Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Archive for January, 2013

Nursing Irritants

A few minutes left to 6 am. I wanted to scream to keep going. The jeepney driver slowly paved the road to get more passengers. After that, traffic at the tollgate. Soon, I was late. The service left me.

I sat in the jeep almost dumbfounded as they texted me that they have to go without me. Only a few minutes was left to get there. Only a few meters to run and I could have reached them. But what can I do? The service has to leave earlier an hour earlier than its normal departure schedule for an early appointment.

I wanted to cry as I took an FX to work. I felt I wasted my time. I wasted my energy to wake too early. I wasted my money.

Then, I checked myself. Yes, I tried. But I’ve been too confident that they would forgive me for a few minutes of being late. I guess I have been complacent. I have lacked discipline.

Again, I asked the Lord what else was I lacking. A thankful heart, a praising breath — to bring out such things is hard when you wanted to blame everyone for leaving you.

Out of a bleeding heart, came a soft whisper:

“Thank You, Father, for this day…

This day You have made to show me Your love and grace…

This day You have been planning to open my eyes to see Your beauty in the midst of ashes,

This day You have thought along to let me hear that greater things are meant to come,

This day You have had written long ago to reveal to me Yourself.”

I realized this has been my prayer for a long time. To see, to hear, and to know Him more. Yet, these things will come when I call out to Him. I can only call out when I’m being pushed into the mire.

Why should I cry over spilled milk when there is a promised land flowing with it waiting for me?

It’s painful. Yet out of the pain I have to learn of the little weaknesses to be corrected. I realized this is how to rejoice in my sufferings. My prayer is being manifested. And so, He comes alive…

When I stepped out of the FX, I have forgotten my bitterness. I have lost my indignation. The irritant I’ve tried to nurse was chased away by thankfulness and grace.

End of part one. I’m expecting that more of such moments will come to test my character. But through these I pray I’ll learn more His ways, and learn to keep my eyes away from myself and more unto my Great Daddy in heaven. 🙂

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Darkening the Depth of Humanity in “Zero Dark Thirty”

While watching “Zero Dark Thirty”, it left me the impression that there’s no work and life balance in being a CIA agent. The tortures (which sparked controversy) and the manhunt operations seem to leave you with almost nothing but danger. Still, I find the film quite intriguing in a way, especially its main character.

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenplay writer Mark Boal had complimented well to bring up together the unspoken cringes of history and humanity in this docu-drama film. The film, I find, is not solely on victory of an operation alone but on how history can never be founded solely not on the cold texts of words but from a silent litany of humanism that tries to be hidden in a harsh world.

While much points from this film is worthy of discussion, I’d like to focus on Maya’s character. Actress Jessica Chastain had pulled well such a character; the humanity of a woman covered beneath a steel-like character in order to prove herself in the tough world of men.

Maya is one tough CIA agent whose determination to get Osama Bin Laden (who has been code named as UBL) tend to show her as hard as she can be more than the men around her. The film seem to have emphasized her to be of a stronger personality even over her male superiors. While one played golf for a pastime in his office and the other passes a few minutes by talking idly on the phone, Maya is the one pictured as totally focused on the manhunt for the notorious leader of the Al-Qaeda group.

I find her character almost inhuman; her focus on her job gave her no time for a lovelife or even having friends. When she arrived late at a dinner in the before-then bombed Mariott Hotel in Islamabad because of delays over checkpoints, her colleague reminded her “We’re socializing; be social”. At the run of their conversation, she was asked if she had any friends at all; to which her silence marked “yes” as her reply.

Here is a woman who was willing to disregard feelings to make sure they would find what they was looking for. In her disappointment that no team was deployed at Rawal Pindi to search for the man linked to Bin Laden, she told her team, “I don’t really care if you guys get sleep or not”; even though the team leader told her that to look at such a place is dangerous and that how tired they were. She told the Navy Seals who were to pull off that operation that would be the death of the Al-Qaeda leader, “You’re gonna kill him for me.”

Yet, in the end she reveals herself as a woman, almost broken because of the cruelty of such an operation. No matter how she was bent and focused to make sure that the one she was looking for was found after more than a decade, she did not gave herself regards when the body was brought to their camp. Rather, she cried over the ordeal that was crushing her humanity within her from the beginning.

Maya, as she cried alone in the plane, must have not told anybody how heavy the weight of this manhunt operation had been on her. She lost colleagues and the few friends that she had, pushed away the balanced normal life anybody could have, while maintaining possessiveness on this mission. I just got lost on what pushed her to be almost obsessive in this mission for all those years. She could have left herself almost nothing just to make sure it’s done. I just wonder after all that manhunt ended, how her life would be after?

