The Place of Humility

RinaPeru's photo

RinaPeru's photo

I was wheeled into our newly-refurbished kitchen for the first time in many years, and besides my delight to see our old kitchen transformed into a more modern and sleek design, I felt dwarfed by the walls and cupboards. I was looking up to them whereas before, I was eye level to them.

I could not contain my pleasure for having been able to eat again in the island (more of a peninsula) of our kitchen after many years of being in and out of illness. But the great mercies of God which I have continuously seen at work in my life drive me to that place of being bowed down low, in trials or in victories, and poised to offer a profusion of sincerest thanksgiving.

In times of great joy as what I had felt the moment I sat in our kitchen, there is only remembrance of God’s enduring mercies and unfailing goodness, and words are never enough to thank Him even as I raised my hands in praise and worship. Later on when I was in our room, I knew that the cupboards seemed to have gone higher because I was sitting in my wheelchair, whereas before, many years ago, I stood in the kitchen while I worked.

Sitting low in my wheelchair and feeling dwarfed by the things around me serve as a constant reminder to stay in the place of humility. The Lord spent years teaching me humility. Those trying years saw me really grappling to walk alongside my Savior. He walked beside me, went before me, but always, He held me when I was about to fall and raised me up when I did fall flat on my face. He allowed all that – stumbling, falling, hurting myself, raising me up – so I could learn the important lesson of humility and total dependence on Him (yes, not on my own wisdom and strength), among other things, and be partaker of His holiness (Heb. 12:10).

You see, pride and being “Ms. High and Mighty” could be a “disability”. This could make a cripple out of a follower and the Lord is determined to do away with it. So, this follower was chastened to God’s satisfaction (I hope!) and learned to make my paths straight so that my “lameness” (or disability – pride, self-sufficiency, among other things) was healed (Heb. 12:12). That’s the way I looked at the whole process of learning and healing and becoming whole.

So, I did learn humility – the hard way. Victories sometimes attempt to displace me from my posture of humility and thanksgiving, but remembrance of God’s goodness and tender mercies drive me to earnest repentance and keep me rooted in that place of humility. It is always this:

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Rom. 2:4)

The place of humility is a place of grace.

…be clothed with humility, for

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet. 5:5, emphasis added)

The posture of lowliness is the posture to receive grace upon grace. We received God’s amazing grace that moment when we fell down on our knees and humbled ourselves before Him. And we will receive the grace to illuminate His light and be used for His purposes as long as we stay in this place of humility, for humility precedes honor (Prov. 15:33, 18:12). I think about Mary and her exemplary life of lowliness coupled with quiet strength. This is something a servant of the Lord could emulate.

******

My gratitude list ~ things I’m thankful to the Lord for:

7. Being able to eat in the dining table (peninsula) in our kitchen after many years.

8. The Lord Jesus’ faithfulness to draw me closer and remind me of His enduring mercies and goodness.

9. Precious lessons learned in my walk with my Savior-Redeemer.

10. The delights photography – lights, colors, shadows – brings!

11. The love, peace, joy, and unity in the family

12. Home improvements

13. Tidied up and decluttered cabinets – clean house!

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

rina

So You Want to Know Real Joy?

This was one of the ways I had known joy in my adult life.

The piece of paper comes out of the fax machine slowly. I look and I see it is a purchase order from the biggest client of my year-old chemicals company. I look at the quantity and the amount and I am astounded. Then I leap in joy and laugh and kick my legs in glee and laugh some more. The heavens have poured out a blessing in measure I can not contain.

That was joy after the relentless hoping and working hard and sweat and tears and never giving up.

Then joy became like this.

Pearls – white, pink and bluish grey set in gold, surrounded by perfect diamonds – adorn the neck, ears, wrists, and fingers. String of diamonds that go all around and look beautiful in the wrist, don’t they call it eternity? Wardrobe that is never satisfied. Climb up the ladder of success higher and higher still.

But joy can never walk hand in hand with covetousness. Never. For joy satisfies and fills. Joy is a product of not wanting more, but being content with and grateful for what is graciously given.

That is how I know joy now.

