Jimmy Needham Concert & A Lesson on Appetite

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Exactly a week ago, April 9, I attended the concert of one of my most favorite Christian artists (and since that day, speakers): Jimmy Needham. If his name doesn’t ring a bell,  go to the end of this post and watch him sing my favorite song of his, “Forgiven and Loved.” Seriously, stop.  However, if you do know him and have heard his music, you’ll know he’s really blessed and wonderfully gifted. I said gifted because not only is his music entertaining and pleasant to the ears, but it’s also very heart-stirring and mind-activating. Jimmy (yes close kami? Haha) is currently on his “Guy, Guitar + Gospel Tour,” and I was so thrilled he dropped by Manila. The fact that the venue of his concert was at our very own church, CCF, made the event even more thrilling (because I feel so at home at that place, even with its magnanimity). To say that I was blessed that evening would be an understatement. Convicted and pierced are the more appropriate terms.

Before I continue sharing my concert experience, I must confess something. Prior to the concert, my relationship with God was pretty lukewarm. Two weeks have already passed since my second semester ended, and yet I still carried with me the habits I formed during my stressful days: an ‘okay, not-so-on-fire’ quiet time, a lack of passion and interest to pray and study Scripture, and the obsession with my self and my thoughts and desires. I promised God and myself that I would make it up to Him (to us) for the lost time and revitalize our relationship. I made up a list of things to do and goals to accomplish to keep my life in check. “As long as I remain consistent in doing these things, I will be successful. God would be happy. I’ll be joyful again, just like before.” Yeah right. On the night of Jimmy Needham’s concert, I was, yet again, proven  wrong.

One of the things I appreciate about Jimmy Needham is his love for Scripture. Towards the latter part of his concert, he shared with us his testimony, his walk with the Lord, and a passage from the Old Testament that really struck him the most. He loves the Old Testament so much, calling it the book for train wrecks. 😀 I agree with that nickname, because that was what Israel and man in general was. Stubborn train wrecks always being rescued by a loving and faithful God. Jimmy also went on sharing that the problem of most people today, especially Christians, is not a problem of doing, but of being. Within the heart, not the hands, lies the issue. Man’s issue with the living God is more than just a mere judicial problem of doing or not doing, but that of desire. How did he come up with that conclusion? Jimmy quoted the verse from which he gathered this insight, in Jeremiah 2:13:

“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water.”

“Broken cisterns that can hold no water. The problem of Israel was not that they weren’t good enough. Israel’s greatest sin was that it did not desire the Living Water. They had no appetite for God.” (Needham, 2014)

When he said this, I was shocked. It was my first time to hear the verse, but already my heart connected with my mind. Our problem–our biggest problem–is a lack of appetite for all things Heavenly. This really struck me the most because…I have a huge appetite. Caveman’s, actually. Not for God, but for worldly things.

Sure, I love God. I do. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” I show my love for Jesus by obeying Him. I don’t obey Him so that I would love Him, but the other way around. Obedience is an expression of love. I know this. By God’s grace and the power of His Holy Spirit I am applying this, albeit very imperfectly, and I am striving to love Jesus more and more each day.

However, to look at my love for Jesus from the “appetite perspective” was a totally different story. Do I desire Him? Do I crave Him like I would with bacon, peanuts, and a romantic relationship with a loving, Christian guy? (yes you read that last part right. I’m human, too,  you know. It so happened I was female.) Was I willing to go on a spiritual feast everyday just so I can savor the richness of God’s Word and the loveliness of His presence?

The answers to all my questions, sadly, was a big fat no.

I loved God and obeyed Him, but oftentimes my obedience was a mere routine, “because God says so.” Because I would be a bad leader if I didn’t. Because I would feel like a hypocrite. Because it won’t be worth it if I don’t obey Him. All these reasons are valid, helpful even. But after Jimmy Needham brought the appetite issue, I realized there was more to God than just obedience. He really, really, really wants a relationship with me. God did not create creatures that would just obey Him; He created rational and social creatures that would love Him back and enjoy Him for all eternity.

Satan knew that if he introduced something overtly evil to us we would have just laughed at him, so he used something we love the most, use the most, and crave the most: FOOD. I was talking with my discipleship group two weeks ago, and I told them of my observation, how the food industry has been so prevalent in our lives today compared to a few years ago. There are over 25 million posts for #foodporn and over 2 million for #foodstagram on Instagram (most likely that also means 25 + 2 million posts on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media sites). Food is a basic human need. God gave us food for our enjoyment. Solomon himself said that eating and drinking is a gift from God. However, we’re human, and we have a knack for messing things up. We make curses out of  gifts because we place them above the Giver. We are more than willing to sacrifice our appetite for a life of inexhaustible joy for that of a temporary life and depraved existence. No wonder a lot of us (myself included) do not get to experience the abundant life Jesus promised.

Appetite for Jesus–wanting Him, craving for Him, desiring Him–was my greatest problem. Jimmy Needham helped me realize that. Thankfully, he didn’t just end with pointing out the problem. God is a restorer, not a demolisher. He breaks down for the intent of building up again. Trying harder, being good, coming up with a better plan were not plausible options. What then? Simple.

GRACE.

To be honest, I felt uncomfortable when Jimmy brought up the subject. That was what I least deserved. I’m like most people in that I find grace hard to accept because I feel strongly about the need for reparation of my sins. I fear falling on one end of the scale,  licentiousness, abusing grace, without realizing I fell on the other end: legalism, abhorring grace. Grace, if it is to be true, demands complete surrender and total acceptance and at the same time, realizes true life transformation. Actions are important, but only after the gift has been received. For a person who loves gifts and whose second first name is Grace, I found it surprising I was rejecting grace. It really is for the undeserved. God was handing out to me because HE LOVES ME. He loves you. When Jimmy Needham started singing “If I Ever Needed Grace,” I tried hard not to cry. I failed. Grace and my tear ducts made a contract I wasn’t aware of. On that evening, as I sat there and allowed God to work His magic, I felt at rest and at peace. I was home.

Our appetite for Jesus has to be constantly fed because the enemy competes for appetite for him. We must not surrender to the enemy. Trying hard to be goo or coming up with a “new and all-improved” program won’t do the trick. Coming to Jesus and feasting on His presence will. That’s what Jimmy Needham did, and that’s how God set him free from the bondage of pornography. I believe that’s how He’ll also set me (and you) free from a life of depravity, sin, loss, and just mere existence.

Truth be told, I still struggle with appetite–both physical and spiritual. Who doesn’t? God is good; He’s always willing to take me in when I humble myself before Him. I believe He’ll do the same for you. If you ever needed grace (and I bet you do), He will always be willing to give it to you.  All you need is a humble heart and a contrite spirit.:)

 

How’s your appetite for Jesus? Craving for Him lately? You don’t have to wait for the next sale or purchase a coupon online to avail of the buffet because He’s always available for the taking. 

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” – Jesus Christ (Revelation 3:20)

 

PS: Sharing with you guys photos to the concert. I went with my brothers, Josh and James, and my cousin, Jared. My other cousins and friends were there, too. Jimmy Needham you’re the best! 🙂

With camille

With Josh_Jimmy Needham

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Coming Clean

I grew up thinking that the Christian life was an uphill adventure. Every year, life gets tough as your faith muscles are being flexed to their maximum capacity, but whatever happens, you’re always improving. God only knows where I got this absurd idea, and now He tells me to delete it from my system because not only is it wrong, it’s deceiving.

The Christian life is not an uphill adventure. It’s a struggle-packed, roller coaster mess, but beautiful nonetheless.

