My Treasure Chest

I have a treasure chest where I stash all my wealth in this world. I haven’t realized how much it has grown, but the last time I looked, my treasures have accumulated and lay in a heap, untouched, just waiting for me to come and do an inventory again. Taking stock of my wealth is a wonderful task. Wonderful, in the truest sense of the word: it elicits in me feelings of awe and wonder. And the fruit of it is praise and thanksgiving to God from the core of my being, like a spring of water that must find its way to the surface.

gems-2

I had heard it said that one of my unmarried granduncles, when he was still living, would sit up in the middle of the night, take out his box of money and count his worldly wealth. Single to the day of his death, he had lived simply and stingily and kept all his money, the bills neatly folded and bound, in a box where no one could touch it. It was said that after he died, the box was discovered under his bed – no instructions as to whom he intended to bequeath it.

Maybe he wanted to hold onto it and feel the comfort and security of possessing so much even to his death. Maybe it was his god. For in the absence of God in one’s life, one is bound to worship someone or something.

I would have done that, too, had God not taken me and showed me how to really live.

If my granduncle sat up in the middle of the night to take stock of his money, I too, sometimes open my chest and take out my treasures. One by one, I place them under the light where I can gaze at them and marvel once again at their beauty and how they have enriched my life.

The sparkling, colorful sapphires of answered prayers scattered all over the place. The deepest red rubies of the Lord Jesus Christ’s unfailing love, poured out in Calvary, washing away my sin. The opalescent stones of His enduring mercy and compassion that come in shifting colors in each ushering in of dawn – ultramarine blue, indigo, lilac, purple, burnt sienna, quinacridone gold, rose madder, carmine, vermillion – like the colors of the majestic sky when darkness gives in to light. They are new every morning! 

I pick up the strings of pearls that seem to have no end, their pearlescence shines the more when the light kisses it. They are His words that will never pass away, spoken to me through His prophets and apostles of old and His whispers of reminders and instructions through His Holy Spirit. I lay them down and see the golds, shining brightly like lamps in the dark, tests and trials in the fiery furnace of God which have turned into pure gold. It’s only through that (heaving one huge sigh) that the ore can be turned into gold. When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Yes, these words from the lips of Job I have echoed through the years of difficult trials of faith.

Covering the bottom of the chest, I touch the cold, many-faceted stones. And when the light catches them, they wink at me – glittering, dancing diamonds of God’s faithfulness. They cover me with their blinding brilliance.

I am very rich.

My sapphires come in varying colors: blue, pink, viridian, crimson, magenta, amber, and orange. They are the answered prayers that I hold close to my bosom: each one a beautiful story of a different hue; each one a powerful testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness. I know each one of them. It would be a sin to forget any one of them, and yet, can we really account for all of them?

There was my prayer for a close relationship with my daughter Hannah. She was a little girl when I got ill, only two. I ceased to play with her or walk with her or bring her to school. I was busy getting healed or fighting fear and death. Our home wasn’t normal. There were no family dinners, playdates, trips to the mall… My husband threw himself to the management of the company I left in a huff, before it was too late to save it. My illness kept me bound in bed or a chair. And Hannah was left in the care of a nanny.

She began to be estranged from me. Each day that passed, I saw that she was growing to dislike me. When I called her, she didn’t want to come near. When I wanted to talk to her, she wouldn’t open her mouth. When I asked her to play with her toys at my feet, she hated it.

So, I prayed. I prayed and begged the Lord to not let me lose my daughter, too, because of my illness. Night and day I prayed that my daughter and I would become so close as a mother and daughter should be.

One day when she was in Kinder 2, barely three months before the school year ended, she decided to stop going to school. No amount of convincing or trick or pleading worked. One morning, both her Dad and I brought her to school hoping that she would be enticed to stay in school again. But she clutched at the steering wheel so tight she could have pulled it out of its attachment had we not finally relented. We faced the scary reality of our child not wanting to be in school, for how long, we had no idea. And we were devastated.

I was truly depressed because I know of a girl when I was in grade school in the province who suddenly stopped going to school at grade 4 and never left their house from then on to this day.

