Starting my year with more of HIM!

Two weeks ago, I participated in the annual Prayer and Fasting of the Victory Christian Fellowship. It was my first time in doing so, and honestly, I have not prepared for it physically. I have been praying about this fasting long before (since I first heard about it), but I never knew that I should have gradually prepared my physical body, too. And due to being a first timer, I was advised not to do the water only or liquid fast so I opted to take only two servings of oatmeal a day--a very challenging take to my body which was accustomed to 'eat-whenever-you-want-and-don't-if-you-don't-feel-like-it'. But thanks to God's unfailing guidance and sustenance, I have gone through the week without any difficulties.

Now that I look back at it, that week was actually one of my most peaceful and fast-paced week, ever. I learned and digested a lot with what our praying and fasting handbook offered us. And during those five days of praying, meditating, reading and just talking to Him (while doing school works and stuff and everything in between), aside from what our handbook taught me, I got to realize these five things:

#1: We allocate/spend so much time and money on food

First of all, I should clarify that I found nothing wrong about this. It's just that I have failed to see this before in my self and was actually surprised by this mere fact: we do spend a lot and eat a lot! I think we people eat like we breathe. Being a student, fueling up to get by tons of school work and spending hours in school, most of our allowance goes down the drain for food. From our lunches to small confections like candies and gums, I saw for the first time what we use our mouths for the most--it's either by talking or eating. On normal days, we spend more time chewing something off than reading the bible or praying or meditating. And since it is my first time defying my physical body's needs in order to focus more on Him, I realized that if I get to combine all the time I spend eating and devoting it to my quiet time, I think I might have finished all my unread/pending inspirational books and some books in the bible I've been targeting to finish by now.

I should work on managing my time and spending on food that my body desires and indulge and focus more on what would satisfy my deepest hunger--the bread of life.

#2: We have too many 'pop-up' priorities
You alone are God of all. You alone are worthy, Lord!
You know about those things that aren't really in your schedule, and yet when it comes to your attention, it suddenly holds all of your focus and worry that you think that you just got to do it, ASAP! I think everyone has experienced that. I did, and I still do. And we have sooooo many of those pop-up priorities that most of the times, we spend our times just worrying about them and letting that worry eat up our time. Then, we'd fail to attend to even a single one in our agenda and we end up not finishing anything. Sometimes, by just thinking about those, they could literally sucks up all your energy! No matter how much we try to organize, there'd still be a sudden thing that will come up and these may cloud our judgement and priority setting.

Having to fast for the first time, I just realized how much pop-ups I encounter mainly because I had more time being preoccupied by quietness and stillness (and by that, I don't mean that my quiet time is nothing. I do it as a personal 'emptying time'--an intimate moment where I try to detach myself from this world and just be in His presence.) But I realized that there's a dangerous part right there: emptying yourself makes you vulnerable to anything that wants to enter you. So here's what I concluded: for every ounce of anything that I'll empty my self of, I shall acquire a ton of God's greatness in me to fill that gap so that nothing and no one else--not even the dirty tactics of the enemy--may infiltrate my frail and human heart. Do not let yourself be a prey to the hungry lion (1 Peter 5:8). Pray for His guidance and security of keeping you away from the enemy's darkness.

#3: We fail to pray for what isn't within our grasp
With all I am I live to see Your kingdom come, and in my heart I pray you'd let Your will be done.
As our busy life goes, we tend to do or attend to things that we need right now or to get what the moment calls for. It's the same with our faith; we pray for things that we need/want right away. It's like acknowledging things just because they've come to our attention now, praying earnestly for it, though in the past, you might have never even thought of it. What kind of trust are we showing Him when we do that? Is that the right display of our surrender to His will and power over us?

I learned from this realization that this isn't how God wants us to communicate with Him. I realized that we should always pray for whatever God has planned for us even long before it is to be revealed. We do have an assurance that God has planned each and every detail of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11), and yet, why do we still get surprised or scared whenever a new wind blows our way? Praying in advance for the unknown brings comfort and peace inside of us that only God could instill in us. And when we practice this--praying for everything that His plans for our future holds--whenever grand things come our way (may it be blessings or struggles) we would be at ease knowing that God will get you through anything. Trusting Him completely and laying everything down to Him is the key for that inner peace that everyone desires! (Psalms 62:8)

#4: Strengthening my faith means that I should become weaker
...'til I see You face to face and grace amazing takes me home, I'll trust in You!
Out of all the new year prayers that my friends have shared with me, one have struck me to be the most eccentric and most interesting. He concluded his message to me with a "... and above all, I pray that you become weaker this 2013!" Of course my initial reaction was... "WHAAAAAAAAT?" Then I realized as he explained that "I am praying for that because you got to be weak so you'd be more dependent on Him!" And then, I got his point. The irony of that message was written in John 3:30; Having less of our self means more space for God in our lives. Humbling our self means more glory to our Father. One might say, 'What if you'll loose your identity in the process, being all clingy and relying too much on God?' Well, what's wrong with that? That's actually how God wants us to be! What other identity do you need other than the one that you have in Christ and Christ has in you? Also, being dependent on Him about everything means acknowledging His overall control in our lives and not relying on our imperfect thinking, reasoning and feelings on how to live each day. It doesn't mean that we're just gonna sit back, relax, do all the praying and not move an inch; it simply means that we'd use all the things that God blesses us with with our lives but more importantly, that we'd trust and owe Him whatever fruits our works may bear.

