesson.
The times that seem to be the hardest are the ones that shape us into what God has purposed for us. And the melting, reshaping, and molding processes of the Potter are hard…
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62)
A Time of Waiting and Trusting
After I made my vow, I got pregnant and later on gave birth to our second child – a beautiful son. It was an unexpected gift in my season of hiddenness, but one that was most desired and thanked for. After this, it would be another two years of waiting for what the Lord had planned for me. I had believed that all that giving up of a much-cherished work would be replaced by a grander one. One that He Himself had planned.
The days, weeks , and months dragged on. One day, feeling so “barren”, so “not-in-use”, I cried out to the Lord, begging Him to give me something to do, something meaningful and fulfilling.
The time of waiting and trusting is a practice of faith and patience.
A Time of Receiving and Using the Gift
(This topic is discussed in detail in In His Time).
God has appointed the times and seasons of our lives. Whatever season we go through, whether a season of celebration or a season of hiddenness, God purposed it all for our growth. The seasons bring only one thing – CHANGE.
After a long time, I realized that with God, all times are valuable times. No time is unimportant. And for me, the times of hiddenness, of obscurity, are the times of genuine living.
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