2020: Sustained by Gazing on Christ and the Cross

a COVID-19 season career related testimony by Ivan Chan

Jesus, the Word

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14)

9 March 2020.  

I started a new job.

This was my story with God how He guided my career again during a turbulent season. The Covid-19 pandemic was accelerating globally. Like what the Israelites encountered during the wandering years in the desert, the prior season I was in was hot and dry. I was struggling, the fruits were not coming forth despite many seeds that were sown. Jesus sustained me daily as I gazed on the Word.

Meeting God Daily

These are the sacrifices you are to offer regularly on the altar. Each day offer two lambs that are a year old, one in the morning and the other in the evening.

“These burnt offerings are to be made each day from generation to generation. Offer them in the Lord’s presence at the Tabernacle entrance; there I will meet with you and speak with you. I will meet the people of Israel there, in the place made holy by my glorious presence.

and they will know that I am the Lord their God. I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them. I am the Lord their God.”

Exodus 29:38-39, 42-43, 46 NLT

These instructions God were found in the Pentateuch. God gave the instructions to Moses after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. It was in the wilderness. The environment was hot. Similarly, our lives go through different seasons. Some seasons are ‘hotter’ and ‘drier’ than others. Whether it is in the hot and dry seasons of life, or during blessed and harvest seasons, we take comfort God wants to meet and speak to us.

Just like Moses learnt in Exodus 29, I am reminded that each day, morning and night, God wishes to speak to us.  From generation to generation, God calls us to bring our sacrifices to him daily so that he can meet and speak with us. That’s what I did as I sought God for direction.

God Takes the Initiative

My 1st takeaway is that God takes the initiative to speak to us. He speaks all the time. He is the 1st mover. For example, God took the initiative to call out to Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” after they ate the forbidden fruit. God asked Cain where his brother was after Abel was killed. God gave instructions to Noah to build a boat. God called Abraham to leave the land of Haran. So, on 4 February 2020, God used a scripture to give me clear guidance on my next career move.

Sunday, 4 February

That morning, I was going through my 365 daily bible reading plan. The reading plan took me to the well-known story of Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20 and how he faced three enemy kings who wanted to destroy Judah. During that difficult situation, Scriptures tell us that Jehoshaphat and everyone in Judah resorted to fasting and prayer. As they sought God, the Spirit of God came upon Jahaziel, a Levite who told the people, “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by the mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out and face the enemy. Take your positions and stand still and watch God fight for you”.

When I read the scriptures that morning, I felt a jostle in my spirit. Faith rose in me that God was up to something. From the word, I believed in my heart that God was going to fight for me the coming week. Honestly, I thought it was just an encouraging story to meet the day to day life challenges for that week, but little did I know that God was going to lead me to a new job.

Interestingly, a recruiter had reached out to me a few days earlier on 31 January. The job description he shared to me was in my opinion ‘a perfect fit’. I was excited about the opportunity but didn’t know how or when the next steps would take place. On that 4 February Sunday evening, I told my family during our family devotion about Jehoshaphat.  I said if God was going to fight for us, we did not need to ‘help’ God. We just needed to believe and obey.

Monday. 5 February.

10am. My phone rang. The recruiter called me to say, “Hey Ivan! I’ve arranged an interview with you with the hiring manager on Wednesday for 30 mins. Can you make it?”.

I stopped in my tracks. I knew in my heart that God was indeed fighting for me and organizing the situation as I didn’t attempt to reach the recruiter or push him for an interview.

 “Yes”, I responded.

I told myself, just fold my arms and watch God fight for me.

Wednesday, 7 February.

2pm. I went for my 30-minute telephone interview. The hiring manager was a pleasant lady, and she asked me pointed questions about what I thought of the role. My answers were direct, and I could hear her mutter to herself in acknowledgement as she documented my answers. At the end of the 30 minutes chat, I was ecstatic when she told me she wanted me to progress further and wanted me to meet her management team. The recruiter later told me she screened 8 earlier applicants but none of them fit!

Thursday, 8 February.

I was leaving the house early in the morning when I received an excited WhatsApp message.  My recruiter said, “Hi Ivan. I got a message from the hiring manager at 1.00 am last night. She wants you to be interviewed by 4 of her team at 11am today. Face to face. Can you make it?”.

I quickly responded yes.

