Not my Season

This is not my season.

This is how I try to describe what I have been feeling recently. Amidst all the victories and joyful testimonies of people around me, I find myself sulking over the seemingly “barrenness” of my life. I am on a plateau of emotions, of activity and of spirituality.

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I am tempted to say that I am waiting for that next “emotional wind” to carry me to a place of joy but I am certain that life is not like that. Trends or any tangibles must not define us. Our happiness must not be dependent on the latest craze or any momentary reason. It must come from within us.

Are you in the same rut too?

If we share the same sentiments, join me in unraveling the painful reality of our situation.

A short story

There was a time when I found myself wading in the mud of depressing emotions. I confided to a friend and I was advised to thoroughly assess my situation in writing, but I have to do it with full honesty. This is because there are times we are not being honest with ourselves because we don’t want to face the ugliness of our situation. We’d rather feel sad and depressed than face our darkest realities.

So I wrote down on a journal all the things that are bothering me that time. At first I felt uneasy. I really don’t know how to begin. Yet, clinging to the “rule” that I must be honest, things started to unfold. As I write down all my angst and my pain, my fear and doubts and all my questions, slowly my pain subsides.

It was not magical, but spiritual. God has been with me as I unload my emotions. It was more like a prayer sans the pretension and formalities. It was a heartbreaking moment with me and my Creator only that the heartbreaking part was also a healing session.

At first I was afraid to write down all my pain and questions, especially my angst, thinking that it is too unchristian to harbor such bitterness in the presence of the Almighty. But then I was reminded, God knows the depths of my heart whether or not I present my case before Him. He is not offended by our honesty. There is no amount of mess that can overwhelm Him.

The ugly reality

Now that I am on the same situation again, I tried to search within me. Why am I sad? Why am I too anxious over things I can’t even understand? Why am I constantly telling myself again that it is not my season? Here are the things that I have discovered. And perhaps, in one way or another, these are true to your situation too. Brace yourself!

  • I have been putting extra burden on myself with an unhealthy view of people around me. Instead of celebrating their victories, I tend to look on them with envy and bitterness. I hate to admit I often think of myself as ‘can-do-all’ person, and whenever I realize that I cannot and others step up for my incapacity, I sulk.
  • I try to catch up with other people’s pace. I want to prove myself. I still have episodes when I regret over my past mistakes and rehearse what should have happened if I pursued the path other than what I am taking right now. I think of my “what ifs” and wonder how it would be different from now.
  • I have also been harboring discouragement over what’s happening with my life and ministry lately. It seems that I no longer can deliver well compared before. My mind wanders; I am often worried about how time runs too fast and I can’t cope up. The weight of all the tasks I have carelessly accepted before are all dawning on me now.
  • I feel too incapacitated to help others, as I myself am drained of words to encourage them. Though before I felt like I was called to be an encourager to people who are in pain, now it seems like I am kicked off the encouragement department.
  • I know the importance of rest, but I often take rest days to catch up with things I cannot do when I am at work. This is no rest at all, but just a diversion from the usual routine, yet same amount of activity. No wonder I still feel tired even after weekends.
  • I lie to myself. I convince myself that I am still alright when in fact I am not just bruised but broken. And when people care less about me because they look at me as strong, I become upset. Sometimes, I feel pretentious, but I can’t help myself being such.
  • You may add your own self-assessment of your situation. Be brutally honest. It would be painful, but it would be great experience, promise!

A testimony

You may believe me or not, but honestly as I am writing this, I felt a bit relieved. My problems did not magically disappear but at least, the heaviness somewhat wore off. This is actually different from how I write blogs before, but it pays to do something different once in a while.

Perhaps the period where we are right now, if you are emotionally wounded like me, is a testament that in a Christian’s life, not all the time is bliss. This is life telling us that as Jesus faced difficult times while on earth, we should not expect less. However, the encouragement at the end of the day is to “take heart, I [Jesus] have overcome the world”. While we may face day to day realities of anxiety and unexplainable sadness, Jesus got us covered with love and grace. We are not forgotten, we are not forsaken. At least this truth is more than a consolation and a soothing balm for our wounded soul. This truth is our hope.