Later on, we learned from the mother of Hannah’s friend in school that Hannah had been confiding to her daughter how it made her so sad leaving me at home sick. I was the more devastated that it was my illness that affected her decision to stay at home. I wanted her to have a normal, happy childhood, despite my illness.

I didn’t want her to be left behind so I assumed the role of a homeschooling Mama. Thankfully, I was strong enough in those days to be able to do so. So everyday I taught her – math, reading, writing, arts. We ate together during lunch break and in the afternoons, we napped side by side.

When she went to the park with her nanny, she always came back with a flower for me. She was always by my side, asking me how I was when I was in bed.

One night during my private worship, the Lord spoke in my heart.

“I have answered your prayer. I have made you and your daughter very close. I want you to be happy. I love you.”

I sobbed in gratitude and awe.

So, all the time that I thought my daughter’s future had been ruined because of my illness, it was actually the Lord’s design so that I would feel the love that binds a mother and a daughter even in the midst of illness. Friends in church noticed our closeness and mentioned it. My husband told them it was an answered prayer.

The next school year, Hannah went back to school. And happily.

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Journey with Jesus,

Heart for a Contrite Heart

Tim and I sat down to enjoy the Bon Chon takeout that his Dad brought over lunch. Hannah was resting in her room because she was on her second week of two-meal prayer and fasting. I asked Tim to warm my rice and beef topping in the microwave and told him not to transfer it to a bowl anymore. He said that he can’t microwave the cardboard tub. I insisted he could.

Me and my favorite boy in the whole planet, Tim.

Me and my favorite boy in the whole planet, Tim.

He came back looking distressed and carrying a bowl with my food in it, now looking like it was dumped upside down. He said he dropped the tub on the floor because it had become soft from microwaving and he scooped what he could into the bowl. I told him to pick up all the beef. Before he left for the second time, he told me in all sadness that I could have his food instead. When he returned, tears were racing down his cheeks. He was miserably sorry that he dropped my food and he wouldn’t eat. He just sobbed in his chair.

Now, my 8-year old Tim is a painfully sweet boy. And he’s very responsible and industrious, too. Unlike most boys his age who only want to play all day, he can assist me to the bathroom and give me everything I need. He is smart and efficient and follows instructions to the letter. On Friday nights when hubby and Hannah go to church to attend the overnight prayer meeting, he stays with me in the room and assists me in whatever I need help with: hot water, snacks (we eat together), toothbrush prep, face washing prep, drawing the curtains, blanket, night light, etc.

But he is a kid and he is bound to make blunders (even adults do!).

I couldn’t bear to see him so miserable even when I said that I wasn’t angry and it’s okay, that I was still eating my own food because I already blessed and gave thanks for it. So, I pulled him to me and hugged him tightly and wiped away his tears.

He whispered that he was also worried that his Ate Hannah might see the mess on the kitchen floor and scold him. So, I instructed him to sweep it off into the dust pan then mop it clean. So, he did just that. It was only after this that he sat at the table and ate. (I waited for him the whole time, so when I finally put food into my mouth, it was already cold. So much for microwaving it! We had come full circle 😀 ).

Days before this, I had a similar incident involving Hannah. We were prepping to make matcha bars using fresh coconut milk. The milk had been squeezed out of the grated coconut flesh by hubby using the exact measurement of water I gave. I sent Hannah to the kitchen to get it (we bake in our bedroom extension since I can’t walk, so we have a mobile kitchen :) ). When she came back carrying the bowl of coconut milk, she was sobbing, fat tears trickling down her cheeks.

“What happened?” I asked curiously.

“Mom, I spilled much of the coconut milk. I didn’t know the bowl was slippery and it turned over. This is the only thing I was able to save,” she sobbed.

My 15-year old Hannah knows her way in the kitchen. She can cook on her own, closely following recipes, and when she presents her creations to us with a flourish, we are grateful and pleased. Together with Tim, she assists me in baking. When I’m too exhausted, I can leave her to continue what we have started.

She put down the bowl of coconut milk on the table. The sorrow on her face told me that she thought all our preparations were ruined. But I looked at the quantity of coconut milk in the bowl and was certain that we had enough and some to spare (that’s because hubby was able to produce more than what was needed, compensating for the quantity that spilled).

