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

Going Back to the Well

I lie long and silent on the sofa, back flat on the sturdy surface, as my weary flesh throbs away the rigors of the day. It has been a rather long and struggle-filled day. As silence finally settles in our home with only the faint sound of my husband’s praising in the guest room, I have time to think and pray some more. Pray silently over and over. For even though the weary flesh and mind shout rest, there is this desire to draw still closer to the Lord Jesus.

In the midst of seeming lack of clarity, we really cannot afford to be apart from Him who gives light.

There could be various things that could bear down on one’s soul. I’m particularly wearied by household challenges that involve maids who lack self-discipline. Maids whom I share the Gospel with but remain unmoved, indifferent, and therefore continue in their ways which are so different from ours. At times this gets me and my husband into unavoidable conflict and disagreement because he just wants to consider the necessity of having maids, what with my need of assistance and our whole household to tend. But for me, I just want maids who are devoted to their work, who sincerely care for the welfare of the household and the people they serve.

Sometimes I get frustrated that these daily challenges encroach into my spiritual quiet, provoke me and even bring me to a place of weariness and discouragement. Often, my soul shouts, wanting me to be fully well so I could manage and tend our household myself.

It is past midnight and I am here lying on the sofa trying to find a solution to all this, all the weariness making me as still as a log. Questions flood my mind but the warmth and comfort from the faithful Lord that are slowly enveloping my tired body don’t escape my notice. He whispers gently, He touches the exhaustion away, and I stop analyzing and just say deep in my heart and mind, “I love You, my Jesus; I love You, my Lord” over and over.

In the silence, when one’s tired mind and body are ready to succumb to rest, He whispers His love and comfort and the soul is restored. 

…he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul… (Psalm 23:2,3)

Why do we sometimes find ourselves near to unravelling, succumbing to bitter conflicts, painful discouragements and self-pity? I’ve heard others who even have lost their spiritual fervor.

My husband gently stirs me up. He’s done praising and he will carry me to bed. As he lifts me up in his arms, a still small voice speaks in my heart, “I’ve given you all you need so you’ll never be thirsty. Remember what I had given you at the well. It is all you need. It is flowing freely, eternally. You might have forgotten to drink and fill yourself up to overflowing. Come. Come again and drink freely.”

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13, emphasis added)

Yes! Yes! Yes! How could we have forgotten? We may praise, worship, pray, and read the Bible everyday but we forget to wield the power of the Spirit! Sometimes we get into praise weary and come out of it weary still, forgetting to drink up and fill up all our vacant places to overflowing. Or maybe sometimes, we enter into praise with our minds busy with other things and come out of it almost not being able to contain and control the many plans that fill up our minds.

We go through weaknesses and weariness because we let our minds forget the power of the Spirit that the Lord has given us and what it can mightily do to our lives. We forget because we let the enemy stimulate our minds with other things, things of this world  – the Internet, social media, worldly pleasures, etc. Others become passionate with their jobs, careers, and businesses more than with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

But the fountain of living waters should be more powerful than any discord, discouragement, disappointment, self-pity, grief. It should bring more fire and passion than any job, career, or any other pursuit could. That is, if we let it flow in us freely and not block or choke it. Apostle Paul warned, “Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19) and “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30).

The Lord is that “Fountain of Living Waters” (Jer. 17:13). All other sources are “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). No wonder, even when one keeps on drinking in (not God’s light and living waters) what one thinks could fill, one remains thirsty and empty.

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

Journey with Jesus,

At Peace with God’s Testings

A son whose simple dream was to get a good job abroad to bring prosperity to his family; who loves his father and mother that even at a young age, he accepted a job offer to work in China, just so he can help them. A son who loves the Lord Jesus and served Him faithfully. But fate would have it that this young man would taste the bitterness of God’s hard testing. While believing that his dream was at last within his reach, he ended up in a prison in China and was locked up. He was charged of transporting drugs to that country – a “drug mule”. How harder could it get?

How could he face the reality of a dream shattering to thousand irretrievable pieces? But maybe that’s easier to accept and come to terms to compared to the horrifying and uncertain future in prison in a foreign land with a charge that when proven guilty would send him to his death. How could he face every single day, knowing that that country is the world’s leading executioner?

And then there’s this wife whose fervent prayer is a blissful marriage, but what she’s been having for years is a difficult one, one that often sends her to great despair  and lose hope even of life, let alone a harmonious and peaceful married life. A wife whose soul is wearied by her spouse’s unkindness and seeming lack of love by the way he treats her most of the time. A wife who prays and wrestles, strives and fails, rises and believes, only to see herself go through the same cycle over again.

A wife who wants to hide from her God because she just couldn’t face Him with repeated failures and ugly mess. Who wants to escape and run as far away from frustrations, unhappiness and confusions as possible. A wife who thinks that the fights she never wanted make her unwhole and impure in the sight of God and what shall she do now? What shall she do with her dreams and her desire for almost-perfect marriage? How shall she close her eyes from the world’s standard of a happy marriage? But most of all, how shall she live with the daunting realization that this might just be the case for the rest of their life here on earth?

The son in prison survives every single day because of Jesus. In the dark prison cell, He is his light. In moments of uncontrollable fear, He is his strength. Jesus’ love is kept hidden in his heart; nothing in this world could steal it from him. And the fire of his love for Him which flourished throughout the years that he served Him freely, keeps burning in his heart.

He reads his Bible everyday like it was his lifeline (indeed, it IS our lifeline!). He is given strength from above to rise up morning by morning to share the Gospel to his fellow prisoners, even to those who oversee them. He has given up thoughts about his own life and future. Maybe in the soul level, he has died to them. He lives surrendered to God and His will. He lives embracing his testing, suffering, and calling.

And the wife? Jesus spoke to her to embrace her life with all its testings and hardships. She should not run away from it but let Him do His work. She should not think that the mess, the failures, the frustrations do not make her impure as long as her heart is right with Him, connected with Him, and her whole being – her eyes, heart, mind and soul – is focused on Him.

And she was freed and knew that with the exhilarating freedom came a commitment, a covenant, that. she. will. not. dare. take. her eyes. off. of. Him. Her eyes, heart, mind, and soul must be engaged fully with Him. And yes, she can. She can go on with life, marriage, family, plans, service, ministry, with joy!

How can they be at peace with God and their woeful situation? How can we be at peace with our own testings and sufferings? It is this, this is the key:

For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us,[a] leaving us[b] an example, that you should follow His steps:

22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”. (1 Pet. 2:19-22)

When we do good and suffer, and we endure the grief and take it patiently because of God – this is COMMENDABLE before Him.

We were CALLED to suffer with Christ and follow His steps.

This is our freedom, the balm to our pains and sufferings. This is our light in our confusions and comfort in our afflictions. This is our assurance in our discouragements and encouragement in our failures and frustrations.

Related article: A Reward for the Righteous (includes the testimony of the brother in Christ who was mentioned above).

Journey with Jesus,

Be Fully Awake!

Some time ago, I wrote The Lukewarm, taking heed of the Spirit’s leading and teaching at that time. Without a doubt in my heart, The Lukewarm was inspired by God, and I invite you to read it if you had missed it before as a background for this post :).

I was reminded by this post last night after I heard the testimony of a sister in Christ during Friday overnight service. She and her beloved husband are pastoral workers; the sister also sings in the Jesus Finest Generation Choir. From her testimony, I understood that her husband had grown lukewarm in his service to God. Why did I conclude that he was lukewarm and not cold? Because as I had written in The Lukewarm, the lukewarm make the effort of showing to everyone that they are still in the faith and going through the motions of serving God, but the fervor is gone.

They do it in hypocrisy, a farce, a thing which God hates.

I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,[a] I will vomit you out of My mouth. (Rev. 3:15-16)

So, for a long time, this brother made a show of serving God every worship service, but as his beloved wife has testified, he wasn’t really into the things of God: praising and worshiping, praying, and reading the Bible daily. When he was in the worship service, he did his menial job but spent most of the time talking with his peers. He did not worship during time of deep worship, and he did not open his Bible during Bible Study and preaching.

Many times his beloved wife admonished him, even encouraged him to open up and talk about his spiritual state, but he wouldn’t listen. Until one day, the Lord took his health and strength. He became sick of diabetes and UTI among other ailments that afflicted him. He lost a lot of weight. Then there came a time that he became very ill that he was brought to the hospital. He was struggling to live.

Because of God’s chastisement, he changed his attitude towards Him. He repented of his negligence and shortcomings. He became more fervent in worshiping with the strength he had; he read the Bible often during the day, and his prayers became earnest, agonizing.

Until today, he is still begging God to heal him and give him another chance to honor and serve Him. He and his beloved wife continue to pray and be zealous in serving Him amid the hard trial.

I am thankful to God that He is ever faithful to send us reminders for us to perfect our ways before him, either directly to us or through a brother or a sister. This is a wake-up call for all of us. We cannot hide anything from God, no, not even the deepest crevices of our hearts. He knows everything in there more than we do. Remember the apostle’s admonition:

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Heb. 4:13)

There is no more time to be complacent, to be lukewarm in our love and service to God. He is coming so very soon and He wants to awaken us from our spiritual stupor. We need to stop acting and faking it and going about our lives being numb to the things of God, but at last be fully awake to them!

