Stuck in the Wilderness on the Way to the Promised Land

Around and around and around they went. They weren’t riding on a carousel, but they sure were stuck in a limbo.

I can see it in my head: the Israelites who were taken out of Egypt refused to allow God to take Egypt out of their hearts and so a journey that was supposed to take only 11 days took them a whole 40 years. They were walking around the same old mountains and the same old obstacles with the same old grumbling, the same old entitlement, and the same old bitterness.

Although, when you think about it, doesn’t that metaphorically represent a lot of us these days? 40 years later and it’s the same old anger, the same old gossip, the same old slander, the same old lust, the same old unbelief – the same old issue. And because we’re going around the same old circles, we end up being stuck in the same old place.

I’ve always liked telling people that we’re all in the process, but the reason why it’s a process is because it’s supposed to get us to the promise. The problem is that these days, we tend to romanticize the process and what we could journey in 11 days would end up taking us 40 years if we’re not careful. Most of us seem to have forgotten that the Lord brought us out of our own personal Egypts because He wants to bring us into our promised lands. We were never meant to be stuck in the wilderness. The last thing we want to do is miss out on God’s promises because of our preferences. If we want to move forward, we have to let Him take the Egypts out of our hearts. We cannot continue on being the same old us.

And we have to understand, us attending church and doing ministry doesn’t mean we are already in our promised lands. There’s so much more to it than that. Think about it: these people were journeying with the ark of the covenant. The presence of God was right there with them. They even had the provision of God as they were sent manna every single day without fail and none of the clothes and shoes they were wearing ever ran thin. But still, even then, they didn’t get to enter the promised land.

I will put it this way: you may be around the presence of God and you may have the provision of God, but that does not mean you are in the promise of God. He is kind and gracious and He will give you enough just to get by where you are at but goodness, He has so much more for you than that.

Do not think that just because you have come out from where you were that you are already where you need to be. It’s not enough that you are delivered from Egypt, you would want to experience the freedom of the promised land. That usually entails a journey through the wilderness – and you’d be surprised how comfortable you can get there.

We like to tell ourselves that we can stay in a certain place for as long as we want to and to take our sweet time walking through our issues, but the apostle Paul tells us this:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”
-Hebrews 12:1-2a

Let. Us. See, here’s the thing. It is completely within your realm of capability not to let your fingers type out that website and not to let your eyes feast on what is being shown on your screen. It is completely within your realm of capability to stop replying to that boy that has been flirting with your emotions all year long. It is completely within your realm of capability to bite your tongue and control the words that go out of your mouth. You, even more empowered by the grace of God, can throw off the sin that so easily entangles.

And the truth is, more often than not you’re going to have to keep on throwing all these things off day in and day out because they’ll go creeping back up on you. That’s fine, as long as you keep throwing them off each and every time until they no longer have a hold on you.

After the generation of Moses died without stepping into the promised land, Joshua was commanded to circumcise all the Israelites. Why? Because they had to be consecrated before the Lord, and consecration usually means there has to be a major cutting off. It was painful, and they stayed there until they recovered, but they marched straight on after they healed.

In the same way, God will cut off certain things in our lives and we have to let Him. To enter the promised land, there has to be a circumcision in our hearts – it’s the whole point of the wilderness! And we will be given time to heal, but I reiterate: we cannot stay in that place longer than we should. Paul said we were to run (not stroll) after all.

Some of us are being told to wait on the Lord and that’s completely fine. It’s one thing to wait for God to give you the promise and another for Him to wait for you to get the promise. I’m talking to the people who are in the latter category.

If you’re in a place right now that is complacent, if you feel like you have reached a plateau, then maybe there’s something that needs to be done.

When the Israelites were walking into the promised land, they ran into a wall. Not a figurative one, but a very literal one. History tells us that the wall of Jericho was 34 inches thick and so fortified that no one came in and no one came out.

I’m pretty sure this has happened to a lot of us when we were on our way to our own personal promised lands. The things that should have happened did not happen and we got hit by a wall. This is the point people shake their fists at God, hurl their disappointments over failed expectations at Him, and some just walk away.

But Joshua did not walk away. Rather, he came to the Lord and was given instructions that did not make sense; instructions that seemed like they had completely nothing to do with the breakthrough they were waiting for. So even if they felt silly and did not understand, they obeyed anyway. Every day, they walked and did their laps around the wall in complete silence – because nothing speaks louder than faithfulness even when things are not going your way.

And after 7 days, the walls came crashing down and the Israelites took hold of the territory God had for them. Before they did, they rescued a prostitute named Rahab, who hid their spies, and her family. Rahab then became the mother of Boaz, who was the grandfather of Jesse, who was the father of King David. They may not have known it, but their small acts of obedience in the moment set the story up for the generations that were to come after.

That and they finally got their promised land.

It’s amazing to see how we don’t just fight to get to the promised land for ourselves, but we also do it for the world around us. In stepping into your destiny, you place yourself in a position that would help others step into theirs.