Calmly, I told my daughter that it’s okay and we’re proceeding with our recipe. I worked cheerfully with her, wanting to appease her sorrow from her blunder. I wanted her to feel that she was appreciated (especially her contrite heart) and precious to me, mistakes and all.

That is the natural tendency of a mother to her child who has erred and is completely humble to feel sorrow for it. We just want to embrace and soothe their sorrow and wipe away their tears. Of course, there is always a proper time for correction and reprimand, sometimes gentle, sometimes sharp. But those moments of deep remorse with tears – we just want to draw them closer and give mercy and love in copious amount.

More than the fear of being scolded, I have seen that there is an underlying, deeper reason why Hannah and Tim felt sorrowful for their mistakes and were even tearful about them: they are developing a deep sense of responsibility in their hearts. They are not kids who are growing up irresponsibly. In their heart of hearts, they want to do things right, according to our teachings to them. They want to show proofs of their learning, growing, and maturing process.

And… I love that. My heart is filled with joy to see our children walking and growing before the Lord as what we fervently and incessantly pray for.

If we delight in our children’s contrite spirits, how much more God who put that love and mercy in our hearts? God has a thing for the contrite in heart.

For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Is. 57:15)

The companion of contrite is confessing. Are we a confessing Christian? Do we come before the Lord, humbling down ourselves and confessing and acknowledging our shortcomings, mistakes, failures, and sins? Are we humble enough to acknowledge them and be remorseful of them? Are we courageous enough to own up to them and actually confess (mention) each one though they may seem or sound really ugly? That they are ugly and no amount of cosmetics – excuses – can prettify them? Like maybe the things that we harbor in our hearts that we are really ashamed of.

Or maybe internal struggles against the temptation to stumble because we are seriously offended.

The Lord Jesus mentioned that offenses must come.

Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! (Mat. 18:7)

The offender is not what I want to emphasize here, but the heart of the offended that wants to grow cold and give in to disillusionment (for want of a better word).

I’m sorry that I cannot give the details of the real struggle I had to go through recently. It is a sensitive matter. But I confessed everything to the Lord: the feelings of great dismay and discouragement I had to really fight. The resentment, too, and weariness of the spirit. I emptied my heart before Him. And until now, I still pray fervently regarding this thing that has so affected me. I’m thankful that my heart, our hearts, whatever they are going through, are known by God and are accepted by Him.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. (Ps. 51:17)

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Journey with Jesus,

Home

Home is all I know of now. When you come visiting, I’m always home. You know when you’re homebound and unable to travel, there is always home. Being strapped home is not so bad. I’m grateful for home. I thank the Lord everyday for our beautiful home. Beautiful, not only because of the things found inside and the patch of green grass, plants, and trees that comprises our small garden outside. Beautiful because the Lord shines His light upon it. He sits upon the throne of our love, adoration, and praises. I can feel His constant presence within the walls of our home and out there in our patio.

Hubby's photo of Taal Lake as viewed from Canyon Woods.

Hubby’s photo of Taal Lake as viewed from Canyon Woods.

But home had not always been lovely for me and my young family, the kind which caresses your heart and soul in peace so that you want to breathe out a whisper toward heaven, “Thank You, God!”

We were still in the early days of building our home together, Hannah was a few weeks old baby, when my husband and I had an ugly fight which turned out into him clearing off his closet and leaving, and I, baffled and totally heartbroken. When you love perfect in everything, a wrecked marriage and home could be your ruin, too.

And so, our beautiful house became just that for me: a place where I went to at the end of a busy work day. No love, no family, no peace. Happiness was superficial and joy was foreign.

When the Lord finally restored us, His forgiveness, salvation and unconditional love pouring out upon our wrecked lives, I was too sick to keep house. I watched our mended family while I went in and out of near-drowning in fear and illness, and that didn’t comfort me. For years after our salvation and restoration, I lived in fear, uncertainty, and joylessness, the constant companions of sickness and suffering.

For the past 13 years where I experienced intermittent episodes of partial healing and recovery and of becoming sicker and walking under the shadow of death, home had become fragmented for me, offering little parts of it where I could hide and hope to find relief. There was Hannah’s room, then a vacant room adjacent to it (which was to become Tim’s room), the garage, the dining area.

