Options (Testimony)

I wish there were a gentler way to write about this, but there isn’t. I had lived this kind of lifestyle, and now that I am walking with the Lord Jesus, I learned that there’s no use sugar-coating this painful reality: I had come to realize that a woman of the world who has so many opportunities and options in her hands has a high risk of following the wide road where immorality is condoned and even defended. Options coupled with the human being’s propensity to be selfish is a very potent combination that drives one into choosing and pursuing a worldly, pleasurable life that feeds one’s lusts, vanity, and pride. Or tries to alleviate one’s loneliness and emptiness. Or meaninglessness.

options

Like me before, there are accomplished career and business women today who live lives that are to be envied, when seen on the outside. They have flourishing careers and businesses; they have their own comfortable living spaces; they travel; they shop; they pamper and beautify themselves with the latest cosmetic trends. They are very independent and self-sufficient. They read self-help books instead of God’s Word. Some go to church because they believe it’s a duty (and it’s good to look at). They know how blessed they are and the least they could do is go to church at least every Sunday. If at all. They want to maintain this religiousness. It is a neat thing to complete the full life.

These are women who profess they know God but are not surrendered to Him. God is just a part of their lifestyle, One who is relegated to the background but never truly worshiped. What they really worship is the world and the things of this world (most unfortunately, they don’t even know that or wouldn’t admit it). They are in love with the world and not of the Savior of the world.

These are intelligent, smart women who know what they want and how to get it. Money and options which are available to them in abundance and their own self-centeredness will bring them their hearts’ desires. Conscience is stuffed and locked up somewhere inside where it can’t meddle with their plans. (Even their prayers are prayers to prosper their selfish motives. I still see myself kneeling inside the Catholic Church’s perpetual adoration chapel praying fervently for God to bless my sinful plans).

Again, I wish there were a milder way to write about these things, but sin is sin. I know. I had lived that life and knew other women who did the same. The Bible says that “she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives” (1 Tim. 5:6).

Means and the ways of the world offer a woman options to get the life she wants even if it tramples God’s commands. Welcome to the wide road!

“…for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” (Mat. 7:13)

It is both an apprenticeship to the world (not knowing any other way of life) and ignorance of the work of sin in one’s life. The Lord Jesus’ words echo from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

It is really that. They know not what they do. The world and the endless options it offers have blinded their hearts and minds. Snippets of Romans 1 squeeze themselves into mind:

They don’t glorify God.

are unthankful

vain in their imaginations

Foolish hearts are darkened.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

reprobate

But for most, they are simply lost. Lost sheep which the Savior is still searching for.

Divorce and Annulment 

Long time ago in small towns in the provinces, life was quiet. Everyday, the mothers cooked and washed clothes and tended their families; the grandmothers taught their daughters how to be good, faithful wives, their granddaughters how to behave in public and guard their purity. Long time ago where I grew up, marriage was sacred and faithfully kept and families were loved and nurtured. Faithfulness, purity, and humility were just a few of the virtues that were steadfastly pursued and kept. Life was simple. People loved faithfully, even sacrificially. They were content. They had a fear of God.

Then life became richer, in terms of financial and material wealth, careers and businesses. A wealth of opportunities were opened, especially to women. They are no longer relegated only to tend the home, but they are now leading their own companies and calling the shots. Which is not bad at all, except that, with the success came independence and the freedom to choose what makes one happy and fulfilled, even to losing one’s soul.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Mark 8:36)

There is nothing wrong in wanting to be happy. But when we seek it the wrong way, that’s where the problems begin. Selfishness and a conscience hardened by the world’s teachings can make wrong seem right.

So, a worldly successful woman can choose to opt out of her sacred vows. She believes she is entitled to it.

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. (Mat. 19:8, emphasis mine)

I had walked that cold corridor going to the offices of a reputable law firm. I wanted annulment. I wanted to pursue my own peace and happiness. Never mind if my baby needed a daddy. It wasn’t working. I had the money. I would recreate my life. The sound of my heels clicking against the tiled floor echoed in the empty corridor. It was hollow. Just like my soul.

But the Lord Jesus Christ got me even before I got to hire the lawyers’ services. He saved me. It wasn’t anything that I had done. It was pure grace. A mountain of divine mercy.

…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. (Rom. 5:20)

New Laws, Technology, and Inventions

Laws that give rights to do what is naturally wrong are created more and more. Their reach becomes wider and broader and gaining power. Today, men can change their gender physically and permanently and marry their own kind. Sodom and Gomorrah have risen up from the ashes. But if God completely destroyed it then because of utter sinfulness, wouldn’t it be the same now? Have the heart and character of the holy God of the Old Testament changed? Not a chance!

…I am the Lord, I change not… (Mal. 3:6)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb. 13:8)

Thirteen years ago, I paid P60,000 for a liposuction procedure of my tummy. I was not at all fat. In fact, I was very slim as I spent hours in the gym everyday. But my tummy wasn’t as flat as I wanted it. I wanted to have a perfect body. I had the money. I had an option. I took it. Barely two months later, I fell ill.

If you would ask me, now that I’m a born-again Christian, what I think of liposuction, I would say it’s vanity, and it’s therefore sin. I would never recommend it.

Maybe we could buy happiness. We may enjoy it for a fleeting moment. But happiness will always be temporary (for it depends on our circumstances), but the joy that comes from the Lord lasts forever.

