Trust in God’s Timing

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Of late, I haven’t been able to sleep well. We didn’t have school yet because of the NCov outbreak in Vietnam so we were just asked to stay at home for two weeks after Tet Holiday. I usually sleep late after Netflixing. But then again, after only an hour or two, I will wake up again and couldn’t go back to sleep anymore.

I don’t know maybe I have been thinking subconsciously about my current situation. You see, I am in a dating relationship with this guy from another religious sect. He is a believer of Jesus but we don’t have the same religion and that’s what’s stressing me out. Every time my church friends will ask me about him, I always feel pressured to ask him to ”convert” to my religion.

Yeah, I know. Even the term that I used is inappropriate. I just felt pressured and stressed. I even asked God why would He let me meet this person and be in this complicated situation. From the world’s view, this isn’t a complex one. People might even say, just enjoy and when You get married, just marry twice so both of you can marry on both of your churches.

But that’s not how it goes for me. You see, I value my relationship with Jesus so much and I don’t want to compromise my faith and standards. I always say I want to marry a guy who has a relationship with God and who is responsible and a good provider.

Then one day, my sister told me that you didn’t put a specific quality there. She said I just put there a guy with a relationship with God and God answered that becuse this guy I’m dating has a relationship with God. He is even a devotee of Nazareno. He is a provider and very responsible especially when it comes to his work. So clearly, God answered my prayers for a man. Only that, I view it with complexities because he is not a “Christian.”

Before we started dating, I laid down all my standards to him and told him I will not have a relationship with someone who doesn’t share the same faith with me. With faith, I meant religion. He said he is willing. So when we met, he even attended the church service with me. Whenever I’m home, we would go to the church together.

But then the pressure to actually plugged him to the church comes whenever my friends would ask me about him. And I let these come to me. I even thought about ending it with him just because I don’t want to be pressured anymore.

So one saturday, I asked him what’s his plans are. If he is still willing to ”convert to my religion.” He said he stays true to what he told me before but I should not pressure or rush him. He said if I really believe in God, I should let God do His will and not manipulate the situation. I asked him if he thinks I’m doing it for myself. And his answer was a crisp ”yes.”

And it struck me.

All along I thought I’m concerned about his salvation, his relationship with Jesus. In his three-letter answer, I was rebuked and had a heart-check and I realized that I’m pressuring him to convert because I don’t wanna deal with the pressures around me anymore.

And it was life-changing.

Then the next day, God showed me the parable of the landowner.

“For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.‘‘ It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God‘‘s mercy” (Romans 9:15-16). In the matter of salvation, His grace and mercy are given to those whose self-righteous works could never obtain it. We are all sinful and “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but His grace is sufficient to redeem all who believe. Whether God calls someone early or late in life to partake of His grace, the glory and praise for our salvation is His and His alone and in no way amounts to unfairness. Just as the landowner has a right to do what he wishes with his own money, so does God have the right to have mercy on whom He will have mercy.

It is like God telling me to not stress myself with changing this man because it is by His grace that this man will be saved. All by His grace and His timing. I should not pressure myself with my own timeline but trust in the timeline of God.

I prayed and fasted for three days after that. And in all those days, that’s what God’s been telling me. His grace. His mercy. Not my own works. I should trust God more.

And today, my last day of prayer and fasting, God showed me this:

Numbers 20:12

Because you did not trust me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

I cried after I read this and while talking to God. I thanked Him for rebuking me, for exposing my heart enough, for letting me hear Him. I was really in so much awe. Now, I have peace that He is in the works. I should just trust His timing.

Am I Being A Martha?

 

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In the story of Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha, most of us admire the faith of Mary. She would always choose to be with Jesus and listen to Him rather than do other things. There was one story in the Bible when Martha was upset because while she was busy preparing food for Jesus, Mary was just sitting by Jesus’ side and listening to Him.

I could imagine Martha by the kitchen, busy cutting the ingredients and maybe checking if the rice is already cooked and then go back to what she’s cooking again and pour in the ingredients she just cut. And then in the midst of these kitchen chaos, she suddenly heard Mary laughing joyously at Jesus’ jokes and then Martha looked at the living room and saw her sister just chilling there while she doesn’t know if she’s going to pick up the ladle or the kitchen knife. Get the picture?

Who wouldn’t feel upset, right?

Martha felt it was unfair so she went to Jesus and somehow ranted about Mary not helping her prepare stuff. And what was Jesus’ answer?

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Lk. 10:41-42)

In as much as I would want to be like Mary, I often find myself being a Martha. I tend to focus on my worries than on Jesus and His power to get me through my situations. Even in the ministry, I tend to worry about how I can echo in the preachings about Jesus to my lifegroup members in such a way that it can make an impact in their lives. I’m so pressed on making them feel and enjoy the love of Jesus that I tend to focus on that goal than letting Jesus work His way into their hearts. I wanted to please Jesus but I found myself losing Him in the feast because I’m too busy thinking about other things rather than keeping my eyes focused on Him.