In December 2004, I didn’t want to stay home. I thought that if I did, I would drown in fear and sickness and die. And so we stayed in our church’s fasting house in Pampanga. I wanted us to rent an apartment near it and live there indefinitely. But on New Year’s Day, God spoke to me: “Go home, my child. Wherever you go, I am there with you.” Since that day until 2006, I was home.

In 2006, home for me were the road and the places of crusades we went to all over Luzon. Certainly, an episode of partial healing and recovery.

The years that followed saw me giving birth to Tim and then sicker and weaker again that traveling, however near, posed a threat to my life. There were weeks and months that I made my home in our Astrovan parked in our garage. I lay in the van’s bed all day, protected from the curious eyes of neighbors and passersby by a small square of batik cloth and an umbrella anchored between the van’s rear door and the garage gate when it rained.

Then there was the time my husband moved the bed from the guest room into the dining room near the lanai door. Marichris’, our housekeeper and also my caregiver, silent movements in the kitchen were a comfort. And so I lay there all day for weeks and months until our own bedroom was a welcome refuge for my very sick self once again.

For years I coveted the lives and homes of our neighbors where there was no sickness but only happiness and normal living.

But with my steadfast faith and persevering prayers (and those in our Church led by our beloved pastor) and growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ through His Word, came healing (though partial), strength, fresh hope, and inspiration once again. And this time, it is sturdier than all that came before. Because of the enduring mercies of God. Because He hears and honors the prayer of the faithful.

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (James 5:11)

I don’t know how it happened, but it looks like the Lord has lifted off the shroud of fear and gloom of my heart and home, and in its place, He set His good and perfect gifts: His shimmering light and daily doses of His unfailing love, grace, strength, beauty, inspiration, and joy.

There is true beauty and peace in our faithful and intentional abiding in Him and His Word. His presence in our lives and our deep awareness of it are power. 

Our home. Those mounted watercolor poppies are my work – praise God. They bring brightness to our living room.

Inspiration that oozes from my worshiping heart drives me to make our home beautiful, not only with the furniture (the arranging and re-arranging of them), the decor, the knickknacks, the fresh flowers in vases, the books in the shelves, the scents of pearly lavender bath or freshly-cut grass, but also with the conversations, laughters, playtimes, acts of love and kindness and sacrifices, celebrations, reconciliations, and all others that make a house a home.

The Lord has heaped His blessings upon me that my prayers and thanksgivings are never empty and futile and my days are full of color and meaning. Though in other people’s eyes, the blessings may look like trickles (they look that way to me sometimes, with me still not fully well, strong, and walking), they are actually honey drops from heaven, sweet to the soul and health to the bones.

Yes, by God’s wonderful grace, I am making our home beautiful in every sense of the word, but home for me, that true, peace- and love-filled home, is really in the arms of my Savior. Not literally, but like in the cleft of the Rock, where when my heart is overwhelmed, He leads me to the rock that is higher than I (Ps. 61:2), safe and comforted under the shadow of His wings and in His hand where no one can pluck me out (see John 10:28).

If I had known then that being still in my own bed (where it’s far more comfortable) and trusting God to come through for me wherever I was in our house, I wouldn’t have acted in panic in previous years. But maybe, my fears were more powerful than my faith then. Or maybe, it is now God’s perfect time to deliver me out of those paralyzing fears and let me bask in His peace and joy.

Last year when I fought fiercely for my life once again, I didn’t have the desire (nor the strength for that matter) to flee my room. In the deep recesses of my mind and soul, I held on to God’s powerful promises and made them my home. My sanctuary. And He met me there. I think of David’s words:

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. (Ps. 4:4)

Home is wherever we are held tightly by our loving, faithful God.

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Journey with Jesus,

The Number of Our Days

It happened one Sunday that our only housekeeper would leave for a day and a night off and Felix and the kids would attend church the whole day and we didn’t have any other choice but to let Angie, the “little” sister-in-law of our laundry lady, to assist me. I felt a bit apprehensive since Angie, a wisp of a young woman (her size the half of Hannah), had not been trained to assist me. And we would be left on our own for the whole day! Although she had proven herself trustworthy and industrious when it came to housecleaning, I was wary when it came to her assisting me.

