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.

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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

It’s All I Really Want to Do

(Meditating on Psalm 75)

I will sing praises to the God of Jacob. (Psalm 75:9)

I sit on our patio on a dark, chilly night. The evening breeze fans my tired body and I wish I brought a wrap with me. I sit long and silent. Alone after the enemy had attacked again, this time bringing me down to the ground, wreaking havoc to my emotional balance and giving me more than a pity party. I had stopped wondering why challenges and painful trials come and go. I’ve become used to them. I have learned that these are all part of the life of a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. But what I just realized now is the fact that we can never really achieve perfection in our life on earth. I mean, perfection in our service to God and others.

We may aim for it: a perfect day that bears the Spirit’s fruit, giving glory to God in all we do. But more often than we would like it to be, it doesn’t happen that way. Challenges and trials come to test our patience and endurance, and we succumb to them and fail miserably, our human nature gaining the upper hand.

So, I think of all these in the aftermath of yet another storm in my life, and I realize that the pain comes from my not wanting to surrender fully to God’s tests and refining. I am resisting God’s plan behind the difficulties because I don’t want to suffer any longer. Because I am thinking and believing that I don’t deserve any more of this. But I am wrong. Whatever comes, I must bow down low before God – no complaints, no discontent, no dismay, no resentments. Just a humble yielding to Him. There is a release in that.

When I choose the proper time,
I will judge uprightly. 
(v. 2)

Do not lift up your horn on high;
Do not speak with a stiff neck. 
(v. 5)

Though my whole being pulsates pain and weariness, I want to sing and give glory to Him. This is really all I want to do. For even though there are trials, His goodness is seen in my life.

And so I sing and raise my hands. The sky is becoming deeper and deeper blue. The leaves rustle.

We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near. 
(v. 1)

(Photo courtesy of my friend Perla Notario Frisberg).
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

The Mercies of the Lord Make a Heart Humble

(Meditating on Psalm 72)

For He will deliver the needy when he cries,
The poor also, and him who has no helper.
13 He will spare the poor and needy,
And will save the souls of the needy. (Psalm 72:12-13)

There have been many challenges in our household lately, the kind which may drive one to provocation and anger, or worse, complaints that dishonor God. I may believe that my strong reactions are justified, but the Holy Spirit is faithful to remind me of God’s past mercies, huge ones that when I remember each one of them, I’m humbled, and the only position of my head is bowed down low, my heart is earnestly contrite, and the words from my soul are silent thanksgiving lifted up towards heaven.

That’s what the enduring mercies of God can do. Instead of striving and contending, one keeps silent and gives thanks to God. Instead of remembering someone’s faults that could kindle ire, one gladly forgets them for the mercies of God are more abundant.

How can a heart that has repeatedly received God’s mercies carry resentments or unforgiveness? It cannot. From it, only gratitude runs deep and flows constantly.

I remember how the Lord has raised me up from my sickbed and has given me the gift of a new and grace-filled life. He shows His mercy in each morning He ushers in that I’m alive! I remember and the challenges, difficulties, and trials fade in the background.

Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
Who only does wondrous things! 
(Psalm 72:18)

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

Called in Weakness and Brokenness

I know for certain that had not the Lord stripped me off of all that made me proud and self-sufficient (first, my health and strength, then, as a result of this, went my career also), I wouldn’t have easily surrendered my whole life to Him. But it wasn’t only illness that changed the course of my life, enabling me to receive the gift of grace and transforming my life altogether, but it was more due to the brokenness that sin had wrought in me.

At the fullness of all the folly and sinfulness, God is so gracious to send fear in one’s whole being; fear so real and raw and life-threatening that the sinner realizes there is NO OTHER who can deliver him or her from it but the One who has sovereign power over his or her life. So, fear, in this respect, is a tool which God wields over the sinner to bring him or her to repentance. When the Lord called me, I approached with so much fear enveloping my whole being (fear, not toward Him who mercifully saves, but fear that comes from sin and which threatens to destroy one’s very existence). There was no feeling of pride from past performances and accomplishments. There was only brokenness: a sick body and spirit.

I knew then that I was one of those mentioned in 1 Cor. 1:26-28:

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are.

I know from testimonies I’ve heard that God calls the simple (in wisdom) and poor and weak, but He has called me, too, at the height of my fear (weakness) that paralyzed my otherwise brilliant mind and with a very sick body that was devoid of strength. And if I’m humble and honest enough to admit, I have been called, too, among the base things of the world and the things which are despised (v. 28), for not only the drug addicts and drug pushers, murderers, rapists, and good-for-nothing drunkards and revilers fall into this category, but also the impeccably-suited, excellent-mannered adulterers and adulteresses that lead corporations, and the spotless Barong Tagalog-clothed, smart-talking corrupt government officials, and whoever hides behind a ‘clean’ facade to cover up one’s sinfulness and brokenness. Aren’t these what the Lord talks about in Matthew 23:27? “You are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

I was called in weakness and brokenness, what was there to glory of? Nothing, except in the cross. For in the cross, my sin and shame and all my brokenness were nailed and I was healed.