If you are reading this and we happen to be on the same boat, join me in praying that joy may overtake us very soon. Keep the faith aflame!

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Behind the Scenes

God works even behind the scenes

From Acts 27-28

May mga pagkakataon na mahirap para sa atin na makita ang kamay at mga gawa ng Diyos kapag tayo ay nasa gitna ng pagsubok. People say that we should keep the faith, we have to remain strong, and other well-intentioned encouragements. Pero ang totoo, minsan mas ramdam natin ang pain na dala ng problema kaysa providence ni Lord. Faith indeed is an ever-developing virtue sa atin. We have to make it flourish in our life.

Pero what’s amazing sa work ni Lord, even in the sidelines and behind the scenes ng buhay natin, evident Siya. Hindi Niya kailangan ng approval natin, ng audience natin for Him to begin working wonders. Kumikilos Siya in ways na hindi natin namamalayan. Advanced Siya mag-isip!

When Paul was being transported to Rome, yung sinasakyan nilang barko ay nasira ng bagyo. Hindi lang basta shipwreck ang nangyari – totally devastated, naubos ang lahat ng kanilang mga gamit, nagkandagutom-gutom sila, at halos mawalan na ng buhay at pag-asa. It was a very challenging episode sa buhay ni Paul.

But they were all spared. May plano si Lord. Napadpad sila sa isla ng Malta where a lot of miracles happened. Nagkataon na nandun si Paul to minister to the sick people of the island. Ministry call for the faithful servant. Pero para sa mga kasama ni Paul – everything that had happened was a mishap. It was a close call of death.

Iba-iba sila nang naging pananaw sa nangyari. Pero si Lord, iisa lang ang gustong iparating – that He is in full and total control of everything.

As they we’re doing what they can to go on with their respective lives and duties sa isla ng Malta, God has made them so favorable sa mga tao. They were a composition of prisoners and prison guards, of Jews and non-Jews, of Christians and non-Christians. Yet they all became objects of favor from the people. At ang lahat ng nawala nila sa shipwreck ay muling naibalik through the generosity of the people.

This is an example of how God carries His work as we carry His work. He does what He’s good at – doing miracles and leaving us in awe, habang tayo ay nagtitiwala at nagpapatuloy sa kung saan Niya tayo tinawag.

Paul and his companions were able to reach their destination in spite of the shipwreck that has happened because God worked even behind the scenes.

Go Back to “Bethel”

God met with Jacob at Bethel when he was still a needy person. And now that Jacob is already full to the brim, God commanded him to go back to Bethel.

Bethel is the place where Jacob first encountered the Lord. It was the place where he was given a dream and a promise. The place was originally called Luz, but Jacob renamed it Bethel because for him, it is where God resides – “house of God”. It was a special place, a refuge, a safe haven.

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Jacob landed on Bethel as he was fleeing from the wrath of his brother Esau whom he deceived. He was so broken then, fearful, helpless and without anything to go on living. But it was during that most trying time, when everything has been stripped away from him, that God made him a promise – “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

And in response, Jacob promised:

“If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

A few years passed and God has been faithful to His part of the promise. Jacob’s wealth has increased tremendously and he became a father to a huge household. Moreover, he has once again earned the trust and the forgiveness of his brother Esau. And true enough, God has brought him back to Bethel, with all of God’s promises fulfilled!

God met with Jacob at Bethel when he was still a needy person. And now that Jacob is already full to the brim, God commanded him to go back to Bethel. It is as if God wants him to look back on how things went in his life. God wants him to go back to his first altar, to where his faith begun.

Surprisingly for Jacob, he demanded his household to purify themselves and to give him their pagan idols to be buried in the ground. And as Jacob went to worship the Lord in Bethel, God once again confirmed His promises – and for the second time Jacob was blessed with the name Israel – a name change signifying that he is no longer identified with his past sins and mistakes.

If you are a Christian, like Jacob, we all have our “Bethel” where we first encountered the Lord. Our Bethel can be a place or even a person. While we all know that God is everywhere, Bethel is a special because you know you commune closer with God there.

Are you in a moment of loss and despair? Why not go back to your Bethel and take refuge there? If life’s anxieties has brought you to your knees, rest your case to God and find relief in Him. Or perhaps everything in your life is going well right now. Still, God will be pleased to meet you at Bethel. It doesn’t matter whatever season you are in, Bethel is where the God of the universe meets with the vulnerable you.

As you return to Bethel, think of the things you might need to bury: your pains? Your regrets? Maybe your achievements? Anything that takes off your focus from God can be a pagan idol that might need to be buried on the ground.

Go back to Bethel. God is waiting for you there. He will gladly refresh you with His promises to never leave you, and will remind you that you are no longer the same fearful, broken and helpless person you used to be. You are no longer “Jacob”, but “Israel”.

 

Pass or Fail 3: How to be the Best Yuppie Ever

Napakapalad ng mga Pinoy GenZ, kasi they have access to a wide selection of resources that will help them succeed in life, at isa na dun ang Pass or Fail Book 3: Paano Maging Best Yuppie Ever  by Ptr. Ronald Molmisa.

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Filled with practical tips on how to move from the academe to the workplace, the book speaks like a big brother to a younger sibling. Nakakatuwa nga kasi as I was reading the book, I’m reading it with the voice of Ptr. Ronald. It is more than passing on of information – it passes life lessons. Here are my reasons why:

  1. Magsisimula tayo sa pinakamahalagang tanong: ready ka na ba? Sa mga unang chapters pa lang magtatanong ka sa sarili mo kung na-overcome mo na ba ang phase ng pagiging [bulakbol] na estudyante to wear the mantle of an adult filled with responsibilities. In short, from being a a student to #adulting phase. Then may mga tools siya na io-offer for you to better discover yourself, para mas maging clear kung saan ba talaga ang direction na para sayo.img_4848
  2. He will also give you tips on how to increase your chances of landing a job that suits you – kung saan ka maaaring maghahanap ng trabaho, sa paggawa ng impressive na resume o curriculum vitae (I finally learned the difference between the two! Haha!), at kung ano ang mga do’s and don’ts sa job interview. Favorite kong part yung mga common interview questions at kung ano ang maaari mong isagot sa mga tanong na ito. Bakit kasi wala nito nung panahong nag-aapply pa lang ako?
  3. It tackles relationship building and conflict resolution. Hindi lang ang kumita ang mahalaga sa pagiging young professional. Mahalaga rin na marunong kang makisama sa mga officemates mo at sa boss mo, at lalo na sa sarili mo. I love how it stresses out the idea that we work from rest, not work to rest. We cannot afford to compromise our sanity and health for our work. Bahagi ng pagiging best yuppie ever ang pagkakaroon ng healthy perception of rest.
  4. Mae-encourage ka na i-develop mo ang tamang work ethics pagdating sa trabaho. Paano ka magse-save for the future, paano mo ire-represent si Jesus sa workplace mo by your actions and speech, at kung ano ang motivations mo sa paglilingkod. The concept of “ikigai” was introduced, which means “reason for being”. While this “workplace nirvana” is seldom achieved, at least mabibigyan tayo ng encouragement to do our best for the Lord.

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As you read the book, it will encourage you to assess yourself and will leave you committing to your purpose. Pakiramdam ko napagalitan nga ako ni Ptr. Ronald, lalo na sa idea na baka naso-shortchange ko na ang employer ko, o baka hindi na aligned sa will ni Lord ang career goals ko. It’s always good to be reminded.

