It started as a whisper.
I first heard of World Youth Day in 2015. I was part of a choir and during a short break, my friend and I were chatting.
“Have you heard of World Youth Day?” She asked me from out of the blue.
My eyebrows scrunched as I dug into the pits of my memory.
World Youth Day? Nope…doesn’t ring a bell! This must be a newly declared holiday in the UAE!
Hahaha…oops! I was completely off the mark! Excited to take a break from work, I grinned and asked her:
“No, not really. Is this a holiday? When will it take place?”
She laughed and said:
“No, it’s not a holiday. It’s a pilgrimage. This one will take place next year, in Poland. If you are interested, you can apply as a pilgrim. I promise you, you won’t regret it. It’s a life-changing experience”
She then further explained what World Youth Day was about. It was a pilgrimage that was open for the youth and organized by the Catholic church. One of the points that she highlighted was that it was a unique opportunity to encounter Christ and to deepen your faith with thousands of youth across the world. Additionally, It was also a chance to meet The Pope.
‘Ohhhh…World Youth Day sounds interesting!’ I thought. ‘I hope it’s affordable.’
I asked her how much it would cost and my face fell. It wasn’t within my budget. However, it didn’t dim my desire to join World Youth Day.
When I learned that the next one would take place in 2019, I felt a spark of hope. Maybe by then, I would have the means to join.
That was how the call started. It started as a whisper, all the way back in 2015.
2015 came to an end and I embraced 2016. In 2016, I found a new job, joined a church community and my life was abuzz with activities. By 2017, I almost forgot the conversation. Almost. However, God leads you to where He wants you to be. It was so discreet that it was like a soft whisper. So soft, it was difficult to hear.
What was the whisper like?
It came as a series of hardships across different areas of my life. The kind that feels like you’re carrying the world on your shoulders.
It came as a gnawing emptiness in my soul. Nipping it into bits and pieces like how a rat nibbles on cheese.
It came as a realization that I was unhappy because there was something missing in my life.
During that time, I had started bible journaling. I would read a verse from the bible and I would write down little prayers and personal reflections. Then while reading the bible, I came upon a few verses which spoke about finding satisfaction in Christ.
Call it coincidence, but finding satisfaction in Christ was also a topic which would somehow slip into the conversations that I had with family and friends.
God’s whisper became pretty loud when it slipped into a chat conversation with a friend and they suddenly sent me the verse:
“Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
The whisper may have been loud but it took a while for the message to sink in. However, God never stopped calling. He never stopped whispering to me through family and friends. Until the day came that I decided that I wanted to deepen my faith. I wanted to heal and the healing that I desired could only be found in Christ.
Guided by these little whispers, I found myself applying for the pilgrimage on 2017 and by November I was called for an interview.
I sat there in front of the interviewer and was asked a series of questions. It went well until they declared the cost.
It was more expensive than the one my friend went to in 2016. Soooo much more. Was I willing to part with that much money?
Yes. I was.
Looking back, it’s amazing how God removed the obstacle which prevented me from attending the World Youth Day in 2016. He cleared the path for me by leading me to a new job in 2016 and allowing me to time to settle so that I could apply for a two weeks vacation for the pilgrimage in 2019.
It brings into mind this particular bible verse:
“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you;
He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you.
Do not fear or be dismayed.”
How humbling and how deep is His love. God never stops calling us and He prepares the way even long before His call is even answered.
Is there a desire deep in your heart?
Pray for it and listen to the counsel of people who love you. It is through these that Christs speaks and His silent whispers become audible.
Then have faith and take your first step. Allow God to lead you to where He wants you to be.
Listening to those whispers led me to my first World Youth Day experience which was overflowing with beautiful spiritual encounters which I will be highlighting in a series of posts.
Lastly, I want to share the beauty of World Youth Day to everyone. The next World Youth Day is going to be held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2022 and if you are interested or curious about World Youth Day, links are provided below: