Every service will always start with worship. Music commences and instruments echo. For every drum beat, you hear your heart in harmony. With no cue or whatever, people will lift up their hands to give praise. When the final song is about to end, music will slowly fade out and as people sing the last few words of the lyrics, voices will be the only sound to fill the hall. Then in that moment, you just want to worship more. The feeling is overwhelming yet inexplicably light at the same time. For non-Christians, the whole scene is nothing but Exhibit A for ‘weird’.
I think it’s safe to say that I have Christianity as the blueprint of my childhood. In school, we had ‘Christian Living’ as an alternative to the more common subject, GMRC. I learned parables the same time I heard of fairy tales. I practically grew up in Bible verses and worship songs. But I never really understood the gravity of it all. They were just routines and school requirements back then. When I left for another school, I believe my spiritual growth became stagnant. Good life and achievements, “God you stay in the backseat, I got this.” Like He’s some sort of genie, I come to Him only when I need something. And more often than not, I fail to remember the part where I’m supposed to give thanks. But these past few years were none like the others. Family circumstances and personal failures are coming in one after the other, sometimes at once. Things happened beyond my understanding and without understanding, acceptance is twice as hard. For a time, though it’s shameful to admit, I doubted my faith, I doubted God. Worse, I almost gave up on it, on Him. “How come the non-Christians are even more ‘blessed’ while there I was, like failure’s favorite parking lot?” It was a test of faith and I sort of failed. Ah envy, I think I’m beginning to understand how you can be deadly. My faith used to be more focused on personal gains - material gains. “What’s in it for me to believe in God?” It was selfish and fruitless. I suppose it’s a common pitfall when we expect God to be man-centered when it has to be the other way around. We question His mercy when we had our ‘misfortunes’ or we doubt His existence in times of tragedy. But in times of provision, we say we just had a good stroke of luck. We often ask why bad things happen to good people but given how sinful we are, shouldn’t we be wondering as well why good things happen to us ‘bad’ people in the first place? That is when we’ll realize His goodness.
Then again, every day is a test of faith. As any Christian would say, “This has never been a lone race.” So I’ve been meaning to share. But besides the fact that it has always been the kind of topic that people shy away from, for me who finds a hard time even with day-to-day conversations, sharing something I’m just about sure I’ll be laughed at is quite a challenge. It actually sucks - to be mum whenever my beliefs are in question or when my practices appear nothing but empty actions. It’s frustrating not because I look stupid or like a religious freak of some sort but because in some moments, I feel like I fail to stand up for my God. Not that He needs some defending of course, but in my lack of words and confidence, I miss out on opportunities in ushering someone to Him, to change someone’s life. Because there’s so much more to Christianity than religion, church rules, traditions and good deeds. It’s about building a relationship with Him. It’s an endless process, a nonstop growth. You start or perhaps stop doing things not out of duty but of willingness to glorify Him. As it is natural for humans to be doubtful of change, it is not easy to muster up the courage that is on par with the transformation that entails giving up oneself. For “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17).” It’s a hard truth but this is the kind of change you would not want to miss. As one of the VCF pastors once said, from choices between good and bad, Christians move on to choices between what’s good and what’s better. Who wouldn’t want that?
I’ve been calling myself a Christian for so long. But now that I’ve met people who are very passionate about their faith and God, I realize I was kind of just branding myself and not really living, or at least experiencing, the Christian life in its entirety. But I believe God has started to change something in me, that 2013 is my turning point. His plans are unimaginable and definitely beyond my own and He surely works in ways I can never fathom. He’s the one who created me, I am in debt of Him but I sort of turned away and yet He still paid and bought me at such a high cost just to set me free. Just wow! How can I make sense of that? How am I ever worthy of that? Coming out of Victory Weekend yesterday, I feel blessed more than ever. But beyond being blessed, I feel empowered. A number of baggage had been laid down. Along with the cross, He carried all those weight for me. So I’ll just say, “Let Your will be done as I submit completely to You.” You have restored me. I know it’s not gonna be easy but here I am all set for You to refine me.
So after all, maybe everything wasn’t really a lesson for me to toughen up but to admit that I am weak before the Lord and to live apart from Him is just impossible. “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…’ (2 Cor. 12:9a)” I may not find a way out of everything but rest assured He’s in control. Good life awaits me but God did promise of troubles as well. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33).” He has overcome the world and with that, I am fully secured. The only way to go on is to put my trust on Him above my understanding. With what He did on the cross, victory is won. Today is a new start for a new direction under a new master. As I keep on this new devotion, I believe for a new life and new relationships. Hoping that as I honor Him, He’ll use me to make disciples as well. Lord use me for Your glory.
As I write the last few words of this post, let Your voice be the only sound to fill this room because in this moment, I want to worship more. I will lift up my hands to You and I don’t mind being Exhibit B for ‘weird’. Again, overwhelming yet inexplicably light at the same time. (*Breathe in…3,2,1, breathe out.* )
Disclaimer: First photo taken from Victory Makati’s Facebook page.
On my playlist earlier in the office was this podcast entitled “When Life Hurts Most” and I just have to share it. I suggest you follow the link and listen to it yourself but allow me to write here a part of Pastor Paolo Punzalan’s message where he’s also quoting Pastor Tony Campolo on one of his preaches.
It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming…
It was Friday and my Jesus is dead on the tree but that’s Friday, Sunday’s coming.
Friday, Mary’s crying her eyes out, the disciples are running in every direction like sheep without a shepherd, but that’s only Friday, Sunday’s coming.
Friday, Jesus was mocked and spit upon but that’s Friday, Sunday’s coming.
Friday, those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that had bits of bones and glass and metal tearing His flesh but that’s only Friday, Sunday’s coming.
Friday, the Son of Man stands firm as they pressed the crown of thorns down to his brow but that’s Friday, Sunday is coming.
Friday, Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying, but that’s only Friday because Sunday is coming.
Friday, Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying but that’s… just… Friday, Sunday is coming.
They don’t know Sunday’s coming.
Friday, some are looking at the world and saying, “As things have been, so they shall be. You can’t change nothing in this world.”
They didn’t know that it was only Friday… Sunday is coming.
Friday, them forces that oppress the poor and keep people down, them forces that destroy people, the forces are in control now. Them forces that are gonna rule, they don’t know that it’s only Friday. But Sunday’s coming.
Friday, people are saying that darkness is gonna rule the world, sadness is gonna be everywhere but they don’t know it’s only Friday, Sunday’s coming.
Even though this world is rotten as it is now, we know it’s only Friday but Sunday is coming.
You see what’s on a Sunday? Sunday, Jesus defeated death. Jesus rose from the dead. With the same resurrection power, He is able to resurrect whatever dead is there in your life. You see, you’re going through something today but it’s only Friday, Sunday is coming… You are going through the deepest, darkest tunnel in your life, the rug’s been pulled from under you but let me tell you something, “It’s only Friday because Sunday is coming.” Whatever you’re going through today, it’s only Friday, Sunday is coming.
What a powerful message. You see, for every ‘Friday’ that may come, we can give up in two different ways, either we give up on God or we give up to God. Now you would not wanna go for the first one, I almost did before but thank God, He didn’t let go of me. The second one is our goal here - complete surrender to Him. His plans have been laid out but if we will not allow Him to work on us, everything is just a blueprint without a carpenter. For worry will take me nowhere, I hope to have this confidence that though it’s Friday today, Sunday is definitely coming.
I think no matter how old I get, I’ll never get tired of animated films. Wreck-it Ralph just brings so much from childhood :D