And while I could tell you that it doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as you get out of there, I wouldn’t. The time it takes for you to get there actually matters. I pray that you never overstay a season – not for a single second – and may you fight for and step into all your promised lands.

We don’t want to rush on ahead, but we don’t want to fall behind either.

When It’s Hard to Let Go

“Why did you even let the relationship go on for as long as it did?”

I looked my friend right in the eye and refused to budge my line of questioning. Here was a man who fell in love with a lady he knew from the beginning wasn’t the one God had for him. He dove headfirst into the relationship, ignoring what he told me were frequent nudges from God telling him to let it go.

With a shrug, he met my gaze and said as frankly as he could, “I just gave in to my desires and before I knew it, I was in too deep.”

Just several weeks ago, I talked to a woman who knew she had to get out of a relationship and yet she couldn’t quite bring herself to. My heart broke for her because I knew exactly what it felt like to be in that position. Sure, this is a story I’ve heard from plenty of other people time and time again, but this is also a story I myself knew very well. I’m well acquainted with the turmoil that comes with knowing you need to let someone go and yet not wanting to.

I remember coming to the Lord and telling Him,

“I can handle breaking my heart over this. What I can’t handle is breaking his heart.”

The reply came immediately, quiet but certain.

“Would you rather break My heart then?”

So I chose to break his heart since what I truly can’t handle is breaking His heart. But while people at the time were highlighting the strength to obey as swiftly as I did, they didn’t see the plethora of emotions surrounding that decision nor did they witness the horrid mess that I was afterward.

The Lord had to deal with several fears in my heart, fears that may be hindering you from letting go of the person you know you’re supposed to as well:

1. Fear of hurting the other person

When you really care for someone, this fear supersedes your fear of hurting yourself. I know people who end up staying in a relationship for many months more simply because of this reason and while it may seem like a compassionate move, it always ends up hurting the other party even more in the end because he would have invested more time and emotion by then.

Let’s be completely honest here: there’s no way to break up with someone that will make him feel happy and fuzzy about it. It’s always going to hurt. So when you know it has to be done, just do it. You’re also robbing him of the opportunity of meeting the person you know is the one for him. This may be hard to stomach in the moment, but if your hesitations are really out of love for him, then you would want to serve him better by letting him go. It may be that the most loving thing you can do for him is to break up with him.

The world may have taught us that love means grasping on to something as tight as we can, but we have now found a love who would hold on to us. We can let it go.

2. “I won’t find someone like him again. I’ll never love anyone else the way I loved him.”

It sounds a tad melodramatic typed out like that, but this is a thought that is very common and very real. In actuality though, this is just an emotion that says it is the first time you’ve been this attached to a person. It doesn’t mean it will be the last nor does it mean you won’t find something deeper than that.

If I were being transparent, I would admit that it took me years to stop subconsciously comparing the men I meet with him. But eventually, I did. And I realized that I would never find someone like him because there is only one him and I don’t really want another him because there’s a reason the relationship didn’t work out in the first place. Now, I get to be found by Someone whom I love so much more.

3. Fear of being alone

The transition between talking to someone every single day to not talking at all is always very abrupt and it takes quite a while to get used to. The loneliness that hits afterward is understandable, but we don’t have to stay there.

The good thing is that more than having a good support system walk with you through it, the Lord doesn’t have qualms in proving that He is close to the broken-hearted. The intimacy I had with Him during that season of my life tasted much sweeter than the seasons before. In fact, sometimes I go back and revel in all the memories wherein He made sure that I never felt alone.

You may fear of losing the feeling of being loved but you are never not loved, not for a single second. And it is when you let that relationship go that you will experience a Love far greater than anything else you have ever known.

4. Fear of regret

Regret is such a tricky thing to deal with. See, there are two regrets that frequently arise from this kind of situation: regret of letting him go or regret of dating him in the first place.

There is always the could-haves and should-haves haunting us down and leaving us sleepless at nights. But reality is, things are as they are now. There is nothing we can do to change what we have done and the only way now is to move forward.

If you’ve made mistakes in the relationship before, then begin by doing what is right. If you’ve crossed physical lines, take action to be pure. If the relationship dishonors your parents, then make the decision to honor them. If there has been lies and deceit, then come clean.

God works for the good of those who love Him and we know that those who love Him follow His will. Trust that as you go with His plan for your life, God will be the One to work the story out into a testimony that brings Him glory.

Now, how do you know if the relationship is something that you should let go? I can’t quite give you a rundown of how to know. The truth is that you just know, but if I may kindly point out: the lack of peace in your heart should already be a tell-tale sign. Abuse, unhealthy patterns, and toxicity are also dead giveaways.

You may start to go on about making it work, and I am all about commitment, but here’s the thing: beloved, if the relationship is not of God, then it has already failed before it even got to begin. You don’t want to fight for something Jesus didn’t die for – and He died so you can have life to the full. Don’t be so consumed with holding on to what you think is good that you miss out on what God knows is best.