The narrow road doesn’t offer options so we could follow our own selfish desires. But rather, following Jesus requires us to deny ourselves and take up our own crosses (see Mat. 16:24). It’s a straight highway to heaven. It is a life fully surrendered to God and His will. But it is the only way to life.

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mat. 7:14)

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Journey with Jesus,

Love Never Fails 2

Growing up, we learned that the opposite of love is hate. Then Joni Eareckson Tada wrote in one of her devotionals that lust is the opposite of love and went on to prove her point. But when the Lord put into my heart to write about the subject of love, this sentence hung on my mind and would not let go:

The opposite of love, agape love, is selfishness.

love never fails

In my head, I couldn’t string more than two sentences together, let alone construct a whole paragraph. I lost some sleep thinking about it. But because there was no other inspiration that came to me from the Lord, I thought He really wanted me to write about it. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I pray that you will learn from this short journey of love as much as I learned writing about it.

Agape is defined as “love as revealed in Jesus, seen as spiritual and selfless and a model for humanity.” Before the love and light of Jesus came into our lives, most if not all of us, were into all kinds of sin, not because we hated (that is, what we had known as the opposite of love), but because we were selfish. We only thought of ourselves: how to make us happy and satiated. There is no better embodiment of this than myself. Before I came into the light, I was wrapped up in my own self-love. And you know, if you only love yourself or your love for yourself is much higher than your love for others, like family, for instance, you don’t care if you shatter their hearts or ruin their lives. 

Why is there adultery, dishonesty, broken marriages and families? Is it not because we are selfish? Why  do same-sex individuals choose to couple and live together like a husband and wife and would fight to the death for their “rights”, rebelling against God’s commandment? Is it not because their love for themselves is greater than their fear of God? Materialism, covetousness, liberated lifestyle [not bound by traditional sexual and social roles] – don’t all these have their roots in selfishness?

We read the characteristics of love in the beautiful Love Chapter written by the apostle Paul:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. (1 Cor. 13:4-8)

A selfish person cannot always be patient and kind. He will always think about his own welfare before others’. Grumbling is his native tongue. He is never free from feelings of envy and always finds the need to brag, for he is essentially proud and wants only to believe in and admire himself. A selfish person cannot “bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things,” for he will always be looking out for himself, wanting to be free of all hassles, inconveniences, and encumbrances.

There is no true freedom, or power, or victory in selfishness.

But love is entirely on a different plane. When I began to feel the tugs of guilt on the magnitude of my sin and sought the Savior’s light, He also began to strip off my selfishness. That shift from selfishness to the Lord Jesus Christ was a journey of love. A love that is wrought with power, grace, and no small miracle. We begin to learn love the moment we shift our focus from ourselves to God and others.

I believe that love is not only a verb, but it has its own mighty power that conquers. Unlike selfishness which is vain and completely futile, love is the key ingredient for a God-sized miracle. When I received Jesus in my life, I began to look into the powers of this love, His love, as the single thread that holds everything together: freedom that comes with salvation, healing, peace, joy, faith, hope. The nails, no matter how big they were, weren’t what held Jesus at the cross. This is poignantly expressed in the song What Held You on the Cross?

What held you on the cross was more than just the nails.
With all the pain and suffering and all that you have lost
Your love for me could only be what held you on the cross.

This love was so powerful it resisted to the point of shedding blood, striving against sin (Heb. 12:4). A love so encompassing it saves from the fires of hell. A love so divine it lifts the redeemed into glory.

I believe in the power of love to heal and make whole.

This was what I always implored my husband during those painful strifes between us that hurt our faith and family. And I believed, had hindered my healing. I’ve always believed that dwelling on the side of love – active, fervent love – especially so in trying times, will shift the tide of defeat into an overwhelming victory. I believe that a love that is steadfast [firmly constant, unchanging, unmovable] through all life’s seasons and vicissitudes is the kind that conquers all.

I believe that unity bound by strong cords of love could usher in a great miracle. A threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecc. 4:12). And we know that the third strand is the Lord. When He is the third party in our marriages, we can conquer all. “For where two or three are gathered together in [His] name, there [He is] in the midst of them (Mat. 18:20).

When we gather before Him in love and peace (and not in strife) as a couple or as a family and without resentments in our hearts, He will meet us. And in His mighty presence, all things are possible.

Love is greater than faith. Apostle Paul wrote, “…And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2). In another letter, he wrote, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal. 5:6 NIV). Also, Saint James challenges us with his words, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18).

Expressing our faith through love. Showing the evidence of our faith by our works. The parable of The Good Samaritan exemplifies best these teachings. A priest, then a Levite, both came down the road where the man who was left half-dead by thieves lay. Upon seeing him, they each passed by on the other side. The priest and the Levite have a religion but not love. But the Samaritan showed his faith in God through his mercy and love.

Love that flows from our hearts into our lips and hands has the power to bind up wounds and heal broken hearts and bodies.

Do you have a sick and suffering person in your life who needs your love and care? A hurting soul who needs healing and lifting up? God put them there for you to minister in mercy with your faith working mightily through love.

Never underestimate the power of love, the love of God [that] has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Rom. 5:5). Love never fails.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:13).

(All definitions were taken from thefreedictionary.com).

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