For four months, I had been struggling with God’s future for me in a university I was unfamiliar with, and the disappointments and hurts that came with it. I had very good results and I did not understand why God had not given me what I had wanted.
For the whole two years of IB, I have prayed so hard that I would get 43 points. My end goal: NUS Law. And when I finally got those points, I was so sure that my place in NUS had been secured. However, God planned otherwise, and as I saw rejection after rejection from the London schools on UCAS, my heart began to break. Nevertheless, I optimistically thought that maybe God REALLY wanted me to go to NUS and stay in Singapore.
And when NUS did not offer law, I broke down. I cried for three days and two nights. I grieved because now I had to go overseas and leave my family behind. I was so angry at God because He knew my desires, and yet did not fulfill them. As I watched as all my other friends got into their first choice school, I became more and more bitter. My faith, my grades and my hard work seemed to come to nothing.
I was wounded and I needed healing.
So during the Church camp, I waited for God, for Him just to tell me something, anything that would comfort me. Yet, the first and second day were gruelling. Family friends asked me where I was going, and my first response was always ‘You wouldn’t know where it is.’
Their words were not encouraging either:
‘Dur-Ham? Where is that? America or Britain?’
‘I see… Did you hear? My son/daughter got into NUS/SMU. It was their first choice… Where did you say you’re studying at again?’
So I sat there and smiled faintly. I had no defences for the school I was going to, no come-backs. Just as much as I knew Durham was a very reputable school, it felt like no one knew it in Singapore. ‘God, why.’ was the only thing I ever told God. No question mark to the statement because I really didn’t want to know His reason. Just a full stop because I didn’t want to look beyond the fact that I was not going to NUS.
On the third day of the camp, as I packed my violin away from congregational worship, Aunt Mei Ling (she did not know me at all then!) came up to me, ‘Do you know, God loves you very much, and He has given you everything and more’.
The phrase ‘everything and more’ touched me so much that I had to hold my tears till I reached the back of the room. Then I cried and cried. I cried because I had hurt God with my feelings of abandonment and accusations.
I cried because I never knew that God could care so much about me. He didn’t just slot me into a school because the rest were all getting filled up. He had designed my life, my experiences and my heart to be ready for His purpose.
I cried because all along, my heavenly Papa had been beside me, carrying me in His arms, and all I had ever done was to cry at the single set of footprints on the sand.
Now, I am prouder than ever of where I’m going to for university, because this is where God is calling me to, even though I don’t know what lies ahead, and I know God has done the same for everyone. In fact, on the last day of the Church camp, after God had called me to share this testimony, SO MANY people came up to me. ‘Isabel, I know where Durham is. In fact, some of my top notch lawyer friends studied there.’ At one point, I was even offered an internship! (which I kindly refused. Haha).
And when I sat down to reflect, I realised that God had called me all along to Durham. I remember a few hours after stepping out of the NUS Law interview, thinking of all the classes I would be attending there (and even what clothes I could wear to look smart!) and suddenly, I heard a voice in my head that was so loud and pressing: ‘I think you’re going to Durham’. Back then, I thought it was my mind and low self-esteem that was talking. Yet, now with hindsight, I realised that it was God. That still, quiet and comforting yet powerful and booming voice, was my very own God talking to me.
Indeed, God uses the weak for His glory. God uses the broken for His greater purpose.
If anyone of you feels like God has disappointed or abandoned you, or if you are dejected because of your circumstances, just remember that God has a higher calling for you. Do not ever, for a moment, think that He would not have given you what He wanted. He loves you so much! Jesus was subjected to the most painful death on earth by the people He loved the most, and yet, He did it for them.
It is just that He is building us up for something higher. We have a divine anointment.
And because we have that divine appointment, He has given us everything and more.
BUT God is faithful and He told me to go to Durham. It is God’s divine and anointed place for me and He uses the not-so-famous universities and places for His glory. It’s the end time and the last days. He is building us up for something far greater than we will ever know. Truly, we are to reach out to the ends of the earth – and not always the famous and prestigious ends of the earth.
Durham has been such a blessing to me. It has widened my life experiences and God has given me so many career opportunities that I just stop and stare at His blessings.
Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
you have done wonderful things,
things planned long ago.
A recent update on how I am is here: Everything