My apprehensions were not unfounded as the first mishap happened in the morning when I sent her to the store and she locked herself out! I couldn’t open the gate for her so I instructed her to hitch up her long skirt, climb the fence, and jump inside. She did it but she came back to me panting hard like a dog. Still, she apologized profusely.

Around early afternoon on my next meal, I rang the bell for her. I did it many times but she didn’t come. I listened to my surroundings trying to track her where she could be in the whole house. I heard the faucet outside near the kitchen in full stream. She was washing something and singing at the same time. She couldn’t hear the doorbell which was in the dining area. After sometime, she turned off the faucet and heard the persistent ringing. When she came to me at last, tears were already streaming down my face.

Again, she apologized profusely. I couldn’t get myself to be angry at her, both because of her humility and youth. I was already eating but tears continued to flow. I felt that all the grief, heaviness, frustration, misery, and all other pent-up emotions were converging, melding and mixing into a steaming brew that couldn’t be stopped.

“Don’t cry anymore, Ate,” Angie offered helplessly.

“I’m crying because my life is hard,” I answered in the bitterness of my soul.

“At least, Ate, you’re still here, with your family. You’re alive. Just thank the Lord that He continues to give you life,” she insisted gently. I know those words so well. Angie was speaking from a heart that loved and adored the Lord Jesus. She is a sister-in-Christ.

“Yes, I know that. But I’ve been sick and suffering for almost 12 years now. It’s hard and I know this is not supposed to be the life of a child of God. It is His will to heal,” I replied as more tears flowed.

Angle’s simple words of encouragement, though I had known them all along, brought a renewed strength and inspiration to me. Even long before that day, I had been thanking God everyday that I was still here with my family. But when I heard the words from her, innocently but sincerely spoken, I could believe again that God has a purpose for my life.

Other sufferers, both Christ followers and otherwise, would desire to be emancipated through death. Those who do not have Christ in their lives would rather leave this world and all its pain and suffering and embrace the numbness, the darkness and finality of death and the grave. While those in Christ would rather greatly desire to enter into glory, to be with their Lord where sickness and suffering and weeping would be no more.

But I’m like Apostle Paul who uttered, “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”

When I think about my children, now 14 and 7, I cannot get myself to desire to end my suffering through death. That is selfish. By God’s grace, I can and will endure sickness and suffering as long as I can still be with my family, especially my children who need a mother to nurture them in the love and admonition of the Lord. This is my number one desire and ardent prayer: to be delivered of all this sickness and suffering and walk in divine health, even though the waiting is excruciatingly hard.

What’s more, I have this innate desire and need to always choose life, hold onto it. I live in the Vine, my Savior’s life flows to me. That is the truth that holds me together.

There was a time in my physical suffering that even a hardly-noticed verse had encouraged me when all others seemed to fail. For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion” (Ecc. 9:4, emphasis mine). I could see there was a precious wisdom in it. Though ailing and suffering, figuratively a dog, I still have something to be thankful for: the breath of life in me and the hope that comes with it.

I don’t have to go too far, I only need to scroll down my FB newsfeed and see that people die even before reaching a ripe old age, including those in the family of God. What makes me think that I can lay claim to life like I’m entitled to reach a good old age, full of days just like David had? But truth is, by God’s promises, I can. And you can, too! The Lord Himself promised:

So you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you. No one shall suffer miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. (Exo. 23:25-26, emphasis mine)

There is a promise, a blessing from God, that He will fulfil the number of our days. As long as He has pronounced it, we can lay claim on it. It is ours. Close your fist tightly around it and never let it go. He honors our faith.