And when you do finally decide to let that person go, you need to stick with that decision. They do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and the first few months truly are the hardest. You would probably be tempted to go running back to him, but stop yourself. Surround yourself with people who will not let you to second-guess yourself. You missing him and thinking about him does not mean you need to be with him. It’s an indication of the past, not the future.

If he does go chasing you around and continues to contact you, then draw the line. Don’t feed off the attention he is showering you. Him missing you does not mean he is the one for you.

I say this with utmost care and concern. The longer you leave yourself out of God’s will, the more consequences there will be. Let’s be frank here. You may be happy with him and he may emotionally satisfy you temporarily, but to your core you know that something’s missing. You can try to convince yourself that everything’s great, but you know something’s not right. Your relationship with God most probably took a hit as well because you can barely face Him anymore, knowing what He will say.

Do you really want to spend more time stuck in that limbo? Paul reminds us to throw off everything that hinders and to run with perseverance. That means determination to push through even when it hurts and even if it feels like you’re crashing to the ground.

I cannot promise you that you won’t hit rock bottom, but if you do, know that He is right there with you – He is the Cornerstone after all. Rock bottom can even turn out to be the foundation on which you are rebuilt and remade.

The best thing to do is to lift it all up to God in prayer. And I don’t mean the “God-please-let-us-end-back-together-after-we-grow-separately” type of prayer. I mean the prayer that acknowledges His will; the prayer that asks for His will be done no matter what that may look like. It is when you consistently place yourself in a posture of surrender that the regret about the past and the anxiety about the future become pretty much non-existent.

You may want to stay within what is familiar and hesitate at the thought of an infinite amount of paths sprawling out in every direction; you may balk at the picture of a future without the one person you thought was sure to be there no matter what road you take. But my dear, when doubt keeps us safe where we are, faith brings us to the pinnacle of living.

Let your faith become really real during this season of your life. Faith without action is dead and letting go may be the action step you need to take. God promises that the future He has for us is full of hope and while all may seem bleak in the midst of the turmoil, we have to be certain of what we do not see. We may not be able to peer into the fullness of the future but we have the only Light we need.

Oh, and my story?

Well I lived to tell the tale.

Let’s Talk About Friendship

For the past few weeks, I’ve been pondering on why it’s so difficult to build true, soul relationships with other people. It’s difficult to start to begin with and eventually they become difficult to keep.

I’ve watched people come and go and I’ve watched friendships form and disintegrate. When I see this in my life and in the lives of the people around me, I can’t help but wonder why it has to be so hard. Why is there envy and strife even in friendships? Why do people gossip and take sides? Why can’t we all just love and support each other without turning it into a competition?

Is it even worth it to try anymore?

The Holy Spirit then started reminding me of certain memories.

Back in 2015, I was in Ilocos with my friends when the vacation turned into a battleground. I was prophesying over some and ended up being horrendously attacked by the enemy. When I was being beaten to the ground, the very friends I prayed for ended up being the ones covering for me.

When one of my friends confessed about being assaulted, in the midst of tears, pain and anger, we stood over her and bound everything that the enemy was bringing upon her. We ended the night singing songs of victory.

On one of our trips to Tagaytay, a birthday getaway turned into two straight nights of declaring healing over the lives of each other, bringing to light certain pains and hurts we have so long kept in the dark. Forgiveness was given and relationships were restored then and there.

Dozens of similar stories then started to pop in my head, because it was never just a one-time thing. This was something the fellowship lived and breathed and prayers were given without ever hesitating. These were friendships that went beyond shared hobbies and similar taste in music; these were friendships centered in Christ. We stood by each other through seasons and we fought for each other’s destinies and families.

When we said we had each other’s backs, we meant it life or death.

I see. That’s what makes it so difficult.

Because it was always powerful. Such relationships are powerful. It brings freedom and restoration and that is exactly why the enemy will do everything in his power to hinder and stop you from even wanting to try. He will have you turn on each other, get annoyed at one another, be too busy to even care. He will bring in doubt, impatience, slander, and anything else possible to break you apart. He will make you feel ignored, unwanted, dejected, and rejected so you keep your heart locked and safe, away from anyone who can make you feel the same again.

Look, it’s true that vulnerability is hard. It’s one thing to tell others how you are and it’s another to show your heart and open your life for them to see all the places you have yet to be holy. It’s absolutely frightening, especially for those that have experienced trusting others only to end up in betrayal and heartbreak.

And really, who hasn’t fought to open their heart up to someone only to find it pierced? Who hasn’t watched their friends turn into the mob and the jury, yelling accusations and demanding crucifixion?

Jesus Himself was betrayed by Judas after all.

But while the scars are bound to remind you to be careful next time, we are reminded that Jesus gained the scars in His hands while hanging naked on a cross – uncovered and unmasked.