I’m such a worrier and that’s something that I’m sooo not happy about. Sometimes when I’m too preoccupied with all these worries, this story would pop in my head and I would think of Martha and how I’m being like her.

That’s just one story.

And here’s the other.

When Lazarus died and after the scene in the house, Jesus and the sisters went to the tomb where Lazarus was laid. He asked that the stone be removed. But Martha immediately said:

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

You can see here the BUT attitude of Martha. She trusts Jesus. She has faith in Him. But still, she couldn’t stop herself from wondering why would Jesus ask that the stone be removed if He knows that Lazarus is already dead. Even if she knows and trusts Jesus can do miracles, still she can’t get rid of her “BUT.”

Admittedly, I could see myself in this situation. I have faith in Jesus. I know He will get me through whatever situations I am in. But still, there are times when I doubt if Jesus would really grant me with what I’m praying for.

There was an instance when I applied for this school that I really really like. I’ve been praying for that school because I really want to work there. The interview went well and the demo teaching was awesome, according to the principal. After the demo teaching, I could say that I could almost feel the victory. I’ve prayed hard about it. I claimed the position will be mine.

But it didn’t. I got an email from the department head who interviewed me that I didn’t get the job and they chose another one.

Right that moment, I had a feeling of what went wrong. It was not because I didn’t deserve the job or I was not good enough.

It was because I doubted. No matter how much I’ve prayed about it, I have to admit that there was a pinch of doubt in my heart that Jesus would actually grant me that prayer request. It was not because He doesn’t love me or He doesn’t care about what would make me happy. It was because I didn’t give my full trust in Him. I know He can give me that job but I had that tinge of fear He wouldn’t.

There was that ‘BUT’ moment. But what if God wouldn’t give it to me? I know Jesus can bless me that but what if He doesn’t like to?

In my quiet time today, I was reminded of my Martha-like attitudes. I was reminded of how I’m somehow doubting God just because I’m magnifying the things that should not be magnified. I’m failing to magnify God because of those fears and doubts and worries.

Jesus doesn’t ask too much from me. He doesn’t ask me to die for Him or be stoned to death for Him. He only wants my faith and trust in Him. That’s all He’s asking of me. And a lot of times, I fail Him because I tend to focus on my worries and fears.

I admire Martha’s domesticated, responsible and straightforward traits, but I also want to be like Mary who just enjoyed Jesus’ presence in the midst of the chaos. That even if there’s a lot going on in the kitchen or the house was messy, Mary still found the time to just fellowship with Jesus.

Just like Mary, I hope I can also really just focus on Jesus. That even if there are a lot of things going on in my life, I will not lose my focus on Him. That as much as I’m preparing myself for Him, I will all the more enjoy being with Him because that’s what matters the most.

Martha isn’t a bad girl. She’s not a nemesis in the Bible. She was just too focused and driven. She loved to perform acts of service toward others and was a hospitable hostess. She loved Jesus with all of her heart. But most of the time, she tends to forget that more than what she can offer to Jesus, He just wants to be with her and fellowship with her more.

Now that’s really a good reminder for me and for most of us. I hope that despite the worries of this life, we won’t lose Jesus in the feast. Jesus doesn’t need our works. Most of the time, He just wants us to really enjoy His presence. He just wants us to enjoy our date with Him and listen to Him or pour out ourselves to Him. He wants us and not what we can offer Him.

That Morning I Heard From Him…

“And don’t pray to God, ’cause He won’t talk back”

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As much as I like the soundtrack of Begin Again (one of my favorite films, by the way), this part of one of the movie’s soundtracks, A Step You Can’t Take Back,  somehow bothers me and makes me uncomfortable whenever I listen to it. Maybe the writer of this song was referring to some other god or maybe it’s a metaphor or something. I only love music but I’m not a music and lyrics genius so I can’t really tell. Nevertheless, one thing’s certain here: this statement is in no way the truth.

I strongly disagree. Because God does talk to us. And I’m saying this not because I’m a Christian, but because God really talks to us. In many ways. In many forms.

And I personally experienced that. God talked to me. In one of those days when I felt I was not deserving of His presence.

It was the fifth and last day of the annual prayer and fasting time of our church. I was supposed to do my morning devotions but I woke up late so I decided to do it during lunch break instead. But that wasn’t what God wanted to happen.

It was 10 minutes before 7am and my work starts at 7am so I should be going already but that task was very important so I had to message my co-teacher that I will be late for work that day. I finished the task just before 8am so I actually could head on to the school so I won’t be super late. Then my eye caught the Prayer and Fasting booklet and my journal on the table. Then there was the prompting to do my quiet time that very moment.

