Behind the Scenes

God works even behind the scenes

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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”.

 

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
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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.

Availability, Not Ability

Doing the ministry of the Lord is not about ability. It is about a heart of servanthood, which is evidenced by availability.

When we talk of ministry, you will find out that availability counts more than the ability. In fact, even Jesus, the greatest leader and influencer of all time, chose people not because of what they can do but on their willingness to submit to God’s agenda and schedule. He could have chosen the Pharisees, the spiritual leaders of the time, to mobilize the Good News. They have the influence, prominence and the eloquence to carry out His divine mission. But Jesus turned the world upside down with his ragtag team of ill-tempered, proud, doubtful and cunning disciples. Again, ability counts less, availability matters.

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Yet the world looks after people with obvious gifts and prominent influence. We often follow those whose star shines the brightest. We admire them from a distance. We want them on our team. We think we can do more when we get the best and the brightest turn our steering wheel. While there’s nothing wrong with this, often this leads to frustration and defeat. We can’t always have the best people work for us.  They are often busy in their own domain that they might not have time the capacity to give you their full attention and own wholeheartedly your vision. They might not always be available.

But we have around us those whose star flickers unnoticeable. They may not stand out but they are there. We just fail to notice them, but they are waiting for their turn to take part in something worthwhile, something great. These “average-gifted” individuals fuel the team’s productivity, and bring the most contribution to the table. They are present most of the time, and are willing to sacrifice for your vision. They have nothing to lose but everything to gain.

There is wisdom when Paul said “God chooses the weak to shame the strong”. The famous, the influential, the strong, the intelligent – the best out there, are busy being the best in their respective domains that they don’t have time to work with others, to work for others, to be there for others. But invest in people who are always around you, no matter how “weak” they seem, and see how God do some wonders through their efforts. These people, like the disciples of old, have the potential to turn the world upside down.

Doing the ministry of the Lord is not about ability. It is about a heart of servanthood, which is evidenced by availability.

 

Life Choices that Defines Us

We all have a choice whether to push through with our dreams or stay where we are

Natutunan natin sa klase natin sa Economics nung high school na dahil sa scarcity of resources, kailangan natin ng matalinong pagpapasya kung paano ia-allocate ang limited resources natin sa mga wants and needs natin, gaya nang tanong na kung ang baon ba ay para ba sa lunch at pamasahe o para sa DotA (Ragnarok nung higs chool days ko) at barkada.

Natutunan din natin sa makabagbag-damdaming kanta ni KZ Tandingan kung gaano kahirap mamili between mahal mo o mahal ka. Hindi naman kasi tinuro sa school na may mga ganyan palang choices sa buhay.

Sa pagharap din natin sa buhay empleyado, palagi rin tayong humaharap sa choice na gigising ka ba sa higaan para pumasok o mag-extend nang another five minutes sa pagtulog (na alam naman nating kasinungalingan kasi umaabot hanggang 15 minutes minimum extension). Hitting either the stop alarm and snooze button is a hard decision to make. Alam kong alam mo yan.

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Life is a series of choices. May mga choices na mahirap pag-isipan, may mga choices din na pine-present sa ating harapan pero parang wala rin naman tayong choice. May mga choices na kapag nagkamali ka, it’s a matter of life and death, of happiness or heartache, of winning someone or losing them away. Ang hirap ano?

Yet of all the choices na hinaharap natin, isa na yata sa pinakamahirap ay kapag may option ka na to be complacent. Yung pwede kang pumili kung gagawin mo na siya ngayon o some other time na lang. Alam mo kung bakit mahirap? Kasi minsan we have this tendency to delay the hard work at the expense of delaying the fruits of our hard work. Yes, may mga taong output-oriented, sobrang productive, yung tipong tatapusin na ngayon yung task na para sa susunod na dalawang araw. Nandyan lang sila sa tabi-tabi, lurking beneath the shadows. Pero kung hindi ka task-and-output person, siguradong nandun ka category ng mga taong ang motto ay “bakit ko tatapusin ngayon, kung pwede ko namang gawin bukas?”

One Day or Day One, Mamili Ka!

Pero ikaw, kung may gusto kang mangyari sa buhay mo, kung may pangarap kang gustong makamit, what are you doing now? We all have a choice whether to push through with our dreams or stay where we are. Either we will continue dreaming about that “one day” or begin with our “day one” towards the accomplishment of our goals. Meron kang choices at hand and your choices reveal much about your priorities, life values and how much you believe in the beauty of your dreams.

I often remind myself, “believe that God has placed your dream in your heart for His greater purpose”. Oo English yun kapag pinapaalala ko sa sarili ko. Haha! Kaya naman kapag gusto ko nang sumuko sa mga pangarap ko, kailangan kong ipaunawa sa sarili ko din na everything will be worth it. Lahat ng pagod, lahat ng sacrifices, lahat ng hard work.