I received Jesus into my life seven years ago, in February 2006 at the age of 12. Although I grew up in a Christian home, it was only after the Holy Spirit entered my life and started working in me that I felt, experienced, and knew what it was like to be really Christian. I developed a passion for reading and studying God’s Word. My quiet times usually lasted one to two hours. I served in various ministries and tried almost each one–tech, music, Sunday School (we call it NxtGen in our church), hosting, ushering, and retreat organization. For the first four or five years in my walk, I felt like God and I were the closest of friends. Sure, I fell every once in  while. I struggled with self-control, discipline, loneliness, a very mild case of depression, and self-esteem issues. Nevertheless, I really saw God’s hand at work in my life, and I felt His power work in and through me. I stuck to God’s Word like masking tape on paper.

Then I started drifting away.

I don’t remember how The Drift started, but I know when it started: when I let my heart, instead of the Holy Spirit with my knowledge of God’s Word, dictate my actions. Feelings usurped the throne; the Holy Spirit and the mind was deposed. Instead of guarding the heart, I let it take the lead. I behaved and acted on impulse.

There was a time last year when I had ill feelings for a certain brother in Christ for no apparent reason! I just didn’t like the way he spoke because I thought he was pretending to speak good English when he occasionally spoke with wrong grammar. I served God with him with these feelings because I did not surrender them to the Lord.

There were times (and sometimes I still do) avoid the gazes of my friends (except the really close ones) and people I know because my heart told me: “They might think you’re feeling close. Don’t greet ’em. Wait for them to call you.” So I looked the opposite direction when a person was heading my way or looking towards me and avoided them instead of making their day extra special with a smile and a sincere “Hello.”

When I’m with friends, I pretended I was a health-freak. I ate healthy food, said I exercised regularly, and counted calories. I did do those things, but I did not tell them that I also binged almost every night, had regular guilt trips to the fridge, and failed almost all my “healthy living” resolutions.

My mind brimmed with me. I’m pretty sure my mind got sick of me. I meditated on the things I wished I had–clothes, shoes, a successful career in the future, a thick checkbook, a desirable boyfriend…the list never ended. Materialism became my philosophy.

The worst side of me appeared at home. You are who you are in your comfort zone. There were weeks when I did nothing but watch television, eat gluttonously, and yell at my brothers to stop eating the snacks that were supposed to be for our baon (packed lunch), when I myself ate them. I played Pharisee pretty well. When my parents made lambing to me and asked me to massage them, I hesitated, but eventually agreed with great reluctance because “I had to ‘pay’ them back for what they did.'” In my head, I questioned what I was doing: Why was I being forced to serve them? Shouldn’t service be done voluntarily? I resented massaging them for 15 minutes, but I never hesitated to ask my Mom for my allowance and my Dad to pick me up from school. Moreover, when they told me to do simple errands for them, it’s either I delayed doing them or thought of things I should get in exchange for doing their errands for them. The list could go on and on. The perfect girl wasn’t really perfect after all.

I realized that something was wrong and that I was not being Christlike when, one night (which was last night), I grew tired of it all. I grew tired of watching too much TV, eating too much junk food, hurting too much people, and leaving myself hurt, depressed, confused, and worst off than when I started. I kept telling myself that I want CHANGE, but CHANGE wasn’t happening. I tried going back to my healthy living resolutions, character-building books, and all the other things I thought would help me bring the change I wanted. Most of them failed, and the others worked only for a short period of time. Where do I turn to? Then suddenly, sentences formed in my mind.

“You were bought with a price. It was for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm, and do not be enslaved again by a yoke of slavery. I did not save you to waste your life on worthless things, Jenny. Wake up! You are a child of the living God. Don’t waste your life away. Come back to Me. I love you so much, daughter! Come home, please.”

A thousand times I failed Him, still His mercy remained. Still His grace enveloped me. Still His love welcomed me with open arms.

Last night, I repented. Today, I come clean. I’ve been meaning to “come clean” a few weeks back, but I suppose God did not put the words in my mouth until I have been truly broken and humbled. The girl who thought she was  steadily “pressing toward the goal of her upward calling in Christ Jesus” has really, been stuck in the mire but was too proud and too egocentric to see her dire and depressing predicament. She forgot she was in the state grace, which was accompanied by power. She gave up the power she had access to to gratify the passing pleasures of her sin.