This book is the third installment sa Pass or Fail series ni Ptr. Ronald. Hindi lang siya love and relationship guru, he is indeed a mentor to the youth. Oyeah!

When you can’t find JOY

For God is with us, even in times of brokenness, of solitude, of sadness. In fact, He is closer than ever.

Since my last post about sadness, I felt a prod from the heart to re-watch Inside Out. For me, Inside Out is not just another good-to-see animated movie – it speaks to the heart and establishes a fact that our emotions, be it joy, anger, disgust, fear and sadness are part of who we really are. We are wired by God with different personalities, and that includes our sometimes complex emotions.

The portion where my tears welled up while watching the movie is the moment when Joy finally recognizes that Sadness is also a part of Riley (the character depicting all of us) – that Riley cannot always deny the surging pain and frustration inside her. Life is not everyday bliss. We have to embrace the fact that inside all of us resides our version of sadness, and fear, disgust and anger. OK, I also cried too when Bingbong, Riley’s imaginary friend, disappeared like dust. It gave me the same chills like how half of the Avengers turned into dust in that great “Thanos Snap”

When you can't find Joy

While I am preparing for a message outline for church, I had a chance to read the book of Job in one sweep. Yes, all 42 chapters in one sitting. I want to see the big picture how a righteous man, who fears and Lord and is full of integrity – descriptions coming directly from God himself (verses Job 1:8, 2:3), fared when all else were taken before him. I want to see how he managed his emotions amidst his depressing situation. Here are the things that I discovered when you cannot seem to find JOY.

  1. Accept the fact that even in becoming a Christian, you will still face sufferings.

This is a hard truth to digest. Many are convinced with the idea that one you accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, life’s challenges will soon be gone. This is a shallow foundation to stand upon, and is obviously not true. If Jesus, the author of salvation, was not spared from sufferings, what makes us think we will be exempted? Isn’t the Bible clear in saying that “a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). We are not exempted. Job was a righteous person, but He did suffer. No one is like Job. He was God’s “trophy” back then, but still, he mourned, and wept and lost a lot of things. So we are not exempt from life’s bitter servings. By accepting this fact, you will have a better understanding of life.

  1. People will mistreat, accuse or misunderstand you. Yes, even your closest friends.

Job, coated with boils, blisters and wounds, was accompanied by his closest friends. But their presence didn’t even soothe the pain he felt, but instead added insult to the wounds that he has, when he was accused of sins he didn’t even commit. God has punished him for an unconfessed sin, they say. Surely God has a reason for all his misfortunes, as God’s justice is always in effect. But Job clung to his innocence, and claimed he didn’t do anything wrong deserving of his sufferings. They had a heated argument – which did not help the person in pain. This is so disheartening, yet this is a fact. There will be people who will not empathize with you. There will be people who will not understand you. But you have the choice not to wear the sandals they are forcing you to wear. As long as you know you are walking within the circle of God’s will, though people do not understand what you’re going through, just tell yourself, “bakit ako matatakot?”

  1. Cling onto hope – it will keep you strong.

Job was very resilient. But it doesn’t mean he is beyond breaking. And one good observation in his narrative is the hope he has in his Savior. In Job 19:25-27 it says:

25 I know that my redeemer lives,

    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

26 And after my skin has been destroyed,

    yet in my flesh I will see God;

27 I myself will see him

    with my own eyes—I, and not another.

    How my heart yearns within me!

It is no different with the Apostle Paul’s “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. This is more than positive thinking. Realize that there is no better time and place to exercise your faith than the time when all hope seems lost and all help seems gone. Job was looking forward to the day of his redemption – which may come physically to relieve him of his ordeal, or soon when he joins his Creator in heaven, which for him is a better deal! If you find that all joy is gone within you, cling onto hope – it will help you through. It will strengthen you.