How then could my sibling who was proud of me (all my siblings were and I believe up to now) of all my worldly success, and who looked up to me tell me to just stop it already and return to my old self and old life. I assume they almost couldn’t stand it – the Christlikeness – for it is entirely different from the life they used to enjoy with me. Of course, I understood and forgave my sister’s ignorance.

But if we are all honest and humble enough to acknowledge and admit our sinfulness and brokenness, we will all come to repentance and receive salvation of our souls. For we are all fallen people. If we are humble and brave enough to come out of our hiding, from our whited sepulchers, from our covering of self-righteousness, we will know and experience a life that is free from any and all kinds of bondage.

And this life is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Might be linking up with A Holy ExperienceBetter Mom MondaysDomestically DivineRaising HomemakersBrag on God FridayEncourage My HeartSpiritual SundaysState of the HeartTeach Me TuesdayTeaching What is GoodTitus 2sdaysWomen in the Word WednesdayWomen Living Well

A Love Unequalled

Did the heavens celebrate when you garnered that gold medal or when you passed that difficult board exams? Or did the angels of God sing and dance when you married the love of your life, or shout “Cheers!” when you snagged that much-coveted job? Or did they party on cloud 9 when you built your dream house, parked your shining brand-new car in your garage, toured around the world, and shopped at posh boutiques? You can never be certain. But there is one thing that we know is true: there was rejoicing with the angels of God in heaven when you returned to God and repented.

In this short verse, we get a glimpse of the heart of God through the words of the Lord Jesus:

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10 NIV)

This verse is packed with the goodness and promises of God:

You are so important to God so much so that there will be rejoicing in heaven, with all of His angels, when you repent and return to Him.

God is ever-ready to receive and forgive you: your returning is the one thing that He longs for, and the pouring out of His grace upon you is the very thing He looks forward to doing.

He readily forgets ALL your sins upon your earnest, godly repentance and humble obedience.

Soul-winning, beside our worshiping in spirit and in truth, matters most to Him.

Unlike us humans, God is gracious to forgive. And when He does forgive, it is complete. He doesn’t remember any more our sins which He has forgiven. Luke 15:10 gives us a glimpse of His merciful, gracious heart: He forgives fully and forgets instantly that all of heaven gets to celebrate! Here we see that He doesn’t delay His forgiveness (to those who humbly return to Him and truly repent) and doesn’t remind us of our past sins once He has taken them away.

For humans, there may be a struggle to forgive. AND, we don’t forget that easily! We may say, “I forgive you but I certainly don’t feel like celebrating!” But that is not the heart of our Father in heaven. We now know without a doubt the love of God for us and that His love is unequalled. 

So, if we know that He has forgotten our past foolishness and taken all our sins and shame upon Himself, there is no reason to revisit our dark past and feel its shame. We also need to forget. 

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:8-13)

In the entire chapter of Luke 15, the Lord Jesus tells three parables to illustrate how important to God a sinner’s repentance is and how He rejoices over him or her. This would remind us, therefore, (those of us who have received His amazing grace) to do that which brings Him so much joy: win souls.

Might be linking up with A Holy ExperienceBetter Mom MondaysDomestically DivineRaising HomemakersBrag on God FridayEncourage My HeartSpiritual SundaysState of the HeartTeach Me TuesdayTeaching What is GoodTitus 2sdaysWomen in the Word WednesdayWomen Living Well

Identity Crisis?

(photo source)

I need to tell you this, peradventure you may learn something from the pathway I had to go through lately. Let me elucidate (and I will try to be brief).

I never had problems with identity growing up. Even when I was in college and friends would mention it, it was never an issue with me. I knew I was a student who studied hard and received good grades, and I knew I was going to be a chemical engineer and work to become successful in my chosen field. A decade after my graduation and four employments later, I put up my own company, built our own office building with applications laboratory and stock rooms, and managed my staff well. I loved my work. It was in line with my profession. I felt so fulfilled with my career that I used to say, “It’s what defines me. I have arrived. So, this is what it means to ‘live your dreams’.” I believed I was having a most enviable job. 

Until God stripped me off of all that, including my health and strength. Then I had to strain to find my own place under the sun. (Additional readings for those who have not read my whole testimony: Found in Him; A Time of Anonymity).

Before you begin to think or ask if until now I haven’t found my true identity, I had written about that a few times and I know that I am a child of God, a daughter of the King of kings, who has received amazing grace. But that is not what I’m trying to discuss now.

It is this:

After almost a decade of being unwell and retired from work, and after continuing to dream of being used by God, I still find myself just looking at others while they live their dreams. I would like to make it clear: this is not about envy or jealousy, comparison or competition, or even complaint. By God’s grace, I’ve worked these all out. It is about not having my own specialization. It is about not really finding my own place in the Body of Christ.

I see and read about successful bloggers, authors, speakers, teachers. I follow (together with their droves of blog followers) some to their mission trips as they minister to the poor and the unreached. They write about them. I see successful songwriters and worship leaders leading worship with the multitude as they go from one country to another.

