Stirrings in My Soul

I was reading through the Gospel of Mark just a few weeks ago in my new KJV journaling Bible and when I came to that part wherein a father besought the Lord to heal his son who had a dumb spirit and the Lord answered him and said –

“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)

– it seemed like the Lord was shouting those words to me. Or maybe, it seemed to me that the words became louder and bigger and bolder. Like it was telling me, “Pay attention! Read me and believe.”

My watercolor painting of hills in the mist. (Reference photo from tournesol50.tumblr.com).

My watercolor painting of hills in the mist. (Reference photo from tournesol50.tumblr.com).

It’s not as if it was the first time that I have read it. I have read it countless times before and have even memorized it. But this time, it gripped me afresh. It kind of rained hope on me once again. To believe beyond doubts and fears. To believe beyond my present capacity to believe. For, as I have written previously, faith’s facets and strengths change with the seasons of life, with the trials and triumphs we go through.

How do I begin to tell the story of my faith? For the last 13 years saw my faith tested and strengthened and waxed weary and grown faint, then persevered again. It was steadfast for I never let go of it. But its quality has not been unchangeable.

In the early months and years after I received Jesus and His salvation, my faith was defiant. Audacious. So much so that I scorned the cardiologist’s warnings that I didn’t have much time to live if I wasn’t treated. But I couldn’t believe in him, the whole lot of them. I could only trust my Savior and Healer. I was obstinate with my newly-found faith.

For years it was like that. I was resolutely believing and trusting and keeping still, awaiting the great miracle of healing from the Lord: the likes of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3), the crippled man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5), the man with the palsy borne by four who was let through the roof (Mark 2), and many, many more.

But it didn’t happen that way. Little miracles littered the years, miracles of increment healing. Moments of healing here and there. And though they were not of the same caliber as the ones in the Bible (or even with the ones in our Church, Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry), they were born out of desperation, out of the shadow of death, and are therefore, very, very much appreciated and will never be forgotten.

Healing came in different forms. I wasn’t suddenly touched by the miraculous and then leaping and bounding and shouting. But it came with the length of time.

But unhealings came, too. Times when I was back to taking to my bed. For months. But my faith held me fast. And my faith would bring me back again to partial healing. On and on it went. Sure, I counted the years that passed, the years that I expected complete healing to come. Before the eighth year rolled in, I found light and hope with the story of Aeneas, paralyzed and bedridden for eight long years, but was healed through the prayer of Apostle Peter (Acts 9).

When Aeneas’ story of healing didn’t become mine, there was still the woman with the issue of blood 12 years. And on it went until today. Exactly to the day as I write this, October 15th. Thirteen years later.

I have written about my treasure chest of small miracles of healings and deliverances (small because they weren’t entire, but still much-needed-and-prayed-for miracles). I hold them close to my bosom. Very, very precious. But if you’ll ask me how my faith looks like now, what will I answer you?

My faith has taken great batterings in the past 13 years. It has stood, fought wildly, defied all odds, stumbled, been crippled, crawled, nursed back to life. It was filled and grown and expanded to bursting at the seams. It was painfully pruned. It was whittled away, bit by bit, until it succumbed to sad reality, the new normal. There is probably no forthcoming glorious miracle. It probably may not come that way. The defiant, audacious faith became subdued and pliant, accepting its fate.

The face of faith became the face of gratitude, running deep and steady, like the greenest, quiet river. For life that’s still holding me tight. For it had come to the point where the dream of walking and traveling again seemed so out of reach and even my mind could not conceive it, no matter how active and vibrant my imagination has always been.

There were always three stages: busy begging for life and for suffering to ease out, busy thanking God for deliverance from death and the subsequent partial healing, then the deep desire to be fully well. By this time, the desire increases and looks on the possibility, tentatively testing out faith once again, first in the mind and heart, then the first few steps. If at all.

For it seems like land has become a vast ocean to me where my feet may fail. The life I used to know eons ago – how do I re-enter it? So I whisper a prayer, morning and evening, “Dearest Lord Jesus, help me embrace the healed and victorious life and not fear and shun it.”

Throughout these 13 years, I look at two situations in life: the sick and the terminally-ill (or even those who had died before their time) and the perfectly and completely healthy. The former I can derive scant cups of hope and strength to inspire me through my own trudgings and stir me to pour out praises and thanksgiving to God for life that’s still holding me tight. The latter I gape at in miserable envy.

