” Would I Be Enough?”

January 7, 2009

Driving home late one evening, about 2 weeks before Christmas 2008, I felt a stirring within me.  I was having a quiet driving conversation with the Lord and I was telling the Lord how Christmas has become a season for self-centeredness and consumerism.

How it was easy to lose the real reason of the season when the preparation of the heart involves looking at physical gifts, expensive gadgets and awesome parties, to name a few.

Since I was talking with the Lord, I asked the Lord what gift He would give me.

I started naming those gadgets I had been salivating for quite some time now:

Xperia – yes Lord, that is such a nice phone and wow all the features are really good.

OMNIA – wow Lord that is also nice..

iPhone – that one too… wow just one of those cool nifty gadgets and I knew it would be a real awesome break!

But then I felt the Lord asking me a question:  ” If I were to come wrapped in a present, WOULD I BE ENOUGH AS A GIFT?”

There was a pause.  “Am I Enough?”

The following morning, I shared this conversation with Wifey over breakfast. It was a very powerful reminder that the real reason for the season is not those cool laptops, cellphones, parties etc… the real reason is JESUS HIMSELF.  He is the gift.

Little did I know that when the Lord asked me that question, He was already preparing me or giving me what I would need as we experienced what I have called “the bleakest period” of my life in recent years.

The huge problem is still not over.  I can already begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I was asked by a friend how I was doing and that simple question became such a profound question that it literally hurt inside as I tried to answer the simple question.

On the eve of Christmas day, I found myself staring at the horrors of pride and un-forgiveness.  Pride does hurt and makes the righteous fall. Unforgiveness makes one sink deeper than what is imaginable.

I remember driving home with Wifey a little past midnight… with tears literally blinding my eyes.  And as I drove, I heard the question “Am I Enough? Am I enough?” being asked of me.  It was not asked in a condemnatory way but I knew that answering that question would give me the strength to make it through the deepest valleys.

As each day slowly progressed, as each painful moment was slowly played out – I found myself answering “Yes, you are enough!  Yes, you are enough!

I didn’t want anything else. I didn’t long for the parties and the sumptious dinners.  No I did not want anything else – not even the solution to our dilemma. I only wanted Christ.

On Christmas day, like a bruised reed, I got up from bed and with no schedule for the day, just watched FOX news as they showed the Christmas sermon of Ptr. Rick Warren.  I briefly smiled when he started using Hebrews 11:6, a passage I had used for one of the retreats I had conducted recently.

But what really struck me was when he said ” Do not exert too much energy focusing on the solutions to your problems… focus on WHO HE IS. FOCUS on CHRIST alone…”

It was definitely a message for me.  I was too weak and too hurt to find any solution – and that was the perfect state to just seek Christ alone.  Lord, yes you are enough. You are more than enough!

We are almost there, but not quite.  The other night I felt like I went through an extensive open heart surgery.  It was clearly needed – and the heart can only be healed through such an extensive heart operation.  I even praised God for allowing it to happen.  The “heart stitches” have been done – and in its most fragile state, utmost tenderness must be done to ensure its proper healing in the days to come.

Yes… our healing is on its way.

Yesterday as Wifey and I went to the mall to get some of our groceries, I was very surprised to hear the Christmas songs still being played in the mall.  I missed Christmas.  It all just came and went.  It was a long vacation here in this country – made longer in our anticipation to see the end of what we were going through.

I found myself humming the songs “O Holy Night…”, ‘Come All ye Faithful…”

I was singing again.  My wounded heart is able to sing again – and it was my wife who quietly pointed it out to me when she said “Hubby is singing again…”

I smiled quietly.

Yes Lord… thank you.. You are the only Christmas gift I would ever want in this lifetime.

Lord, you are more than enough.

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Turning 41

October 22, 2008

This is it.  I am deeply entrenched now into this mid-life.

I have fully entered the zone where the mid-life crisis would come.  I think it has started already years ago – until a former psychiatrist colleague told me that there is already what is called a quarter-life crisis.