  1. Cry onto God. He is not intimidated with that.

I had a personal encounter with extreme sadness. Maybe some other time I’ll share my story. But to give a short piece of account, I suffered from depressing thoughts never I have expected to have. I confided to a mature friend and I was advised to jot down my thoughts – all of it, no holds barred. Being a writer, I wrote my thoughts in an orderly, somehow artistic and carefully-worded manner. But I was rebuked. I am not writing to impress but to express. That time, I am writing not for people, but for myself. So there has to be no more inhibitions, no more censorship, no need to be careful.

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Somewhere within the premises of Touch of Glory Prayer Mountain

After jotting down all my thoughts, I realized, with tears flowing down my cheeks, that I was too tired and exhausted then. I had too many angst against people, against my situation, against my past decisions. It all welled up until it became too heavy to bear. I was caught off-guard by the excesses of life that I allowed my heart to carry. That exercise helped me unload some weight. I encourage you to do that as well.

But that was not all. I went to a solitary place to literally cry out everything. I went to Touch of Glory Prayer Mountain and there I confessed, questioned, and groaned unto God. It was a great experience, much like a spiritual detoxification.

Job did exactly just that. He cried unto God. He was so down and depressed that he already want to die. He was brutally honest –living with such losses, with boils and wounds and blisters and sores all over your body, being scorned by people around him, and being falsely accused by his “close friends” – for him, death would be a great bargain!

After jotting down all my thoughts, I realized, with tears flowing down my cheeks, that I was too tired and exhausted then. I had too many angst against people, against my situation, against my past decisions. It all welled up until it became too heavy to bear.

God is never overwhelmed by the weight of our prayers. He is not overwhelmed by our emotions. We can always be honest with Him. In fact, we can never hide anything from Him! He knows our thoughts, He knows our ways, He knows the deepest parts of our heart. He formed us and we are His. So cry unto Him. People might not understand what you are going through but trust me, He understands.

  1. Remember: it’s OK to not be OK

If you are feeling down and low, it’s OK. It doesn’t make you less of a human when you get sad at times. When you feel frustrated over something, don’t brush your tears away immediately, don’t hide your pain. It is not a sign of weakness when you cry for something that makes you sad. What’s weak is when you deny it and shrug it off as if it’s nothing when it is really something. When joy is not around, embrace sadness for a time, and when you have already cried your heart out, get up and walk again. Pursue joy once more. Life is not a competition who is the emotionally strongest – for we can all be emotionally secure in the Lord. Life is best lived in a community, where we can all share our joys and sadness and grow in the likeness of our God.

At the end of their heated discourse, Job prayed for his friends, they were forgiven. Whatever Job lost was restored, in double portions. This is because he was standing on a solid foundation. He went through a very challenging ordeal. He was tested by fire, but he came our refined. All because he acknowledged that he was not OK and God was fine with it. God is looking for broken people. He is not impressed by strength. So if you are not OK, let God deal with you. He will see you through.


Just prior to writing this blog, I revisited the story of Elijah (1 Kings 18-19). He was a very powerful and anointed prophet. He won the battle at Mount Carmel where he defeated numerous ministers of the false god Baal. He was a very accomplished person. But when his life was threatened, all signs of strength quickly fade. The man who prayed for fire and rain now prays for his life. Obviously he was shocked, devastated, depressed and afraid. But God assured him – he was not alone.

For God is with us, even in times of brokenness, of solitude, of sadness. In fact, He is closer than ever.

Often we long for answers in the form of a storm, an earthquake, or a fire. We long to see God working in mighty ways that will take our breath away. While it is true that God is a mighty God and He can always reveal Himself in mighty ways, like in the case of Elijah, He may also reveal Himself in subtle ways like a whisper. Yes, a sweet, soft, almost unnoticeable whisper. Let us not despair the silent moments of our lives. Let us not despair the times when our sadness seem to take the best of us. Let us not despair our moments of solitude, moments when joy seem to be absent. For God is with us, even in times of brokenness, of solitude, of sadness. In fact, He is closer than ever.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18

 

Sadness and Sepia Moments

When you are at your lowest, you are most vulnerable. You are easily convinced by the voice that says you are worthless, good for nothing.