Love doesn’t really get any more vulnerable than that.

And we were meant to live as Christ did after all.

“This is my command: Love each other as I have loved you.”
-John 15:12

It may be easier to hide your heart away, but we were never meant to live the easy way.

My relationship with my best friend Belle is probably the longest one I’ve managed to maintain that remains to be just as close, and when you view 7 years in comparison to those who have been BFFs since birth, it doesn’t really sound like it’s anything of a feat. But personally, the fact that it made 7 years even as we lived in different regions and now different nations is nothing short of a miracle.

We didn’t even really get along at the beginning. We just knew that God was calling us into the friendship. And I think that’s the only reason it lasted this long: because we fought for it. We have had the most horrible of fights and conflicts, but we also knew we had to fight against falling out. We understood that we were called into the commitment of covenant friendship and that we have to be deliberate about it.

And I thank God for all the friendships I’ve gained through the years after that were just a deliberate and just as true.

Community isn’t just suddenly found. Community is fought for and forged. We can’t keep on having superficial conversations and polite formalities. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of shallow “how are yous.” It may mean that no one gets hurt, but no one gets set free either.

Look, it’s very possible to be part of a group of friends and yet not really be intimate with each other. It’s actually rather common to find a routine that keeps everyone from getting to that point of being close because eventually, no one would want to break the status quo. Spending a lot of time together does not mean truly knowing each other.

This is why we have to dust off our fears and swallow our pride. It’s okay to be the first one to express the desire to want to go deeper. It’s better to be the one who tries.

And we have to open our eyes to the people around us who are also trying.

Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 4 to bear with one another in love and to make every effort to maintain the unity in the Spirit. He wouldn’t have said that if it was easy. It will get messy – I can guarantee that. Such is what happens when imperfect people come together. But iron sharpens iron and it is only through such that our edges can smoothen out.

We are all works in progress. We are all going from glory to glory. And we are all here because of Christ and for Christ. That is enough to bind us together and to keep us holding on to each other.

We remember that the Bible reinforces that we need to not give up on each other; that we have to keep on forgiving and keep on giving.

And we’re going to – even if others don’t.

Because the truth is, we all want to be fully known. We all want to be fully loved.

And beloved, it’s impossible to be fully loved if you are not fully known. In the same way, be wiling to fully love and fully know.

It doesn’t have to be with everyone you know. In fact, it shouldn’t be. This is a step done not just in faith, but also in wisdom. Ask the Lord who He has called you to, know the people you could walk with, and then build from there.

It may just be the first step, but it will be worth it.

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul…”
-Acts 4:32

Fight for Your Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
– Proverbs 4:23

This verse has been preached a thousand times in a thousand different ways. But such are the joys of the Bible being living and active – there’s always something new to get from it every time.

Allow me to tackle this today in a different way.

I have recently gone through a process with the Lord wherein He took me to different places in my memories – memories that I somehow managed to forget were there. At first, I was apprehensive and tried to run away. I wasn’t quite ready to face where I was being taken and wanted to protect myself from the hurt that I knew was coming.

The Lord then had to talk me through it. “I’m not trying to break your heart. I’m trying to bind up your broken heart.”

I was confused because I was at a perfectly good place. At least, I thought I was. The Holy Spirit then kindly made me understand that there were issues I buried from years ago that I thought were already dealt with but in fact still had roots, and it was time to deal with them before they come back up rearing their heads. I really didn’t quite think they were worth paying attention to because the blows I took were not as horrible as others have received. However, we all break differently and such comparison of brokenness doesn’t invalidate the trauma.

There started a process that was painful, to say the least, but was also enlightening. You see, I thought I was protecting my heart by putting up walls and keeping it safe, but the truth is I was actually killing it.

We’ve taught ourselves to not talk about things of the past; to not think about things that hurt. We say what’s done is done, but does that really make it over?

There is constant talk about how the love of the Lord is like a soothing balm over our injuries and yes, that’s true. However, His love is also like disinfectant fiery over our wounds because His hands need to take the bullet out and stitch up the holes.

It hurts, but it’s necessary if we want to live.

If we want to really protect our hearts, then we have to stare all the painful memories right in the face and not look at away. We have to go back to those moments and bring the Lord with us.

It gets scary because we do have questions and regrets. “Why did I do that, how could I have been so stupid?” “Why did the Lord allow that to happen to me?” “Why is life unfair?”

And so it’s important to hold the Holy Spirit’s hand through all of it; we need to be aware of what He is saying about all the things we went through. We also need to be reminded of the fact that the enemy comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy. He is actively working day in and day out to snuff out your hope and your spirit.

It might sound threatening but reality is, he’s threatened of you. He’s scared of all the things that you could become and is terrified of you reflecting all of God’s goodness and glory. Therefore, he has set up a thousand situations to take you out and has placed a million lies in your head, telling you you’re not good enough, that you’re unwanted and a burden, that it’s all your fault and that it happened because you had it coming anyway.