I am 41 and I look at my life and I could name many deceased people I knew.  I could tell stories upon stories  and tell them with such freshness as if they just happened yesterday!

So many memories to look back on now, and yet, still so much of eternity to look forward to.

What a journey. As I started a personal new year with the Lord, I could not help but think that God has really given us such an awesome gift called life.  And this life is not supposed to be lived on empty.  Rather our lives are to be enriched by the relationships we have with people around us.

What a journey! I finally got my FIRST BIRTHDAY CAKE AT 41!  What a blessing!  Wifey baked me a caramel fondant cake without taking any baking /cake- making classes!

My life has been unalterably enriched by the precious life-gifts of so many people.

Thank you Lovey for being the best wifey in the whole world. You are God’s most wonderful blessing that is way beyond what I expected or imagined.

Thank you for the young people who allowed me to pour out my life on them.  LM and Jocer, what a thrill when I hear you guys call me Dad.

Thank you for the wonderful friends who never fail to show me God’s grace and love.

Thank you for Kuya Eugene for reflecting God’s faithfulness and brotherly love.

Thank you Church for challenging me to grow. For the opportunity to serve. For the memories in those years of service and many more years to come.

What a wonderful journey this has been.  With all the ups and downs, the tears(!) and the belly-laughters.

Thank you Jesus for allowing me to discover what a beautiful life my life has become – ONLY because of YOUR sustaining grace.

Thank you for not letting me go.

Thank you Jesus for knowing the plans for my life.

Thank you for not giving up on me.

Thank you for taking care of me.

Thank you for being there for me even when I questioned your presence and care in my life at times.

Thank you for your daily provision.

Thank you for your encouragement.

Thank you for your great love.

I am a year older. A year closer to being with you, my Lord.

A young friend took off for the United States today. His flight left at 10:30 AM today. I did not get to see him anymore the past couple of days as he was also busy getting his things prepared, being with his family and all the myriad things an overseas worker would need to consider.

I was really glad that he was able to come over and spend the night with us last month. He even cooked dinner at home. After dinner, we drove to a nearby Seattle’s Best for our one-on one, brother to brother talk. When he first got home, I was able to join him and other friends for a dinner. Well he privately sought me out because he needed to get something off his chest. And there at the Seattle’s Best, was our one and only opportunity to have that talk.

It lasted up to almost midnight. The coffee shop was already about to close, but the manager sensed the earnest private conversation taking place and was very careful not to interrupt.

He shared about the all too familiar difficulties of being away from home. Of going through homesickness and feelings of isolation. Of working so hard and wondering if in the end, it was all going to be worth it. We talked about his faith, his challenges, his misguided perception of God’s love for him, his plan to get married next year… it was a great time being with him. I took note of his need to read letters from home when he is far from the signals of any telecommunication networks.

He asked me a question that evening which stayed with me, and perhaps will be one of those questions that will stay for a long time. But this time, I knew the answer to his question. I suspect deep down, he knew the answer as well. But the circumstances in his life distracted him for the most part, in believing the answer to that. The answer to his question while easy to give, is quite challenging to live out. It takes faith. It takes dependence and it takes surrender for one to really experience the deepest grace from the question he asked.

Lord, take care of my younger brother as he set sail for another chapter in his life overseas. The challenges are many and the temptation to get distracted from his relationship with you would be constant. Embrace Him Lord and never let Him go. Remind him that He is your son and that You are fond of him. Protect him Lord from any accidents, any accusations or any untoward incidents that will negatively impact his work and his dreams. Bring my younger brother safely back to us next year. Bless the work of his hands. Thank you for his life. Thank you for his strong sense of responsibility which is becoming un-common among the younger generation. He is trying to live a selfless life for his mom and siblings and niece and nephew. People are counting and relying on him for their financial well-being. Bless his family through him.

Thank you for J.D. I am proud to be one of his mentors and older brothers. I look forward to his return. I entrust his safety and well-being in the hands of Jesus, who loves him more than any of us could.


