Experiencing God’s presence
in early morning walk at Labrador Nature Reserve
“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” – Exodus 33:14.
When amid life’s busy thronging,
Wearied and lonely you sigh,
All the world’s glamouring pleasures
Only deceive and enchain
True and unperishing treasures
There seek ye ever in vain
Hark, on the list’ning ear falling
Comes a word tender and true
List to a gentle voice calling,
Bringing a message for you.
THESE WORDS from the beautiful song “Whispering Hope” prompted a group of 28 women from the Methodist Church of the Incarnation Women’s Society of Christian Service to take time off from their usual routines to spend time walking and listening to God. The venue was Labrador Nature Reserve and the appointed time was Saturday morning, March 31, 2012. The event was named “Walk In His Light”.
At 4 am that morning, loud claps of thunder and flashes of lightning woke me. The heavy storm continued as the women met in church at 7 am. My heart sank as only half of the group turned up. In our preparations for the walk, we had prayed for good weather, yet God chose to send us a storm.
However, believing that God always has good reasons, we worshipped Him and prayed for one another. We prayed for an enriching encounter with God, and a special message from Him for each one of us.
As the storm abated to a drizzle, we made our way to Labrador. Some more participants had turned up and some met us at the venue, making the total 25.
Labrador Nature Reserve is a beautiful place, an oasis of tranquillity and natural wonder. The park offers a picturesque view of the sea. There are many shaded areas for relaxation, reflection and meditation.
There are well-paved paths along the seafront, and a path on the edge of a secondary forest provides a prime view of the cliff side vegetation coupled with a panoramic view of the sea. Songs can be heard from a variety of bird species. The presence and handiwork of God is seen and felt.
Besides the rich biodiversity, this headland played a significant role in the history of Singapore during World War II. Remnants of the past, such as the tunnels and a fort, are there. Military installations were built on the highest points inside the nature reserve and statues of soldiers looking out for invaders offer a peep into the past.
The new elevated boardwalk connecting the Labrador MRT Station to the reserve, and over the water to the promenade at Keppel Bay, offers us the opportunity to “Walk on Water” whilst feet can remain dry on firm ground. This reminds me of God providing a path for Joshua and the Israelites to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land. (Joshua 3:17)
The women brought their Bibles, meditation and devotion booklets and journals. After the walk, they shared freely. Many felt that the rain was a blessing as it was very cool and not humid. The walk was indeed enjoyable, pleasant and leisurely.
Did we hear from God that day? We were reminded that God speaks to us in many ways, through the Word, through nature, through anointed speakers, through circumstances and so on, but in order to hear from Him, we need to focus and not take Him for granted. We wanted this encounter to be a time of listening to Him, and not to be filled with our own requests.
One participant shared that she was in the middle of work stress, and was reminded of David’s cries to the Lord in Psalms. This assured her of God’s presence and that He is in control.
Another read in her devotion Romans 8:38 that nothing would be able to separate us from the love of God. Yet another, in trying to pull a small creeper, was surprised at the tenacity of the plant in clinging on to its host. This reminded her that we need to cling to Jesus the true vine (John 15:4).
One brought a beautiful leaf but it had a parasite and she thought of those who are suffering, ill or going through cancer treatments. Surely in these circumstances they need God, their loving Father and healer. Another picked up a fallen flower, which reminded her of our fleeting life on earth (Psalm 103:15-16). We should treasure our time here, invest in heaven and look towards eternity.
On that morning, God sent His messages of love and grace, a wonderful reminder in our multi-tasking and stressful lives.
Our Pastor-in-Charge, the Rev Derek Lau, came to join us for lunch and fellowship. The morning ended with warm fellowship and bonding. Those who came were truly blessed with the experience of the presence of God, and the encouragement of the testimonies so freely shared.
Kathryn Ong is an Associate Lay Leader in the Methodist Church of the Incarnation and the Discipleship and Nurture Coordinator of the Trinity Annual Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service.