transitions

So now I have an answer to the “what” question. And to have arrived at an answer at all is a miracle in itself.

Three years ago, in 2010, the year before I graduated from college, I knew for sure that I was not to be a food technologist. Something just wasn’t right. Even after four years of studying in a science high school and taking up science-related courses in college, there was an unrest in me. I learned to appreciate the sciences over the years and even came to the point of wanting to pursue research studies in food microbiology. But I really felt that something was amiss. A part of me was slowly dying as my course zeroed in on major subjects. I became less and less interested in going to school and wondered why I was studying what I was studying. Gone were the days of GE (general education) subjects which gave me a breather. World Literature, Asian History and the like.

So I enrolled in a language subject for a summer, continued  with the basic class on the first semester, sat through two mid-level courses, took the language proficiency test and passed, certifying that I am level 4-proficient in Japanese. I think it was what got me through the semesters when I had nothing else to learn but food science and technology. (It’s funny how I didn’t see these then as clues to what I really wanted to do.) And after 2 years of writing my thesis, the first year spent still full-time at school and the second while I had a full-time job, I finally graduated in 2011. Miracle of miracles. But I was left with the big question of what I really want to do in life.

All the while, when I still didn’t have an answer to this, I felt like I was floating in oblivion. Or walking on thin ice. And I hated it. I hated the feeling of not knowing. Uncertainty was killing me. I then learned how much of a control freak I really am.

Fast forward to today. I have an answer to the ‘what do I want to do’ question.

Writing. I want to write. And yet, I am beset with more questions. How will I go about doing that? How do I become someone who writes? Dare I say, how do I become a writer?

You’d think I would have already learned not to be so much of a control freak. After all, the answer to the “what” question didn’t come up while I was actively strategizing. It came to me like a gift dropped in my lap and slowly, layer by layer, unwrapped. It came while I was starting to know myself more, appreciating God’s unique design for me. Obviously these did not happen with strategies and fool-proof plans. Sure I took some practical steps but the answer, the timing, and the circumstances around it were God-given. God-timed. God-written. How many times must He reiterate that his ways and thoughts are way higher than mine?

But old habits die hard so I went about building what seemed to be fool-proof plans, carefully laying out steps one, two, three, etc. After accomplishing steps one and one and a half, a twist suddenly comes up and in an instant, the plan was annihilated.

(Sigh) I didn’t think this business of fully submitting to His ways and being renewed in my mind could be this tough. Just when I thought I was really learning to do so, I am confronted with the reality that I. still. am. gripping. control.

But I am comforted that God showed me this. If not through His words and others’ perspectives I would’ve gone my own way. Again.

Even though the current path He has shown does not make sense now, I am starting to hear a melody He is humming, making my feet want to move to the rhythm of His grace.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. ~Proverbs 12:15

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” ~James 4:13-15

May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions! Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. ~Proverbs 20:4-8

Just trust. Trust so that you may obey. Listen to His voice, to His song. Dance to His rhythm.

Isn’t this, after all, what He is asking of you and what your heart truly desires, from the utmost depths of your being?            

one last time

“Take a long, hard look at our city. This is the last time you’ll see it that way.. because we will set it on fire.”

More than a dozen pairs of eyes obeyed. One last look.

I wondered what each one was thinking as we looked out at the grey, foggy city. But I immediately dismissed this question in my head. I wanted to focus on what was in front of me. What is ahead of us.

A city on fire. It was hard to imagine not only because the rain was just beginning to let up but also because it looked so.. immense. And was it just me thinking that city life can be so cold and hard so that people living it become cold and hard themselves? 80 kids in a city with more than 3 million people (almost 20,000 in each kilometer).* The task seems impossible. It is impossible. But lately, I’ve been learning, experiencing, seeing that nothing, absolutely nothing, is impossible with Him. Question is, will we have the faith to go with Him on this all the way?

A whole city set on fire.. Can I even see this in my mind happening? But something inside me was burning even as I asked myself this. A heart set on fire, almost on the verge of exploding because of truths, commands re-revealed, re-seen, rediscovered. Point of no return.

And then something similar came to mind. A heap of stones with wood and a bull cut into pieces. Watered 3 times with 4 large jars. Everything dripping wet. The trench around the heap of stones filled with water.

