Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘grace’

Acting Like A Queen

“Hegai liked Esther and she won his favor. He lost no time in beginning her beauty treatment of massage and special diet. He gave her the best place in the harem and assigned seven young women specially chosen from the royal palace to serve her.”

Esther 2:9

I’ve always felt a dislike towards rich or powerful people. They seem snobbish towards the poor and the disadvantaged. But what I don’t realise is sometimes their regality is a reflection of their true identity that is honorable and pure.

Esther must have been regal in every way, the reason she was chosen to be the Queen of Persia. The six-month treatment given to her seemed to have spoiled her well. But it’s not meant to spoil her. It was meant to mold her into what she was meant to be.

I have been battling with an orphan mindset for a long time. (Maybe that’s why I love to recite the line, “Alms, alms…spare me a piece of bread” with wide, teary Puss In Boots eyes when I was in high school…nah.) But really, I’m 31 but I would move around like a sorry little girl by thinking I should not become better than others. I have always thought I’d offend people when I do. And this what hinders me to my calling.

I believe I have been called to be a leader since I was a kid. I have been placed as a leader in school projects but would not fare well, I believe. Others would see a leadership potential in me that I could hardly see. But I’d always shy away…

But no matter how I run away from the call, it always follow me. There are times I’d do well as an elder, an ate, a leader. But at the back of my mind, I’d tell myself I can’t do this…it’s because I’m afraid of failing.

But Esther, an orphan, did not act like one. Instead, she stood out among others by going beyond the notch. Before she became one, she already acted as a queen and already had the heart of a queen. Besides that, she dislodges all notion that all powerful and rich leaders are aloof and distant to commoners as she saves her Jewish people from being destroyed under Haman’s plan.

Romans 8:17 says, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

So being a co-heir is like being adopted into the family of God! Because we accept Jesus into our lives, we share in His inheritance, the glory and yes, even sufferings. But I believe these sufferings are not meant to punish us but they are to refine us, knowing that Jesus Himself has carried the punishment meant for us on the cross. 

I need to act as one who is in authority, just like Jesus. I should not stalk around like a little orphaned girl asking for alms while the Father is willing to give the best for me. I need grace – extra, extra grace to get out of the wounds of the past and break off from the pride of the pity party in order to take the crown and overcome in love and boldness. May I become totally free, so as not to be hindered from what I am being called for.

Redeeming Broken Promises

broken promiseI wonder what makes people break their promises. For a number of reasons, I have been offended by so many friends who were not true to their word. I have a list of those significant ones who had gravely offended me. But the deeper offense was they callously walk away from it. I must admit these have greatly disappointed me, reason enough for me to get even.

Who wouldn’t be disappointed when a friend did not pay for your fare after he said he would when you to accompany him to enroll in a university? Or when somebody disregarded the farewell gift he promised you before he goes abroad or before you resign from the company you both worked in? How about when a really special friend did not take you to the special place he has been telling you from the beginning? Perhaps, these things are small and unimportant to the ones who released these vows. Yet, it means a lot to those who had received these promises.

Words are very significant. They should not be taken lightly. They are not made of thin air, but of power that can bring life and death. If sticks and stones can hurt us, words can hurt us more. How much more words that have been withdrawn from our trust, not having any closure on the matter? Most in this generation have lost the sense of commitment, watering down perspective on the power words can bring.

Broken promises can destroy relationships and unity, signifying that the promise-bearer is not a person of honor. Every promise released is a binding thread between lovers, friends, family, and master and student.

I am not being proud here. I have my share of delayed promises, but I’d always make sure that I keep my word, no matter how long it had taken.

So, how about the list of broken promises? I leave them into the hands of my promise-keeping God. He is the One true Promise Keeper. His promises to look after you, to provide for you, and love you has never failed, generations after generations. What did He do to that list? He burned them up. He wanted me to show that His grace towards the promise breakers is wider than these broken promises. That I have to follow His example of giving them a second chance. He has given us endless chances to turn away from breaking promises while He waited for us.

I’m so glad that there are always second chances given to us who are never perfect in every way. But we have to learn how to forgive, let go, and begin anew. The Lord has been that graceful. There are times that I feel so ashamed that He can be more faithful to me than I could ever be.

Perhaps, one day, these broken promises will be redeemed. It might not be the same as before, but given another chance, they can be mended along with the trust that has been ripped with it.