But one quick look at the Bible will tell you that even before the Lord formed you in your mother’s womb, He knew you. While you were still a sinner, He died for you. And His heart is to bless you, heal you, and give you life that is lived to the full.

You’ve probably heard of conspiracies regarding the Illuminati and that they make agreements with the devil so they can have the life that they want. Making such transactions with Satan is not the only way to have an agreement with him. Each and every time you agree with his lies towards you and even towards others, you are entering into an agreement with him.

We have to cut ties with those lies. This is not just about having low esteem. This is spiritual assault at its finest and this is why we have been implored to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

Notice the term “take captive.” It’s a term that belongs to the vocabulary of soldiers and the military. This is because we are in a fight and we have to understand that trying to ignore the battle or deny the war does not mean we will be spared from it.

One of the common translations for one of the names of God “Jehovah Sabaoth” is “The Lord of Hosts.” The literal translation for this name is “The Lord of Angel Armies” and I like that a lot better. The Lord has been constantly accused of being a bystander, but He has been anything but. In fact, He has always been the frontliner, going forward as the sacrifice for the rest of the people.

We look at all the defeating blows humanity has received and point fingers because we have bought into the idea that we don’t have to fight because we have Jesus, but that is heresy and just another lie the enemy has managed to infiltrate in our culture. It’s like someone from the Navy saying, “I don’t need to fight, the Commander will do all of the fighting.” We have been called to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12) and to take up the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). We have to realize that we have been slated into this war and were never meant to play civilians; we were meant to be warriors.

A verse that I commonly hear being quoted completely on its own is Exodus 14:14. “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still” as Moses told the people of Israel. What people fail to pay attention to is the context of the verse, because in the next verse, the Lord told Moses “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”

You have a part to play. You have to keep moving forward. Don’t allow the enemy to belittle the things that the Lord has placed in your heart. Remember that Satan does not want you stepping into all that the Lord created you to be and will do anything to prevent that. He will try to break you down, discourage you, meet you with failure and dishearten you.

Wonder, love, grace, joy – the world wants to take it all away from you. Hell will fight you over what heaven has called you.

There will be doubts. You may be fronted with shame and judgment. Satan may even use people to mock you and look down on you, but don’t lose heart. Think of Joseph’s brothers and how they were so threatened of Joseph that they plotted to kill him. If you’re in that situation, know that it only cements the fact that there is a good future waiting for you and that if you push through, there is glory to come.

“So, it becomes the devils business to keep the Christian’s spirit imprisoned. He knows that the believing and justified Christian has been raised up out of the grave of his sins and trespasses. From that point on, Satan works that much harder to keep us bound and gagged, actually imprisoned in our own grave clothes. He knows that if we continue in this kind of bondage, we will never be able to claim our rightful spiritual heritage. He knows also that while we continue bound in this kind of enslavement we are not much better off than when we were spiritually dead.
We must face up to the issues and attitudes and doubts which constitute our fears, that keep us from being happy and victorious Christians with the true liberty of the children of God. We seem to quake about many things. In the first place, are you still afraid of your past sins? God knows that sin is a terrible thing?and the devil knows it, too. So he follows us around and as long as we will permit it, he will taunt us about our past sins.”
-A. W. Tozer

This also helps us be sensitive to the fact that everyone has their own battles. So be kind, be gracious, and love one another as Christ has loved you. Stand together in prayer and hold the ropes for each other. The Lord knows we all need it.

Don’t be afraid to bring to light all that you’ve hidden in the shadows. Don’t put your heart under a shade and hide it away. Don’t buy into the lies of false humility and shame.

Allow everything in your heart to shine and break through. If we truly want to protect our hearts, then we fight to keep them the way the Lord designed them to be – loving, selfless, brave, and free.

“As for myself, I have learned to talk back to him on this score. I say, “Yes, Devil, sin is terrible-but I remind you that I got it from you! And I remind you, Devil, that everything good -forgiveness and cleansing and blessing- everything that is good I have freely received from Jesus Christ!” Everything that is bad and that is against me I got from the devil -so why should he have the effrontery and the brass to argue with me about it? Yet he will do it because he is the devil, and he is committed to keeping God’s children shut up in a little cage, their wings clipped so that they can never fly!”
-A. W. Tozer

When I Say I’m Praying for [him]

I say a prayer every time I think of you. Every. Single. Time.

I pray that you’re allowing what the Lord is doing in you during this season.

That you are completely yielded to the Holy Spirit and where He is leading you.

That you are fruitful and growing in wherever you are, whatever you are doing.

I pray for you.

I don’t pray about us.

I do tell the Lord about what I feel for you and openly express my desire to be with you, but I do not want to nag heaven with cries and petitions of what I want and how I want you.

Not that doing so is wrong, but then is it really right? Am I even truly praying for you if my intentions revolve around me?