I sit in my high back swivel chair. No, this is not my office chair which I used as president of my company. This is a substitute for a wheelchair for it is more comfortable when I’m home. I listen to praise songs, and when the crescendo of the glorious chorus lifts up my spirit to great heights, I weep and beg God to heal me so I can sing like the singers in the CD do. Then a still small voice speaks in my heart and asks, “What would you choose, to be able to walk but not sing, or to be able to sing well with all your strength but not walk?” And without hesitation, I answer over and over, “I want to sing! I want to sing!” Tears stream freely from a heart that is hungry for the Lord.

I cannot walk for now. I can only do it for a few steps and with support, only as a daily exercise. I cannot travel because I have problems with breathing. But I plan my family’s trip while I stay at home and wait. My heart hungers to travel with my family – walk barefoot on  golden sand glinting in the summer’s sun, or gaze at the green fields and trees as we walk by in the countryside… There are so many desires of my heart – travel to different parts of the world to share the Gospel and my testimony to win souls – but I remain here in this place of hope and waiting and expecting.

You might want to know – how do I go through the day? How do I curb the hunger?

You may not believe it but I live in joy. In the mornings, I awake to joy and inspiration from the Lord to face another day. How do I find joy? It is given to me by the Lord. It is His wonderful, beautiful gift. It is His grace. It is a fruit of seeking Him, of wanting to know Him more, of relentlessly pursuing Him, of spending time in His sweet holy presence, of delighting in Him! It is something that I humbly and gladly receive from His hand as He lovingly offers it to me.

Depression is absolutely absent. For the joy that comes from the Lord is real and pure and durable!

I had known joy that was riddled with guilt. Later, I realized it was not joy at all but sin, SIN, masquerading as joy. So beware!

What, then, is the difference between the joy that I had known when I was well and strong – working, traveling, shopping and embracing the pleasures of the world – and the joy that I know now? It is the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in my life. It is His Spirit that dwells in my heart who enables me to bear its fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Gal. 5:22-23)

That and all the wonderful ways He brings joy to my life:

praising and worshiping

love of family and friends

writing: blogging and journaling

homemaking: decorating, cooking, baking, ice cream making, vegetable gardening

reading (I love the Holy Bible and books!)

studying (the Word and other pursuits)

listening to praise music

photography

drawing

lavender scent and green grass and trees and birds!

shampoo and bath assisted by my husband

and many other simple things that most people would take for granted.

Friend, are you searching for joy in your life? Joy that fills and satiates and sees one through even in the most difficult times? Joy that is not fleeting but remains? Jesus is the answer. Let Him into your life now. Know the keys of salvation here.

Additional readings, yes? :):

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What It Takes to Open the Eyes

My son Tim came bounding into the room; he couldn’t contain his excitement as he happily announced, “Mom, the rabbits’ eyes are open! The rabbits’ eyes are open!” He was jumping up and down and his eyes sparkled. I became excited, too, as together we cheered. Then, he grabbed my cell phone and before I could ask why, he was off.

He came back with a fresh video he took of the rabbits, focusing on their open eyes. As we viewed it, I could hear his recorded whisper, full of wonder and almost reverently, “Their eyes… they have opened their eyes.”

I marvelled at the wonder of it all: my son’s awe and the rabbits’ opened eyes.

Why would an adult like me be caught in the wonder of the moment? It is our first time ever to have a pet who gave birth. Our kids’ rabbit, Sophie (one of their bunnies that we gave last Easter), gave birth to a litter of 6 and 5 survived. The whole family was so excited about this event.

About 2 weeks passed and the baby rabbits’ eyes remained tightly shut. They groped as they played around in their cage. One day I told the family that it seemed they weren’t going to open their eyes anymore at all, and Hannah said incredulously, “Of course not, Mom!” That’s why when the day finally came that they opened their eyes to the world – it was to us a marvellous moment.

And isn’t it a wondrous moment for heaven, when a lost soul finally opens its eyes to the truth, that all the host rejoices? (Luke 15:10)

The opening of our eyes – it’s the work of God. It is a miracle. It. Is. Pure. Amazing. Grace.

How does one receive this grace? That in one glorious moment, one is able to really see at last? See and understand that what one does is sin and offends God? That the true Gospel of salvation is the hope of the world? That God is holy and one must serve Him in holiness? That Jesus Christ is the only Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one receives eternal life but through Him? That giving one’s life to Him is the best thing one could ever do with this one life?