Life for Death, Creation for Destruction

Smash my bones
I offer you mercy

Rip off my skin
I hand over forgiveness

Gouge my eyes
I lay down kindness

Break my heart
I give you love

All I am is a seed sacrifice
Burying me in this dying earth costs much

From my blood shall come flowers
Hope and faith that destroys death

New life springs out of barren ground
To give breath to dry bones worthy of grace and love

Everything I give to see you break forth
To have you forever, my dream, my creation

Leveling Down the Contention of Words

This is what Typhoon Yolanda left in this once thriving city of Tacloban, Leyte. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

This is what Typhoon Yolanda left in this once thriving city of Tacloban, Leyte. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

“There has never been anything at the magnitude of what we are trying to do now,” Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras told palace reporters at a press briefing last Nov. 13, “Not in size, not in volume, not in even the breadth of it.”

As the national government admits being appalled at the disaster left by Typhoon Haiyan (or Typhoon Yolanda as its FIlipino name) ten days ago, the rest of the world feels mutual. It’s like watching a horror movie, except it is in the primetime newscasts. However, being in the very scene of it still feels surreal to me.

I would have loved to tag along with one of our teams assigned to Tacloban City last week. Tacloban, Leyte was one of the greatly devastated places left by Yolanda. But considering the place’s limited necesities for a woman like me, only an all-male team was sent.

As first hand witnesses to a storm’s aftermath, I tried to understand the hardships they experienced. They had no place to stay, no food and water to sustain them (as they have given their provisions to the Tacloban people), and they have to endure the stench of the dead and of human waste. But how much more I tried to feel the heart break for the people who endure the loss of what they have owned and the loss of their very loved ones. What was left was their very existence, coping with the last strain of humanity nearly being snatched from them. They try to survive in a desolated town unfit for living.

It might be easy to say that the rest of us who stayed wish to come to

The people of Tacloban almost at a loss as they have lost their homes --- and even their loved ones. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

The people of Tacloban almost at a loss as they have lost their homes — and even their loved ones. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

Tacloban just to give out a hug…or maybe a small act of kindness through food and water. But how far are we willing to go? How far would we be willing to sacrifice time and your comfort zone to feel their pain. Living there sounds too inhumane for most of us. Helpless, all we can do is sigh and speak out our thoughts and symphathy.

As I watch from afar, it’s a pain to hear criticisms and politicizing at all sides. There’s this underlying contention between the main government bodies, the private entities, and the vox populi. We can talk too much. It’s easy to give blame. But can’t we just shut up and try to feel the pain of the victims themselves? Perhaps, it’s easy to make conclusions in what goes on in their everyday life. But can’t we think of focusing at their basic needs first? These people, are just like us — human, limited, and in need of one another.

Perhaps, most of us can never understand how it is to be in their shoes. For us living far from them, we try to comprehend what flashes through our screens or what blares through our airwaves. But we can never see the whole picture. Who are we to judge conclusions, then?

Perhaps, some of us can never get the chance to reach them personally. Perhaps, most of us might never understand the whole picture of what’s happening and why it happened. But setting aside our own conclusions and criticisms might help rebuild a new future. A little grace, a little love, through our what-we-have can uplift their spirits. Behind the camera, must be a more drastic story beyond words.

Word Distraught

Let me be silent, let me be still
For the sake of sanity I will not spill
Leave me alone in my deepest of thoughts,
Our world will retain its peaceful wrought

I have no time to listen to your senselessness
The very words that unconsciously destroy your soul
You deride my being as if you’re a sage
Which actually is a proof of your nothingness at all

How dare you discuss without checking facts
Blabbering like a dying fish on a haystack
Contention is not the solution to your analysis
Neither can your words reach the end of a paralysis

The likes of you is condemnable
I will not site from you anything commendable
Yet, I find myself as damnable
Been given the mercy though I’m worth of it at all

Blood stained hands on a dirty old wood
Reached the heart of a stubborn, dead mold
Whose heart the once thought it can live by its own
Not knowing that the Blood can give it a soul

I wonder if this Blood can silence your tongue
But for the sake of love, must I dare ask?
If only by this Blood this heart of mine had life
Would then this Blood make you speak love?

Filling the Gap

I was hesitant at first. Even though there’s this deep urge to pray for him, I fought against it. I was too sick to pray. Sheila already prayed for him, anyway.

But, Kuya Ar, our anchor last Tuesday, continued to complain about his headache. After the taping, the urge to pray remained in me. So, I had to pray for him and for his headache to leave.