I wrote this and shared my experience, hoping to encourage those who have fallen behind and warn those who are standing strong, that they may watch themselves or they, too, may be tempted. I learned three things. First, starting out perfectly does not mean you end up (or continue) walking perfectly. You trip, stumble, and fall. The Christian life requires hard work! It’s true that God is the one at work in my life, but He refuses to work alone. He wants my cooperation. He wants to teach His stubborn daughter responsibility and obedience, and He can only do that if He gives me work to do.

Secondly, it takes only a small lie to deviate you from the truth should you choose to entertain it. Do not give the devil a foothold! One of Satan’s widely used tactics is Messing With Our Minds. What’s our defense? God’s word! Those times I struggled and refused to come clean before God were the times when I neglected my quiet time and study of God’s Word. Never, ever neglect your quiet time! It may just be your greatest defense for a day of combat against the Deceiver.

Thirdly, the heart is DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS AND IS DESPERATELY SICK (Jeremiah 17:9, emphasis added). It’s not just sick–it’s DESPERATELY sick. This is truth. Forget about the “follow your heart” philosophy movies, songs, and celebrities advertise. It’s the worst piece of advice in the planet. To follow the heart means to allow it to hold the reins of your will and make your decisions for you, instead of you directing it towards making Godly decisions. The Holy Spirit taught me that I should drown my heart with Biblical truths via the mind in order for it to get used to following Him.

However, the greatest lesson I learned from my troublesome experience is not any of the things I just mentioned. They are nothing compared to this: God really, really does love me. Gently, sweetly, benevolently, passionately, mercifully, graciously. He is one of a kind. He did not give up on me, leave me, or forsake me as He promised. He disciplined me because I belonged to Him. He broke my legs and carried me through the consequences of my actions because He was my good Shepherd. I can’t thank Him enough for giving me the nth chance. God is indeed good, and I testify to that!

If you’ve been standing firm in Jesus, praise God for you! Just be careful, and keep walking by the Spirit. 🙂

If you can relate with me, and you’ve been struggling for some time now, know that there is HOPE. Forgiveness and restoration is readily within your disposal. But here’s the thing: you need to repent. God made it clear to me: once I returned to Him, I will do, think, and speak on His terms. I will work according to His timetable, His will, and His plan for me. Jesus desires not just to be your Savior, He also wants to be your LORD. He asks simply this: deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. To do that, you must repent or make a 180-degree turnaround to Jesus. He can and will transform you! But you have to let Him. You have to admit, as I did, that you failed and need help, and that you don’t know everything. As for me, I had to accept the fact that I won’t be completely perfect as long as I’m in my earthly body, and that I was going to be perfect on God’s terms and in His time, not mine. (As a self-confessed perfectionist, this was hard to accept at first).

Forget perfect. You are being transformed.

Forget uphill. You’re in for a rollercoaster ride filled with ups, downs, and occasionally, loops.

Forget pride. Get rid of it and repent. Saints need repentance too, you know. 🙂

You Don’t Have To Be Interesting

At least not always. Interest can be subjective (what’s interesting for one may not be interesting for another) and is often temporary (what’s interesting now may not be interesting next year, or even tomorrow).

You do, however, have to be passionate.

The Insecurity Unmasked

I’ve written a few times about my struggle with insecurity (like my post on disliking my “program” like Ralph of Wreck-It-Ralph and my struggle to accept my dystonia). Well, I’m writing about it again. Insecurity gets the best of me when I let my guard down–when I think too much about how people will think of me (and make them as a source of my joy) or wish I have the things and experiences others have. When I read blogs of famous people or slowly-becoming famous people, I see the cool people they meet, events they attend to, clothes they wear (especially them fashion bloggers, a.k.a. Imelda Marcos’ disciples) and creative juices they have. Then I look at my life: the people I meet (almost the same everyday), the events I attend to (right now I shift from school to house to church), clothes I wear (I’ve run out of mix and match combinations with my available choices), and my “creative juices” (last month I thought about having my room painted white and my desk yellow. How’s that for “creative?”). I see monotonous repetition and ordinariness. Whenever a blank blog post is in front of me, I ask myself: “What interesting things can I write about today?” If I’ll be completely honest with myself (and I will), what that question really asks is this: “How can I be like other bloggers and post interesting stuff about my life to get more people to visit my blog, like my posts, and give me attention?” Narcissism at its finest. That’s why I could not blog the past few weeks. If I ask myself the first question, I couldn’t write anything because nothing “interesting” happened to me (well except for the fact that we moved to a new townhouse after 18 years of living in a small apartment unit).

