2017, Yesterday’s Tomorrow

Photo is mine. This was taken at the Hello Kitty Cafe in Singapore.

2017, I understand, has been a difficult year for most. While I am aware that a lot has suffered including most of my countrymen, I can say that 2017 has been quite a different story for me.

I almost didn’t want to publish this because it seemed insensitive to talk about all the beautiful flourishing things that happened to me last year while the rest of the world grieved and suffered. It is nearly February now. I shouldn’t be putting this anymore.

But I had to.

Only because I need to declare to all the world, even if no one listens to this, that God has sustained me, provided for everything I needed and wanted, has blessed me greatly, because He decided to prove to me who He said He is. It is my prayer that by declaring what God has done in my life, you would come to know Him too, and would want to experience Him also.

Travel and Fun

The first month of 2017, I had to be in Masbate. My beloved grandmother passed away in late December of 2016 so we had to be in Masbate for her funeral. She was one of the most intelligent persons I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing in my entire life. That’s why even when she passed away, we still decided to visit one of the most beautiful places there – Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary – after she has been put on her final resting place. My Lola was a woman of common sense. And it was our way of saying goodbye to her beautiful soul. It was like she was walking the white sandbar with us.

I remember talking to her about a certain guy the year before and the complexity of that situation. You would think she would judge me for all the mistakes I did, and have a go at me for all my stupidity. But she encouraged me all the more and told me, ‘Make sure you settle this in your heart, otherwise you will carry it for the rest of your life. ‘ And that was the greatest lesson I needed to hear and would guide me from that day on and I can now say, onwards.

By June, I was making plans to travel local & abroad. I prayed to God to bring me to Hong Kong, and that if it was okay with Him, I wanted all expenses paid. And by July, He allowed me to travel to Hong Kong with my Mom, all expenses paid. And not just that! He allowed us to visit Macau too! And that trip to Macau was the most fun I’ve had so far.

By the next month, I was attending a wedding in Palawan. Experienced one of the best restaurants in town and went to El Nido, Palawan! I’ve never been rich in life. I was a breadwinner of the family for the longest time. So El Nido, Palawan was one of those places I knew I could never afford. I grew up knowing that it was one of those places here in the Philippines that could be more expensive than traveling abroad. That has now been replaced by Batanes. But it happened. God made it happen.

September came and I found myself in Singapore. Still crying as I write this just remembering how God made everything possible for me last year.

Work and Fun

Before September ended, I found myself praying to God for a different career. Can you guess what happened next? I got two job offers that I knew would dramatically change my life. And they didn’t offer to just add a few hundreds on my pay check. They were offering way more than I ever thought they would. I was so overwhelmed by all these things.

You know how you pray so hard for the longest time all of these things you want in life, but then God tells you to do something else? He tells you to focus on this first. He directs you to go through this route first, and when you’ve done everything He needed you to do, suddenly He gives you everything and just so much more?

Psalm 91 has never been so true in my life than the past year.

“Because [she] holds fast to me in love, I will deliver [her] ; I will protect [her] , because [she] knows my name. When [she] calls to me, I will answer [her] ; I will be with [her] in trouble; I will rescue [her] and honor [her] . With long life I will satisfy [her] and show [her] my salvation.” Psalms 91:14‭-‬16 ESV

I had to insert the female pronouns there because it had been so personal to me.

My prayer for everyone of you is that you learn obedience to God no matter how hard things get. I can tell you that I’ve made this decision a long time ago. I found no other way to live my life than to live in obedience to Him. I wanted to be like Isaiah who knew how to raise not just his hand, but also his heart and will to God when He asked, ‘Who shall we send?’ foreshadowing what Jesus did on the cross. I can only pray and try my best to obey the way Jesus did.

Obey now and do not delay.

Obey. Obey because as the verse said, “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” Psalms 91:7 ESV

So the whole world can crash and burn, but if you make the Lord Most High your dwelling place, your comfort through out all the pain, suffering, confusion, and disappointment, then you will declare that He is your refuge and fortress. The God you can always trust. And He will never fail you. He will not let His holy one see decay (Psalm 16:10).