But what is the number of days that He has purposed for us? Psalm 90:10 gives us an answer:

The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years…

He will fulfil the number of our days which in His Book is 70-80 years (or even more as long as He’s not returning yet!). That’s a ripe old age considering the times. It’s what we’ve got and we have a choice to lay claim on it by faith. Our times are in His hand (Ps. 31:15) and oh, how I find a whole universe of freedom in that! Sometimes, news of somebody we know or a member of our Church family passing away may perturb us, but we only have to remember that our times, each one of us, are in God’s hand and there’s no reason to fret. He says that “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Rom. 9:15). We will live then looking to His enduring mercy and compassion! We will rest in the truth that whatever things we ask when we pray, believe that we receive them, and we will have them (Mark 11:24), especially when He has promised it.

And indeed He has and even repeated it:

With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation. (Ps. 91:16, emphasis mine)

Amen and Amen!

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Journey with Jesus,

Christmas Meditations

As I spend the days horizontal this Christmas season (sick again but fully expecting a miracle to happen), the way to the manger comes to mind over and over again. Eyes tightly closed and nothing to think of but God’s great mercy, I find my way there as clear as noonday, although my visits are at midnight. Yes, the night the Savior was born, of course, and guided by the bright, shining star. That’s why I can see my way clearly.

Isn’t that the main reason why He was born in the first place? To bring light in darkness.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. (John 1:9 NIV)

So, I enter the barn and find the manger covered with hay. Baby Jesus sleeps quietly amidst lowing cows and bleating sheep, His cheering team before the shepherds arrive and  the three Magi. The barn stinks, but Mary’s smile can’t be wiped out. It emanates from her grateful soul.

And I, I find so much peace in the scene. I learn a lot about the character of the Savior – peacefulness, simplicity, humility, beauty — glory! Glory surrounds Him even without the glitz and glamour we put into our Christmases.

That’s what I want to remember now.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:13-14)

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Journey with Jesus,

Finding Our Way to His ‘Yes’

The spontaneous prayer was triggered by a comment on FB. I posted a photo of a present from Dubai from one of our Church’s worship leaders who ministers overseas. Wherever he is sent to, he brings me home a souvenir. Last year was a framed collection of  sands of the Middle East. That had touched a chord in me, rekindling my hope to be healed and be able to travel to distant shores to share the Gospel. This had been my belief: the sands served as a sign that someday, I’d be able to walk on them. But after another year of waiting, adding to the decade before that – the fire gradually ebbed again.

But many of my beloved brethren in Christ who continue to hope and pray for my complete healing expressed their undying faith that, yes, someday, I’ll be traveling and testifying about the love of Jesus. They have that undiminished hope for me, but what of my own self?

I sat at the edge of the bed and prayed, because the discrepancy of the measure of faith between my brethren in Christ and me lay heavy on my conscience.

I told the Lord how my desire and hope to be healed have gradually gone downhill all these years of waiting. My prayer went something like this:

Lord Jesus, I think I haven’t enough desire left to continue to wrestle for my healing. It just petered out without me even realizing it, until now. Other things had made me preoccupied and satisfied that I hadn’t realized I wasn’t that hungry for healing anymore.

Sure, I still pray for it incessantly, but somehow, it’s different now. I know that without robust faith, I can’t possibly receive miraculous healing.

But Lord, if You’re waiting for me to be perfect, that is, blameless and without blemish, before You decide to heal me – then I believe I will never receive it. If You require my perfection before You will heal me, then I think I’ll never be healed.

But I don’t think that’s the way You operate, Lord. You have great mercy and compassion in You to give what I desire and need. That even my lack and imperfections are covered by Your love. All of it – my disease and faults – is covered by Your magnanimous love. And so, I know, that healing could come – because of who You are and not what I do or not do.

For, Lord, I believe I had done everything I knew to try to move Your hand to heal me. For the past decade, I diligently behaved myself before You – cowering in great fear, constant repentance, and humble obedience. I tried everything I knew – having faith that could move mountains, trusting only in You, immersing in the Word and living in it, worshiping, testifying to whosoever would care to lend their ears. And when that hadn’t been enough – to bear and endure unto the end.

But Lord, 11 years had come and gone and I remain unhealed and unable to walk beyond few feet. I’m beginning to think now that maybe it’s not really what I do that will move You. If You really want to, if You’re willing, I know You can heal me in the blink of an eye. And so, I leave it all up to You.

The tears began to tumble down my face. And for me, that is always a good thing. Shedding tears for my Lord and my God is never a waste but an offering. Suddenly, a shift happened inside me. I spoke again.

