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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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.

 

 

Pagod ka na ba?

“Napagtagumpayan ko na ito dati, ngayon pa ba ako susuko?”

We all have felt tired and downcast at times. Probably ngayon yung moment na yun para sayo. Season ito marahil na gusto mo nang isuko ang mga bagay na pinaghirapan mo mula noong una. Doubts may have crept upon and you begin to question your calling. Gusto mo nang umayaw.

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However there’s a voice telling you to remain strong, that help is on the way. Minsan pa, pinipilit mong kumapit sa pananampalatayang “napagtagumpayan ko na ito dati, ngayon pa ba ako susuko?” Totoo naman, kung babalikan mo naman ang naging spiritual walk mo, hindi naman nagkulang ang Panginoon; hindi ka naman iniwan o pinabayaan.

In times like these, we often run frantically searching for answers. Gusto natin madaliang solusyon sa kalungkutan, sa spiritual exhaustion and drought na nararanasan natin. Sa mga ganitong panahon na tayo’y nakakaramdam na tila pagod ka na at wala nang pag-asa, I would like to share a few insights on how to fight your battle kahit na wounded ka na. Hindi ito formula guaranteed to get you through but it might help you greatly just as it helped me and many others.

Be silent before the Lord.

To be silent means to not speak. Pero minsan, this may mean to just free your mind from all your worries. Hindi ka nga nagsasalita pero sa isip mo ang daming mga alalahanin ang naglalaro. What if ganito, what if ganyan? Yung tipong kapag binigyan ng microphone ang isip mo hindi ito matatapos nang kakasalita. Start with silence. Oftentimes, much of our worries come from the unnecessary noise around us, at dun tayo napapagod. So begin with shutting your mouth and your mind for a moment and let the noise of the world just die within your thoughts. Forget about your deadlines for a while. Kalimutan mo muna lahat ng problema mo nang sandali. You will be amazed how relaxing this will be.

Wait upon the Lord.

Ayaw natin na naghihintay. We want quick-fixes sa ating mga problema. Kung kulang, we want to be filled agad-agad. Waiting is a waste of time para sa atin. We selfishly thrive on instant gratification. Pero si Lord, hindi lang ang “bunga” ang concern Niya, He cares as well sa process. May mga pagkakataon na maaari namang tugunin ni Lord ang mga panalangin natin agad in His power pero He waits for the “kairos” time para sa lahat. Waiting is a virtue that develops our faith. Our faith is tested and strengthened when we have to wait for something for a longer time. Kaya we need to wait upon Him. As you remain silent before Him, wait upon Him. Wag kang mainip kung pakiramdam mo napakatagal – while you are waiting patiently upon Him, He is actually intently looking after you.

Listen unto the Lord.

Madalas kapag nananalangin tayo, we do much of the talking ‘di ba? Lord, pahingi po ng ganito, sana po ganyan… This time practice the lost art of listening. Listen to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit within you. However, you can only listen intently kapag silent ka before the Lord. Sabi nga ng librong nabasa ko, we can hardly hold on to what we never hear. So paano mo maiintindihan ang sinasabi ng Panginoon kung hindi ka naman talaga makikinig? Listen, and let Him do the talking.

God has already laid down His message to us in the Bible and yet God is never limited in His ways to communicate with His children, only we need to intently listen.

God speaks. Masyado lang kasi tayong masalita kaya hindi natin Siya madalas naririnig. You will be amazed sa mga paraan Niya kung paanong sumagot: through nature, through a song, through a memory na pinaalala Niya sayo, through a verse na nabasa mo sa Bible, or even through a person who just uttered something na naka-encourage sayo. This is of course not to be mistaken as over-spiritualizing things. God has already laid down His message to us in the Bible and yet God is never limited in His ways to communicate with His children, only we need to intently listen. Always confirm whatever you hear from Him in the context of His written Word.

Take rest in the Lord.

Nakakita ka na ba ng isang baby na natutulog? Di ba ang peaceful niyang tignan? Lalo na kung pinaghehele siya ng kanyang ama o ina, sobrang relaxing ng scenario. Imagine yourself to be a baby, at ang Panginoon ang iyong Ama na naghehele sayo. Will you be need anything, knowing that the Creator of heavens and earth carries you in His arms? Whatever message you have received in the Lord as you wait upon Him, take rest in that message. Panghawakan mo. Make it THE source of your strength. Ang sabi nga sa Psalms, God is an ever-present help in times of trouble. Kahit kapaguran man yan o pag-aalala, He is always present to give help. Find rest in Him and let Him fight your battles.

I would like to share a very familiar passage which has strengthened me just recently:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

Find strength in the Lord. He is waiting for you, and is always ready to receive you. May you find rest and strength for your soul now, dear reader!

