Today is the last day of 2009. In a matter of hours, the countdown for the new year will begin. Hours before that, the streets are going to be noisy and be full of smoke from the different firecrackers that people light up. But before everything becomes too noisy, I am taking this time of silence to look back at how 2009 has been a blessing for me.
At the start of the year, God said that this year, a lot of changes would happen–changes that I would be initiating, and changes that I would adjust to. This year, also, I somehow developed an “obsession” about death. I have kept a list of significant deaths for the year, a list that friends question me for keeping it. I started the list because their deaths teach me something, and I have believed that at the end of the year, God will reveal the bigger picture on this death obsession. Today is the end of the year, and He has indeed taught me a lot of things concerning death.
Here is a review of my list (for the first five, I’ll only mention their name since I have written about them here):
1. Nicky Besa.
2. Monique Angeles.
3. Amiel Alcantara.
4. Francis Magalona.
5. Lei Claudel.
6. Trina Etong, a controversial death, maybe suicide. The living is deeply affected by the death of a loved one. Media complicates things.
7. Jojo Datangan, 17 years old, fought leukemia at an early age.
8. Liberty Liwanag, my HS classmate’s mom. The first time I heard it on the news I hoped that it had not been my classmate’s mom. But she was.
9. Michael Jackson, a famous star who was never content of who he was.
10. Tara Santileces, a holdup victim who was in comatose and then out of coma, fought for her life.
11. Tito Ed Roque, a former coordinator in YFC.
12. Cory Aquino, a heroic icon for Filipinos.
13. the hundreds of lives claimed by nature through Ondoy, Pepeng, the tsunami and earthquake.
14. Maguindanao Massacre victims.
Listing down significant deaths for the year has taught me to make every day of my life count. It has taught me forgiveness, especially for those victims of murder. Above all, it has taught me that life here on earth is very, very short. What matters most is eternal life. In the process, I have asked myself questions like “How would I want to be remembered?” and “What will people say in my eulogy?” But the Lord redirected my gaze from what I will be leaving to what is waiting for me. My question turned to a challenge: Live your life offered to the Lord so that when the time comes, He will be able to tell you, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
From physical death, He showed me another kind of death–the death to sin, death to self. He reminded me of His conditions on following Him–to deny myself and take up my cross daily. He gave me His mercy that my sins were exposed and repent from them; He showered me with His graces that’s why I can take up my cross daily. He used all of my experiences (ex. when my laptop crashed) to tell me that in Him, I am a new creation–this is my resurrection. He reminded me of my identity–His daughter. I have returned home, and accepted His gifts of joy and peace.
I am ever grateful for this year. The song that captures my 2009 is an old song, yet very beautiful. It is what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11, “Go and sin no more” (NLT).
Just as 2009 was ending and just when I thought I have seen the big picture about death, He simplified things more for me. Moses prayed in Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (NKJV). The Lord was teaching me to count my days here on earth, and in the process, I am gaining wisdom. For James tells us, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14, NIV).
Today is the last day of 2009. I have learned and re-learned a lot of things, God spoke to me loud and clear. But I pray what Paul said to the church in Philippians, “12 I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his.13 Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead,14 I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above.” (Philippians 3:12-14, NCV)