A man prayed. Then fire fell from heaven and consumed everything on the altar and licked up all the water in the trench. And everyone around bowed down and said, “The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.”+

elijah-call-down-fire

He wants me, us, to pray like that man. He wants my heart, our hearts, to be like that altar. Then everyone around will see and hear and experience. And at last bow down and declare the same.

I think I’m beginning to see.. a whole city set on fire.

*http://www.quezoncity.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&id=318&Itemid=276

+1 Kings 18:30-39

image from: http://hookedonthebook.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/elijah-call-down-fire.jpeg

the fall (gungor)

This. This is who I am.

This is who we are.

And until we acknowledge it to be so, we are running away from the truth, refusing to hear what He says, “Turn your face to me.”

The Fall

by Gungor

The Fall, the Fall, Oh God, the Fall of man,
The fruit is found in every eye and every hand,
Nothing, there is nothing yet in truest form,
We walk like ghosts upon the Earth,
The ground it groans.

How long? How long will you wait?
How long? How long till you save us all, save us all?

Turn your face to me.

The light, the light, the morning light is gone,
And all that is left is fragile breath and failing lungs.
The night, the night, the guiding night has come,
Uniting lover with his bride more precious than the dawn.

How long? How long must we wait?

Turn your face to me.

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent.. ~Rev. 2:5a

free from the concerns of life

I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible. ~1 Corinthians 7:32, 34, 35

 

I’ll keep going back to the One in whom I live and move and have my being. No matter what season in life I am in. And in this time of freedom full, I want to know and experience God full, and serve Him with all I am in full abandon. This is how I know I am to live fully now.

He wants me to be free from the concerns of this life. Can anything be sweeter than that?    

on my thesis life

July 18, 2010

O Lord, I have come to you for protection;
don’t let me be disgraced.
Save me and rescue me,for you do what is right.
Turn your ear to listen to me…

…I will keep on hoping for your help;
I will praise you more and more.
I will tell everyone about your righteousness.
All day long I will proclaim your saving power,
though I am not skilled with words.
I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord.
I will tell everyone that you alone are just.

You have done such wonderful things.
Who can compare with you, O God?
You have allowed me to suffer much hardship;
but you will restore me to life again
and lift me up from the depths of the earth.
You will restore me to even greater honor
and comfort me once again.

Then I will praise you with music…
because you are faithful to your promises, O my God.
I will sing praises to you…
O Holy One of Israel.
I will shout for joy and sing your praises,
for you have ransomed me.

-Psalm 71: 1-2; 14-16; 19-23

on wisdom

April 22, 2010

“There is a mine for silver and a place where gold is refined.
Iron is taken from the earth, and copper is smelted from ore.
Man puts an end to the darkness; he searches the farthest recesses
for ore in the blackest darkness.
Far from where people dwell he cuts a shaft,
in places forgotten by the foot of man; far from men he dangles and sways.
The earth from where food comes, is transformed below as by fire;
sapphires come from its rocks, and its dust contains nuggets of gold.
No bird of prey knows that hidden path,
no falcon’s eye has seen it.
Proud beasts do not set foot on it, and no lion prowl there.” -Job 28:1-8

It’s amazing what man does to search for knowledge. For wisdom. This world offers so many explanations, theories, laws, formulas, methods, philosophies. But still the path to wisdom is hidden to man.

“Man’s hand assaults the flinty rock and lays bare the roots of the mountains.
He tunnels through the rock; his eyes see all its treasures.
He searches the sources of the rivers and brings hidden things to light.
But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell?
Man does not comprehend its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.” -Job 28:9-13

So man continues to struggle in his search. He does everything he can, gives his best effort. Then he sees treasures; things he considers valuable. And truth comes out that man does not know the value of wisdom. All along only his treasures are what he cares for.

“The deep says, ‘It is not in me’: the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’
It cannot be bought with the finest gold,nor its price be weighed in silver.
It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir, with precious onyx or sapphires.
Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it, nor can it be had for jewels of gold.
Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention; the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.
The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it; it cannot be bought with pure gold.” -Job 28:14-19

So he goes about accumulating every treasure he sees, every treasure he can lay his hands on. He collects them and treats them as his prized possessions. But then he finds that all these are nothing compared to wisdom, so he asks..

“Where then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell?
It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed from the birds of the air.
Destruction and Death say, ‘Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.’ ” -Job 28:20-22

And at the end of it all, when every effort has been rendered useless and man dies to himself and acknowledges that he cannot attain wisdom on his own, he finds that..