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Rom. 13:11 NIV)

Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning… (1 Cor. 15:34 NIV)

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • healing of Hannah of her stomachache and diarrhea with fever
  • late-night giggling and laughing with her about something funny that she said
  • renewed inspiration to write and photograph
  • delectable cakes from neighbor
  • luxuriating in exotic-scented bath products
  • new inspirations, new beginnings ~ change is good!

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

Cause Your Face to Shine

(Meditating on Psalm 80)

I sit in front of my laptop, not really knowing what to write for Journey Through the Psalms Friday. I had planned to write about how the Lord Jesus had shown His marvellous light to the youth who had come to the Jesus Miracle Youth Crusade Freedom Concert with so much expectations in their hearts. They had heeded the call and humbly come, hundreds of them. And the Lord Jesus did not fail them. Yes, gloriously He shone forth to the hearts and souls of these young people and filled them with His love, forgiveness, and Spirit. He filled me, too.

I wanted to write about all that, but today, the Spirit seemed to be leading me to a different path. Just a few hours ago, I felt so weary and my spirit was down. Husband and kids had gone to the Planetarium and Robot Zoo, a trip which I planned, and as usual, I was home alone with the maid. I baked chocolate cookies but they didn’t come out as expected. I just wanted to cry, not just because I was left alone neither because the flourless cookies turned out to be one messy, sticky heap. I know it is something more.

Restore us, O God;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved! (Psalm 80:3)

I had thought the straying youth needed this – for God to shine on them so that they will be saved. But I realized that I needed Him to shine on me just as much as the youth did. I had been wanting and earnestly working to be freed from all personal desires and wants and dreams and plans – to die to all these – and just desire God and what He wants for my life. I need His love to complete what’s lacking in me, specifically my love. Without Him expanding, deepening, growing my love, I am just a miserable woman fighting her own daily battles and barely winning.

Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
Look down from heaven and see,
And visit this vine. (v. 14)

They arrive. The kids run to me saying, “Thank you, Mom”. Then I know what’s filling my soul with sadness: I just want to let my life be a pleasing offering to God who gave me everything I own. I just want to let go of all the thoughts about self – unrealized dreams, unwell body – and be an unwavering light to these young people; show and give them Christ by how I live Him.

Cause your face to shine on thine servant, O God! Strip me off of all that offend and clothe me with thine righteousness and kindness.

The tears fall. I hope that I have touched heaven’s throne of grace.

A Deeper Understanding of “Resting in the Lord”

I had been reading Christian books and devotional blogs mentioning the oft-quoted phrase “rest in the Lord”, but it was just very recently that I had a real grasp of it. I mean, it is easy to say it but what does “rest in the Lord” really mean? After the truth has sunk in my soul, I realized that “resting in the Lord” could feel very risky and scary. These are the things involved: risk and fear. That’s because we had been taught to rely on visible things rather than on the invisible God. But to truly rest in the Lord is to spurn these, to let go of these in exchange of plunging oneself at the feet of God, trusting completely in His mercy.

I don’t know how deep or trying your reason to choose to rest in the Lord is, but as for me, I took inventory of the years that I “rested in the Lord”, and I came to realize that to truly rest in the Lord is to believe that He can help, save, and deliver in the MOST urgent need. It involves a REAL belief, so real you could almost touch and taste it. That kind of belief is the seat of trust.

Because you truly believe, then you can trust, and therefore, you can rest.

There is no true rest when there is a shadow of doubt in your belief of a true and living God, a breathing, seeing, moving, fast-acting God – an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God.

I had wrestled with death not just a few times, and I remember my beloved husband offering to bring me to the hospital or buy me an oxygen tank at least. It was truly scary but I had always chosen to rest in God instead during those fear-filled walks through the valley of the shadow of death. I believed that the commotion that would be brought about by calling an ambulance, transferring me into it, the nurses milling about, the panic, the anxiety-filled trip to the hospital and then the hustle and bustle of the emergency room would be more than enough to stop my breath altogether.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, emphasis added)

So, I always chose to rest in God, keeping my body as still as I could as I trusted in Him to save me, to deliver me to the next breath and heartbeat and to the next, until He brings recovery. I would keep still as an electric fan blew hard on my face, thinking hard about the Lord Jesus. When things were better, I even sang praises in my mind. He is a VERY PRESENT HELP in times of great need.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

And though the flesh is weak and perishes, there is rest for the soul (Mat. 11:29). That is what resting in the Lord brings – rest for the soul.

When illness, suffering, difficulties, anguish, confusion, fear, weakness, worry overwhelm, I rest in His Word. His Word enlightens me, strengthens and comforts me. The Word is God (John 1:1).

