Hold on to your Dreams

What are your goals in life? Or rather, have you ever considered making a goal for your life? It is one thing to have goals and be able to name those goals; it is another thing to merely say that you have. Baka hindi pa nga concrete ang goals na nasa isip mo.

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Marahil nung bata ka pa naisip mong maging isang piloto, o doktor, o isang well-travelled businessman, o kaya naman maging presidente ng Pilipinas? Our dreams might be influenced by the people around us. Maaaring dahil nakita mong successful ang mga pinsan mo o kapitbahay sa respective fields nila kaya gusto mo na lang yung gayahin. O baka naman dala lang marahil ng udyok ng mas influential sayo kagaya ng mga parents mo kaya yun ang tinatahak mong daan ngayon ay sila na mismo ang naghanda. We have different stories, different paths to take – but it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to take a detour from what God has instilled in your heart since the time you started dreaming. Here’s my piece of advice – just keep your dreams with you, but allow God to shape this dream for His glory.

A sad biblical account that can be related to our pursuit of dreams can be found in Numbers 13-14, when the band of Israelites led by Moses sent 12 spies to Canaan to survey the land and to give reports. From this story, we will realize that:

  1. Most of the time, our detractors will come from among us – not from outsiders

Nakakalungkot kasi out of the 12 spies, only two of them – Joshua and Caleb, brought good report. The rest of the spies spread out reports that is sure to discourage the people instead of cheer them up. Imagine, feeding the whole Israelite people with reports such as, “mga higante sila, para lang tayong mga tipaklong na titirisin nila” “mahihina lang tayo at di natin sila kaya, kumakain sila ng mga tao”. Who would not fear such reports?

In our pursuit of goals, there will always be detractors – people who will discourage you rather than lift you up and cheer your spirit. But whose report will you believe? Yung mga reports na alam mo namang exaggerated and sarcastic, or the ones that feed your faith and passion? Remember, detractions come not just from the outside, but might come from within your circle, your family and friends, or maybe from your own doubts and fears. Don’t feed yourself with discouragement. Munch on faith, not on fear.

“Sometimes, when we want something so badly, we fear failure more than we fear being without that thing.”
Matthew J. Kirby, Icefall

  1. Focus on the prize you are to receive, not on the price you are to pay

Pursuing your dream will cost you a lot of things – it will never be easy. If it’s gonna be way too easy for you to achieve, then it’s not a worthy pursuit. Kaya naman we ought to focus on the prize we are to receive, because it will justify all the cost. Joshua and Caleb might have lost some of their friends and relatives because they chose to focus on the prize of conquering Canaan at all costs, while the other ten spies and all the people who bought in their bad reports lost their opportunity to step into the Promised Land, and lost their lives as well.

If we’re gonna look at the challenges ahead, we’ll lose heart. Kagaya ng mga spies na kasama nila Joshua and Caleb. Nakatingin sila sa pagsubok na dadaanan nila, and they lost sight of the beauty of the “land flowing with milk and honey”. In reality, the greater the challenge, the higher the cost you are willing to pay for your dreams, the more value you are giving to it. The prize must always be greater than the price.

It’s just a matter of perspective.

  1. Not because you are motivated to take hold of your dream doesn’t mean you are ready

It is a great misconception to think that just because you are so eager and motivated to take hold of what you desire most you are already able to take hold of it. God has his own timing and plans to ready you for your dreams.

It happened with the Israelites. They realized how great their sin of unbelief is, so they rushed to attack the “giants” they are dreadful of moments ago. Contextually, they were just being punished from their sin so their failure in subduing these “giants” is nothing but consequence. However, I believe that even if God had given them approval to attack their enemies, victory will only be ensured as soon as they are ready to receive it.

It happened with King David. He was anointed as a boy to be the next king of Israel, but he waited for the right time to succeed the kingdom. He never usurped God’s timetable. His waiting time allowed him to grow in maturity, wisdom and stature.

It happened with Joseph. He was given a dream as a boy, but his dream brought him to pit, then to prison and finally to the palace where he was able to fulfill his calling. His journey from pit to prison to palace prepared him to be the person God wants him to be.

It will happen to you and me. Just because we are given a dream to pursue doesn’t mean we are ready to take hold of it. We need to grow and mature muna.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Again what are your goals in life? Kung wala pa, ask God what He wants you to become for His glory. Kung meron na, always remember to keep your dreams with you, allowing God to mold you and your dreams to fit perfectly in His grand purpose.

Kicking Out the Monster

“Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. Luke 15:25-30 ESV

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The Bible instructs us to love our brothers. It tells us to love our enemies as well. Basically, we are to love everyone who comes our way. But loving people is harder when envy and jealousy comes in the way. When you have envy in your heart, helping people without grumbling inside is next to impossible. Envy is too great an enemy.

Envy is a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. It is a monster inside. The Bible even says, “Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before jealousy?” Proverbs 27:4.

How do we deal with this monster within us? Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to this problem. But focusing on the Lord is a significant help. Look upon the Lord. He has great plans for you. Resting on God’s promise can tame the envious monster in us, and eventually will be knocked out.

Keeping Friends

Acquaintances will always be around. Casual friends will eventually come. However, out of the hundreds of people we meet every day, we keep just a handful of intimate friends. The reason is simple – trust is elusive, and it is only given to those who really deserve it.

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Friends just come and go, but real friends stick together. Distance cannot separate. Intimate friends will remain intimate as long as trust is present. Trust is the glue that bonds people together and make them bow to each other that they’ll remain loyal to their friendship.

I am privileged to have people whom I consider my best buddies. We may not always have a chance to physically go out together for lunch or out-of-town trips, but our concern and prayers for each other keeps us connected. Thanks to social media, communication is much easier.