Have you ever experienced a time when everything around you seems dull and lifeless, the gloom so real and overwhelming that you can feel how it embraces you and convinces you that he is your friend willing to follow you wherever you go? You look around and see everyone around you wearing a smile, but unfortunately for you, you can’t seem to find any reason to wear one. You did not intend to succumb to the embrace of gloominess but you can’t shrug it off as well. You see yourself a victim.

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Happiness is relative. Some people find happiness in simple pleasures such as having a new toy, gaining social media attention, finishing another book or the just the scent of fresh flowers. Some are hard to please – they are constantly chasing for material things, prestige, or new relationships. While the things that make us happy vary, we can all agree that the satisfaction brought about by these things is fleeting. Happiness doesn’t last. One day you’re OK and the next day, you begin to sulk.

I have my share of my lowest days. I call these days sepia moments, just like the feeling imbibed by just looking at old pictures. When you are at your lowest, you are most vulnerable. You are easily convinced by the voice that says you are worthless, good for nothing. Your worries seem insurmountable and you feel defeated. Even simple problems turn gargantuan.

On one of my shower ruminations, I have thought of three reasons for occasional sadness that I feel. Again, these are personal insights but I think these may also apply to anyone.

  1. Whenever I obsess myself with the accomplishments of people on social media.

Yes, social media envy sometimes gets the best of me. It starts with a simple peek at one’s post, liking one’s vacation or one’s recent purchase. Then another post pops up with news of job promotion or an engagement. Posts and tweets pile up and soon I find myself envious with my “friends;” highlight reel. I emphasized the word friends because most of these people I get envious of are not really my friends in real life! But why do I feel so affected with whatever happens to them when they don’t even care about what happens with my life? I guess this is the irony of social media friendships, as Dave Ramsey notes: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” And it is a sad reality to accept.

But why do I feel so affected with whatever happens to them when they don’t even care about what happens with my life? I guess this is the irony of social media friendships

  1. Whenever I measure my worth based on what people say, think about me.

I am a people-pleaser, and I am very much aware of that. I can’t sleep well if I know I have offended or have not responded to someone who asks for favor, especially if within my capacity to help. I tend to think over and over of things I might have done wrong, or words I shouldn’t have said. This is emotional torture, I think. But the pain doubles when someone has told me something I least expect to hear. I end up feeling unloved and unimportant. I sulk over things that I know are not true. I measure my worth based on what they think or say about me, which are not necessarily true. During my high school years I believed I am up to no good just because a classmate had told me so. I carried the weight for a couple of years until it shaped my motivations and view of self. It’s all by God’s grace I was delivered from that unnecessary weight.

  1. Whenever there are unconfessed sin that I try to rationalize or hide.

The weight of sin carried from day to day is enough reason for me to get anxious and depressed. I have heard a teaching that if there are sins that you keep to yourself, sins you choose not to expose in the open, chances are, you’re gonna repeat the same sin over and over. Sin takes us on hold us until we share it with a trusted person who will pray for us and with us and challenge us to overcome it. How often I find myself bugged down by my struggles just because I am too proud to share my weakness with my friends. But as soon as I share my issues with my trusted friends, not only do I find myself co-laborers with the weight I’m bearing, I also find people who makes me realize that I am not supposed to walk this life alone.

  1. When I choose not to spend significant time with God

I am often victimized by this seemingly harmless neglect. I used to tell myself: “just this one time”. One skip, followed by another, and soon I find myself losing touch with the Source. If you identify yourself as a Jesus-follower, you know what I am saying. Spending time with God is our lifeline for joy and spiritual sustenance. Sever your connections with God’s word and your joy will soon fade. I know because I have been in that situation – a couple of times. One painful rebuke I have read from Jim Cymbala’s book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire:

“If we don’t want to experience God’s closeness here on earth, why would we want to go to heaven anyway? He is the center of everything there. If we don’t enjoy being in his presence here and now, then heaven would not be heaven for us. Why would he send anyone there who doesn’t long for Him passionately here on earth?”