The Turning Point

If God called you to do something for Him and you don’t do it, He’ll bug you until you make a choice about it. The past few weeks, God kept bugging me to blog. He knew (and I knew in my heart, too) that I could use my gift and love of writing to encourage others, inspire other people with His awesomeness, and just give Him the glory He deserves. Truth is, I always had the intention to write about meaningful things. God has been speaking to me the past few weeks in ways He hasn’t spoken to me ever in my life. He reminded me that He loves me with or without my performance, and that I should exert all my energy on knowing Him, loving Him, and loving others. He opened my eyes into seeing the needs of others and prioritizing them above my own (although I still falter at this point…a lot). He always, always whispers in my ear: “I’m your Father. I love you very much. Stay close to Me. I will never let you go.” Who wouldn’t fall in love with a God like that? Unfortunately for me, I focused my eyes on what I thought mattered: the things, activities, celebrities, clothes, and philosophies of this world. I needed to repent, and repent I did.

By asking myself “what interesting things can I write about today,” I am limiting myself to subjects that only a few can relate to. What if the things I find interesting don’t interest you (which is most likely the case)? God called me to write beyond interesting; He called me to write about my passions: Him, His Word, communication, intentional living, relationships, among others. I have a calling and a desire to experience an extraordinary God in my ordinary day-to-day activities and write about them. Earlier today, I accompanied my brother Josh to the hospital for a consultation and lab procedures because of his hoarse and recurring cough. I don’t really like going to hospitals even if they look and smell good because I don’t like seeing sick people. However, if you love someone, you’ll put their good above your own. My brother needed me, so I went.

After “stethoscoping” my brother, our pediatrician told us to have Joshua’s chest x-rayed and a CBC to check if he had either pneumonia or dengue. 😦 When she wrote down those two diagnoses, I felt nervous. For a while I somehow felt what it was like to be a mom. After having our laboratory papers verified, we headed to the radiology department. The procedure went quickly and easily. The CBC was the hard part…at least for me. If there’s one thing I hate next to a cockroach, it is a needle penetrating my skin–or anyone else’s skin. God had me watch my brother get his blood extracted, and I’m glad He did. Not only did it make me strong, but it made me feel closer to my brother because I was there with him. I hope he feels the same way too. (Chos ang drama)

Whenever you include God in the scenes of your life, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The impossible becomes possible. That’s way more exciting to read about and learn from than “interesting things” like fashion updates, parties, concerts, and events. Now I’m not saying that those things are unimportant and not worth blogging about, nor am I criticizing bloggers in these fields. As a matter of fact, I patronize them! Most of them are really passionate about what they do. What I’m saying is that, even if you’re not involved in high-profile activities or wear the lastest fashion, you can tell a story that moves and inspires people simply because you are uniquely you and, if Jesus is in you, you are capable of doing the impossible. “Great and mighty things which you don’t know,” God says in Jeremiah 33:3, are within your reach.