He then asked me to pray for a relative’s baby that has been sick for a while. Not missing the chance, we both prayed for the baby. Then, surprisingly, he prayed for me (who was bothered by colds and coughs for a while).

I wondered how could I be so hesitant to pray. We’re both Christians, but I why was I too shy to pray?

I reflected as I was riding the bus home. The Lord made me realize I was too selfish. I was looking at myself. I thought I don’t have to pray because I was too tired and too sick — I thought I can’t have the strength to pray. But God moves even through the weak. You don’t have to be ultra strong to release effective prayers. It is God who will move through your prayers.

I then realized that if I hadn’t obeyed the Holy Spirit, no breakthrough would be released. No healing would have been brought forth to those who need it (including me). Had I disobeyed Him, it would have surely grieved His heart again.

But the ultimate release here is the power of love. I believe this was a test of loving others. I was so focused to myself, I tried not to bother this tired self in giving a part of me to pray for others. Praying also has the need to exert physically, especially if there’s a deep burden that needs to be released. To pray for Kuya Ar and for other people (especially those I don’t know) is a test for me to release the love of God that has been poured into me. It’s a matter of giving to others and dying to myself that demonstrate what true love is. Should one needs to be perfectly strong to love others? If so, then we can never love anyway. But God proves His love is made perfect in our weak, imperfect human nature.

Thank You, Holy Spirit, for reminding of You and Your love and power. How great is the Lord’s love and grace in this weak and imperfect me. 🙂

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. 🙂

Living out Christ in Christmas

If you could come and visit our house hours before Christmas, you might think of it first as pathetic: no Christmas tree, no nativity scene, not even Santa and his reindeer or a lone snowman adored the house. All we had were a few bells paired with a few shiny garlands that we did not remove from last year.

Unlike most families today, we did not cook much. With the house filled with only two souls, my mom and I, we wouldn’t do much for ourselves.

And yet the holiday music brightens the whole space.

Turning to facebook friends, I tried to greet the world one by one, and hoping I have brought a holiday cheer to those I’ve greeted (and an ounce of remembrance to this little soul).

And yet, I felt satisfied. No decor, no gift, no lavish feast did it. It’s the very love that brought a Savior to this earth. The epitome of heaven’s glory sent down to die in our places. The King who thought of nothing but you and me.

Christmas should never be brought up because of tradition. It was never there from the beginning of earth. But the very reason for its celebration has always celebrated the very existence we are.

I remembered the Christmas parties the past few days. There were a lot of laughter and noise, gifts and raffles, dance and song numbers that made them livelier. And as I now sit quietly in my room, I realized it’s so much different. None of these things were in our house now…but that’s not the reason to moan and covet for a grander party.

Should we be brought back to the moment the Savior was born, it was very dire…even more pathetic than our almost decor-less house. Instead of dining with family and good wine, Jesus came into this earth surrounded with animals. It sure was an unlikely state of being born, but none of them whined. His birth was a joy in itself to his parents and to the world.

The parties are just temporary and sadly are a cover up to the real joy made for us. I’m not against them, but on the moment we depend on them to be our source of celebrating. Taking Christ away from Christmas is never Christmas at all.  The material things that we garner from these parties will fade away. But the Lord and His love for us is steadfast and new forever.

And so I’m glad for the very reason for Christmas. This is one reason we feel joy…Jesus is the joy of the world itself. His coming is an indication of His love for us. And we should always remember how He loved us, though we can never measure it out.

I wouldn’t worry with having no visitors at this point in time. His presence alone is the One Thing we’ve always wanted to be with. It’s more than having ten kings visiting your home to dine at our noche buena. As I wait for my mom to cook our little dinner, I am thankful and hopeful. Christmas never changed. Most of all, Christ never changed. He fills us up. He draws us near to His heart. He shows His love and grace to the two humble souls of this little house.

Casting the First Stone (and a bit of a movie reflection from “The Mistress”)

I find that my movie night out with a friend last Friday was so unusual. I’m no cheezy romantic, but for the sake of destressing from our normal reality, we watched “The Mistress”. Believe me, this is the first time I watched a Pinoy romance in cinemas. 🙂

The story begins with the pretty tailor Sari meeting the architect JD. And in order not to spoil the rest of the story, I’ll just run through to say there was an attraction, a pursuit, a surprise, a conflict and an ending (haha…because the point of this writing is not the John Llyod-Bea pair up).