The key here is not just to read the Bible and ticking a checklist on your reading plan. Neither it is about uttering a hurried prayer then you’re done. The point is cultivating a relationship with your Maker through meaningful spiritual conversations and yielding to His will. No wonder because of my continued “just this one time” moments, I often end up as a wilted plant.

These things may also be true to you. Perhaps the things I have mentioned are also the reasons why you feel sad and gloomy and lifeless at times. Or you could add more to the list. But I don’t want to end up with just diagnosing the causes of my gloominess. I don’t want to be overcome by sadness that all I can see is the rain and not the rainbow after the rain.

I have two important disclaimers here:

First, the sadness or gloominess I am speaking of doesn’t necessarily mean clinical anxiety or depression. I may have described similarities but it is not my intention (yet) to cross over the topic of depression. Perhaps in the near future, when I have gathered much information about the subject matter.

Sadness
© walmart.com

Second, the sadness I am speaking of is viewed in the lens of spiritual context. And the causes I have cited are detrimental to one’s spiritual health. However, being the reflective type of person, I recognize that there is a kind of sadness that makes us appreciate life even more. One that is best portrayed in the animated film Inside Out. There is a form of sadness that makes us more human, gives us a moment to slow down a notch, and think about our life well. Let me quote Sadness, “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.”

If not for God’s grace, perhaps gloom has devoured me completely. But thankfully, in the deepest, darkest and messiest point of my life, rescue is still available and joy awaits. Lasting JOY – not just mere happiness, which is temporal and fleeting. Joy that freely given to those whose lives are surrendered to Jesus.

Broken to be Made Whole Again: My #NFYC2018 Reflection

Brokenness. It was the overarching theme of the #NFYC2018, at least for me. All throughout the convention God has been telling me that I must be willing to be broken to be made whole again. But what does it mean? Am I not yet a Christian, already made whole by the saving grace of Jesus?

Broken to be Made Whole AgainI tried to understand what God has been revealing to me for the past four days of convention. I intentionally had a lot of moments alone to process what is in store for me. My life has been in a hustle these past few months and the whole convention period is a spiritual and physical retreat for me. But receiving a message about being broken is not something I expected. Indeed, it was an unconventional convention.

Writing for the Lord

During one of the sessions, Ptr. Nolan Galido has spoken about embracing the breaking principle. Drawing inspiration from the story of the young boy with five loaves and two fishes, he shared that we must be broken so our resources will be multiplied for the needs of others. The loaves and the fishes were obviously not enough for a multitude of 5000 but when broken and offered to Jesus, a miracle happened right before their very eyes.

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One of the gems inside the NFYC Kit
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CCT’s majestic view from our room

 

I asked myself then, what is it that I have that has be broken and multiplied? I don’t have much of a talent, not much of resources, not much of influence. All I have is my desire to write a book and draw people to the Lord with my writings. I felt a thud in my heart. I offered my dreams unto Jesus and surrendered my desire.

As soon as the convention’s over, one of my writing platforms, my Facebook page, has been compromised. For one, I know I’ve been so gullible, and for another, I think God is teaching me a lesson. It has become a source of distraction for me, if not a source of social media ego food source. At first it was hard to admit that I have been so distracted, but little did I realize that I have been enjoying too much the likes and the comments and all the engagements my page brings. I have to be corrected, and be broken.

opening night
Opening night

But I believe God has restored my passion to write more! And now with a clearer purpose! I now know that I am called to write and disciple the next generation with what I write. I am more energized and more determined to be directed by the Lord as He leads me to where He wants me to. Maybe my page will be restored, maybe not. But God has miraculously caused me not to fret because of what I lost, because He has multiplied my reasons to write.