The Challenge

I praise God for lifting me out of my insecurity. I had to make that choice, but He awakened me and gave me the strength to make that choice. He can help you do the same, too. Perhaps you are living in the shadow of the Interesting Things. You honestly think that your story, your idea, your song, your recipe, your choreography, your novel, your message, or whatever it is God called you to make, is not worth reading, knowing, listening, and enjoying because it’s not “interesting” enough. It won’t have too many downloads or hits on YouTube. The truth is, not everyone gets to have a chance on fame. Fame is not the goal. I learned my lesson the hard way. You see, I love attention. I received too much attention one weekend, that when the attention was gone the following week, I felt insecure. If we focus on our eyes on fame, we focus our eyes on people, and when we do, we are seeking to be disappointed because people disappoint us. However, if we focus our eyes on Jesus and work within His will–in the realm of the impossible–we find ourselves whole, fulfilled, and joyful. I also experience this. I am at my happiest state when I am right with Jesus, even if doing His will is uncomfortable at times.

Lately I’ve been reading a book entitled The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How To Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo. Gallo praises the late Apple founder’s enthusiasm, energy, and passion for all things Apple not simply because they are his invention, but because his products make people’s lives better. Steve Jobs found fulfillment in making the world a better place. Today, we appreciate him for that. The very device I use to type this blog and publish it for the world to see is a 15-inch Macbook Pro. His passion for seeing other people’s lives dramatically improve with great products reaped great consequences not only for him, but for millions of people all over the world who work for or are adherents of the Mac, iTunes, iPhone, iPod, iPad, and the rest of Job’s brainchildren.

Here’s the challenge I have taken on myself which I now pass on to you: What’s your passion? If you have discovered it, fan its flames! If you have yet to find out what it is, don’t give up! Keep searching. Ask. Experiment. Collaborate. Fail. Get back up! If you think your story is too ordinary to be useful for inspiration, encouragement, and even life transformation, ask God to use it for His glory. Sometimes we take for granted the little things God tells us to do when in fact they are the very experiences that can significantly impact a life more than ten entries on events and giveaways. Perhaps you were finally able to forgive that friend of yours after years of bitterness and anger. Tell your story! Help others overcome unforgiveness! If one day, when you were bored, you decided to make a scrapbook of your life and realized that you had so many wonderful memories and learned a lot on life & love, tell us! Make the world a better place by helping people make sense and find beauty in the mundane things of life. For me, that is where extraordinariness really lies.

The next time I find myself asking, “What interesting things can I write about today,” I will step back, look up, and ask myself, “How can I make a difference in my world today? What am I passionate about?” Then I’ll go out there and work in the realm of the impossible with the power God has given me.

Now that’s interesting! May you do the same. 🙂

Unforgettable

Studying in universities for the past three years has taught me to think critically and creatively, manage my time well (albeit I’m still struggling with this), communicate clearly and effectively, and argue reasonably, among others. By God’s grace,I am more intelligent and skilled today than I was three years ago, but I’m still far from perfect. However, in spite of major improvements, there’s one skill I haven’t quite masted yet: remembering to bring everything you need to bring and actually bringing them.

I get frustrated at myself when I forget to bring something I badly need because I’m the type of person who prepares her things the night before school or an event. Clearly there’s something wrong with me, and while I don’t deny that the fault is mine to bear, sometimes I can’t help t blame my forgetfulness on my finiteness. Tao lang; nagkakamali ako. I get even more frustrated when I realize that I have more cases of forgetfulness in college than when I was in high school.

Strike one: first year, first semester in college: After sweating buckets in P.E. class, I took a shower in the gym bathroom. Ordinarily you use a towel to dry yourself after showering. In extraordinary cases when you forget to bring your towel (like I did), you have to resort to extraordinary measures. As for me, I “fanned” myself dry (as in fan my body with a paper fan till it’s dry and wipe it with tissue).

Strike two: again, I was a freshman, also in my first semester, after my P.E. class. When I took a shower this time, I had my towel with me. Forgetfulness 0, Jenny 1. Ordinarily, after you dry yourself, you dress up in new, clean clothes. However, when you fail to bring a clean shirt with you, again, you must have presence of mind and think of extraordinary measures to solve your dilemma. Now here’s where God (and theoretically, my Mom) entered the picture. During that school year, I had a personal locker. Weeks before the incident happened, my Mom told me to leave a shirt inside my locker for emergency or just-in-case cases. Obviously this was one of those cases. Hallelujah, I wasn’t going to walk around school wearing a used, sweaty shirt!! But….there’s a big but. The downside of the whole scenario, albeit having the problem resolved, is that the gym bathroom where I was is located on the west end of the school grounds, and my locker on the east. Only one thing had to be done, and that I did: I dressed up in new clothes except the shirt, ran straight to my locker, grabbed my clean shirt, and changed. Forgetfulness 1000, Jenny -100.