Having a friend is one thing. Keeping them is another. Keeping friends is one of the most wonderful gift you can give yourself. Real friendship do not keep score on who gets the most out of the friendship. You may fight over the biggest pizza slice or who will get the most prized seat in a taxi, but at the end of the day, you remain friends.

If you have found your friends for keep, I tell you, you are more than blessed.

The Joy of Forgiving

When memories haunt you and pain seems fresh, forgiveness is surreal. When offended, we want to get even. When assaulted, we want to retaliate. We want to set things straight: we are not going to succumb to anyone without getting a fight for our rights, especially when we end up getting hurt.

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People think that refusing to give forgiveness to the offending person is a form of retaliation. They think that it is the same as getting even. The unforgiving always carry the burden of hatred and hopes that in one way or another, vengeance will befall the hands of his perpetrator. Day in and day out, his desire is to get even. He never realize that carrying the weight of unforgiveness is like carrying a dead weight. Imagine carrying a corpse in your back wherever you go! And a corpse is heavier than living person!

Unforgiveness hurts no one than the person who keeps it for himself. On the contrary, releasing forgiveness sets a person free. You do not deserve to carry the weight of pain and haunting memories. Let go of the past. Remember that you are only hurting yourself with your unforgiveness. And while it is true that the memories will always pay you a visit, keep in mind what Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”

Embrace joy today and release forgiveness.

Stand Up, Walk On

  • On your way home, because of the heavy traffic, you got no choice but to take a detour and pass by a place you don’t want to remember anymore.
  • You met a high school friend you’ve not seen for years and as you try to catch up with each other stories, she popped the question you are praying she’d never ask.
  • Your mother decides to turn your room upside down and while doing so, she brought to you things you have no idea that are still in your possession.

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Some things happen by choice, while some things happen because it is bound to happen. Moreover, some things happen because we are the ones who lit the match in the first place, unaware of the fire that is about to let loose. Unlike God, we are not omniscient to know what will be the ultimate result of every action and decision we make. We are finite beings vulnerable to making bad decisions, leading to inescapable consequences. No matter how hard we try to guess and second guess things, we can never predict what will happen next. Even our best intentions are subject to God’s divine intervention.

So the unavoidable happens. We get hurt. We stumble and fall.

The castle we’ve been shaping and building in our mind crumbles and we end up feeling defeated and sorry for ourselves. We regret all the decisions we have made which led to our “downfall”. We analyze and think about where have we gone wrong in the process and what have we done to deserve such. And then the negative creeps into our system, blurring our view of life.

Those who have made a mistake in the past, or even those who were wronged by insensitive people, those who cannot overcome the crumbling of their castle into pieces because some undesired cause, are facing the crossroad of choice – do I have to remain sorry for what happened, living with regrets? Or should I move on and just brush things off?

Unfortunately, some choose to wallow in the defeat-mentality, and continue being victimized by their past.

While we cannot filter what comes into our mind when we remember the horrific yesterdays we might have, we can choose not to be affected by such thoughts. We can opt not to accept our mistakes and our regrets to shape our identity.

Our purpose in life doesn’t cease when we fail; rather we are just experiencing a sudden halt, a stopover. Perhaps God is realigning your life for a higher calling, or He is causing you to stop because you’ve been running too fast, or maybe you are messing up your priorities, or His priorities for you. Whatever the reason is, you fail but you don’t have to remain a failure.

If you think you are caught up in the trap of defeat-mentality, I encourage you to stand up on your feet and take up your hopes for the future. Life still goes on. Walk on.

From Whining to Winning

Whenever you complain, things around you seems to be dull and gloomy. Everything in your surrounding is either too complicated to comprehend or too hard to accept. Everything just don’t fit in.from-whining-to-winning-1

We tend to complain about almost everything: the congested traffic, the way the food is served by the waiter, the weather – whether hot or cold. We complain about our bosses, our officemates, when we our fridge doesn’t offer anything we want to eat. It doesn’t matter whether we complain big time (in raised voices and clenched fists) or we whine just to express our disappointment or frustrations – whining makes us a complainer. Whining makes you look older than your age and keeps people away from you.

It is hard not to be a complainer. I know the feeling because I myself am guilty of being one on many occasions. When you’re running late for office and you find yourself stuck in traffic, it is hard not to whine about the situation. When everyone seems to get a fair share of favor in life except you, why wouldn’t you complain, right?

However, while it is hard to do, it is not impossible. Being a complainer is developed as a lifestyle, a habit. When you begin to replace every whining into a winning moment by being thankful, then you are a step closer to being better. Be thankful, even when you are stuck in traffic that you can still afford to ride a bus, or a taxi, for that instance. Be thankful that you have a paying job. Be thankful that others are blessed and tell yourself that yours is along the way.

As soon as you’ve developed the habit of being grateful, you will realize that the world is no longer dull and gloomy, but is rather full of life and joy.

Storms: Be Defined or Be Refined

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” – Mark 4:38-40

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I remember while I was still a volunteer teacher for Compassion Ministries, I asked one of my students to draw in a Manila paper the story of how Jesus calmed the storm as a take home activity. Being a teacher then with no significant amount of experience to share, I relied heavily on the Bible and the Holy Spirit to do the “ministry time” particularly for those moments after class.

It is always easy to give instructions to people for them to increase their faith and never allow unbelief take the upper hand. But when it comes to personal battles, trusting God is easier said than done. The words we instruct others seem to be harder to grasp when it already applies to us.

The boiling point of it all is FAITH. Our struggles will either define us or refine us. It doesn’t matter how much you know about God in times like these. What matters most is whether you are applying what you know or not.

After more than seven years, until now, the drawing of the kids serves as a reminder to me that the message of how Jesus calmed the storm is not just about them, but about all of us, including me.