Monthly Archives: April 2012

Well played, God. Well played. (A DMPD story)

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Several days ago I went to God with a sort of a complaint.

I was a little hesitant to express it, mind you, because the past week I have seen amazing things happen with my DMPD* — really amazing things I knew had nothing to do whatsoever with my ability. And then new facts were introduced, new deadlines set, new standards put in place. Still, it seemed foolish to complain.

But, as I debated whether or not to say it, I realized He knew my thoughts anyway, so why not bring it out in the open?

“Lord?” I asked.

“Yes, daughter, what is it?” He replied. I knew He knew what I came to say, so I just went on and said it.

“God, what are you playing at? Just when I thought I’ve gotten comfortable with the circumstances, just when I’ve finally accepted the facts, just when I’ve finally convinced myself that I CAN do this, You up the ante! You set new rules! You set new deadlines! What are you playing at, Lord?”

Oh yes, I was so exasperated.

He just sat there until I ended my tirade, and I imagine the corners of His mouth twisting into a knowing smile.

“So?” I prompted.

“Well, you see, I don’t want you to be comfortable,” He started.

I figured I knew that already, so I waited for more.

“And I don’t want you to simply accept the facts,” He continued. “See, based on experience, and looking at your track record, whenever you thought you could swallow the facts, when you thought you could handle the circumstances, you did not depend on Me.”

I sat back. That is true.

“So,” He went on, “I am making things a little more challenging for you.”

I sighed. Challenging, huh?

“Oh, and when I say challenging, I mean — wait, what’s that word you humans use? Ah yes — impossible. Sorry, I don’t have that in my vocabulary.”

There was laughter in His voice, and I think I knew what He was talking about. Hello? The Bible talks about it His strength and might all the time.

“Anyway,” He started again. He wasn’t done. “But haven’t I told you? NOTHING IS TOO CHALLENGING FOR ME!”

I smiled.

“To put it in your language and terms, nothing is impossible for me.”

This time I was grinning. “Alright God,” I said. “You win. Well played God, well played.”

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Where He is is where It is Safe

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Everything pours in my life right now.

Pouring of joy, of gratitude, of challenges, of… rain. (Wouldn’t I love it if cash also poured in?)

Lately, Baguio has been experiencing these intermittent rain showers. Quite fitting with the message from the DMPD manual I’ve been recently meditating on: Faith Against Comfort Zone.

I meditate on Matthew 14:22-32, and I imagine the raging storm.

The tension as the disciples struggled to keep the boat from capsizing.

I remember a strange dream I’ve had, one I’ve written about before, where Baguio City was awash in a spectacular storm, and I sat in nothing else but a small, wooden sailboat…

How the storm raged! The downpour was enough to flood all of Baguio to about 6 feet. The highest point, SM Baguio, was the only thing not submerged. It was amazingly overwhelming to see everything flooded. As the boat rounded SM on the way that was normally the road to UP Baguio, I watched in amazement. Water cascaded down from SM like a great big waterfall.

I fought an inner fear, a fear that kept whispering that we wouldn’t make it, we would drown, the boat was simply not strong enough for such elements. I fought, and won.

And then, the boat surprisingly came to a halt. We had hit shallow water. I looked behind and saw that all the waters were fast receding.

This was written a year ago, a meditation on Matthew 8, when Jesus was in the boat with the disciples, and he calmed the storm. In that story, Jesus’ presence was enough to bring safety to the boat. He was IN the boat.

But in Matthew 14, Jesus was not.

I go back to Matthew 14, and imagine the yelps as these seasoned fishermen worked to keep themselves afloat — but the wind was simply too strong, the waves too high, and they were tired. Nerves were stretched taut as the ropes they held.

No wonder, seeing an apparition before them, on the water, walking towards them, induced such fear in their hearts. And yet, even with Jesus confirming His identity to them, why was it only Peter who stepped out?

How could they not see that the boat provided no real safety and comfort from the storm?

These two “disciples in the storm” narratives pretty much sum up my journey with the DMPD so far.

In the past, as in Matthew 8, God has reminded me of the security and safety He can provide. There were those moments when I cried out in anguish and fear, feeling as if God were asleep despite the whipping wind, wondering why my needs seem to be in grave danger of not being met.

But then He stands up and ceases the storm, providing in amazing ways, bringing me to people I never expected, sending that email notifying me of gifts that were sent… it was all too timely to be coincidental.

And I knew the boat was safe.

Now, however, as in Matthew 14, Jesus is out in the storm, and He is calling me to do the unthinkable, to step out of the boat and “Come…” to Him!

It’s a lesson I am continually learning: wherever Jesus is where it is safe… whether it is in the boat, or in the midst of the storm.

(Blog post referred to here: http://theexpressionaire.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/safe-in-the-boat/)

Believing Again

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I had not realized it, but I had stopped believing that God could answer my prayers.

Not that He couldn’t answer prayers — just that He didn’t want to answer my prayers.

The past seemed filled more with vain hopes, unanswered prayers, unmet expectations… and I had stopped hoping God could answer me, shower me, with favor. Guilt from the past and recurring sins fueled my belief that God did not want to answer my prayers.

Meditating… on Pain?

For the past several months, I had been meditating on pain, and the suffering Christians must inevitably go through. I read John Piper’s “Spectacular Sins” and listened to Tim Keller and other speakers expound on the necessity of pain and suffering. And when I opened my email, there were the updates from persecuted Christians all over the world.

Despite my relatively low tolerance and dislike (who doesn’t?) of pain, I actually anticipated suffering.

One of my journal entries last January reads:

“Yes, I do not particularly like suffering, but I must expect it… how my mind shudders and my heart faints to htink of what God may allow to come my way, but I pray that I will hold on firmly to what is true, to who He is, and to keep my eyes fixed on Him until everything melts away and I have learned to love Him and trust Him with every fiber of my being.”

All well and good, except that in meditating too much on this, I had forgotten — or ignored — the fact that God is also my Father, my Heavenly father who wants to give good gifts to His children.

Jaded Views

In my anticipation of pain and suffering, my view of God became warped, turning Him into nothing more but a mighty, cruel God.

Every good thing, every blessing that came my way I ignored and took for granted, and then… I simply stopped believing God wanted to bless me. I couldn’t believe God wanted to give me pleasure.

Which, when I think about it now, sounds so ridiculous!

Isn’t He the loving Father, who works all things for good for those who love Him?

Isn’t He the Father you can never out-give?

Isn’t He the God who, more than any earthly father, seeks to provide and bless His children?

Isn’t He?

Not Really that Righteous

In retrospect, my anticipation of pain wasn’t any indication of my total righteousness anyway. In classic Sarah Grace Lawagan style, it was all because of my pride.

I thought that if I endured, I would emerge as a better person, and I would finally be worthy to be blessed.

But God never blesses just because I have made myself worthy to be blessed, because I will never be. He blesses because He, in His perfect will, wants to, whether I am worthy of it or not.

PCCC Staff Conference “Believe Again” came as a breath of fresh air, showing me that I had started to become morbid without even noticing it.

Balancing It

There is a fine line between looking to God as Someone who only deals out punishment and Someone who only gives pleasure. Having just one perspective is unhealthy and tints our view about God and our faith.

I pray that I will never forget God’s goodness, nor will I cease to believe that suffering also comes from Him.