I refuse to highlight what I want and how I feel, no matter how incredibly tempting it is for me to do so. The last thing I want is to make this journey of praying for you about me.

If I’m going to passionately bombard heaven with relentless prayers about you, I might as well make them into prayers that are actually, well, for you.

For your benefit and for your good and for His glory in your story.

Whether that story includes me or not begs to be seen, but that doesn’t change a thing.

I choose to pray not with palms clasped tight but with arms open wide.

More than anything else, I pray for His will to come to pass in every area of your life.

I pray to see His glory shine ever brighter in and through who you are and who He is making you to be.

I pray that you live a life of His best; even if that means it’s a life that does not include me.

I don’t pray that you’ll be mine. Just that you’d be His.

Fairytales

We live in a fairytale world of wonder and tragedy, where darkness is pitted against starlight and battles between good and evil happen everyday. Every day is a fight between love and hate, joy and despair, life and death.

Every day is a fight to hope.

Yet for all the twists and turns, for all the pain and tears, we know how fairytales end. Like little children at the edge of our seats, we anticipate what is to come. Marked by a battle between the hero and the villain, fighting to win the heart and life of the Bride, we are expectant. The Hero always emerges triumphant.

The tension is this: our fairytale didn’t happen once upon a time. It started from the beginning of time and it is happening still. We are not anymore in Eden. We are not twirling in a world of roses, sparkles all around. We are smackdab in the middle of the drama and the chaos, living in a warzone where there is a violent clash of swords and kingdoms. And so we anticipate the horrible and never embrace the beautiful long enough because we’re waiting for the clock to strike midnight, somehow convinced that every wonderful thing we hold right now is bound to be taken away.

But even when the magic fades, even when the evil villains reappear and it seems like they are winning, we can get our hopes up. For when it seems like all is lost, the Prince comes in h
His white horse, ready to save the day.

No matter how many more pages it takes, we know how the story ends. We know who truly wins. We know how it goes.

Happily ever after. Until then, the story is not over. Until then, it is not the end.

“I am concerned with a certain way of looking at life, which was created in me by fairytales, but has since been ratified by the mere facts.”
-G. K. Cherston

Originally posted on Instagram – Nov. 18, 2017. Modified.

How to Pursue Your Boaz (Like Ruth Did!)

Is there anyone here not familiar with the story of Ruth? So often cited in Christian circles as justification why women can make the first move, we look at her story with profound interest. I’ve always been intrigued by the lives of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus and every time, I find myself thoroughly enjoying the way they were, in their own ways, rather scandalous.

Every year starting December 1, I re-visit the stories of the people part of Jesus’ ancestry and so once again dwelled on the story of Ruth. I thought of her as scandalous in the sense that she went and “made the first move”, which I figured was acceptable in their context and culture, but I came to see that things went much deeper than that.

The overarching theme of Ruth was Naomi’s bitterness turning into joy as she saw God redeem her and her family. Ruth’s story is that of an outsider being taken in and shown love and mercy. It’s much more of a testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness than anything else.

Don’t we all want our love stories to look like that? Here’s how Ruth got it right.

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
-Ruth 1:16-18

Upon closer inspection, we could see that Ruth was anything but the take-control, aggressive woman we made her out to be. All throughout her book, we could only see one thing she was determined about: going where Naomi would go. In fact, it was when she was eligible to get married to younger, richer men that she decided to leave everything behind and follow wherever the Lord, through Naomi, would lead her and call her to. She basically gave up her right to live her life the way she wanted to.

Forgive me for saying this, but we have become a culture so obsessed with self. Instead of looking at our singlehood as an opportunity to serve, we see it as a time to focus on self.

I’m not saying that self-development and discovery is wrong in any way, but while we’re busy bemoaning our relationship status, complaining about the lack of available men, and scrolling through social media sites, children out there are dying of starvation, women are being sold and prostituted, and families are broken apart by sickness and poverty. We are present at every singles get-together and retreat, yet we wouldn’t even sacrifice a couple of hours to be of service to other people.

And then we have Ruth, who laid all of her to serve the person entrusted to her.

She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” She gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.
–Ruth 2:7, 17-18

From the very beginning, her intention and her service was for her mother-in-law. Every decision that she made from the time her husband died was not to her own advantage. In fact, she basically shunned the thought of marriage and prioritized working and providing for Naomi. Her desire was not for herself. Naomi then had to be the one to convince her to get back in the game again.

And even then Ruth in her humility responded,

“All that you say I will do” (Ruth 3:5).

I think one thing a lot of us overlook is that when Ruth approached Boaz, she didn’t do so because he was the one she desired or because he paid attention to her. She did so because he was her kinsman and culturally, one of the few people who can redeem her family lineage and legacy. She did not do so out of her own volition, she did so out of submission.

Her act of going to Boaz did not speak “I like you Boaz so please marry me” as most of us would interpret it. What she was truly saying was, “In order to redeem the family name of Naomi, I am willing to be a living sacrifice and thus offer myself as your wife.”