Admittedly, I was a bit hesitant to do it since the P&F material this year is too extensive (at least for me) and requires more time than usual, with the spiritual exercises and all. And it meant I will have to call my school and tell them I had to go half-day.

I know I’m not a super Christian and oftentimes, I don’t walk the talk. But there were some moments in my walk with God that I could really feel when He wants to tell me something. And that day was one of those moments.

The topic that day was about how to hear from God. And that’s something that really interests me, although I have to admit that it’s not really often that I hear from Him. While reading the instructions on the spiritual exercise, crumbs of doubts started filling my mind and heart. I just felt that I’m way too insufficient to hear from God that time. Imagine, I couldn’t do my morning devotions because I would be late for work but I could call in late when there’s an urgent task from my online work? I’m definitely not a model Christian. I mean, why would God talk to me?  I felt undeserving and unqualified to hear from Him that time.

But He did. And the scene’s still very vivid in my memory. These were the very words He spoke to me with:

“I’m the one who created the situation that caused you to be late from school. Because I missed you. You are so busy with your life that we only talk for a bit most of the time. Like a mother waiting for a call from her daughter living far away, I long for you to call Me and talk to Me and spend some time with Me. Yes, you are late for work today but you don’t have to worry because I will take care of it. I am more important than your job. I tell you, you don’t need to worry about your 2017 because I have it all planned perfectly for you. I am in charge of your 2017. You don’t have to worry. All your fears, anxieties, stress, cast them all on Me. I will take care of them. Just believe that I am with you.

There are times when you think you are insignificant. There may be times that you feel you don’t matter, that you are just a small piece of a puzzle. But I tell you, you are significant to Me. You are highly favored. You might not realize it now but I’m storming heavens to pour out the abundance of blessings and love on you. You are so much loved. You are very important to me. Never doubt that even for a second. I have loved you then and I will continue to love you till the end.”

I was crying the whole time I was penning down those words as I hear it. I didn’t expect that actual moment to happen that very morning. It was just so surreal.

I had to pen those words down because I want to read it over and over again. It was one of the remarkable encounters with God that I will definitely go back to whenever I feel down and unqualified. I’m not the highly spiritual type and I failed Him a lot of times but He still loves me and gives me that much importance to actually talk to me and let me hear His voice.

And I’m not psychotic (hello Dr.Gregory House!).

God actually talks to us. He is never busy for us. It is actually us who usually veer away from His presence when we get too busy with work and other things. And I’m guilty of that. I felt undeserving of His love but He still gives it to me in so much abundance.

You may have not experienced hearing from God yet but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t talk to you. Oftentimes, you just have to lock yourself from the world and really spend enough time seeking Him. Take time to enjoy His presence. He can talk to you through a friend, a Bible verse, a situation and promptings. You just need to be sensitive of His voice and believe that He really can talk to you.

When He seems silent, don’t be discouraged. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t care. According to Oswald Chambers, when God is silent, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible — with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. Silence can also be a sign of intimacy. God wants you to seek Him more and He wants more of your time.

Faith. Never doubt. That’s the paramount point. You have to trust Him that He listens even if He seems silent.

 

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It’s been a long time since I last posted an item in this particular category in my blog. Not that I backslid with my faith or something. And no I didn’t fall away. Perhaps I became too busy with work, with other stuff in my life and even the ministry that I wasn’t able to pen down my thoughts about God and my journey with Him. Seems like I actually have time for myself because I can go out with my friends and do different stuff but I don’t really have time for myself. It’s confusing, I know, but I’m sure you can get the picture.

I became so busy with my life and “worrying” about life that I felt I got lost in sync with my writer self. I could still write for my clients and other writing requirements from work, but I just found myself taking a long while before I could write something from the heart of late. I felt like I don’t have ‘it’ anymore. I was afraid that I lost it because of the busyness and other things occupying my day to day life now.

When I had my staycation in a hotel during one of the holidays here in Vietnam, I even brought five different books to inspire me to write again. But I ended up going home without even a simple entry to my blog.

Before, I could write a blog in just one sitting. Nowadays, it will take me hours staring at a blank page of my blog. And usually, I just end up clicking the X button and hitting ‘shut down’ just because I couldn’t start it at all. I became insecure and incapable.

I prayed about it to God. I laid it down to Him and asked Him to give it to me again because writing is something I’m passionate to do. I want to write passionately again. I want to string words together again with so much passion that the people who read it could actually feel it and perhaps, relate to. I want to write again without thinking of what some people will say about it.

No, this is not a matter of life and death. But it’s something dear to me that’s why this post deserves a spot in my blog.