How does one poor soul whose eyes the “god of this world” has blinded see the truth of God (2 Cor. 4:4), that He is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth (John 4:23), when one’s eyes are focused on what is seen, and worship the thing that was created instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:25)?

How does one see that the person who’s leading him or her is as blind as he or she is? That without the enduring mercy of God, they will both fall into the ditch? (See Matthew 15:14).

It takes tons of unrelenting, unceasing prayers with fasting.

It takes a life surrendered to God and set aside for the Gospel. It takes a lifetime sacrifice of the man – pastor – called, anointed, and sent by God (Jer. 3:15) “to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jer. 1:10).

It takes the concerted prayers of the true Church of the living God (Acts 1:14).

But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. (Acts 6:4)

This is what it takes: Give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. When we pray and minister, we’re giving our own selves – mind, body and spirit surrendered to His will. What a noble way to give!

Yes, and all this – ALL THIS IS HIS GRACE! It is all His mighty power working in and through us.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Linked to Encourage My Heart.

When We Look at the Temporal Instead of the Eternal

(Meditating on Psalm 73)

I can so relate with Asaph. Read this:

Truly God is good to Israel,
To such as are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;
My steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the boastful,
When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
 (Psalm 73:1-3)

See those sentences which I made bold to emphasize my point? Yes, I was intimately acquainted with the words of Psalm 73. In the past years, I used to marvel at other people, families, who did not worship and serve the Lord in spirit and in truth and yet, to my eyes, they were abundantly blessed. I used to enumerate to my husband the things I perceived they have and enjoy, like good health, happiness, peace, prosperity, friendships, pleasures, travels, celebrations, and I compared our life with them, us, serving the Lord diligently and steadfastly, yet, constantly being tried and tested. Through my limited vision, they seemed to enjoy life to the full without the tribulations that we were going through. I echoed Asaph’s words true-to-heart:

They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.
 (vv. 4-5 NIV)

Just like Asaph, I honestly believed what I observed, and because of that, I often lacked joy and gratitude. Envy and discontentment would invade my days ferociously, and I would often succumb to them. Although I revelled in the presence of the Lord during worship, I just couldn’t shake off the practice of looking at other people’s lives and comparing. You see, just as Asaph had actually believed for a time that he had cleansed his heart in vain – following closely after godliness and willingly yielding himself to God’s chastening every morning (vv. 13 and 14) – I lamented God’s refining of me, too, and envied those people whom I thought are “untouched” by the Lord. That is, the hand of God was not heavy upon them.

All day long I have been afflicted…

When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply. 
(vv. 14 and 16 NIV)

Ah, these words! So familiar. Having gone through physical suffering for so long, I used to dwell in them. They were constant companions.

Oh yes, until I went in to the sanctuary and the Spirit of the Lord spoke in my heart and made me understand. He made me see my error, my weakness. He made me see the painful truth: my heart was bitter and it wasn’t doing me any good.

When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you. 
(vv. 21-22 NIV)

The psalmist and I, aren’t we kindred spirits? For when the Lord made me realize my foolishness, I was greatly ashamed. When He made me remember His salvation, His great mercies upon me – taking me out of the miry clay and saving me mightily and giving me life so I could be with Him through eternity – I lay at His feet – repentant, humbled.

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. 
(vv. 23-26 NIV)

Ah! This is my song! These beautiful words – they are mine and they are true in my life. There’s nothing truer. He’s my portion forever! How could have I easily forgotten?

When I am weak and tempted to look at other people , I will remember Psalm 73.

And the story of the pig. Its master feeds him everyday so that it grows fatter and fatter. He washes it also. It does nothing but eat and sleep and sometimes digs on the earth with its snout for its pleasure. It is as if its master loves it so. But we know where the poor thing will end up someday – to the abattoir (like what vv. 18-20 say).

But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds. 
(v. 28 NIV)

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How to Truly Seek God and Live an Authentic, Christ-centered Life

Please do not think that I have it all put together in my own life. It’s true that we are so blessed to belong to a Church (Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry) that teaches and practices all biblical truth – unwavering faith, true holiness, prayer and fasting, Christ-surrendered life. But in my own faith walk, there is still a lot of learning and growing to do.

What do you truly ache for?

What is your heart deeply desiring for?

What do your prayers consist of?