I believe God honors the dreams of His people. He anoints the dreams of His people. He blesses them, lalo na kung para sa glory ni Lord ang lahat ng mga pangarap natin. Pero mas naniniwala ako na God is very much willing to bless those who don’t just dream dreams, but who works towards the fulfillment of their dreams. Yung mga taong nagsimula na sa “Day One”, kaysa naman sa mga taong “One Day” ang mentality.

Borrowing from the line of Heneral Luna, “mamili ka!”

I thank you, bow.

 

Line Busy?

Have you ever felt like there’s no one who listens? No one who pays attention? Have you ever felt like there’s no one who cares? Maybe you’ve been calling on a busy line. Maybe you’ve been looking after someone who isn’t really there.

I bet you know the feeling na binagsakan ka ng telepono. Nakakasama ng loob, sa totoo lang. Yung feeling na lahat ng self-confidence na binuo mo sa kabuuan ng existence mo, biglang babagsak kasabay ng pagbagsak niya ng handle ng telepono… ang sakit kaya! Nakakabingi, nakakaiyak, nakakapanghina.

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Ok, ang OA ko. Haha! Bilang isang taong may pusong mamon, hindi ko lang kasi gusto yung pakiramdam na parang hindi interesado sayo ang kausap mo. Equally painful din yung alam mo na kaya naman niyang sagutin ang linya pero hindi niya pini-pick up ang telepono. Kumbaga sa social media lingo, hindi ka lang na-seenzone, na-mark-as-read-zone ka, ni hindi man lang siya nag-bother na pansinin ang nais mong sabihin. #sadlayp

There was a passage in 1 Kings 18 na pumukaw ng attention ko. It was actually a familiar story- the contest on Mt. Carmel between prophet Elijah and the priests of Baal. You may read the whole account through this link.

Balik tayo sa attention-grabbing verse na sinasabi ko:

29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

The priests of Baal went on to call upon their god for a display of power, but they received none. Wala silang narinig ni kaluskos mula sa kanilang dios-diosan. Walang sagot, walang Baal na pumansin sa kanila. They even went as far as hurting themselves to receive attention from their non-existent god, and then again, no response. Busy much, perhaps?, taunts Elijah.

Ang hirap kung hindi ka pinapansin ng diyos na binigyan mo ng devotion ano? I wonder how painful it was for the priests of Baal na mapahiya sa harapan ng mga Israelites. Sa isang tao nga lang na mapahiya ka ang sakit-sakit na 😦

In contrast, when it was Elijah’s turn to call upon his God, it went like this:

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 

There was, obviously a contrasting response between Baal and the God of Elijah. It was a contrast of power and powerlessness, of existence and nonexistence, of attentiveness and inattentiveness, of divinity and the lack thereof. There is no more need to ask who is the true and living God – the Lord already drew the line. Tapos ang laban. May nanalo na.

Total dependence on these Baals will blind you to your need of the One true source of satisfaction. Baals keep us preoccupied and takes our attention away from God

Have you ever been dependent onto something, say a job, a dream, a relationship, or some material possession*, thinking that it will keep you full and satisfied, but at the end of the day you just end up still feeling empty? Maybe it has become a Baal to you. And like the Baals of the Old Testament times, kahit anong tawag mo sa kanila for comfort and refuge, it will always disappoint you. Total dependence on these Baals will blind you to your need of the One true source of satisfaction. Baals keep us preoccupied and takes our attention away from God.

* Don’t get me wrong. These things are necessary for our daily sustenance. These things are not bad in itself. But when it becomes a Baal to us – something that we depend on too much more than the Lord, then it becomes a distraction, a heavy burden for us to bear.

Have you ever felt like there’s no one who listens? No one who pays attention? Have you ever felt like there’s no one who cares? Maybe you’ve been calling on a busy line. Maybe you’ve been looking after someone who isn’t really there. Subukan mong tumawag kay Lord. Wala namang tumatawag sa Kanya na hindi Niya sinagot. Hindi naman busy ang linya Niya. Hindi naman Siya namimili ng mga kakausapin Niya. Tawag ka lang sa Kanya. He’s waiting, in fact. And like what He did when Elijah called Him, He will respond to you. Bakit ko nasabi? Kasi ipinangako Niya yun.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ – Jeremiah 33:3

You may have friends who deserted you, family members who don’t treat you well, or people dear to your heart who failed you. You may have tried to catch the attention of people around you but no one seems to take notice. People may fail us from time to time but the Lord will not. Call upon Him. His lines are not busy. He has great things in store for you.

Promise, hindi ka Niya babagsakan ng linya.