Next In Line

Saturday.

“He’s online”, I gestured to my parents to sit next to me.

Ever since he migrated to Northern America, a weekly conversation with my brother through Skype is a regular schedule we do as a family. It has been three years and my parents’ remained enthusiastic learning more about his current living conditions. They are also very hopeful that, hereafter, the entire family will be united with him.

I am next in line. Nevertheless, I held back in uncertainty.

I always believe God is the giver of life. His light allows me to enjoy life.(Psalm 36:9). And I’m drawing my security from the blessings I received: family, career,church and friends. We went through struggles and difficulties as a family, and through these trials, I witnessed how God answered our concerns and gave the comfort we need.

However, my dad persuaded me to act on it seriously. In Colossians 3:20, Paul instructs: Children, obey your parents in all things, because this pleases the Lord.

In the Old Testament,”Solomon showed he loved the Lord by following the commands his father David had given him” (1 Kings 3:3). His devotion got rewarded: the Lord appeared to him in a dream offering to give whatever he desires! (1 Kings 3:5)

I began to realize life is all about Him and His perfect will for His children. God specifically positioned my parents above me to carry out His purposes for me.

“The reality is, life here is not what you expected it to be”, my brother shared.

“Finding work is not that simple. And unfortunately, the cost of living here is expensive”, he continued.

“There are people whom I learned are doing well right now. And we were offered help, right?”, my dad answered defensively.

“It isn’t wise to draw security from other people’s promises. They can only help as much as they can. It’s totally different when you’re here”, my brother revealed.

It isn’t hard for me to notice that despair suddenly veiled over their faces, but I still tried my best to remain optimistic about the situation.

“What’s more important now is that when I get there, we can both work things out”, I persisted holding on to that flickering hope.

“You would be surprised, I might get an offer from Hollywood!”, I cheerfully added.

“You mean Bollywood!”, my brother retorted back. Our silence broke into laughter.

Portions of the song “Blessings” inspire me when dealing on an elusive future:

“And all the while You hear each spoken need; yet Your love is way too much to give us lesser things.”

His thoughts for me are more numerous than the sand, higher than the heavens above, beyond my human mind can comprehend. His will for my life is clearly meant for my own good.

The song continues,”We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love; As if every promise from Your Word is not enough.”

He didn’t even spare His Son to redeem me from my sins so that I can have eternal life.

I completely understand and empathize with my brother’s situation especially the difficulty he’s trying to extricate himself from. He needs to pursue educational courses in order to upgrade himself. And while doing that, he needs a secure job to pay for his bills and survive each day.

A better perspective is found in Francis Kong’s latest book where he quoted ,”All experiences of life, indeed, serve to prove that the impediments thrown in the way of human advancement may, for the most part, be overcome by steady good conduct, honest zeal, activity, perseverance, and, above all, by a determinate resolution to surmount difficulties, and stand up manfully against misfortune.”

I need to hold on to Him.

In the book of Hebrews, Paul wrote,”So do not lose the courage you had in the past, which has a great reward. You must hold on, so you can do what God wants and receive what He has promised.(Hebrews 10:35-36)

I began to understand this is one of the reasons why God allowed my destiny to unfold differently from my plans. God wants His glory to be revealed to my family— most specially, to me.

I need to let go and let Him take the steering wheel. What I gained and achieved at present doesn’t matter anymore to where I’m going. Everything appears feeble compared to what God can do. I only pray that I may be blessed by what Solomon desired: a heart that understands.

I believe God holds my best interest at hand. At the right time, He will reveal His glory to my life wherever I may be. He was and would still be faithful to me and to the people I love even though most of the time I’m not.

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Pouring Rain

The rain’s heavy downpour on our roof woke me up. Consciously, I checked my BlackBerry for the time and found out it’s only 3 o’clock in the morning. “Ugh! I’m up too early!”, I groaned. Then I realized the rain never stopped since last night.

It was a grueling experience, I recalled.

The rain kept on pouring since morning and floods started to build up in most areas. Vehicular traffic congested the main roads, almost appearing like a public parking lot; people got stranded on the streets holding on to their umbrellas, while some, to their shoes; trains, as well as,train stations got overcrowded with people, lined up anxiously waiting for their turn to ride . They all wanted to go home.

At the breakfast table, after finishing my bread, I peeked at our window and saw the gloomy appearance of our backyard. I approached my mom, almost through stacking our dirty clothes for laundering.

“I believe I can’t report for work today.”, I declared.

“Ah-hmmm”, she replied.

“Most of the areas I’ll be passing through are flooded. It might get worst later on”, I reasoned.

“Ah-hmmm”, again, she replied.

” I don’t know how to swim going home. Besides, aren’t we having a bed-weather?” I chuckled on that thought. I didn’t tell her that but honestly, I really miss my bed.