Do you come to God because you believe it’s your duty?

What drives you to seek God?

These are five questions whose answers the Lord has been gently but surely guiding me to walk through lately.

Do you ache for anything in the world or do you ache to live a life that brings joy to God? Does your heart desire the things that God desires? Like the salvation of souls? Of obeying His Word and surrendering to His will? Surrendering not because you have no choice but because you delight to do His will? Has your love increased so much that you are past looking out after yourself but also for others outside of your family?

If you examine your prayers, what are the things that are foremost? Are they for the kingdom of God? What weighs heavier – prayers that are for the self or prayers that are for the things of God?

Do you hunger for the presence of God that’s why no matter how busy or how weary you are, you want to seek Him and be in His sweet, comforting presence? Do you seek Him only because you need things from His hand or because you want to be near Him, to know Him more, to feel his love surrounding, filling you, and to let this love between you and your Savior King flourish?

Ah! To be brought by the Lord to this place and walk this higher ground is unsurpassed grace! For it is only by His Spirit that one bears much fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

By God’s grace, fasting and praying here from Sunday ’til Sunday. I pray God will use this blog to bless people around the world!

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Our Unique Life

When the astrovan finally left, I got ready for my morning prayer. It should have come first but I had to supervise the preparations for the kids’ trip to Holy Carabao and Fun Farm – braid Hannah’s hair, check their bags, set camera, give instructions and reminders, etc. My mind wanted to imagine the pure enjoyment of traveling with my family to the countryside. Oh, I know that would be blissful but I didn’t want to let my mind wandering in that direction and lingering. It would be too painful.

I thought long and hard about my sharing with you our unique life. That is, the setup our family has learned to embrace in the midst of my frail health. I wanted to protect that part of our life and keep it hidden from public knowledge, but lately, something has been urging me to open it up and let you in. If in any way our life would become an inspiration to others, then I would have given glory and honor to Him who has mercy for us.

Since 2009, I haven’t been able to travel far from home due to my illness. My abdomen is weak and I get tired easily and when I do, my breathing becomes difficult and I get dizzy. But I don’t let this hinder my children to live their lives as they should. When they are invited to birthday parties, their daddy accompanies them. When he has commitments concerning our company, one of the maids or a cousin would accompany them. I haven’t gone to any school event. When Hannah had her piano recital at the Meralco Theater and it was a Sunday and her daddy must not skip church, her uncle and cousin were the ones who assisted her (her dad rushed to the show after church).

Those are events that our children need to participate in. But there are also things that children would love to do during summer or Christmas Holidays. So, I plan for those things then. I plan and prepare every detail that they would need, where they would go, what they would do, etc. I don’t forget to tell them to enjoy and not be sad for mommy. Then I wait at home while they and their dad go out.

When they arrive home, the kids would excitedly run to me, hug and kiss me like they had been gone for days! They would give me the camera and together, we would view their pictures, the kids rattling off about their day.

It was hard at first. After they had left, I would drown myself in praise music, letting my spirit be carried away by the glorious praise and strain to feel God’s comfort. I don’t know how I had survived those first lonely years, but miraculously I did, and I am now in a place where joy and thanksgiving weigh heavier than any self-pity or bitterness. God has brought me to where I am now. I still can’t travel, but my spirit soars higher than I had ever imagined and I have learned to live in contentment and pure gratitude. The words of the Apostle Paul have become true to me:

For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Phil. 4:11-12)

I’m not saying this is a perfect situation, and thus, I’m satisfied to stay this way. Not at all. I long to travel, foremost to testify, share the Gospel and win souls. I never gave up praying and dreaming to be able to travel again. But while I wait, the Lord taught me to live in the moment’s grace, to relish what I have right now, and to delight in Him no matter what. For most people, it’s easy to delight and rejoice in the Lord when they seem to have it all: good health, material blessings, and strong spiritual life. But for one who has not good health, yet delights in the Lord and rejoices in Him – that is satiating grace!

Lately, I took inventory of God’s blessings in my life and realized that I have all the beautiful, priceless things the world yearns for: love, joy, peace, faith, hope! And I reviewed my days and I found myself really delighting and rejoicing in the Lord not because I want Him to give me the desires of my heart but because He has given them already and more!

But what does this satiating grace consist of?

