Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We Are Simply Passersby

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his very soul?"  -- Mark 8:36

There were two sisters named Magi, the eldest, and Myra. They both lived in the outskirt of the town. One day they received a telegram – “Me visit tom” – from a famous friend from a far way town; their friend was famous for her beautiful, angelic voice. The thought of seeing their friend in their doorsteps got them on their feet.

Almost immediately, Magi went straight to the kitchen to check on their fridge. After letting out an “F” word, she hurried to the market to buy some supplies. She was panicky.

Myra, on the other hand, paused to think and then decided to clean the house and prepare the room for their guest. She then settled on that task the whole afternoon until it was done.

Then the big day came. There was a knock on their door. When Myra opened it, there was Jessica, their famous friend with her ever-present assistants. After some warm greetings, Myra let their guest into the living room and announced her arrival. Magi rushed out of the kitchen, and profusely greeted Jess. Then she quickly disappeared to the kitchen door to continue with her cooking.

After settling down, and feeling comfortable in her friends’ home, Jess started singing a cappella. Her sweet, melodious voice bounced on the four corners of her host’s home, giving shivers and chills to the lucky recipient; in this case, it was Myra who sat on her feet. Her voice was truly angelic, and soothing. Meanwhile in the kitchen, Magi could hardly hear clearly Jess’ song; her mind was on her task.

When Jessica sang the final note, Magi shot out of the kitchen smiling appreciatively, and clapping her hand, as if she heard the entire live performance. Then she quickly turned to Myra’s direction, her face suddenly transformed from pleasant to angry, to deliver loudly her unspoken message.

Are you busy rushing around or do you stop to appreciate life? Are you the proverbial ever-busy type of guy or the man who calmly settles down?

Our world today is driving us nuts. The number of tasks that requires our attention can be so overwhelming that sometimes we can’t make up our mind. Not only that, it’s also difficult to concentrate for a long time due to the many distractions surrounding us. It’s like a yoke of busyness and interference is put upon us. (I wonder who...)

Here’s one undeniable fact. We can do almost anything, but we can’t do everything. We only have 24 hours a day. No more, no less. So what can we do? Follow Myra. She planned, prioritized and settled down.

Before you rush to your next task, stop and ask yourself – “Will this matter?”

What matters? To me, it’s my spirit and my health, and of those whom I care about; my relationships, and my legacy. We can’t rush around telling ourselves a lie – there’s always tomorrow. There is no guarantee of a tomorrow! Today is all we've got, and it's by God's grace. Magi missed out the special gift of their guest; you don't want to missed out God's gift, don't you? Live His gift by spending this on what matters in the end. Remember, we are all just passersby…

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why Me, Lord? Why Me? Why Bad Things Happen to Me?

 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  -- Romans 8:28

My mother is a very good problem solver. She is also a very strong woman, both physically and emotionally. And her devotion to God is a giant.

As a young kid, I couldn’t count the times I saw her contemplating on a difficult problem; her face frowning. She would struggle for hours and even days, probably having sleepless nights, but in the end she would have a working solution. Unfortunately for me, what stuck more to my brain was the picture of the pain and anguish painted across her. It didn’t help that there were times I saw my parents arguing over a problem. So what stuck with me over the years was, “A problem is difficult; it’s painful; and it must be avoided at all cost.

I’ve been avoiding problems for the longest time. And I just realized this not so long ago.

Why God allow difficult problems and bad things to fall upon good peopleHiHi? If this happens to ‘bad’ people, then that’s OK. They deserve it, anyway. But good people? Don’t ‘we’ deserve a special consideration? So why?

Because God loves man both the good or the bad.

Bo Sanchez is the head of the Kerygmafamily. Anyone who knew him knows that he is a man of God. Yet, he and his wife, Marowe, were not spared from the sorrow of losing not just one but two children from two separate miscarriage incidents. If you were Bo you will probably raise your fist to God and shout, “Why me Lord? Didn’t I serve you well enough? Did I not bring souls back to your fold? How could you do this to me?”