She supported my decision. We both learned to anticipate from our experience with typhoon “Ondoy”.

I felt like a sixth-grader jumping after hearing a suspension of classes. I have the whole day to myself. Back then, I remembered, I had the liberty to lay on bed for hours, watch my favorite shows and raid the fridge. Then the day becomes too long to bear. My rejoicing abruptly ended with a pondering question: how am I supposed to spend my day? And not getting bored in the end?

I surfed the web for news about this present storm. An article by Karen Galarpe caught my interest: “Netizens turned to twitter to report, rant about floods.”

I agree Twitter kept me informed and entertained last night on my way home. The article is mostly filled with complaints: from governing system down to drainage system.

‘Never read anything like, “I should’ve put my trash at its proper place” or “I should’ve anticipated this thing would happen later on.”

Then I got blessed with one practical revelation: DECISION.

It is an act of making up one’s mind about something. A position or opinion or judgment reached after consideration.

We should have decided preparing measures when flood occurs. We should have decided following the waste segregation scheme (or better yet, not deprive the trash bin it’s appointed function.) We should have decided leaving our workplace earlier than usual when heavy rains started to pour. We should have decided being grateful we’re home in one piece and the flood did not rise to alarming heights.

Francis Kong has a better perspective to share: “In anything that we do (or decide on), there should be a point of reference because it defines who and what we really are.”

The Bible is our point of reference.

Psalm 119: 20,24 says,
20 I wear myself out with desire
for Your laws all the time.
24 Your rules give me pleasure;
they give me good advice.

How I spend my time this rainy day depends on my decision. It is not governed by how the weather affects my moods but by His direction through His Word.

The Psalmist said,”His good (perfect) advice.”

I decided not to focus much on my 14-inch flat screen monitor. There are a lot of more important things to do (like arranging my “jungle” room).

I’m grateful I decided obeying my mom who reminded me to come home early last night. I’m grateful God led me to decide riding the train would be faster. I’m grateful I decided to wear my “wading” shoes daily for this season.

Following Christ is also a great decision. Our lives will only be altered once our hearts are altered first.

Half-minded Living

Eight o’clock in the evening. Dinner’s finished and we started clearing the table to set for our weekly Bible study. After a short prayer, I raised a general question to the group , “How do you respond when you’re worried?”

Many are reluctant to answer but eventually shared. Interestingly, I can relate to some of their responses. I do have a fair share of revelation myself.

I eat a lot. And I eat more when anxiety creeps in.

Ever since a kid, I got secured with familiarity. Deviations in my structured way of living can lead me to worry much (and my palms start to sweat profusely; good thing, I don’t wet my pants that easily!) Crossing the unknown does not only affect me physically and emotionally, it also results to unfavorable repercussions. The most troublesome would be is a plummeting productivity.

In his book, Traveling Light, Max Lucado clearly pointed out, “Anxiety splits our energy between today’s priorities and tomorrow’s problems. The result is half-minded living.”

It fits exactly what I’m going through. I haven’t and wouldn’t be able to achieve anything when I start worrying. But can my worries be removed? Most would say,”All it needs is faith.” Others would rationalize,”A little stress isn’t that harmful; choose optimism!”

In Psalm 23:2, David acknowledges,”You let me rest in fields of green grass. You lead me to streams of peaceful water(CEV).

I recently learned, shepherds craftily prepares a suitable field for his flock to graze on. He also makes certain that they are harmonious and safe from predators.

I can imagine how much time he gives and endures for the preparation—especially in an arid land with little vegetation!

He leads. He never removes nor replaces.

Life is always filled with things to worry about; it is how we allow God to answer it that matters most.

In the Bible,we are reassured,
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”(Matthew 6:34, Message)

Unfortunately, our intellect dictates we should do something about it.

In three months, by God’s grace, I’ll be leaving the country…for good. Clearly, God orchestrated everything beyond reasoning. My main concerns right now are I don’t have a job waiting there and I’ll be leaving my parents and career behind. I drew comfort from the promise God gave at Matthew 6:33 which says,”Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.”(NCV)

God wants me to pursue productivity and trust His sovereignty. He wants me to continue serving Him in His ministry while I’m still here. Most importantly, He wants me NOT to forsake vital relationships with my family and friends. He wants me to surrender what I think is best over to His leading.

God led me to understand worry makes me focus on the answers rather than the Source of answers. It’s not any different from doubting. I am realizing, when I begin to have doubts, God’s nearness appears to be just a feeling; that I can only be reassured if I can grasp His control over my circumstances.

Worrying does not acknowledge His sovereignty. Anxiety only brings half-minded living. Consequently, I miss out on so many, more important matters—even His purposes for me.