“God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells,
for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.
When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters,
when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm,
then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he confirmed it and tested it.
And he said to man, ‘The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.’ ” -Job 28:23-28

I am amazed with how God spoke to me through this part of scripture. Amazed that he has chosen to bestow wisdom on mortals. To those who sincerely ask for it by faith. If there’s one blessing that I really thank God for right now, it is a heart that he enables to listen and to follow him.

God has also shown me how this chapter is like the chronicling of my whole academic life. I have treasured knowledge ever since. I have regarded everything I was able to learn as treasure. So much so that I depended on them to give me a bright future. Funny how Job used the imagery of mining which is very close to my previous course of metallurgy and even mentioned food in verse 5 which is what my current course is all about.

But God has shown that in all these, in all the things I have learned in school, all the amazing facts from the sciences and all the beauty I find in the arts and languages, all of them point to how awesome, great and wonderful God is. So that, very much like the end of the chapter, I now see that wisdom can only be found in God. I can now clearly see why he has given me a mind that loves to learn; so that I can understand in so many ways just how great He is. (For a while there, I was wondering why he gave me a knack for being so appreciative of facts and details.) And even then, there’s so much more to know of God because He is infinite and we are just finite beings.

In his wisdom, he didn’t give me what I was aspiring for: to graduate with honors. He knew beforehand that it would just make me puffed up and depend on my own abilities again. Instead he gave me a heart that wants to listen to him.

I prayed tonight thanking God it was my sister who received that cum laude. She really deserves it and God knew that it wouldn’t cause her to wander away from him. Instead it made her honor God more. God knew what I needed. And it wasn’t latin honors.

Someone once commented in one of my blogs when I was wondering if I would get a decent job (what “a bright future” was to me before) after 6 hard years of college education, “Think of it this way, 6 years of growing in relationship with God, prepared you for the next step.” I can now attest to this more strongly. And I really thank God for all the things he is showing and teaching me of himself.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!” -Romans 11:33

 

growing in faith

June 17, 2009

My dear brothers and sisters,

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.

Your sister in Christ,
Cherry

P.S. This was excerpted from our brother Peter’s letter [2 Peter 1:3-10]. I really wanted to share this with you upon reading it.

what i learned about (and from) the Thessalonians on Paul’s first letter to them

December 13, 2008

  • that they were a commendable church
    • faith, hope, love (1:3)
    • steadfast despite persecution (1:6)
    • their lives shone for Christ (1:7-9)
    • they looked forward to heavenly/permanent things (1:10)
  • God has set mentors/spiritual parents for us just as He gave Paul to the Thessalonians (2:8, 11-12)

“We need people who are disciplers, coaches, counsellors, sponsors, or teachers who will mentor us to deeper spiritual maturity. We need spiritual fathers and mothers who will be real with us and walk with us into greater Christlikeness.”*

    • Are you a spiritual orphan who needs a mentor? Or maybe you can already be a spiritual father or mother.
  • truth begets truth [especially in leadership] (2:4-6, 13-14)
  • our brothers and sisters are our glory (2:20)
    • especially if we had grown together, we helped them grow, or they helped us grow
    • we may be away from one another but we can always PRAY for them
  • that they were a loving people (3:9-13)
    • Christianity – relationships of love – loving God, loving others
  • they lived to please God (4:1, 9-10)
    • these pleasing lives are appreciated and honored by people around them (4:11-12)
  • be sober [all because we have hope for the future] (5:6-8)
    • Matthew 24
    • encourage and build each other up (4:18, 5:11)
  • work together
    • love and respect leaders (5:12-13)
    • warn the lazy (5:14)
    • encourage the timid (5:14)
    • take tender care of the weak (5:14)
  • be joyful (5:16)
  • pray (5:17)
  • be grateful (5:18)
  • do not stifle the Holy Spirit (5:19)
  • He who called us is faithful. He will bring these things about. (5:23-24)

Why am I sharing this to you? Simple. (5:27)

I hope you can read the whole of 1st Thessalonians. Let this outline just be a guide. It’s not by any means complete. There are many other things we can learn from them.

(*p.374, Daily Devotion: Asian Reflections)

 

His words bring life

September 20, 2008

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

-2 Corinthians 4:17-18