There’s humanity in every one of us. Whether one is a soldier or a terrorist, he’s still human. No matter how we make ourselves look tough or cold before the public, there is still the soft edge within us that make us human. We are not created to be emotionless as machines. Maya tried to disregard emotions as she focused on the strength of her mind. Although she got what she looking for, in the end, I believe she was never fulfilled at all.

We might have been totally focused in our tasks. It’s good to be determined, tough, and focused. But though being successful in what we’re doing, if we don’t have the most important things in life, there is never a balance. It has always been said that the most important things in life are unseen. The mind, the skill, and your career may be lost but yet recovered again. But love, friendship, hope, and peace are just some of the things that will forever stay…unless disregarded in vain.

The manhunt operation was a success. But if Maya had balanced herself with the friendship and love of the people around her she might have been a stronger woman from within. But I guess she had another secret for this  she did not want anyone to be weakened by revealing her weaknesses as a woman. Rather, in order to see this operation pull-off in success, she sacrificed herself much…for her country and for her people.

The Test of Love In A Speeding Taxi

It started from a promotion. It was followed by a debate.

It became a night of testing to our hearts.

As the taxi sped in the streets of EDSA, my friend Heidy was challenged when the taxi driver questioned our pastor’s principles. He questioned the idea of the unity of the trinity, yet he claims he believes in the Trinity of God.

Maan and I were then giggling at the back gushing on the play we watched that night. We then fell silent when the man began to discuss his distrust with various leaders of the church from different religions because of their “faultiness”.

The man, who questioned church leaders by saying that they should be judged, gave us a series of verses from the Bible. He did got them quite accurately except for a few. I was checking my YouVersion app in my phone.

But he insisted that everyone should be “judged” and the “judgement” “inside the church” is different from the kind of judgement to “those outside the church“. It was like saying that those who are “inside” their church are the ones to be saved. He is knowledgeable that Jesus died for our sin and claimed that he gave his life to God. But I don’t see any enlightenment as he insisted on the “judgement” given differently from those “inside” their church to the “outside”, summing up that to be “inside” their church is the way to be saved.

But he kept on saying “I am the way, the truth, and the life”. Maan asked him pointblank who said these words. He knew it was Jesus, but then still pointed again on the judgement of those inside and outside.

It was a tense moment in that taxi. I felt our journey was endless as I looked at the window to see where we were. Our hearts were challenged in speaking the truth to this taxi driver.

But most of all, it was challenge to our character.

One girl questioned him after another. We explained that Jesus died for us because of His love for us. And so, if we follow Him, we must love others as He did (and still does). But his argument always go back to the point of giving “judgement”. At some points, especially on the “love” portion, he would stop, but still try to bring up the “judgement” part.

Yes, there is judgement, but only the Lord has the right to judge rightly. The taxi driver was barely looking at himself as he points out that everyone should be judged. He obviously memorized some verses in the Word, but sadly, he has no revelation from the Holy Spirit. He knew them as legally and as contextually as they are.

But let me tell you that the Word and the Spirit go together. To memorize the Bible without the truth and wisdom of the Holy Spirit is futile. The Bible is one way to commune with the Father and the Son through His Spirit, not to be used for debates.

The discussion ended when we alighted at Ortigas. Maan was shaking, I was wearied, but Heidy spoke of parting words filled with a blessing.

Then the driver, despite all the religions he “judged”, admitted that he belonged to one religion that he did not mention in his earlier “judging”.

I contemplated on this as my bus sped the dark streets of EDSA. Then I realized that that moment was not only to challenge the taxi driver. It was a challenge for the three of us. I was blessed when Heidy told me later though a social website, “Praise God for His wisdom and gentle spirit…” Without it, we might have become a reason for the man to look more at the faults of his fellow man than the Lord Himself. What if I’ve shown the driver my rolling eyes through the rear mirror before alighting the car or I’ve banged the door just to show my disagreement to his “principles”. That’s not love. To react without a gentle spirit is pride.

We cannot force our enlightenment to another if we don’t love. Jesus loved unconditionally…and I’m sure He’s telling us to love this taxi driver even if we have parted ways. We three could have debated with him severely, but God is not calling us to force our principles into others. It is the Lord who will give the enlightenment. It is for us to be the light of the world by reacting righteously with unconditional love. We will always be challenged, but it is a testing on how to react with humility and love. When we do, this is a testimony of God’s love to the world and a way for His glory to be seen to those who had not known Him yet.

