The Pull of the World

In September last year when my husband arrived from a three-day prayer and fasting in our church’s fasting house in Pampanga, I asked why he didn’t go straight to work which he was wont to do in years past. In the earlier years after our salvation, whenever he came back from the fasting house, he never failed to visit the office on the same day. Except that time when he fasted for 15 days, he always came home radiant and showing perfect health and strength, like he didn’t abstain from food for three days. That last time, however, I noticed him looking emaciated and tired.

pull of the world

“I’m still feeling weak,” he answered. He just confirmed what I’d been suspecting. I told him about my observations of his fastings in previous years and the recent ones and he acknowledged that yes, it was different now. I was emboldened to tell him why it was so.

Months before he finally decided to leave for the fasting house, I was fervently praying that the Lord would speak to him and prod him to go back to his first works. And every time I did, I felt a resistance to my prayer, a struggle. The Lord was telling me that we had gone so far away from the spiritual zeal that we used to have. The gradual shift from our burning spirituality to one which was affected by secularism in recent years has somehow weakened our confidence and watered down the faith that can move mountains we used to have. I knew that and I could feel that deep within me. Because of this, I prayed the more urgently and passionately, acknowledging our faults and failings.

I put the blame on this: When we opened our doors to the Internet and social media, our focus began to shift. Ever so gradually, but it happened.

The years following our salvation, our world revolved around Church, morning and evening praise and worship, prayers, regular 3-day prayer and fasting for my husband, Bible reading (I only read the Holy Bible then, many times a day), and crusades during summer. It was rather a closed world, hedged by God’s Holy Spirit.

Then social media came to our life. In late 2010, I created my very first: Twitter. I shared encouraging tweets and verses everyday. A few months later, I created my blog, Minister of Mercy, where I wrote and shared the many amazing testimonies in our Church. Later on, I felt I wanted to write some more and share my life in the Lord and His Word to the world. So, I created Our Healing Moments and began to write in earnest. Both were gifts from heaven. My territory expanded outside the boundaries of our home. The world opened up before my eyes as the Internet broke down barriers between continents and I was introduced to the community of Christian bloggers. It was a gradual but very rewarding process. It was a time of stepping out into the world again, albeit virtually.

It was much later that I entered Facebook for the sole purpose of creating a page for my blogs and be able to share to a wider readership. There was a certain degree of apprehension on my part at first. Although I was already into blogging, I didn’t want to totally break down the walls around my private world of only God, Church, family, and a few choice neighbors. I had become used to that world, a far cry from my years of career and business. Being ill and weak, I felt safe and secure in that world.

But in the end, I had my FB account and to make the story short, I was again in the world through social media. Not long afterwards, Felix created his own FB account. Gradually (and I really observed this closely), members from our Church, from the least to the greatest, joined in. My FB community has burgeoned into proportions I didn’t quite expect. The opportunity to share my writings through my blogs has gradually increased and continues to do so. I’m really thankful for that. But somehow, we have changed, and that change is largely influenced by FB.

I now lament that instead of being soaked up with the things of God, to some degree, we are being drenched with secular things, just by lingering on that seemingly endless FB newsfeed. It is not as much as spending too much precious time there that should have been wisely spent in Bible reading and meditation, prayer and worship as it is an influencer of one’s mindset, affections, and desires.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom. 8:6 ESV)

I told my husband that our immersion in social media has diluted the anointing, the density of our spirituality, and has somehow doused our fiery faith. He could only agree. In the past, he offered prayer and fasting every three months. Now, eight months had passed before the last one. The Lord warns us:

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. (Rev. 2:4-5)

At the end of our conversation, my husband and I both agreed that complete and steadfast obedience to God and His will is always the most excellent way, for us to be in His perpetual remembrance and favor. We both saw the benefit of laying up treasures in heaven and investing on future needs being met and God’s blessings in general through fervent, faithful, intentional, and unceasing prayers now.