I see people, Christians, who have certainly found their specialization, embrace their calling and are fabulously successful in them. What made my heart heavy was my reaction that I also want to be successful just.like.them. Initially, I would react in my mind like this, “Oh, I also would like to be traveling to minister to the poor and the unsaved. I’m going to plan for that project.” Then, I catch myself and rebuke me, “Stop wanting to live others’ lives!” And although I knew that reprimand to be true, it didn’t lift up the sadness. (Due to my health condition, I’m still unable to travel).

It all climaxed one late Saturday night. When with a heavy heart, I began to sing praises in my private worship time. At first, I sang, feeling sorry for myself. Tears trickled down, then I felt the Holy Spirit descend. As I sang, He came and shed light to my darkened mind. The Lord spoke in my heart and I cried copious tears.

It is okay not to be known.

It is okay to be anonymous.

He alone is exalted and worthy of all honor and fame.

What He did for me was enough. It is enough.

In-between sobs, with arms raised high, I spoke to the Lord of my overflowing gratitude.

Unless the Spirit of the Lord descends and sheds light to our confused minds and brings us wisdom, the mind is not renewed by our mere convincing and coaxing.

I think about the Hebrew servant who waited on Naaman’s wife. There was no mention of her name. She was anonymous. But when it was time for her to be used by the Lord, she spoke of her faith and was instrumental in leading Naaman to the healing of his leprosy (see 2 Kings 5).

Identity should never be a Christian’s problem for he or she is Christ’s own. When we speak of our faith, whether to a multitude of followers or to a lone person who cares to listen, we are identifying ourselves to be members of the Body of Christ. It’s good to specialize on this.

Linked to A Holy ExperienceBetter Mom MondaysDomestically DivineRaising HomemakersBrag on God FridayEncourage My HeartSpiritual SundaysState of the HeartTeach Me TuesdayTeaching What is GoodTitus 2sdaysWomen in the Word WednesdayWomen Living Well

Facing Setbacks {and More on Self-righteousness}

I’ve been noticing that every time I post, this would be shared on Facebook a fair number of times, ever since I joined that social network. I didn’t really know where they were coming from, but it sure made me glad for the more it is shared, the more people are reached. That is, until I wrote this. It was shared only 3 times on FB and received 2 comments so far. I couldn’t really understand it. But the topic was about not being humble enough to receive the true Gospel of salvation and relying on one’s own righteousness.

It was saddening to know readers didn’t like it, but honestly, I don’t regret what I had written. I wasn’t called to write to please people and become popular. I was called to share the truth of the Word, my testimonies and life lessons to people to please God. In this endeavor, I could easily be tempted to take it personally and get hurt, that’s why there are two things that I remember to do: look up and look in. I look unto Jesus who has saved and called me. I am not my own. I’m bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Cor. 7:23). I look to Him for light and wisdom, for direction and — much-needed encouragement. Then, I look deep inside. I search for real motives. I probe and examine what’s in there and correct what needs correction, guided by the Word and the Holy Spirit. That’s how I’m held together.

And, I need to talk further about self-righteousness as one of the reasons why some people do not receive the true Gospel of salvation. It is brought about by lack of knowledge as much as it is pride in the heart. Most of the people I’ve been talking to these past years say that they believe in God and they are not committing a grave sin (then go on to enumerate their self-righteousnesses) and that’s that. It is like saying, “I don’t need to be born of the Spirit because I have not committed any grave sin. I don’t steal. I don’t kill…” Basically, the real reason for this is lack of knowledge of the truth. They cling to the belief that if a person is good (that is, based on the world’s standards), he or she will go to heaven. This is the exact opposite of grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph. 2:8)

Cornelius was a God-fearing man and he did many good deeds, but still, he was called by God to hear the Gospel of salvation and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. So also, our unsaved loved ones and friends need to hear this, if only they would listen and receive it, just as Cornelius and his whole household received it and were saved. (See Acts 10).

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23, emphasis added)

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Rom. 5:12, emphasis added)

Until one admits that one is sinful and that he or she needs the Lord Jesus to save him or her – and this is humility – one will not be saved and receive the Holy Spirit, and one will not and cannot live and experience a new life.

I was talking to our new maid (she comes from our hometown and she knew me), sharing with her our story of salvation. Then I mentioned the church we had known while growing up and she said excitedly, “There, anything goes! All kinds of sinners and sinful acts are found there!” Then she laughed robustly. But sadly, what she said is true. This woman knows nothing about the Word, but she knows that what’s being done in that church is far from the teachings of the Lord. There is a lot of brokenness in their midst, yet, their hearts and consciences may have been too hardened to care, let alone feel the pain.

One may attend church religiously all the days of one’s life, yet, never learns the truth, never knows nor experiences the Spirit, and is never truly liberated.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hos. 4:6)

This is truly a deplorable situation, so we continue to pray and not relent.

My gratitude list:

  • My Tim’s healing from his cough that was asthma-like.
  • The Holy Spirit’s guidance: to forget all ugliness (hurtful words, confusion, dismay) and remember only God’s goodness and enduring mercies.
  • For a heart that humbles down and willing to learn and grow.
  • For new mornings, new mercies and new beginnings!
  • For love that hopes, believes and perseveres.
  • An afternoon in the garden photographing the aftermath of a downpour.