Out In The Fields With God
By Ma. Norma L. Plata
The author is a member of Christ the King Association International – Asian Region, popularly known in the Philippines as Ligaya ng Panginoon. She has been a lay missionary in Thailand for six years now. Here she shares with us how she discovered where God was calling her.
In 1983 I experienced a great stirring in my heart to serve the Lord full-time. After three years of discernment, I left my banking career and joined the mission team in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, a few months later. After two years in Mindanao, the Lord led me to a church-based NGO, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA). Then in February 1991, I worked full time for Lingkod ng Panginoon. They were seven years of the most memorable moments of my life.
In my younger years, becoming a missionary never crossed my mind. As a teenager, going to Mass on Sundays and even during special seasons of the Church was more of an obligation and sometimes a burdensome duty that I had to meet. By the time I reached college, though, I told myself, ‘This is more serious stuff now, I should have a long-term guiding vision for my life from now on.’ After giving it some thought, I decided that I would pursue a stable, successful career after graduation. By that I meant possessing a high position in the corporate world and BIG money. For the first time in my young life, I felt so much in control.
Pain of failure
Until fourth year enrolment came, when I saw all my plans – together with my future – crumble right before my eyes. I wasn’t issued a clearance for enrolment because, for the first time since I entered school, I had failed in a subject. It was one that required very little effort to pass, or so I had convinced myself. Dazed and pained, I pondered upon why things were happening the way they were. In an instant, even aiming for the lowest level of recognition and honors at graduation had become an ‘unreachable star.’
No total control
Slowly but surely, I began to see change taking place at the very core of my being: my priorities and values, my view of God, my whole perspective of the future that lay before me. I realized that my great fear for my future and source of anxiety was the fact that I had wanted so much to be control of my life. Further realizing that the root cause was my lack of faith and trust in God’s unconditional and immeasurable love and perfect wisdom, I began to pray that God increase my faith, to know Him and His love even more personally, so that I might love and trust Him more, and through this, make others know and love Him as well.
The path I chose
The Lord has never failed to respond favorably. In hindsight, this prayer actually opened the way for God to prepare me to respond to His call and make life-changing decisions, as I learned to submit my life more and more fully to Him. By 1997, I was consecrated to live the single life for the Lord permanently. I once again said yes to Him and faced a new turning point: Thailand was to be my next mission field, with Genesis 12, the call of Abraham to go to a foreign land, as the Lord’s personal word for me.
His will, not mine
More than once, my friends and family have commented, ‘Norma, nakakatakot naman ang mga desisyong ginagawa mo (that’s a scary decision you’re making).’ Each time I reflected on their reactions to my decision I came up with the same answer: perhaps if I had not known and experienced God and His love personally, it would certainly have been a daunting step to take. But I had experienced Him as Scripture describes Him and I clung to His promise: ‘I‘I know the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe, plans to give you a future full of hope (Jer. 29:11).
I’m glad that after all those plans I set for myself, God’s own plan and will found a place in my heart.