I was tempted to say to my friends, “This is the end of him, that taxi driver.” But, no! In such a way I was condemning him. I laid down myself to the Lord. “Oh, God, forgive me”, I whispered in the bus. I had been in the dark before. Who am I to completely condemn those in the dark?

So, how should we love? We already did our part that night, I believe. But I believe it made us see how these people need to be prayed for. Perhaps, it’s time that we get on our knees again and pray, not only for this man, but for those who have not seen the Lord Himself. Truth is, we can only do so much…but it is the Lord who will make the way if we seek His face, pray, and ask Him to intervene and touch every lives that we have encountered. 🙂

And indeed…I have been tested again. More tests to come. I pray, that I and my friends will just submit to the Lord at such moments. We are never perfect yet, let us love…and through this love may more see Your love to them, Lord…

Reclaiming Destinies and Breaking the Waves

Twelve months. Twelve fruits. Twelve opportunities to undone me, mold me, and bring me closer to my real identity and destiny.

My 2012 was a year of shaking. The Lord was teaching me out of my stubborn self — to die from selfishness and to abide in Him fully. When my prophetic friend asked me what was the Lord’s promise for the past nine months, I was dumbfounded. All I could remember was the anguish and pain during those times. The emotional battles against the law and the lawmakers, the prayerful times shifted to complaints and mourning, my beauty nearly turning into ashes, my hope almost brought down to the cliff as I contemplated on resignation. I wanted to get out and give up. Yet, the Lord, who had other things in mind, held my sleeve as I let go of my grip. He had a promise, I’m sure He had — yet my ears were covered and my eyes blindfolded.

Yet, I faced 2013 with hope and expectation.

I still couldn’t remember what He was trying to say (and I haven’t even checked my old journal).  Yet, I clung on one word given to me almost two years ago: Romans 5:5, “…and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our heats through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

As I contemplating this verse a few months ago, the Lord led me to turn to verses 3 and 4. I never have this hope until: we rejoice in our sufferings, that it leads to perseverance (verse 3) and from perseverance, character, which leads into hope (verse 4)! I believe such is the word for me for this season. And such is the shaking I received.

Through these shakings, I realized a few more things at the beginning of this year, even though the nine months has been ended. Despite character flaws, I’m taught how to react in grace and love and confront with wisdom during dire situations. From my silent struggle against insecurities, I’m taught to reclaim the authority vested upon me as a co-heir in Christ. The most striking lesson that I’ve realized and am still learning (though it was said to me a number of times) is to worship him despite of the fire and testing that I pass through.

My friend told me that the shaking I’ve received (and will receive) are just part of His refinement. This is the time that I have to open my eyes and ears and recognize the Lord in ways I’m not used to. I don’t know what would that be. All I have to do is to ask Him. And see Him move in ways I won’t expect. I just need to open my eyes and my ears to recognize what He’s doing.

There are three kinds of people in the midst of struggles: one who gives up, one who shrugs his shoulder and get into that routinary “survival mode”, and one who wants to learn out of that struggle. The third one is the kind that grows. At this season, the nine month conception should be over. So, what I’ve experienced were just birth pangs. The full birth of one’s destiny is after the nine month period. But if not, that means I haven’t learned my lesson.

I just realized I’m just at the beginning of what He’s teaching me.

Get out of the boat and walk on water, he said. Goodness, that quite scared me. But should I be scared when I’m with the Silencer of the Waves? It’s a step towards acceleration. I need to get out of the box. And I need to ask the Lord ways on how to do that.

To ask the Lord on a daily basis is a way to die to myself. It will keep me from storing up pride as He breaks me with His tender love and awesome glory.

Then my friend gave me the a word that this year is the year of bearing fruit. Seeing in a vision a clock with twelve hours, it indicated that in every month I will bear fruit. But in order to bear fruit, I must learn a lesson. I must ask what the Lord is teaching me at this point of time. When the pruning and honing is over, a fruit will grow…but not only in one month. That means, I will undergo even more fire and testing twelve times!

I need to ask. I need to see. I need to know. Such are the things that I must learn. But most of all, I need to seek the Lord more. Only in Him I will find the answers I need. For He knows the plans for me. And I am claiming His perfect will and His best for my life.