But at this time in my life, I’m weary of looking at both. I want to look out beyond, beyond all these misery and envyings, even beyond my cluttered desk of watercolors where my world is vibrant and happy despite of, to that place where my Shepherd can (and will!) bring me. A place where healing and victory dwell. A place where all things are possible!

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)

Today, I read Numbers Chapter 13, Spies Sent Out to Canaan. At the end of the chapter, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and I wrote it down on the margin of my journaling Bible.

My Promised Land is the land of my healing and victory, a land that flows with perfect health and strength and peace and joy. I must not be afraid to enter my Promised Land and conquer it. I must pluck out the fruits of it – grapes, figs, and pomegranates – until juices run down my chin. Like Caleb and Joshua, I must be courageous and trust God will bring me to it.

Amen and Amen!

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Lessons From the Past

Meditating on Psalm 106.

Blessed are those who keep justice,
And he who does righteousness at all times! (Psalm 106:3)

Psalm 106 is a summary of Israel’s journey from the land of Egypt to Canaan, under the leadership of Moses, to their life beyond that – under the appointed judges and the reigns of kings.

Reading Psalm 106 reminded me of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians chapter 10. It was a grave warning. One that makes us stop in our tracks and let the words move powerfully in our being. The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians of the Israelites of old:

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1 Cor. 10:11)

This admonition is for us, too. What are the lessons we can glean from the life and journeyings of the ancient Israelites as narrated in Psalm 106?

1) Being Unmindful of God’s Wonders, Miracles, and Mighty Deeds (vv. 6-7)

After witnessing God’s wonders that He performed in Egypt, plaguing the land to amaze Pharaoh and make him liberate the Israelites, the people forgot. God did not earn their faith and trust at all. When they found themselves between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s pursuing army, they raised their voices and complained to Moses.

Do you easily forget God’s goodness and mercy in times of distress and great trials? Our lack of faith and trust in Him displeases Him. But our constant remembrance of and thanksgiving for His works glorify Him.

2) God Performs Miracles for His Glory (vv. 8-12)

Despite Israel’s lack of faith and rebellion, He saved her and showed her His mighty power. God’s wondrous works that He performs in our lives are meant to exalt Him and give Him glory. Do we thank and praise Him for them, and declare them to other people? Or do we secretly think that they are products of our own strength and wisdom? Pride is a sin that usually ensnares a person, even a Christian.

3) Giving in to Lusts (vv. 13-15)

Though God fed them with manna, their soul began to loathe it, and they remembered the flavorful dishes that they used to eat in Egypt. They lusted for food.

This passage brings a tinge of conviction to my heart. It is not only food that we may lust for. There are myriad things that our souls may greatly desire, and in the midst of hard trials, don’t we sometimes loathe what is daily given to us and wish for something else? But what we think we lack and crave for may exactly be the thing that God is withholding, to give us something far better and more filling. Yes, in the very absence of the things we desire, in that very place, God could be filling us with so much more: the growth of our souls, the deepening of our faith and devotion to Him, and the expansion of our love.

4) Punishment for Jealousy and Idolatry (vv. 16-23)

God punished those who were jealous of Moses and Aaron. Their forming and worshiping of the image of an ox kindled His wrath so fiercely that He wanted to destroy the whole nation had not Moses interceded.

Don’t we also do that? Unconsciously? When we are on that place of waiting, desperately waiting, long and hard, don’t we sometimes divert our attention to temporary things that get us off of the presence of the Lord? Don’t we also sometimes create things that will bring us great pleasure, filling, as well as consuming, our hearts and minds and days? Don’t we also set up idols in our hearts?

5) Complaints and Murmurings God Hates (vv. 24-33)

God was pleased to give them Canaan, the Promised Land, but they despised it. God was so hurt and angered that He determined to destroy those people and did not let them see the land.

When we are disappointed and dissatisfied with what the Lord provides for us and we bitterly complain about them, we dishonor Him. Our unthankfulness greatly offends Him. Our constant complainings and grumblings turn away His blessings intended for us.

6) Be Separate (vv. 34-43)

God redeemed us from the sin and filthiness of this world. He made us “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” (1 Pet. 2:9). Just as He drew Israel toward Him to be His people, separate from the other pagan nations around her, He also wants us to be separate from the ways of the world. 

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Journey with Jesus,