If I were to write the times I forgot to bring something or do something, or an important event, I would need a new blog or an entire book as thick as a Harry Potter book to finish. There is one more instance I must share because it’s recent and still fresh to my memory, and it is the very reason I prompted myself to post this entry. I’m already a sophomore, in my second semester, and until now I still haven’t learned my lesson on BRINGING YOUR STUFF DURING P.E. DAYS. (what’s with me and P.E. classes?!) Strike three: last Friday, I had P.E. class. I hurried to the restroom to dress down to my workout outfit. Ordinarily you need a SHIRT not just to dress yourself with after taking a shower, but also before taking a shower. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to reserve a locker to put an extra shirt in so that solution was out of the question. If there is one thing I have learned in these situations, it is this: you have to find a way to fix your mess. You can’t just say, “Oh well. That’s life. Who cares about P.E. anyway?” My Mom’s adage rebutted this faulty argument head-on: “Gawan mo ng paraan“.

MY MOM!!

It took me a while to come up with a solution and remember my Mom, but at least I did. Just this year, my Mom was hired by a new company whose office was located in Tektite [tech-tight] building, a 3-minute walk away from my school. Their company would have shirts in their stockroom because they have so many merchandises available. I called up my Mom and told her my dilemma. She was on her way to Eastwood Mall at that time, but she promised to work something out. I trusted my Mom’s word, but I also knew she was busy, so I began to nurse thoughts of giving up and just cutting my P.E. class. God had other plans. Mom called me up 2 minutes after our conversation (see how impatient I was!) and told me to pick up the shirt from her office and look for her officemate, Ms. Sab. Answered prayer! I set my legs on brisk walk mode with occasional runs since I carried two heavy bags on my shoulders (not the best running accessories, but if you don’t have a locker or a car, you have no choice). In twelve minutes I ran to Tektite, took the shirt, and ran back to school. By the time I got to school, obviously I was late for class (in fact I was already considered absent because I arrived past the 15-minute grace period), but as my Lolo always says, “Better late than never!”

While changing into my workout outfit, I aired my thanks to God out loud. God, in His goodness, answered back in the form of a reminder. The Holy Spirit put into my remembrance these verses:

“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”
– Isaiah 49:15-16 (NASB)

“Who do you think you are? You think you’re so smart. I am holy; I’m not like you or any other person. I don’t forget. Even if you excel in forgetting and many times, fail in obeying, I love you. I will never forget you. Ever.”

I was very humbled, to say the least. Who was I–who am I–that the God heaven and earth, the King of kings and the LORD of lords, the infinite God, would take the time and ache of working in someone like me? Why would the most important person and being that ever existed and ever will exist care for a person like me, who is virtually unimportant (if not for His saving and sanctifying grace)?

I am forever indebted and grateful to God for His kindness towards me, His grace when my flaws show, and His divine hand of providence that provides on time. Who knows? Maybe one of the reasons why my Mom transferred to her new company is so that, through this experience, I could exercise my presence of mindedness, rely on God’s provision, and be grateful for my Mom. 🙂 Guys and gals, when your Moms tell you to do something as simple as putting an extra shirt in your locker, HEED IT! Ephesians 6:1-3 rings true in my life: if I obey my parents, life would be well with me. 🙂

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I know I can’t blame my forgetfulness on my finiteness forever, but one thing I hold on to and glory in: my God won’t forget me, and as long asI yield to His leadership, He will make a way out and lead me to safety. In a world full of pain, disease, heart breaks, crises, and meltdowns, sometimes we just want to relinquish our responsibility (that is, of turning to or away from Jesus) and blame everything on God and people. We are all at fault, whether we like it or not. That’s why I find God so, so good, because even if it’s our fault that we sin and make mistakes, He still finds a way to cut through our hearts and whisper gently in our ears saying, “Come to Me. I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) He remembers that we are dust and prone to evil, disease, ignorance, and forgetfulness. He finds ways to make us know Him, because only in Him can we find meaning and peace of mind (Psalm 103:14-18; Philippians 4:6-7).