  1. Grace that teaches the heart to love God more than anything in the world. When hunger to travel and see the world visits me, I think about Anna. She was very young when she became a widow, but she didn’t use her freedom to take pleasure in the world, instead, she chose to stay to serve the Lord night and day. [Anna] was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day (Luke 2:37). She did it voluntarily and willingly. I want to remember the Lord Jesus’ words, that I am not of the world as He is not of the world, for He has chosen me out of the world (John 17:14, 15:19). And so I soak in this truth: I’m chosen, therefore, I’m blessed.
  2. Just as Anna was gifted with constant prayer and fasting, the Lord has made me worthy to be a vessel of His gift – the gift of writing. Writing, and sharing our testimonies and life lessons to the world, is for me like a journey – a journey wherein I continue to learn and grow in the process, and take pleasure in the experience. It doesn’t matter if I have only over a hundred blog followers, or receive just 1 0r 2 emails in a month from people who seek the truth, healing, and  the Savior’s love (and I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to serve). The Lord has called me to write and I am His willing vessel. He will achieve what He purposes.
  3. Grace to hunger for Him and seek Him daily. Just as the sun is sure to rise every morning, He sends His joy and inspiration to see me through the day. And the joy of the Lord is my strength. His presence goes before me, covering me with His love and comfort.
  4. Grace to be a wife to my husband and mother to my children, nurturing the family with the wisdom and strength the Lord has blessed me with.

Related:

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What Surrender Truly Means

We surrendered our lives when we received the Lord Jesus Christ and let Him reign in us. But, as I had found out, the years go by and we come to realize that there may still be many things that we are holding back. The heavy burden that we carry every now and then may prove that we have not surrendered all to Him. For He himself promised that when we come to Him, He will give us rest from our labors and heaviness (Mat. 11:28).

This heavy burden that we insist to pick up and carry and go about our days hauling it  may come in different packages.

On our own, trying our best to analyze our problems and always straining to find ways to solve them (problems with the self, marriage, children, work, etc.).

Always striving to be good and do good in the sight of God and man, but the burden is heaviest when we fail and err, stumble even.

The guilt, shame, and inner turmoil our failures and shortcomings bring.

The fear of displeasing God for giving in to our emotions, for being easily provoked, for lacking self-control, for forgetting His commandments in the heat of the moment, for failing to be a light to others, and for just being plain foolish and weak in a moment’s time! The fear of losing His favor, of not receiving His blessing but His chastisement instead. Even the fear that He may decide to take me already that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (Remember 1 Cor. 5:5?). And naturally, I greatly hold on to my life. As far as I’m concerned, all THAT is heavy!

These negative emotions that come to visit every now and then – envy, comparisons, self-pity, discouragements, discontent, hunger, unfulfilled dreams, pesky desires and wants that we know are not aligned with God’s will. The struggle, the energy used to try to curb them, and the feelings of guilt and shame why we even have them close to our hearts and minds! They maybe godly desires and dreams but they carry with them the heavy burden of hunger.

I had all these at one time or another and while I sat there sobbing and feeling all the turmoil swirling within me and thinking (and at the same time listening to that inner voice!), “So, when will you pick up yourself and stop all these already!” (It was more of a shout than a question), I was at the same time wondering what the Lord Jesus could be thinking of my miserable state!

To have the fear of God is a good thing, but to try to hold on to all these things and muster every ounce of strength to carry the heavy burden will.not.work. And so one night, hauling all my burdens on my back, I dared approach the Lord. For one who had wonderfully messed up all good intentions, it was even hard to approach at all. But we have nowhere else to go. And we know that in the Lord, one would always find mercy. He has always room for a broken and contrite heart. 

This is the way we can approach the throne of grace boldly, not that we are confident because of our perfect performance (for we miserably fail, don’t we?), but because we know He is perfect to forgive; He is strong to lift us up, and His love is complete to cover our shortcomings.

And that night, I gave Him all that I had been holding. Every.single.one.of.them. I did not leave anything un-surrendered.

Until we fully learn to hand over to Him all that we carry, surrendering absolutely EVERYTHING to Him (fears, problems, confusions, hurts, hunger, desires, dreams…) and not holding back anything, we will never truly find rest. Only in COMPLETE SURRENDER shall we find rest for our souls (emotions, mind, will).

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