Wow, I thought. This was moving fast.

11am. I walked in to meet the company. After 2 hours of straight interviews, I watched and saw the situation unfold – the managing director gave me a verbal offer at the end of the interview! I was totally astounded that God had organized for me 5 interviews in a short span of 23 hours.

Friday, 9 February

8am. The hiring manager arranged for final discussions regarding the offer after receiving great feedback from yesterday’s interviews.

Monday, 11 February

2pm. I signed the offer letter exactly 3 working days from the very 1st interview on 7 February. The package was even higher than my current job. In my opinion, it was not normal to be interviewed by 5 people, negotiate, and sign an offer within 3 business days. The number 3 was significant as a friend later commented that Jehoshaphat took 3 days to collect the spoils!

God Speaks to Us Where We Are

The 2nd lesson I took away was that God speaks to us where we are. For example, God spoke to Joshua after the death of Moses. God took the initiative to appear to Gideon when he was hiding in a winepress. The beautiful story of Ruth with God’s fingerprint of care for the faithful. God heard the grumblings of the Israelites for a human king, and then spoke to Samuel to appoint Saul as the 1st king of Israel. God sent Samuel to search out and recruit David as the next king of Israel, despite David being written off in the eye of humans. God spoke to the good (and warned the bad) kings of Israel and Judah. Likewise, God instructed me on 4 February through a seemingly ‘ordinary’ quiet time I spent with Him.

During my season of dryness, I asked God to explain why the season was so ‘difficult’.

Why? Why? Why?

Like Job, I didn’t get a clear explanation from God. All I felt was the peace in my heart despite the struggle was the assurance, “Nothing would be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).  

God protected Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. God saved Daniel in the lion’s den. The prophetic books were full of stories of God’s saving grace, and God gave messages for the future. Similarly, God reminded me of a prophetic word that was given to my wife that confirmed the start date of my new job.

On 23 November 2019, my wife went up for prayers during an altar call at the end of our church service. Whilst praying for my wife, the guest speaker, a kind middle aged Singaporean man spoke to my wife and said, “I don’t know what this means, but ‘March 2020’”. That was all he said. My wife was not too sure what that meant, so she asked me when we got home.

She said, “Does that Pastor mean ‘much 2020’ or ‘March 2020’?”

I said, “Of course, it’s a date. It’s March 2020. In fact, I believe that God can give me a new job by March 2020”.

Since the prophetic word was released on 23 November, I hoped and kept a silent look out for job opportunities. However, like Jehoshaphat, I didn’t know what to do. Applying for jobs online was typically frustrating as it was like casting nets onto the ocean and hoping to catch something. In my experience, one seldom got interviews.

December 2019 rolled by. No opportunities. No interviews. Holidays came.

I started to wonder if I was being too presumptuous, and if I was arm twisting God to give me something I was seeking for. I told the Lord, “I hope I’m not being presumptuous about getting a job. But you know that to start a new job by March, I would need to resign by end of February at the very latest. Logically, I would need roughly 6 weeks at least to begin my interview process, negotiate and sign the offer. That would be January”.

January 2020 came. Silence.

No opportunities.

No interviews.

Suddenly and miraculously, a recruiter reached with a job opportunity on 31 January.

The word from 2 Chronicles 20 was released on 4 February.

As I shared earlier, I signed the offer on 11 February.

Guess when I started my new job?

Yes, you guessed it. “March 2020”.

Just like the date the man of God said to my wife back on 23 November.

3 Things I Learnt about God

The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it” (Isaiah 55:10).

#1. God takes the initiative to speak to you and me.

He took the initiative to give my wife a prophetic word in November. Following that, God took the initiative to use the story of Jehoshaphat to prepare me for the new job offer in February 2020.

#2. God speaks to you where you are.

Just like Moses, come before the presence of God and seek his word daily. During dry and thirsty seasons of life, be sustained by the refreshing word of God.

#3. Once you hear, obey.

I experienced God related to my workplace in a powerful way. When God takes the initiative to tell us or give us an instruction, just believe. Obey. Take God at face value, and let God fight for us like he did for Jehoshaphat.

God is present in our career and workplace. We will experience different seasons of life. The lesson is that we are sustained when we keep our eyes on Jesus and His Word.

A testimony of God’s power by Ivan Chan

31.05.2020

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