But Lord, You are all that really matters. Whatever I say, whatever I desire for my life – it is You who really matters. As long as I love You with all I am and You love me eternally – that is all that matters.

Tears streamed down; my body shook in uncontrollable sobs. I received His ‘yes’. His resounding ‘Yes!’ For to desire to love my Savior King with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength will always elicit a ‘yes’ from Him. For this is the first and greatest commandment (see Mat. 22:36-38).

Do you find it hard to receive His ‘yes’? Just love Him. You know His answer to that.

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I might be linking up with these lovely blogs and Still Saturday.

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Sing in Your Babylon

Meditating on Psalm 137.

How shall we sing the Lord’s song
In a foreign land? (Ps. 137:4)

Psalm 137 is a poignant remembrance of the exile of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to Babylon. The first few times I read this psalm, I ached for the fate of the people of God.  I had tears in my eyes. God was wroth with their repeated, blatant unfaithfulness that He used Babylon as instrument to punish them. So, they were taken captive and brought to a foreign land.

How do we see ourselves between the lines of this psalm in our present lives?

Last night, I started the live webcast of our church’s Friday overnight service with a heavy heart. I felt like I was not near God as I ought to be. I knew that I should be spending more time reading and meditating on the Word (not only in the morning and evening), praying, and praising God (and though I can’t vocalize because of my weak abdomen, I can always listen to praise and let my heart, mind, and soul sing silently). A lot of my time is spent writing and reading books, and although I go through the Scriptures as I write my book or blog, it’s different when you intentionally spend quiet time with the Lord, praising, worshiping, praying, and listening to His voice.

There are things we do that “exile” us from God. This is not of His own doing; I believe He never wants to drive us away. But our choices in everyday can drive us away from His nearness. We get so entangled with the affairs of the world that we get distracted and lose our focus. And when we feel we are not near to God, there is just heaviness. For He is the source of our peace and joy.

I was silently chastising myself as the congregation sang joyful songs. A thought even came to mind that if the Lord came at that very moment, would I be caught up with Him in the clouds and be together with Him for all eternity? Or would I be left behind because of my shortcomings and failures? How does one take hold of eternal life? How does one work out His own salvation with fear and trembling as the apostle Paul urges us in Philippians 2:12?

Not that we do not know, really. For we have been taught over and over again. But what I mean is — going through the motions of attending church, reading the Bible, praying, does not assure us of salvation because these things are not done with our whole beings. And, they should draw us ever nearer to God. If we can’t feel His presence there, if we feel empty, there is something wrong. For our faith must always be expressed through love (Gal. 5:6).  It’s our fellowship with the Spirit of God that affirms we are the children of God and heirs of eternal life.

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Rom. 8:16-17)

These thoughts played in my mind as I lamented my shortcomings. It was at this point that the words of the song being sung wound their way to my consciousness: 

He’s still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
‘Cause He’s still workin’ on me!

There’s no need to be too hard on ourselves. The Lord is plenteous in mercy. Let’s not exile ourselves from His presence just because we know we have a lot of shortcomings, failures, and blunders.

Once again, I received God’s mercy and slowly, He drew me to Him, caressing my heart and assuring me of His everlasting love. Silently, my heart sang.

(Beautiful photo courtesy of Sis. Evamarie Fetter).

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I might be linking up with these lovely blogs and Coffee for Your Heart.

Journey with Jesus,

 

For His Mercy Endures Forever!

Meditating on Psalm 136.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

To Him who alone does great wonders,
For His mercy endures forever. (vv. 1, 4)

Psalm 136’s theme is giving praise to God for His enduring mercy. In every line of praise and remembrance of His works, from top to bottom, is the recurring phrase “For His mercy endures forever!” Beginning from the Creation, to the Israelites’ Exodus, and their arrival in the Promised Land, to God’s faithful providence – God is praised and His mercy remembered. This makes us to stop and consider –  however trying our lives might have been, His mercies are interspersed in all the hard places.