Ladies, let’s be completely honest here. We all want to be in a relationship, but how many of us are ready to offer ourselves like that? And if we wouldn’t even let God refine our hearts to get to that point, then why bother magnifying your desire for a guy in the first place?

At one point or another, you have probably come across a Jim/Elisabeth Elliot quote, but I love this one certain line from a letter before they got married:

“Let not our longing slay our appetite for living.”

We’re all always longing for something. Love. Relationships. Family. Peace. Provision. Security. Health. Beauty. Purpose. We’re all longing – each and every one of us. Yet all of these must not in any way hinder us from living; from embracing and thriving where we are now, with what we have now.

I’ve talked to countless women who said they were praying to end up with a godly guy, only to find out 5 sentences later that they’re doing so in the throng of bars, speed-dating, and matchmaking sites. I’ve had single women older than me come up to me and ask me to write about how we live in a generation where men are afraid of commitment and pursuit, more so than any other generation before.

And I’m not going to deny the statistics. The trend goes far beyond the romance department. Working for the ministry, high on the list of our greatest, most pressing needs are male missionaries who would be willing to go places and spearhead certain pursuits. We have a huge pool of women volunteering themselves to go to the most dangerous of places because there is such a lack of men willing to rise up. (While I would love to discuss that in length, this isn’t quite the place or post to do so).

Either way, I believe that this does not at all hinder God’s stories for His children. Our frustration does not in any way give us the right to grab the pen from God’s hands and try to overwrite what He has already spoken. The fact that the cute office-mate you have is brave enough to pursue you does not change the fact that he’s not a follower of Christ. You being convinced that it’s your season to be in a relationship does not mean that you’re right.

If God wanted you married by now, then He would have found a way to bring a man into your life by now. It would certainly entail obedience from both sides, but He is more than capable of using the most unlikely of circumstances to, at the very least, get things moving. He managed to bring Eve to Adam when Adam didn’t even know someone like her existed after all.

The thing about the book of Ruth was that there was no angel visitation or apparent supernatural manifestation but her seemingly ordinary life was marked with divine orchestration – all started by her humble act of submission and catapulted by her obedience. Ruth did not just happen to end up in Boaz’s field, where he took notice of her, and it was no coincidence that he was her kinsman redeemer. It was all God, moving behind the scenes all along.

God writes the best stories, but only if you allow Him to hold the pen.

So if you really want to pattern out the way you approach your love life according to Ruth, then here’s how you can start:

Yield. Surrender. Obey.

The 2018 New Year Post

Prayer and fasting week just ended yesterday and I was pondering on how God answered all my prayers from the previous year – and how, in a sense, He didn’t.

My ultimate prayer has always been that His will be done in my life, followed by bullet points of specific wants and requests that I have. All bullet points for 2017 were answered, some with a yes, some with a no, some with a few modifications in between. But one thing’s for sure, His will prevailed and with that, I couldn’t really ask for more.

I think everyone who reads this blog knows how I always thought I would have been married by the time I’m 21. Not that I prayed for it last year, but hey. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Instead, I got the job I never knew I wanted, am living alone for the first time in my life and discovering more of what I actually want to do.

And I have just one thought: I’m really, really glad I didn’t get married at 21.

(I’m pretty sure my parents are too).

How gracious is He, to withhold the things we think we want so we can have the things we would truly want in the end. I’m glad I didn’t get everything I ever asked for, because then He gets to give me so much more.

So sure, I have my list this year. In fact, I was specific and very particular about my requests, and I have faith that they would come to pass.

But if they don’t, I have faith that He will give what’s better.

For our faith is anchored on Him, whose kindness and goodness is immeasurable. Our hope is in Him who knows and has the best for us.

I’ve seen Him put to death my greatest dreams and I’ve seen Him resurrect them in ways I never dared imagine. He can do it again as much as He wants to. I can die to myself, over and over and over, because then I get to experience Him breathing life in me again.

I have completely no clue what’s going to happen this year, but I know that someday when I look back, I’m going to be glad things were the way they were. For this we know: God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

In His will, there’s absolutely nothing to fear. The anxiety of uncertainty may try to come at you, but God’s already got you. You can surrender, you can let go, you can trust.

We can lose our control as long as we know that God has it all under control.

I am fully convinced that God wants the best for us more than we could ever want it for ourselves. If that’s the case, then how can it ever not turn out okay?

So, 2018, are you ready for what God’s going to do? I know I am.

Sabi Nila, Wag Umasa

Sabi nila wag ako masyadong umasa
kasi wala naman talagang kakapitan,
ano nga naman ang pwedeng panghawakan.

Sabi nila wag ako masyadong umasa
kasi sakit ang kahihinatnan
at ayaw lang naman nila ako makitang masaktan.