A Father’s Heart

A father with a vulnerable heart towards God, his heavenly Father.

10-13 David blessed God in full view of the entire congregation:

Blessed are you, God of Israel, our father
from of old and forever.
To you, O God, belong the greatness and the might,
the glory, the victory, the majesty, the splendor;
Yes! Everything in heaven, everything on earth;
the kingdom all yours! You’ve raised yourself high over all.
Riches and glory come from you,
you’re ruler over all;
You hold strength and power in the palm of your hand
to build up and strengthen all.
And here we are, O God, our God, giving thanks to you,
praising your splendid Name.

14-19 “But me—who am I, and who are these my people, that we should presume to be giving something to you? Everything comes from you; all we’re doing is giving back what we’ve been given from your generous hand. As far as you’re concerned, we’re homeless, shiftless wanderers like our ancestors, our lives mere shadows, hardly anything to us. God, our God, all these materials—these piles of stuff for building a house of worship for you, honoring your Holy Name—it all came from you! It was all yours in the first place! I know, dear God that you care nothing for the surface — you want us, our true selves— and so I have given from the heart, honestly and happily. And now see all these people doing the same, giving freely, willingly—what a joy! O God, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, keep this generous spirit alive forever in these people always, keep their hearts set firmly in you. And give my son Solomon an uncluttered and focused heart so that he can obey what you command, live by your directions and counsel, and carry through with building The Temple for which I have provided.” – 1 Chronicles 29:10-19 (Msg)

A Father's Heart

I was caught off-guard while reading this portion of the Scripture. Emotions welled-up inside me and I cannot help but take a break from reading and praise God for His greatness. I felt humbled and little in comparison to His glory; filthy in comparison to His holiness and righteousness; weak and dumb in comparison to His might and wisdom. Indeed, God, in His infinity, is beyond comprehension. That moment is truly remarkable.

Yet beyond the overwhelming message of His Word, what overcame me was the peace that followed. I have been through a difficult emotional turmoil days prior my encounter with the Word, and during that incident, I found myself seemingly receiving a pat on the back from God Himself. I felt like a little child crying because of fear and insecurity and right when I need it, I was comforted by a hug from my Father.

Living in the times when fatherhood is becoming more of an idea than a responsibility, King David’s example is something to imitate. He displayed how to be vulnerable in front of His heavenly Father so he can be a strong earthly father to his son.

I admired King David praying and committing his successor-king son Solomon to the Lord. I was moved by the earnestness and passion of His fatherly prayer. I was moved by his desire to ensure that Solomon will choose to do the right things. I believe that if He was given a chance to guide Solomon’s actions in their whole father-son lifetime just to make sure everything’s working out fine, He will do so. Yet, King David, and every godly father know that their lifetime is brief and in different time frame. Soon his father role to Solomon will cease because of his finiteness. That’s why he entrusts his son to God – the infinite Father. He acknowledges that God is a Father who will care and protect, and will never cease to do so, because He is infinite.

I am not yet a father myself and I desire to be one soon. Living in the times when fatherhood is becoming more of an idea than a responsibility, King David’s example is something to imitate. He displayed how to be vulnerable in front of His heavenly Father so he can be a strong earthly father to his son. He acknowledged that the ultimate Source is not, and will never be him. He knew who the real Authority is, submits to that Authority and encourages others to do so. He demonstrates the godly values of honesty, gratitude, and generosity in worship, among others. When I become a father someday, I want to be like of King David, a father with a vulnerable heart towards God, his heavenly Father.

Pagsuway at Pag-alalay

May hugot din pala talaga sa biking.

Pagsuway at Pag-alalayLast Saturday, my friends and I went biking along the hustle and bustle of Pasig City. It took us almost eight hours of pedaling through occasional humps, bumps and rough road.

Ang masakit, nung pauwi na, habang dumadaan sa C5, bigla na lang napatid ang pagpedal ko. Since I am yet to learn how to discover what’s wrong with my bike, much more fix my bike, medyo nagpanic lang ako ng konti. Masyado pang malayo sa bahay. Halos parating pa lang kami ng Tiendesitas! Aakayin ko ba ang bike ko pauwi ng Marikina? Sasakay ng taxi?

Good thing, naisipan ni Jem na itali ang mga bike namin gamit ang mga bike chains. Kaya from C5 to Marikina, hila hila niya ako – dala ang bigat at pag-alalay kung paano kami makakauwi ng matiwasay.

Kagaya ng sinabi ko last post, may natutunan ako sa episode na yun ng buhay ko:

Inaalalayan tayo ng Dios, kailangan lang natin siyang pagkatiwalaan

Medyo tinamaan ako ng konting hiya nang mga sandaling hinihila ang bike ko. Ayoko kasi ng masyadong dependent sa iba, yung masyadong umaasa sa tulong ng iba. Pero that time, helpless na halos ako. Kaya kailangan kong magtiwala na magiging ok lang kami.