In the precious name of Your Son,

AMEN

God sent 4 brothers to encourage me lately.

The other one sent sms encouraging me about what I shared with him.

The other one did not know that I needed encouragement and sent me a gift which came in due season. Ended his email with prayers for me.

The 3rd one just chatted with me and encouraged me greatly while he is also going through some of his own challenges.

The 4th one said he is praying for me constantly.

4 different brothers from 3 different countries.

Thank you for your encouragement. God could have used people within my area, but God chose you. Thank you for allowing yourself to be used by God to encourage me in my journey even when I am halfway across the globe.

Thank you for being more than good friends to me. Thank you for being my brothers.

It is a choice. . .

June 10, 2008

I came across a great quote sometime ago and it really hit me hard personally – and unfortunately, I could not recall where I got it from.

“Disappointments are inevitable BUT discouragement is a choice.”

How about you? Have you realized that when we are discouraged, we have already made that choice to be as such?

Most everyone would say that waiting is the most difficult part of dreaming. Waiting. The time that exists between doing what you need to do in order to realize a dream and the actual realization of that dream. Sometimes it could take days, years… and even perhaps a lifetime.

When dreams are on hold for you – it could be a very interesting time.  Will you be discouraged? Will you keep on hoping for it? Or will you simply just banish it away from your heart because the waiting is difficult to handle?

What are the things in your life that are on hold?

Maybe someone you know needs healing and it seems as if nothing is happening to the prayers being said.

Maybe you are waiting for that job that you had been preparing for, yet you have not heard a word.

Maybe you are waiting for someone to say “I love you back” – yet the person is living her life oblivious to your pain.

Maybe you are waiting for someone to come home. Or maybe you are waiting to be called home and be embraced by your loved ones.

The waiting time could be a special time as well. A time to breathe deeply in surrender to the One who could give that dream to you at the most opportune time.

Take heart. God’s not yet – may perhaps turn into a God’s Yes… right before your eyes.

Psalm 40: 1 – 4 A Psalm of David.

I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay; And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 3 And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear, And will trust in the LORD. 4 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.

After church last Sunday, I met a former US serviceman who had served for many decades. He has been to many places all over the world. He described how Subic Bay Naval Base was in the Philippines in the 60s. He said “Manila was at that time, a real pearl of the Orient”…

He told me about his travels all over the world. He was even part of the first Gulf war… and in Kuwait, met his Filipina wife.
They are settled there now in Dumaguete. Living a peaceful life with their 15mos old son. What a handsome boy. We talked about his life in DFW (about 2 hours where I went for college…) and his life here now in Dumaguete. His son, being carried by his nanny, interrupted our conversation.

I asked him “How old is your handsome boy?”

“15-months” – he said…. and followed his answer with this “I am just praying that the good Lord would let me see him study and enter school…”

I turned to him and asked “how old are you?”

“67…… I would do my best to keep myself physically fit, but the rest is up to the Lord…”

(picture of the 15-mos old son of the older man I met last sunday)

We parted ways and he took his family to the car and drove off. I was leaving for Manila so i could not take him up on his invitation to visit them in their house just outside the city.

I could not shake the image away. An older man simply praying that God would give him more years so he could see his son go through his first day of school….

And amazing how we all just need God to show us His mercy. For others it is the healing of a relationship. Maybe a job for others. Prayers of protection for a loved one working overseas. Prayer for God’s provision for a family to be well-fed….

There is no one who would be able to say that they do not need His enabling grace….

“Lord I pray for this older brother. I pray that you would extend his physical health so that he would see his son grow up. Strengthen his body and give him your hope. He is in the twillight of his years yet you had given him a boy who would rely on his strength. Would you strengthen, encourage and provide for my brother? Would you make him the father to that handsome boy, that you had designed him to be…. Let him hold on to you for the fulfillment of his dreams. I lift him up to you in the precious name of Jesus our Lord.

Amen.