To rest in God is His will for us. To be still in His presence and be confident in Him and His power are what He truly wants us to be. He has counselled us about this long time ago, that when we rest in Him, He will save and strengthen us (Is. 30:15). But the world had taught us to run elsewhere to get help. We had learned to rely on tangible things to quieten our souls and momentarily bring peace to our minds, not quite grasping the truth about God and what He is able to do. For with God all things are possible. (Mark 10:27)

Friend, are you looking for rest for your weary soul? Rest for your sick body or unquiet mind? The Lord Jesus is bidding you. He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mat. 10:28)

Photo courtesy of my friend Myriss Torres.
I’m linked up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Working Out Our Most Important Relationship

When I read that part where the Apostle Paul told the Philippians to “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12), I didn’t really understand then what it entailed. I didn’t know how to do it in a deep sense, in a very personal level. I heard a preacher in our Church exhort about it in general terms, likening our salvation with that of a precious gift, and doing our very best to hold on to it, to not let it be snatched away by the enemy. I understood that we should not be complacent but always be watchful.

Then I read what Ms. Darlene Zschech had briefly written (I think on the back of one of her CDs?), “Just work out your relationship with Jesus.” It stuck with me. For that was at a time when I was struggling to understand what was happening with my life, straining to see the light amidst the fiery trials. When you’re tested to the uttermost, you want to have at least an understanding of what is happening, where your life is leading to, if God is even with you.

Working out our own salvation as Apostle Paul implores us means as much as working out our relationship with our Redeemer. It is synonymous. When we received our salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, we entered into a relationship with Him. Our salvation then can never be apart from our relationship with Him. When we work out our relationship with our Savior King, we are working out our own salvation. (Even the quality of our other relationships is determined by how healthy or poor our relationship with the Lord Jesus is).

Why is there a need? I believe all of us who received the Lord Jesus and His salvation have experienced the struggle to maintain a fervent, faithful, and trusting relationship with Him in varying degrees. This struggle is most felt during a hard and prolonged trial. In my case, it was a combination of physical, mental and emotional suffering compounded with problems and challenges in our company and household, spelling out a F-I-E-R-Y | T-R-I-A-L no less.

During that long chilly season, my relationship with my Savior was one which ebbed and flowed, now and then marred with doubts and fears, and threatened by feelings of sullenness, discontent, disheartenment, bitterness, and a few times, even silent rebellion. It was like you want to confront the One who has control of it all and know why. Why? You just want to know why.

It was during this time that I got so intimately acquainted with Job. Talk about being kindred spirits by going through physical suffering and the mental and emotional anguish it brought. Oh friends, I know how it was to live between life and death everyday. Job wanted a confrontation with God so much; He longed to understand the meaning behind all his suffering. Oh, how I had echoed Job’s laments!

There were times that I wanted to go far away from Him just to let Him know that I was hurt by His seeming indifference. Yes, I had struggled with my relationship with my Redeemer King: sulking and having a pity party one minute, then running to His arms the next. There was battle of wills: His and mine. Why doesn’t the Lord just heal me so I can continue to manage our company seeing my husband grapples with the intricacies of a chemicals company? That was just one of my questions in the early years.

There is a struggle because our own will and wants, motivated by our own limited understanding, clash with God’s will, His thoughts and ways. Although we were called to a personal relationship with Jesus our Savior, calling Him our best friend, He is still God and there is a need for us to surrender to Him – completely. To yield ourselves to Him in total abandon.

I have learned that during trials, our relationship with our Lord Jesus is tested and threatened. Faith, trust, hope, steadfast love – all these that weave the threads of the tapestry of our relationship with Him become most vulnerable. It is during these times then that we really get to work. Work out our relationship with Him. How?

One of the keys is to know Him more. In the early part of my fiery trial and my relationship with the Lord Jesus was precariously tested (well, that was as far as I knew with my limited view of the bigger thing, but it definitely wasn’t the same with Him; He was holding me steadfastly all the time and never letting go, but I didn’t know that), my constant prayer was to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).

We can know Him more by spending much of our time reading and meditating on His Word.

Another way is to draw ever nearer to Him; seek His powerful presence through worship. My favorite worship song during this time was Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer by Keith and Kristyn Getty.

Do you struggle in your faith walk? Continue to work out your relationship with the Lord Jesus. This is one relationship that has utmost importance to us. He is our Bridegroom, we are His Bride. We look forward to His coming when we’ll be forever with Him.

Additional reading: First Love

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My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • One whole week without maids; it was like a holiday for our family and the peace, joy and intimacy it brought were priceless.
  • Singing praises with heart full of faith and fervent love for the Lord bringing a gush of hot tears as Tim struggled to breathe due to asthma-like cough.
  • A fruit gift basket with a beautiful card.
  • Eating bunches of lanzones with family.
  • My vegetable garden coming to life now.
  • Pretty boxed cards, good pens collection, new friends, and lovely written words
I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.