Kagaya din ng ating relasyon sa Dios. Minsan naiisip natin na kaya na natin. Nahihiya kasi tayo sa Kanya, na parang isang malaking kahinaan ang pagkapit sa Kanya. Pero in the first place, helpless naman talaga tayo kung wala Siya!

One thing I appreciate with my friends is their willingness to help me at the cost of their inconvenience. That’s what friendship is made up nga naman. But the Lord is a Friend as well, and more than a friend actually. Kaya kung pinagkakatiwalaan natin ang ating mga kaibigan na di tayo iiwanan, how much more can we trust the Lord?

Mas mabagal at delikado ang takbo kapag may attitude of resistance

Habang hila-hila ako at ang bike ko, may mga pagkakataon na ako ang nagpipilit magdikta sa magiging takbo namin. Kakabig ako pakaliwa, o pakanan; o kaya naman ay biglang preno.

When we resist God’s plan in our lives, tendecy is either we’ll delay our progress or worse, endanger our lives. Minsan kasi nagmamarunong tayo e.

Pero along the way, narealize ko na kung ako na dependent ay mag-iinsist ng gusto kong mangyari, possible na instead makauwi kami agad, mas bumagal pa kami or mailagay ko sa mas delikadong sitwasyon ang takbo namin. We are trudging C5 at hindi yun biro!

When we resist God’s plan in our lives, tendecy is either we’ll delay our progress or worse, endanger our lives. Minsan kasi nagmamarunong tayo e. We tend to think that we know how to direct life better than God, where in fact we are just mere passengers in His vehicle.

Kapag masyado akong nagpabigat habang hila ako, mas bumabagal ang takbo. Kapag tumigil ako, titigil din siya, pero may choice siyang iwanan ako. Hindi ko hawak ang pacing ng byahe namin, at lalong hindi ko desisyon na tulungan ako. Likewise, resistance to the Lord is futile, because we will always end up disadvantaged.

Kahit sa gitna ng iyong kalituhan, mayroon pa ring kapahingahan

Sa tagal ng pagpadyak namin, talagang inabutan ako ng pagod. Hindi biro ang halos walong oras na pagpedal a! Mula pa man ng pag-alis ko sa bahay at habang binabagtas namin ang mga kalsada, I keep on uttering prayers of guidance and protection, maging yung mga bisikleta namin ay wag nawang masira.

Pero nangyari nga ang di inaasahan. Kaya di ko maiwasang magtanong kung bakit kahit anong panalangin ko, namgyari pa rin. Ngunit sa gitna ng kalituhan, naroon ang kapahingahan. Umupo lang ako sa bike ko habang hila-hila ng bisikleta sa harap ko, at ang iba naming kasama ay nakaalalay. Napahinga ang mga paa kong napagod na sa byahe.

Likewise, God’s ways are puzzling. Mahirap intindihin kung minsan. Pero what’s best about it is hindi mo naman kailangang intindihin ang lahat sa Kanya. He is infinite, eternal and incomprehensible in the first place.

At mas ramdam ko ang daluyong ng malamig hangin at mga matatayog na istruktura sa Eastwood. Nakauwi ako, with less padyak and more pahinga (than the rest of my peers. Haha!)

Likewise, God’s ways are puzzling. Mahirap intindihin kung minsan. Pero what’s best about it is hindi mo naman kailangang intindihin ang lahat sa Kanya. He is infinite, eternal and incomprehensible in the first place. Yet when we trust His sovereignty over our lives, mas maaappreciate mo ang bawat himaymay ng wonderful plans Niya sa buhay mo. It is better to rest in Him than to be restless, stressing yourself.

May hugot din pala talaga sa biking. 🙂

Speaking with a goldfish: Important notes I’ve discovered in the Book of James

When one is in trial, he learns to persevere.

Amidst my tight schedule, my preoccupations and numerous unreasonable excuses not to open my bible, finally I managed to get through the book of James. And it took me fifteen days to actually get its message! I call that goldfish memory days – my short lived memory cannot contain the jewels of life the book is giving me, perhaps due to physical exhaustion. But praise God, His words are powerful enough to overpower my seemingly over fatigued mind and body just to tell me How awesome His love is for me. During those fifteen days, God is like a man teaching his goldfish instructions to live life. And because nothing is impossible to God, He actually got His message across!

I have just finished my second week in school. At this early point, I’m already contemplating whether the subjects I’m currently taking are wise choices. Actually, I don’t know. Being a working student, my only goal is to get as many subjects as I could so as to accelerate my years studying. And after my first two weeks of gruelling schedule, I find myself overwhelmed with tons of responsibilities. To be honest, I have no complaints. I love challenges. I’m used to deadlines and pressures. My creative juices manifest when I’m in an adrenaline rush. But I was caught off guard this time. I’m thinking whether I’ve bitten more than what I can chew. And there is no turning back for me now. I have decided to face the challenge no matter what, backed up with confidence that God stands by me in this battle.