Sabi nila wag ako masyadong umasa.
Siguro, kung aasa, yung konti lang,
yung sakto lang,
yung naglalaro sa linya, sa palagitnaan,
yung sasabihing naniniwala ngunit sa katunayan nakahanda na kabiguan ang kalabasan
sapagkat ang Dios ay marahil na hindi ako pagbibigyan.

Siguro, di nila maintindihan
na mas gusto ko maghintay nalang,
panandalian man o pang-matagalan,
kahit masakit, kahit nahihirapan
kaysa habambuhay magsisi na di man lang nanlaban,
di man lang nagbigay katiyakan at katibayan sa mga dasal na dinadala sa Dios na sinabi kong aking pinagkakatiwalaan.

Sabi nila wag ako masyadong umasa,
ngunit aasa ako,
buong-buo,
dahil alam kong walang imposible Sayo.

Ano nga ba ang pananampalataya kung hindi pagkatatag ng kalooban sa Siyang hindi nakikita na kayang ipagpatupad ang hindi pa nakikita?

At kung di man makuha ang inaasam,
magtitiwala ako na may mabuti Kang dahilan,
na importante parin yung proseso,
at na mas hihigit pa dito ang ibibigay Mo.

Kung di man makuha ang inaasahan,
aasa nalang muli,
sapagkat Ikaw ang pag-asa ko.

My Best Yes

I don’t really know what to say when people ask me where I’m at in my life right now so I simply answer,

“in between.”

But really, what does that even mean?

Earlier this year, God gave me a vision of being pulled out from where I was and being placed in a new land, accompanying the verse about Abraham. I received that word and said yes, completely. I told Him to hold my hand and pull me through, and I said He could push me if He had to. I asked Him to bring me out of my comfort zone and to make all things new.

You guys, this is the part where I say be careful what you ask for, because He really does answer prayers.

He did make all things new – in every way possible. In fact, He wiped the slate clean. Soon enough, I found myself smack-dab in a place where everything’s quite literally out of my control. Things I thought I always knew about my life and myself suddenly became unsure. Anything and everyone that somehow represented a form of my comfort zone, God asked me to release. To say that this season is nothing like I thought it would look like would be a huge understatement.

I quickly realized that I had to say no to say yes. I had to say no to certain relationships, certain opportunities, and certain wants in order to say yes to what God was asking of me.

So as much as I joyfully embraced the adventure at the beginning, soon enough I struggled with the realities of it. I had so much difficulty with where I was that I had to frequently remind myself Whose I was. And when I approached Him with questions, He told me straight up,

“You asked for it.”

Seriously, be careful what you pray for.

But it wasn’t until I went back to the province for a 2-day visit that I grasped the intricacies of my pain.

A couple of hours before my scheduled trip back to the city, I was hanging out with some of the students and volunteers. My dad walked up to me to say an early goodbye because he had to take care of some things and he wasn’t sure if he would see me before I left. The moment he did so, I started crying uncontrollably. None of them knew what to do, not even I. I was partly embarrassed because there were other people there, but I couldn’t stop myself. My dad took one look at me and knew.

“You don’t want to leave, ‘no? You don’t have to go. Just tell me if you want to stay. You can stay.”

The tears kept on coming, but I fell silent. I knew what I truly wanted.

“No. I have to go. I need to go.”

I wanted to stay, but I wanted God more.

I understood then the choice that I made three months before and decided that I wasn’t going to change my mind. I knew that even if I had to keep saying no to my plans, my timeline, my options, my comforts, I would choose this path all over again. I would say a million nos if that’s what it meant to give my full yes to Him.

It’s a trade-off, it always will be. The same way He traded the golden streets of heaven to die for me.

How can I not say yes to Him? How can I not choose to be faithful to Him, to what He has asked of me?

He is worth every shattered piece of my heart.
He is worth it all so He can tear me apart.

Even when it hurts, I choose to be faithful.
Even when it’s difficult, I choose to be faithful.
Even when I don’t understand, I choose to be faithful.
Even when it’s nothing like I planned, I choose to be faithful.

I can choose to be faithful because He is faithful.
I choose to be faithful because He is faithful.

I choose to be faithful, knowing He will prove Himself faithful.

I’m a natural planner, but now I have to let myself take it one day at a time. So each and every day, I go back to my original yes. I remind myself why I said yes in the first place. Then I say yes all over again.

And when I have difficulty with where I am, I remind myself Whose I am: I belong to a good Father and a great God who wants nothing but the best for me.

Yes, He is worth every shattered piece of my heart.
He is worth it all so He can tear me apart.
But let me not forget that He makes the broken beautiful.
Let me not forget that He loves me more.

I may not completely know where I’m at, but I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. I know I’m where God wants me. I know that He is molding me, shaping me, preparing me. And I’m pretty sure He’s in the process of writing one epic story.

We can be confident in this: that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).

For as it is written:
what no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived,
the things God has prepared for those who love Him.
-1 Corinthians 2:9