So by October, I finally have a new career. I finally got that much needed new work schedule. I finally got Friday afternoons and evenings spent with my family and friends. For the longest time in my life, I’ve not had that privilege. Finally got to experience the coffee shop I’ve been wanting to get to for the longest time. And now, I get to sit there and have the most perfect cup almost every single day. I get to go in a beautiful park and spend lovely quiet mornings there during my lunch break. Just like how I’ve always imagined my breaks will be.

By December, I had the opportunity of experiencing a real Christmas break. Something I never experienced in all the years I’ve been working. Two weeks. Break from work for two weeks. Two weeks! In December! And it’s a mandatory break! In my previous job, December has always been the busiest and the most difficult time to get some time off work. But now, it’s all different.

Fun, fun, fun.

During the Christmas break, I had a chance to explore La Union. I went surfing. I went grapepicking. Visited art galleries. Had fun walking around it’s beautiful landscape.

And as if that wasn’t enough, I even had a chance to go on a night out in Vigan –  one of, if not, the most beautifully preserved historical landmarks in my country!

Even on the very last day of the year, I was traveling and having tons of fun. 2016 was one of the most difficult years of my life — one of the most unbearable. But God saw me through. And He was so true to His promises.

God made 2017 my yesterday’s tomorrow. And for that, I am eternally grateful. And because God did that to my 2017, He made me look forward to 2018 in eager expectation. He is going to reveal something. I have a feeling He is already in the process of revealing it to me. He just knows me too well, and so wants to make sure I won’t spoil His surprise.

Have the greatest year this 2018, guys! Make sure you have all the God-approved fun this year!

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The Calling 

I was all packed and ready to leave, spiritually, that is.

Have you seen the movie, Doctor Strange? How about Casper, the friendly ghost? It kind of works that way. I was sitting in a coffee shop, reading my Bible while in the spiritual realm, I am all packed, ready for the long journey ahead, never to return.

“I’ve been enquiring about this but You’ve been very quiet. Why can’t I do it the way others did? These people don’t listen anyway. They don’t even know what they’ve done wrong and are not ready to identify it. All they know is they are righteous, and it was all my fault. They’re saying it as if I didn’t know anything.” I reasoned despondently.

He responded in a very calm, assuring, and relaxing tone, “His words were, ‘It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips.’ Or something to that effect (v.5)”

“Of course, when You put it that way then I have nothing more to say.” I said in surrender.

“I know.” He said, smiling.

And then suddenly, in my spirit, as if I’m surrounded by smoke as He uttered the words, “Angel, let me remind you…”

“You are one who has an abundance of divine knowledge and holy love because I made you so. You have wings which has been specifically designed for instructions to help others. You use your wings to cover you to show humility and great reverence in My presence (v.2). And you know that in the church, your wings, meaning you, are to cover those less honourable because they are the ones that needed great care. I have put the body together so that special care are given to those parts that have less dignity (1 Cor.12:23).”

“Angel, I have made you so that you may carry out that tasks I appointed you to do with cheerfulness and as quickly as I needed them done.”

“Forgive me, Father, for my sins.” I cried. “The impurity of our lips ought to be the grief of our souls, for by our words we shall be justified or condemned.”***

“I am afraid of Your displeasure, Father.” I declared.

“Angel, we asked ‘who will be willing to go on such a melancholy errand, on which they will go in the bitterness of their souls’ (Eze. 3:14)? You have been dismissed momentarily from attending on the throne of glory to be a messenger of My grace to a good man (v.6).”

“Remember that ‘those who are workers together with God are sinners and sufferers together’ with you. And that it is Christ’s work that put people in the ministry (1 Tim. 1:12).”

“Father, how long are things going to be this way?” I asked.

As He responded, I let go of every packed belongings and knelt down in humility and complete surrender; and in worship I sang with all my heart, “From death to life, I will sing Your praise, in the wonder of Your grace.”****

“From death to life and grace to grace, I am Your servant. Do with me as You please.”

****Interpretation of God’s words from the book of Isaiah chapter 6 on October 14, 2016.

****Worship song entitled Grace To Grace by Hillsong Worship, from Let There Be Light album.

***A Bible commentary