The other night, I was listening to Avalon’s Everything to Me over and over. I had been feeling melancholy, but as I listened to the song, the Lord brought me back towards the end of 2004. I was in my cot at the corner of the chapel in Pampanga Fasting House. We had been there for weeks. Every morning, I was wheeled to that spot in the chapel so I could listen to the morning and evening praise and worship. One afternoon during a lull in praise, when the workers and brethren who were fasting retired to their quarters, I found myself alone in the very quiet chapel. I only heard the birds chirping and the gentle whisperings of the December breeze.

Suddenly, almost 3-year old Hannah came running to my cot, crying. She said she had been hit by a playmate. With all the strength I could muster, I slowly sat up in bed, embraced my wailing baby, raised one arm, and prayed agonizingly. I prayed that the Lord would heal me and lengthen my days so I could take care of my daughter. This was one reason which urged me to go on living despite everything!

Between that scene in the chapel with my daughter and our home now with the addition of my adorable son Tim is God’s ocean of mercy. I, we, had journeyed that far, and all the years in-between, though interwoven with suffering, saw the enduring mercies of God at every turn, every change, every challenge, every hardship. How could have I swam that enormous gulf called life with its constant companions of illness and suffering had it not been the mercy of God that endures?

This brings me to the prophet’s lamentations:

Remember my affliction and roaming,
The wormwood and the gall.
20 My soul still remembers
And sinks within me.
21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. (Lam. 3:19-23)

Everyday, I thank God for His compassions that never fail, how that they are new every morning! That He really loves us and cares for us. That He never really leaves our side nor forsakes us. Praise God for His mercy endures forever!

I share to you Avalon’s Everything to Me, a personal favorite. Listen and let the words come to life and grip you, touch you in all your hurting places and heal you!

But I’ll never be the same
Because he changed my life when He became…

Everything to me
He’s more than a story
more than words on a page of history
He’s the air that I breath
The water I thirst for
And the ground beneath my feet
He’s everything, everything to me.

~ Everything to Me

(Beautiful photo courtesy of Sis. Evamarie Fetter). 

If you have been blessed by your visit here, please like Our Healing Moments on Facebook and connect with me there. Thank you!

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs and Coffee for Your Heart.

Journey with Jesus,

My Strength and Song

Meditating on Psalm 118.

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever. (Ps. 118:1)

Psalm 118 is a profusion of praise, thanksgiving, and exaltation to the Lord God Almighty overflowing from a heart that had seen and tasted the goodness of the Lord. The psalmist’s couldn’t hold his peace but needed to declare the faithfulness of God to those who put their complete trust in Him.

It tells of the mercy of God that endures forever. And truly, we can hold onto this promise as surely as the heavens and the earth are in their place. When hope is almost gone and we find ourselves in despair, we only need to remember that His mercy endures forever. Meaning, His mercy towards us will never ever be gone for good; we can cling to it even in the last vestiges of hope, and can trust that He will come through for us in our most desperate need.

It tells further of the trust in the name of the Lord that triumphs over fear and of its power to deliver, to deliver from the works of the enemy: perils, diseases, death. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.” The name of the Lord – Jesus – has been my refuge, my sanctuary, from all of life’s storms. Even in sickness and weakness, I just utter His name under my breath or silently in my heart, and His peace that passes all understanding comes to me. Hallelujah!

This is what I love the most about Psalm 118 and I’ve been claiming it from early on:

 I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the Lord.
18 The Lord has chastened me severely,
But He has not given me over to death. (vv. 17-18)

Jesus is my strength and my song, my Healer and my salvation!

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

God’s Truth Endures Forever

Meditating on Psalm 117.

O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.

For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord. (Ps. 117:1-2)

Psalm 117 is the shortest of the psalms, only two verses, but is packed with God truth. Whatever are our circumstances today, whether we feel happy and comfortable or sad and struggling, the most excellent thing to do is come before the Lord with songs of praise, thanksgiving and worship. Though our souls may be sorrowing and our hearts heavy, giving honor to God by offering songs of soul-felt praise will definitely lighten the load and peace and joy will creep in. For God inhabits the praises of His people (Ps. 22:3).

For, at the end of the day, His merciful kindness draws us to Him and we are comforted.

Praise ye the Lord for His truth and mercy endure forever!

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,