I’m almost 28 years old. But this is not the end of my dreams. Who says life ends at 30? I believe I’m still a little child being disciplined and taught by the Great Father. Why should I copy to the normal trend of human life? The Lord has plans that are way out of my normal blueprint. All I have to do is just step out, walk on the waves, and hold the hand of the One who called my name. What are twelve months of pruning when I got One Great Dad to back me up! 🙂

Why Am I Single (and Enjoying Every Minute Of It)?

“How old are you, Rhema?” A question I’ve always been asked in this time of my life.

To which I’d grin and reply, “I wish I can say I’m seventeen…”

Then I’d pause and watch them react with laughter, “C’mon,” they’d say, “how really old are you?”

With a sigh, I’d reply after my sheepish wince, “Well, I’m actually almost twenty-eight.”

Wide eyes and gasps follow, “Then, you should get married!”

I’m not greatly offended with such replies. It just bothers me how this society have stuck to the idea of getting married before thirty — some of them seemingly threatening me by reminding that my biological clock is running out of season.

By the way, I belong to the NBSB club — No Boyfriend Since Birth.

One might ask me, “Why don’t you have a boyfriend — not even once yet in your life?” When I give them my answer, most wouldn’t understand it. I’m not your conventional woman. To get into a relationship is a crucial matter…and every decision affects one’s destiny greatly.

Marriage is such a crucial matter that it does not only affect one’s inner circle but every aspect that you have known and lived from the beginning of life. To meet the one made for me and the one whom I am made for is not easy. It requires discernment. It requires confirmation. How should I know? The heart is deceitful. Yet when it surrender to the Lord and it is soaked in prayer, the Lord will reveal it…and I’m not sure how because I still don’t know. Having a boyfriend/fiance is a step towards marriage, so as for the moment, let me enjoy this gift of singleness.

I believe this is not yet my season of marriage. Age should not define the most crucial decisions in life. I have crushes, yes I do…but the Lord is teaching me that I am not worth for the second best. I am a highly emotional being. Attraction is a natural thing for me as anybody has. But I have to be careful so as not to have a broken heart and a broken life.

I believe that we are all meant for a special someone — well, not unless one has the gift of single blessedness. I do believe in match made in heaven — no, it should be the match made by the Father in heaven. For my bros and sis, let me remind you of almost every Christian youth’s fave verse, Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” From the beginning of time, the Lord has written down our life story, from the moment we were conceived up to the moment our time on this earth is up (Jeremiah 1:5). Including that is our “love story”. From the start, He only wants the best for us which only He knows. The one we are created for is one of His best for us.

In fact, this singleness is something that I should enjoy. Don’t you smell freedom, my fellow single friends? 😀 This is the time to explore people and friends. This is the time when dates are purely friendly dates and we can have all the time to ourselves. This is the time we seek our destiny like treasure hunting. Like a little kid, I’d always ask the Lord what He really wants for me and what He wants me to be. He lets me discover so much of myself, my friends, the world, and most importantly His heart. By this, I would learn and know where should I really go and what’s my mission in this life.

Also, this is the time when the Lord is refining me to the fullest. To get into marriage is to get into greater responsibility. I am not yet prepared for such a responsibility. Not that I reject it, but it is important that I must learn how to handle it well. In marriage, I will share to my future husband every aspect of my life as he will do the same for me. To our future children, we’ll both will have to share and give so much of ourselves to see them grow well. It requires a character that is after God’s own heart — the character of a good parent who wishes to give the best to their children. I would need the character of Jesus — a partner who will not be self-centered and who will love unconditionally. But in order to be like the Lord, I have to die to myself. And as I can see myself, I have so much to die from myself yet.

And by the way, it hasn’t been revealed to me if I’m meant for someone or if I’m meant to be single forever. Haha! The beauty of single-blessedness. If so, that means the Lord has plans for my life in which marriage will not fit in. Now, this reality scares my mom off as any parent would sure do. Most of our parents think that being married makes us well-off for the rest of our lives. When I asked her what if I have the gift of single-blessedness, she couldn’t answer me. But one thing’s for sure: it is the Lord who will sustain me and take care of me. His love will surely satisfy and strengthen me forever and a day. ❤

For a number of times, I’ve almost fallen victim to fatal attraction. But my Great Dad knows how to protect His Lovely Little Princess 🙂 In fact, He always remind me that the love of the Bridegroom Prince — that is Jesus — is faithful, pure, satisfying and forever. Now, what can I ask for? Yet, I’m sure you can relate with my distresses during waiting periods, as any young person would. But great is the blessing of waiting. Let me, and every single person, enjoy such a season; thus we receive the best that is from our Father in His precious and perfect timing. 😉

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