I think same goes for the songwriters and the singers or some actors. It will frustrate them at one point when they can’t do their craft passionately anymore like they used to. And writing is my craft. It’s something that God blessed me with so I want to use it to inspire people and to tell them stories about my journey with life and with God. That’s why I feel frustrated that I can’t do it comfortably as I did before.

But now that I’ve already reached over 500 words and I’m already near the end of this post, and it’s not a blank page anymore, I know God is already working in my brains. It’s a great start to welcome me back to the world of words. And it’s not because I’m a writer that I can do this, but it’s because God is my God even with my simple frustrations like this. He answered me like a father helping his daughter open the stuck zipper of her bag.

This is not a blank page anymore because God helped me fill this page with words. I know I have it again because of Him:-)

The Inconvenience of the Waiting Period…and the Unexplainable Joy After.

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The waiting period, in all sense, is inconvenient for most of us. I don’t know anyone who’s fond of waiting in line and would even wish for the waiting period to be longer than usual. Well, not unless you have a really good book to read while waiting in line, then the waiting becomes a bit bearable. But even so, after a few minutes of reading, your eyes will eventually feel tired and you would turn to the clock and see how long you have waited.

See, the waiting part is not easy. It is often patience-stretching. On a deeper note, it is often in this waiting period that our characters are being put to test.

Take for example Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha. At the time of their brother’s death, they were waiting on Jesus, believing in their hearts that Jesus can raise Lazarus from the dead and back to life. But Jesus didn’t come at the very moment they were waiting for Him. In fact, He arrived 4 days later. Thus, when Mary saw Him, she said to Him, “if you had been here, my brother would have not died…”

Jesus didn’t let this somehow reproaching question of Mary ruin the moment. He then asked her where the body of Lazarus was laid. Upon getting there, He asked the people with them to remove the stone covering the entrance. And then entered Martha with her pessimistic remarks: “But Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there for four days.” 

If I were in the position of Jesus during that time, I might transform into Mr. Asimo and I would tell them: Oh eh di kayo na! Sige na wag na lang! Puro kayo kontra!

But Jesus, in all His might and overflowing patience,  told them: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

Oftentimes, we are like Mary and Martha during our waiting season. We tend to be too stuck in our troubles, oftentimes forgetting that God can turn things around for us. We tend to ask God a lot of “whys” and demands that He answer all our questions and maybe, just maybe, we can be comforted.

I must admit, just like Martha, I also tend to entertain doubts and questions during my waiting season. I keep on saying that I believe in Jesus Christ but because sometimes I don’t see Him move in my situation, I tend to think that He is not working in my midst at all. Doubts start to cloud my mind and my heart. And with all honesty, I am trying to shoo away all those doubts and fears with all my might. But my might is not as sturdy and powerful as Jesus’ might is, that’s why I always turn to Him for strength especially during the waiting and trying season.

In Jesus’ word in John 11:40, I was reminded again of God’s promises and assured me once more that all of those will come to pass–not only in the lives of the people in the Bible, but in my life as well.

Faith. That is just what He needs from us. Believe in everything He can do for us and we will experience His wonderful glory.

Yes, the waiting season may be long. We might get confused along the way. We might sometimes go crazy waiting for things to turn our way.  We may feel blinded by the darkness surrounding that long alley towards Jesus’ promise. But remember that Jesus is always the lamp upon our feet to light our way. Yes, it might still be way too dark, but try to open your eyes and look for that light that Jesus is to us.

When we say we are waiting upon the Lord, we must have a heart that is confident in expecting for Him. With confidence, doubts and fears must not be present. Let’s not just believe Jesus in words but more than that, believe Him with our hearts and minds.

Jesus is never late. We all know that. His time is not our time. If He had come during the time that Mary and Martha were waiting for Him to resurrect Lazarus immediately, then they and the other Jews with them might not have witnessed and felt His glory as He raised Lazarus from the dead.

Try to integrate that in your current situation. I tell you, it will make a big difference when you wait upon God’s appointed time. It’s more “magical,” if I may say. Imagine fireworks blasting beautifully in the sky when God’s appointed time for your prayer has finally arrived. It’s not only for you to see but for everyone else to bear witness to.

In my season of waiting, I only have one prayer I keep on saying to God: YOUR WILL OVER MY DESIRE. 

Even if the desire is good and it won’t hurt anybody, still if it’s not the will of God, it’s absolutely pointless. And when I’m praying that to God, I am declaring to Him that I trust His will, I am surrendering to it, and that no matter what, I am believing that He will let His promises to my life come to pass in His own time.

I like what my friend told me about praying for God’s will: If you are praying for His will, consider it done. 

No doubts. If He is for you, there’s nothing that can stop His will to uncover in your life.