Consider it pure joy?

The earlier part of the fifteen-day journey through the book of James tells me to consider it pure joy when I’m in trial. Perseverance is the key.

Consider it pure joy? How can I be joyful when my eyes want to sleep but I still have to pass a research paper? Where can I find joy in the midst of tense classmates because our professor might “send us to hell” any moment?

When one is in trial, he learns to persevere. Perseverance produces maturity and completeness. Well, at first it’s easy to comprehend. These are all common and familiar verses in the Bible. Actually, the whole book of James is. But its familiar message turns surreal when I began to meet my terror professor, tons of assigned readings and lack of sleep. Consider it pure joy? How can I be joyful when my eyes want to sleep but I still have to pass a research paper? Where can I find joy in the midst of tense classmates because our professor might “send us to hell” any moment? But still, God speaks through James to consider it pure joy. Okay then, I’ll try…

Humility is Wisdom

In a classroom there exists competition for good grades and reputation. It is every wise student’s desire to excel in class. I believe I am one of those “wise” students. I want not just to survive the semester and get the most of my tuition fees, but to earn good grades and learn. But I was reminded that wisdom is evidenced by good life and deeds done in humility.

For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. So a Christian’s “show-off” of wisdom is though genuine humility and good deeds, and the wisdom that comes from heaven is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

For people whose sole desire is to be at the top, they don’t mind being caught up in the midst of an unhealthy competition, fighting for their rights and boasting about what they have and what they can do. Envy and selfish ambition gets prevalent. But with Christians, it is (should be) different. We must not get wired up in the competition but must be above it. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. So a Christian’s “show-off” of wisdom is though genuine humility and good deeds, and the wisdom that comes from heaven is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. A real challenge because we tend to react to competition by trying to overpower others with what we have. But God says, be humble. And that is true wisdom.

Patience in Suffering

My terror professor asked the working students in the class, “You already have your job, why do you still want to pursue your studies?” I have an answer in mind, unfortunately I wasn’t called.

But as to when will I reach my goals, everything seems blurred. But God says be patient. As a farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, for the autumn and spring rains, so I have to be patient.

I reflected upon that question as I go home, and I realized that even after I finish my second course, I’m still not sure what will happen. I have my visions in life. I already have my goals set. But as to when will I reach my goals, everything seems blurred. But God says be patient. As a farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, for the autumn and spring rains, so I have to be patient. Moreover, the Lord is coming soon. To wait upon the Lord seems to be taxing but the rewards outweighs the pain; the result is greater than the suffering. He will avenge us from our oppressors. Above all, He will put in our heads the crown of life He has promised to those who love Him, to those who stood the test, to those who persevered under all these trials.

These are just some of the imperative reminders I’ve discovered in the precious book (I discovered a lot!). The best thing, this is just one of the life-transforming books available in the bible. And its message is applicable not for the semester alone, but throughout my faith journey.

Slow Fade

For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see.

*With lyrics from Casting Crown’s Slow Fade

Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

I was reminded how compromises (or little foxes, as King Solomon puts it) corrupt a whole being. It may sound innocent, but a reply “just this one time” to an invitation becomes an open door for the spirit of complacency and stubbornness to creep into one’s system. It brings a slow fade in one’s spiritual health, which when neglected, leads to eventual death.

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

Oh! How many times I have allowed just-this-one-time mentality overtake my priorities. The results surfaced, unfortunately not in an instant but in a sure hit, gradual manner — and I was caught unprepared. All the time I know I am strong enough to make counter-attacks should there be any attempts to meddle my spiritual growth, but I never realized that I was already caught off-guard, thanks to the compromises I have made. I almost found myself asking “am I fighting a losing battle?”

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you’re thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Indeed, people really never crumble in a day. Just like a simple crack eventually destroys an edifice, a little rumor ruins integrity, and a trivial misunderstanding breaks relationships. Our biggest problems in life aren’t those we fear the most — broken relationships, flawed personality, bondage to a certain problem — usually they are the little foxes creeping their way behind us, slowly ruining our vineyards. Compromises only give birth to bigger frustrations.

“Our vineyards are in blossom;
We must catch the little foxes
That destroy the vineyards.”
Song of Songs 2:15

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

“Please celebrate with me that Satan cannot do anything to us God cannot use through us! No matter what gains the enemy has had in your life,if you will cooperate with God and allow Him to direct your life henceforth, God will turn defeat into victory! Satan does not have to have the last word the circumstance he authored in your life.” — Beth Moore