The Lord Jesus said that we are salt and light.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. (Mat. 5:13)

Our saltiness will lose its potency when we adopt the ways of the world instead of being a light to it. When that happens, the Master will find no use for us. But it’s never too late to purge ourselves of the pollution of this world. Apostle Paul encourages us:

 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Tim. 2:21)

The chameleon’s color changes according to its environment. When we linger too long in the world, like the chameleon, we will adapt its color. But when we faithfully abide in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be conformed to His image as God has predestined us to be (see Rom. 8:29).

That night, I lay in bed in our already dim and quiet room as I listened to praise music. I still can’t sing, my diaphragm being weak. But when I don’t enter the presence of the Lord through worship, the more that weaknesses catch up on me.

We only realize how hungry we are of God when we are already being filled by Him through worship. We realize that all those times spent fretting and worrying would have been prevented by intentionally abiding in His glorious presence.

Something miraculous happens in praise and worship. Even when we are just listening and not able to sing, when we put our all into it, the Lord transforms us from inside out.

So I lay still and just let the Lord love on me, whisper words of comfort and courage, strengthen me, expand my heart and mind, feed my soul. Heaven drew near and the love of Jesus was a tangible thing. Tears escaped from the corner of my eye.

(Photo credit: Jose Luis Casti via Flickr).

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Bless the Lord! {With My Testimony}

Meditating on Psalm 134.

Behold, bless the Lord,
All you servants of the Lord,
Who by night stand in the house of the Lord!
2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,
And bless the Lord.

3 The Lord who made heaven and earth
Bless you from Zion!

The effective antidote for disappointment, discouragement, and even discontent is to remember the goodness of the Lord; to count His blessings and name them one by one. Sometimes this is hard to do, especially to those who do not want to humble down and leave that place of brooding. We can choose to either grouse or give thanks. The former brings a fleeting and false relief, but after it has vented out, we realize it doesn’t really improve our situation. The latter honors God and ushers in a blessing. Although we may not see it yet, but we can feel the prompt effect by our having a peaceful heart and mind.

The best way to conquer the negative feelings that try to trample us is to choose to bless the Lord. Bless Him in the battle as well as in the victory.

How many of you, if there is any at all, thank the Lord everyday for being able to shower, bathe, or shampoo? These tasks are so mundane most people will not give them a second thought. But for me, they are not ordinary, easy tasks, and being able to do them means a lot.

In 2010, another bout of my illness attacked me. It was more severe to the point of death. For months my oesophagus couldn’t receive food and my stomach was too weak it almost didn’t function. I only ate soft rice with beef broth. I became skin-and-bones. I was very weak I couldn’t bathe even with assistance. When my skin became itchy, I sponge-bathed it with hot water and alcohol. Washing my hair was out of the question. I couldn’t sit long, and when I lay down with my head protruding at the edge of the bed so someone could wash my long hair, I couldn’t breathe well. Scrubbing my scalp, even done by someone, would exhaust me and make me feel dizzy. So, for half a year, my hair was not washed. It became so tangled from the dust and sweat that it clumped up at the back of my head like a huge basket. My husband and the kids joked that I should not be seen by the birds, otherwise, they might make their nest on my head.

Those were the times that lightness and laughter attempted to assuage all our sadness and fears. My husband offered 2-meal fasting for over 80 days while continuing to work in the office. He, too, became emaciated. Preachers and prayer warriors from our Church came to pray over me and lay their hands on me. Gradually towards the end of the year, I recovered and regained some strength.

For the fist time in six months, my hair was washed. But it would take many washes before the basket-like clump was totally untangled. Last year, we remodelled our master’s bathroom. We made it easily accessible for my wheelchair and walker. When the renovations were completed, I began to use it to bathe and wash my hair with the assistance of my husband. That is a tremendous blessing to me! I thank Him everyday for it.

One can either question God for the suffering in the first place or bless Him for His enduring mercy and unfailing love. I will always choose the latter.

(Beautiful photo courtesy of my sister in Christ Evamarie Fetter).

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Journey with Jesus,