#5: I have an unlimited access to Him
You are the voice that called the universe to be, You are the whisper in my heart that speaks to me.

This concept isn't new to me, but going through the praying and fasting week, I appreciated it more than I did before. Basically having more spare time (like my lunch and dinner time) than the usual, my mind was constantly preoccupied by Him! It may be a word or a verse that He let me read at that time, or maybe a situation on my present time that He's brought up to my vision. Well, whatever it may be, He just practically talked and talked to me, and I was freely talking to Him, too! It feels good that we are blessed to have this never-ending connection with Him that no matter what I'm doing or wherever I am, I have the privilege and liberty to talk to Him and Him to me. It made me feel closer and more intimate with Him. We have a real relationship! We communicate and interact. We both take our time talking and listening. And I am deeply grateful about how much He welcomes me into His greatness.

All in all, I may not have readied my body for the physical challenges that I have undergone during the fasting, but ultimately, I now know this for certain: no matter how much you think you are ready for His blessings and wisdom, you'll always be a child in awe of what He'll give, show and let you know. I am in awe of Him! Always. :)

[All the lyrics quoted in this entry was from the song 'Til I See You by Hillsong]

Love and Loss

Last month, I got to listen to this sweet, beautiful phone conversation between an innocent child and a radio personality. It's been years since stories about it have surfaced the media, but it is my first time hearing about it. I thought I'd share it to others and internalize its message more.

Logan's story was touching and such an eye-opener. Many believers fail to remind themselves of what they need to look at everyday in every aspect of their lives: the Cross. The ultimate sacrifice and gift of God for us. Sure, every Christian and believer has heard of it, but for me, hearing this story and its purpose again and again, it never fails to stir up a sense of awe inside me--like I'm listening to the sweetest love story of all time. The greatest love story of my life, and it happened long ago even though I'm not yet here on earth. This phone conversation reminded me of two powerful emotions or feeling: love and loss.

God's loving nature is displayed on the smallest details of every single thing in our lives. God has put us in situations that may seem unfathomable to us, but our faith in Him and His deliverance will get us through anything. In addition to that, He will generously let His light shine in these moments so we could see the wisdom and greatness behind His every move.

Losing someone--specially a dear one--is one of the most painful things a person may experience. It's that bond and relationship that we have with the person (or even an animal, say, a pet) that makes us uneasy to let go. Once we love another, we would never want to lose such connection. God has provided us the gift of experiencing these wonderful connections and relationships under His embrace. But then again, nothing's permanent in this world.

I believe, God has also undergone these painful sense of loss. First is when we, His children and creations, were separated from Him through our sins, and second, is when He let His child Jesus Christ die on the cross. But He planned all of it--and it was for all of us! He has one purpose: He formulated this one big substitution in order for us--the sinners--to be able to connect with Him again. He chose to sacrifice Christ to save everyone from an eternal separation from Him--hell. He let One die and pay for our own wrongdoings! But He did that because despite our shortcomings, He felt sad that we were separated from Him. Not angry! Or annoyed! He was sad. And He wants us to have an access to Him again--to be close to Him again. He didn't want to lose anyone; not a single life. He didn't mind sending His only son to suffer in our place. He didn't even think twice to do it! He wants us all to live in His kingdom and dwell in it with Him. He wants us to prosper in spirit and grow up in preparation to entering His holy palace. Hell wasn't made for us. It is in heaven where He plans us to live with Him for all eternity.

I pray that God will give me that kind of heart. A heart that will see through the pain of every loss and to focus on what this pain can gain and will teach me. A heart that will not fear to experience pain for the greater good. A heart that will not think twice in the pursuit of glorifying His name. God, work on my heart day and night and bless me to have a true servant's heart.

I thank God for that great act of grace and love for us. I thank God for enduring the pain of separation, and giving us the ultimate solution for it: Jesus Christ. I thank God for the salvation He's offering everyone, so that no one will ever lose anyone again--for I believe that we will all be together in heaven, forever, with Him. I thank God for just about everything!

And I smile for that.

:( count: 4
:) count: 8
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