Death. Who would be prepared for death? Who could be prepared for the pain, the void, and the questions that it would leave behind?
Being confronted with death makes one look at her own life and reflect: what legacy will I leave behind? With the life that I’m living now, how would people remember me? Would I want to continue living like this for the rest of my life? Truly, our life on earth is just a loan from our Creator. We are like flowers who are here today and gone tomorrow. We don’t know when our life will wither and die. But we can do something about this life that we are given.
Ultimately, I believe, that a fully surrendered life to our Creator will be the most purposeful life. A life that is offered as a living sacrifice will not only leave a legacy here on earth, but will have eternal rewards as well.
In this deep sorrow, there is joy. Yes, I grieve for the loss that I am experiencing, including the future could-be’s if she did not pass away. But I am learning to sing praises and be thankful for waking up everyday, having another chance to please my Master.
To those who are reading this, you may not understand. You may think that I am merely ranting. So be it. Maybe I am. One thing’s for sure: I am made for a purpose and my heart has its dreams and desires. My prayer is just that I may be completely focused on my Lord and only God, to offer my life to Him, and sing Him praises no matter what my circumstances are.
I have been in hiatus for this blog for a very long time now. Reasons include lack of time for posting and for writing, as well as being lazy about it. I also wanted this blog to be a repository of what I have written to bless others. I just don’t want this to be a blog about random rantings.
But maybe, it’s high time to get this running. Maybe, just maybe, by my short reflection for every day, I may still be able to bless others.
Yes, it is time to come back.
To have faith is to have joy, patient endurance.
To have faith is to have an undivided devotion to the Lord.
To have faith is to smile at the future.
To have faith is to have patient endurance amidst suffering because it is but for a little while.
To have faith is to love, whatever it will entail.
To have faith is to never give up on prayer.
To have faith is to have joyful obedience.
A life surrendered to God is a life of faith.
On Sunday night, a Cebu Pacific aircraft overshot the runway in Davao airport, the Philippine’s 3rd most busiest airport. This caused hundreds of passengers stranded in Davao City. Big airlines re-routed their passengers to and from Davao via General Santos Airport. Small budget airlines left their passengers stranded.
According to a report published by rappler.com, several angles of the investigation lead to “pilot error.” Passengers and concerned citizens blame Cebu Pacific crew for not handling the situation humanely.
Even two days after the incident, the Cebu Pacific’s airplane remained in the runway, causing the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) to move the deadline twice–their original deadline was Monday at 8pm, then moved to Tuesday, 10am, and again to Tuesday 3pm. Cebu Pacific was not successful in removing the airplane immediately as they want to salvage as much as they can, avoiding more damage to the aircraft.
With this scene in my mind, I could imagine the pressure of the situation. The ground crew handling the heated complaints of passengers, the security personnel looking out, the online reports and complaints of those who are affected directly, indirectly, and those who just want to join in the bandwagon. Everyone is looking for someone to blame, or shift the blame to someone else. Impatience and rage from the passengers are fuelled by each other’s complaints.
Now let’s pause that scene and look at the big picture: God allowed it to happen and so He must have things to teach us using the circumstances, resting on the fact that He is in absolute control of the situation (even if CAAP, Cebu Pacific, Davao Airport Management, etc. are not). In particular, I believe He teaches the following things:
- To have a thankful heart. Paul said in his first letter to the Thessalonians, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1Thes.5:18)” Amidst the delays and heartaches being stranded can cause, we can still be thankful that no one was hurt in the 165 passengers aboard the Cebu Pacific plane. We can be thankful that the stranded passengers are still also safe amidst the possibility of engine explosion. We can be thankful that those we love in Davao will only be temporarily separated from us, unlike the three fathers who were killed in the Serendra blast who departed from their family for this lifetime.
- To trust Him completely. The wisest man who ever lived reminded us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not in your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)” We may not, at the moment, understand why people are stranded, and why the small budget airlines are not re-routing their passengers. However, it is in trusting that He is in complete and absolute control that will bring us His peace which transcends all understanding. As one of my former teachers would have said, “this is definitely a perfect situation to trust the Lord.”
- To change our ways that are not pleasing to Him. We are born with a factory defect–sin. Paul said in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Because of sin, “we have become strangers not only to God, but also to ourselves,” Roy Hession said. Therefore, God makes ways for Him to show us ourselves, and this situation is also a perfect opportunity to reveal how sinful we are–impatient, selfish, and easily angered among others. Will we respond with a sense of responsibility, as a mature person would do? Or will we simply react, which will definitely do more damage to an already bad day? When we have confessed and repented of the sins that were revealed to us, we are more conscious to respond in ways that are pleasing to God. Next time, God will be able to reveal to us other sins that hide in the darkness. As Hession puts it, “The reward of your obedience to light will be more light on further sin. He does not show us ourselves all at once, for we could not bear it. But He does so progressively, as each bit of truth obeyed leads to further revelations of ourselves.”
In everything, God promises us that things will work out for the best of those who love Him and who are called to His purpose. Paul further adds, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” (Romans 8:28-29).
I put an emphasis on loving God since this is the heart of discipleship. Following Jesus means loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. However, sometimes, we become spiritually stranded–we say we’re hurt, we say we can’t, we doubt, and we’re too busy that’s why we don’t make time for God. Rev. Edmund Chan called these as the primal wounds of the heart, paralysis of the will, cynicism of the mind, and overcrowding of our soul. All these hinder us from loving God will all that we are.