The movie though, reflects one slice of reality. It made me think a lot on judging others and ourselves.

Bea Alonzo’s character, Sari, is not the typical selfish, villainous-type of mistress that was usually portrayed in traditional media. Her family’s breadwinner, she makes sure she could provide everything they need to survive. Despite of her simple and giving nature, no one would think of her as a mistress of Rico Torres, a rich, old tycoon and CEO of a huge telecom company…this one, of course, disappointed John Lloyd Cruz’s character, JD. Yet, after five years of being the other woman, she did not abuse the old man’s kindness, more so being spoiled.

So, who the victim here? Actually, all of us can be like Sari. It’s surprising how good people can hide some dark secrets. Shocking, but true. It’s easy to condemn the bearer of the closet when the skeleton inside jumps out. In this world though, we’re all prone to fall into deep sin…even the most “righteous” of people.

When JD asks Sari what if she had never met Rico Torres, and everything on earth is OK. When they close their eyes, it made them see themselves ending together. But then, Sari asks, “Pwede bang magkatotoo ang kunyari lang? (Can something we have pretended become a reality?)” That one choice she made turned her away from that one thing that she could have been hoping at that point in time.

We all have choices and no law stops us from picking the path we take. However, the consequence arrives at the end of the road. We can’t judge Sari for choosing to be a mistress just because she wanted to gain something. But she was trapped in the choice she had made. In the end, after all the conflict, she had to let go…as her affair ended in a tragic turn.

I find that there’s a little of Sari inside of us. We might be seen as good people and yet there are bits of secrets so dark that can turn off anybody when found out. We can be trapped in the choices that we make, no matter how we are taught to obey these rules and laws. One fatal attraction can become a deadly blow, if not to us, to the people around us. We can all be victims of our choices. And yet, who are we to judge others who try to keep their skeletons in their closets?

When the Pharisees brought an adulterous woman before Jesus (John 8:2-11), He did not decide just like the rest of the crowd. As he was challenged to answer on what to do on her since the Law of Moses says that such a person be stone, He gave them an equally challenging answer instead, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

I wonder how this present day society would react when the Lord Himself would tell us the same. We’re used to social media bashing, vengeful reactions, and negative speculations when we have not seen the other side of the story, at all. Are we that “righteous” to think that we are above the rest of the condemned? Aren’t we condemned along with the rest of the sinful society, too?

And yet, in His grace, Jesus told the woman “Go, and sin no more”. That’s grace. She did not deserve it and yet He gave it.

In all of us, there is both goodness and wickedness. We are all victims to a fallen world and to our condemned selves. Yet, we can’t just point a finger to a fellow brother who is just as filthy as we are. And yet, here’s a God who gives His grace to wretched man. It’s just up to us to go for it and to give up our wretchedness. And yet, our fellow man needs help, too. Who, then, would be willing to cast the first stone?

Gaining the Prize

I was quickly saddened on the religiousness that our church was holding on to. That’s one thing that keeps the church dry and one’s fire out even though it is jam-packed with a lot of awesome ministry works.

I heard our leader speak of gaining “first class” crowns upon the expansion of church networks in the world. Well, that’s good. But it’s more than building churches and doing works. It’s bringing souls closer to our Father’s heart. But by the sound of it, it sounded to me as if there’s no love for these souls at all and we’re after crowns. Are we not made to dwell with our beloved Father and not for crowns only?

A breakthrough is what some of us long for. A lot of us, though, glory in the works of our hands, making God look like a tough employer depending on sales. But God is not a god of earthly investments. He is a proprietor of love and eternal wealth. It’s so sad how people tend to rejoice in the number of saved souls without loving them at all. (Mark 12:31) We work as if we’re in a BPO company, striving to go beyond the given quota. Yet, God did not give any quota at all. Instead, He gave us grace, and all we have to do is to obey and love Him with all our hearts. (Mark 12:30) Isn’t God the God of love? When our Father loves, shouldn’t we also love at all?

We shouldn’t look at our own crown and glory. Indeed, we have a crown for every seed we sow but Jesus Himself is our greatest prize. He is more than enough. We are not made for crowns but we are made for the Greatest Prize Himself. He is our “first class” prize, after all. The moment we surrendered our lives and accepted His love and grace, we have received the greatest prize in eternity. May we keep our eyes on Him until the end of the race.

*PS…I’ll give a complete report on the Empowered 21 Asia Congress on the coming days. Just stay tuned 🙂

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