Brokenness as a Bridge

During the session of house to house evangelism, I really can’t remember how I felt. Yes, there was excitement, there was an edgy feeling, but more than that, I can’t shrug off what Kuya Jomer Gallana said before we were commissioned to evangelize: “If Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened to you, then sharing Jesus is the best thing you can do to others”. It was more than just a motivational instruction to share the gospel – it is plainly the truth.

Is getting to know Jesus really the best thing that has ever happened to me? No doubt. Then by all means, sharing Jesus has to be the most exhilarating thing that I have to do. I felt that with the housewife we get to share the gospel with, same with the construction workers. My partner and I came to their homes as total strangers. There was in fact no common ground. But there’s one thing we talked about which every one of us had something to share – that is how broken we are because of sin.

Yes sin, the reason why we are all broken and the common ground of all men. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. We have presented the gospel. They responded. All because of our brokenness, and we all need to be made whole. If I am not broken, they would not listen to me. But because I am a sinner just like everybody else, the message has been heard.

We are treasures in jars of clay. What makes up the façade is nothing compared to what we hold inside. People see us and they can identify with our mess, with our brokenness, but also they see what emanates from within – the radiating glory of Jesus Christ. We may be broken, but made whole. And we are called to minister to those who are broken around us.

Dying to Ourselves

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24

As Ptr. Val Chaves speaks about the necessity of pruning as we abide in the Lord, I was reminded of that verse. Something has to “die”, something has to be given up, so that multiplication can take place. Yes, one can do things on his own and make a productive result, but exponential growth is only possible when we embrace the way God has designed how multiplication has to take place: that we are to die to ourselves and let Him live in us.

Again, another facet of being broken.

I am an overly sensitive person. I often think less of myself, I feel like unimportant. I envy people who can do more, give more, and still remain energized and satisfied. Unlike me who resolves to self-pity even for no apparent reason and often feels tired. While I know my identity in the Lord is secured, my melancholic-phlegmatic personality often takes the lead, which something I really hate. Ika nga, “para akong walang bait sa sarili”.

If I have to die to myself, this is the first thing that I want to bury badly. This dead branch in me has to be pruned, so that fruits will grow and leaves will flourish. Ptr. Val encouraged us to “sow the seed of His promises in the soil of your needs”. Honestly I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to start. I have been a Christian for years but still can’t get pass through my inhibitions. I want to die to my “fears and doubts and self-reliance” and live for God. And God just assured me that time, “let Me break you first”.

“Why the breaking, Lord?”

Broken to be Made Whole

I was very much expectant during the last night; expectant and in full abandon. God has been breaking me since the beginning and it would be foolishness on my part to let the moment pass. I want to be filled with the Spirit. No, I want the overflow of the Spirit.

Ptr. Asaph Shavindran is very anointed speaker. I say this not because many were slain and prophesied as he laid hands on them, but because it is very evident in his countenance and the Holy Spirit really came to those who sought after Him. But what struck me the most during his brief speaking was the fact that we have been neglecting the Person of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. He is a Person, He is God, but we fail to notice Him, much more remember Him.

I sought after the Holy Spirit like I’ve never done before, and He did not let me down. It was the best moment of my life – not because of the experience, but because I know the Triune God is really in communion with a broken sinner like me, affirming His love and acceptance, His forgiveness and grace.

Maybe this is His answer to my question, “why the breaking, Lord?” He wants me to realize how broken I am without Him. He wants me to know how broken I am apart from Him. And ironically, my brokenness is what caused Him to die on the cross, because He wants to make me whole. As confusing this broken-made whole-broken to minister to the broken-thing, nothing could be clearer to me. That there is a God who loves me in spite of my brokenness, and wants to use me for His glory.

Oh Lord, I am ready for more. Let me multiply for Your glory.