But God really loves Bo and wants to bless his ministry. But for Bo to do great things for God, he has to have a great spirit. God gives him the opportunity to grow in spirit by subjecting him to tests of faith. It is by undergoing a very difficult problems or situations that man's spirit 'can' grow. No other way. Our Creator knows that as our faith in Him grows, so does our spirit. And Bo has been passing faith tests with flying colors all his life. Look at how blessed is his life and ministry now.

When Jesus was crucified in Calvary there were two outlaws who were crucified along with Him. Like Jesus, they were in great difficulty and pain. But they deserve it, right? Does God love these two worms? Surprisingly, the answer is a big yes!

Because God loves man, He gives him every opportunity to change. He even gives him a wake up call by allowing him to experience the full consequence of his wrong decisions. He allows man the ‘small’ pain now to save him from the ‘big’ pains later. In Calvary, one outlaw woke up and learned his lesson. As a result, he was promised eternal salvation by no less than the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Which outlaw are you?

When a difficult problem or circumstances fall upon you, don’t ask, “Why me, Lord?” Instead thank God for giving you the chance to avoid a bigger problem and pains later. Thank Him for giving you the opportunity to grow in spirit and reap more blessings. After all, we are not crucified alone, His son is crucified with us and for us. So why complain?   

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How to Heal Our Brokenness?

“This only have I found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.”  - Ecclesiastes 7:29

Danilo (not his real name) was a devotee to Mary, the mother of Jesus. As a kid, he and his older brother actively joined each night the barangay, a community rosary prayer. When he was in first year high school, he joined the Blue (Marian) Army. His mother adored him because he was such a good child – pious, obedient, honest and studious. He was the white sheep of the family.

Yet deep inside Danilo’s heart, something was rotting. In the privacy of his room, he voraciously devoured x-rated magazines and comics, and intensely watched pornographic movies. He justified his sin when his conscience confronted him by rationalizing that, “Every man does it, I am half a man if I don’t”; “Doctor(?) said that it’s good to release some of my extra juices”; “I am just exercising my instrument in case I will have a chance encounter with a girl, can’t afford to be embarrassed”; “I’m just educating myself, I want my future wife to be fully satisfied”; “This is normal as breathing”; and other nonsense. 

But soon Danilo changed. He learnt to lie. He began to curse. He gravitated towards people who talked about sex like it’s the only interesting topic in the world. He also felt shame. Deep inside Danilo knew that something wasn't right, but he no longer had the will to stop his free fall…Finally, he closed his eyes and embraced the fall.

The Bible says that God created man upright. According to an online dictionary, upright means honest, honorable and just. But where is honesty in government corruption? Where is honor in adultery? Where is fairness in taking advantage the poor and uneducated? What happened to the innately good man?

In the province of Surigao where my mother was born, the barangay road was sandwiched by rice fields. By April, both sides of the road turned golden yellow. I bet the color would be different had it not been for the hardworking farmers that took care of the crops.

In the same way, the innate goodness in man needs to be taken cared of by a great farmer – our Creator – so that it wouldn't change color from white to black. The health of the innate goodness of man is as fragile as a rice stalk, so it needs God's loving care, and healing due to the damages brought about by the daily test of life. But what if man refused the loving touch of His Creator? What if he runs away from Him?

In the absence of God, evil will flourish; the innate goodness in man’s heart will wither. If left untreated over time, his goodness could die, and from its remains would rise full-blown evil.

Danilo’s healing culminated on one Dec. night when God whispered to his heart, “You’re fighting alone”. He realized that he needed God’s mercy and love; his will power alone wasn’t enough. From there, he dumped his pride and sprinted back to God. Long before that night, Danilo made a 'weak' decision to return to God. But for God, it was enough.

Healing starts when we decide to take the first step back to God. His presence in our heart alone is all it takes to begin the healing of our brokenness. His presence alone can revive the dying goodness in our heart. It's not us, it's Him. And as seasons pass by, if we remain steadfast in Him our wounds will one day become no more. And we become truly good once new born babies.