“Unforgettable–that’s what you are….”
Romantic when Nat King Cole sung it in 1951,
But even more romantic when the Lover of my soul wrote it since time immemorial, and sang it to me the other day. 😉

Love Like Bacon

Last Saturday, I ate slightly burnt, long and crispy, juicy bacon.

Seldom do I eat bacon because it’s not exactly and apparently healthy; even more seldom do I eat bacon in an eat-all-you-can-breakfast, so just imagine my elation when I found it on the buffet table. I was smitten for the next hour as I walked back and forth our table and the buffet table, heaping spoonfuls of bacon on my plate. Each bite was a delight to my palate and a burden for my digestive organs. After an hour, I sat lazily in my seat, thankful to God for the bacon, but surprisingly, not wishing for any more. At least not at that time.

Although this true-to-life example is a shallow comparison to what being in love is like, I think the processes involved in it is just as the same. Smelling bacon, much more to eat it, is as irresistible as holding his or her hand as you walk, mindless of the world save each other’s presence. (If you don’t find bacon irresistible, unless you’re really sick, something must be seriously wrong with you)  Being in love, or being passionate about someone or something, does not only exist in the context of romanticism (or else I can’t say I’m in love). For a new mom, bathing her beautiful child is a joy. For a writer and blogger, posting one entry after another is a delight even if it robs you of sleep.

But what happens when the feeling is gone? Should a man ditch his woman in midair and rekindle the fire with someone else? Should a mother cease to attend to her wailing child when she does not feel like it? Should a blogger (and here I’m speaking mainly to myself), or any writer for that matter, discontinue writing, thinking that “nobody cares about what I have to say anyway?”

Unlike the process of eating bacon, which has and must have a definite ending or else the body will retaliate, the lifetime process of love has no end. It must persist through time. Why, then, do marriages fail? Why do passions die down? I don’t speak for everyone, but based on my experience, my love for people and noble passions dies down because I based it on the feeling of being in love. The top reason I did not blog the past 2 months (although I did write in my journal, but still) is that I did not “feel like writing.” There are a lot of bloggers out there anyway. My absence won’t make any difference.

While it is true that by not writing I am not exactly doing others any wrong, I am doing wrong for myself, because I committed to this and I am not keeping my part of the bargain. Love, whether for spouse, child, country, or God–especially God–must be, according to C.S. Lewis, “maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit.” Feelings go faster than you can say Mississippi, but your will stays with you. Although we may think that people and circumstances make us do the things we do, it’s really us who choose what we do. They just influenced us to do them, but they did not actually make those decisions for us.

For me, I have decided today that I will encourage you all with these words. (I hope you were!) I believe it’s part of my commitment to write for a world that is in dire need of trustworthy words to hold on to. I mean it when I say trustworthy, because the One Who gives the words to say is trustworthy. And by the One I mean the Lord Jesus. Think about it: Do you think Jesus felt like dying on the cross (and I got this idea from Tom Holladay)? Did He skip and jump gleefully from the Passover room to Gethsemane as His time for excruciating suffering was coming to a close? Yet He went on anyway. He maintained His will because He truly, absolutely loves you and me. Just think about that for a moment and let reality sink in because that’s what true love is. That’s Who He is–irresistible, satisfying, and truly delightful.

Just like a good serving of crispy bacon. 🙂

 

Holladay, Tom (2008). The Relationship Principles Of Jesus. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan

Lewis, C.S. (1952). Mere Christianity. United Kingdom: Macmillan Pub Co.