Unlike the passengers of Davao, we don’t need an aircraft to fly home to God when we’re spiritually stranded. We just need to come home because God assures us of His absolute love for us. Lifting Rev. Chan, God tells us: “Whatever you’ve done, whatever you become, it doesn’t matter. I love you! ” Furthermore, he tells us with Godly wisdom our problem today:
“I know we hide behind banners…in the church like discipleship, world missions, change the world. But in the carnality and darkness of the soul, there are many, many Christians who are lost in their darkness and in their confusion. And we might say the right things, attend the right meetings, might be seen in the right places, but in the corner of the darkness of our hearts, we know we re far from God. And we must hear once again these words of love: Whatever you’ve done, whatever you’ve become, I love you!”
So, will we stay stranded, or come home? The choice is ours to make.
Just like a ball, we’ve got to bounce back. In life, we would sometimes be up, at other times, we’re down. If a ball is filled with air, it will bounce back up easily. However, if the amount of air inside the ball were not as it should be, then it would not bounce swiftly. Rather, it will just roll on the ground.
Likewise, in our Christian walk, we must always pray that we would be filled by the Holy Spirit, so that we may easily bounce back and continue the “game” that is set before us. If we were not, then, our tendency would be to dwell on the bad stuff, which would eventually lead us further downhill.
Let us be filled with the Holy Spirit. Bounce back.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” -Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB
Jeremiah was a prophet to the Jews at the time of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was reigning the world. His book chronicles what happened to the obstinate Jews. He was labelled as the mourning prophet because during his time, nobody (as in nobody) listened to God through him, and thus obeyed God.
Chapter 42 of the book records the time after the Jews were exiled, and only the peasants were left in the land, which was in ruins. The appointed governor of Judah was already killed at this time, and so the people came to Jeremiah to inquire of the LORD on what they should do. When they came to him, they seemed sincere in obeying what God would say them to do. They even said, “Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the LORD our God to whom we are sending you, in order that it may go well with us when we listen to the voice of the LORD our God,” (v.6). So, after ten days, Jeremiah came back to them with the word from God. He said that God wants them to stay in Judah and He will have compassion on them. They should not fear the king of Babylon for He will save and deliver them from his hand. His promise is that of restoration. However, God warned the people as well: not to go to Egypt for if they go, they would surely die.
God searches the heart and He understands every intent of the thoughts (1 Chronicles 28:9). At this instance, God did not fail to see through the intentions of the Jews. For when Jeremiah warned them about not going to Egypt, they became furious of him. They accused Jeremiah of telling a lie (43:2) and they went down to Egypt as they have planned. I am unsure when they have planned going to Egypt–either before they inquired of Jeremiah, or during those ten days of waiting for God’s leading. In the end, they pursued what they wanted, what they have planned in their hearts, and refused to obey God.
Why did they prefer Egypt over their own land? It is ironic that they would want to go back to the land of their slavery and choose to forsake the land promised to them. God revealed what’s in their heart in v.14: in Egypt, there was no war, and no famine. It looked like a place where they could find safety and abundance. Judah, on the other hand, was in ruins. It was burned and the danger of the Chaldeans coming back for them was always there. Their choice was a matter of walking by sight, or walking by faith.
God promises to be found when we seek Him with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13), thus letting us know what to obey. In the new testament, Paul exhorts us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Walking by faith requires us to put our full trust in God and not rely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). This faith pleases Him (Hebrews 11:6).
So the question for us now is this: Would we walk by faith? Or by sight?
“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.” 1 Chronicles 28:9
I recently had dinner with a couple that is really dear to me. They are like parents, and I was like their daughter. It has been more than two years since we last saw each other, and more than that since we had quality conversation and time together. Over the years, communication would just be through Facebook, or SMS, saying “Hello! I miss you.” There would also be the occasional exchange of prayer items. Finally, the much awaited reunion was set.
I was excited and I anticipated a good time. The day came–I just enjoyed the night, savouring each moment. Finally, as I lay in bed that night, I was still smiling, thankful that there was time spent together. And until now, the memory of that wonderful night brings out my biggest smile and leaps of joy in my heart.
As I replay the night in my head, I was reminded of what Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11). It was the discourse about the vine and the branches, about abiding in Jesus.
If time shared with this couple brought me great joy, wouldn’t spending time with my heavenly Father bring greater joy? If the food that we ate nourished me physically, wouldn’t feeding on His Word nourish me spiritually? And wouldn’t it be even greater that with Him, there are no physical limitations so I can spend quality time with Him anytime, anywhere?
That night, I was grateful for the opportunity God gave me to reunite with this couple. However, I later on realized that it was beyond my relationship with this couple. God wants to reveal this parallel. He reminded me that He is my Father, and my relationship with Jesus will bring His joy in my life. It was an answer to a prayer I’ve been praying: to teach me how to be more courageous.
What’s the connection of being joyful and being courageous? I was surprised when I first saw the connection. In John 16:33, Jesus’ last line was “Take courage, I have overcome the world.” To gain a better understanding of the verse, I read it in different Bible versions. NIV and NCV translate the phrase “take courage” as “take heart.” I also looked at KJV and this phrase was translated as “be of good cheer.” “Be of good cheer as take courage?” I thought. So, I searched where else the original Greek word (tharseō) was used, and consistently, the KJV translated it as either “be of good cheer,” or “be of good comfort.”
In all eight occurrences of the word, the situation went from being filled with fear and desperation to victory (Mt 9:2,22; 14:27; Mk 6:50; 10:49; Lk 8:48; Jn 16:33; Ac 23:11).
Our cheerfulness is Christ’s joy coming from the inside out. Ten verses back, Jesus promised that no one can take away our joy (John 16:22). Therefore, the bottom line is our intimacy with God. As we walk with Him, we become more intimate. We learn from Him, we receive much of His grace which nourish us, which will eventually allow us to bear much fruit (including joy!).
Relationships are important. But in the end, we (I) must not forget the most important relationship that we (I) have–that with Jesus Christ–our (my) Savior, and our (my) Lord. ♥