Sunday, June 24, 2012

Spring Cleaning of the Soul

There is no greater motivation to clean the house than having guests.  Housework is a challenge for me, though.  The washing machine and I don’t get along very well.  The Swiffer Wet Jet is my wrestling partner.  The iron is my mortal enemy (I push back the ironing so long that when I actually iron it feels like we just went shopping!)  Mr. Clean comes to our house for some much needed R&R in our new kitchen cabinet.  Dust bunnies raise large families all around the corners of our house.  At dinner time, alarms go off and a “Do NOT disturb” sign appears on my forehead warning that “disturbing” me comes at a great risk.   

Needless to say, I highly dislike housework.  Therefore, when a friend announced that a visit was long overdue I panicked.  This time, however, I decided to take the hysteria out of my now traditional, before-the-house-guests-arrive-desperate-attempt-to-whip-this-house-into-shape, cleaning experience.  I became pro-active and instead of procrastinating like I always do, I began the task one week before the arrival of my house guests.  I was determined to turn the whole thing into a, better-late-than-never-spring-cleaning type of experience. 

I stood in the middle of the messiest room and surveyed the damage.  I realized then that the biggest problem was the clutter.  Small bundles of junk piled up everywhere.  I looked at my desk and shuddered.  The U-shaped table represented a small microcosm of the entire situation.  I couldn’t even see the surface.  On one side, there was a collection of faded ATM receipts, junk mail and a random collection of discolored envelopes.  On the other side there were some electronics and books and yet on the other side it was paper galore.  There wasn’t even room for my feet to safely rest on the floor.  And of course, to achieve correct balance, there was the perfect mix of toys, shoes, bags and unrecognizable items evenly covered by a nice layer of dust sprinkled all around the place. 

The clutter strangled me.  It asphyxiated me.  I felt faint. 

Where did all these come from?  Why do I have it?  Do I really need all this junk?  Why did I ever let clutter take over my house/life? 

I let out a deep sigh and weighed my options.  I felt defeated before I even began. 

We are not supposed to live like this.  The Word is clear.  We are told not to, store up for ourselves treasures on earth, “where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6: 19-21)

However, I tend to often forget this truth.  I do store up stuff which inevitably ends up as moth food (I’m not sure what vermin is?).  I quickly realized that I indeed was long overdue for a better-late-than-never-spring cleaning of the soul. 

Unlike my house guests, the Lord, one glorious day, will show up un-announced.  There won’t be any time for cleaning.-not even for kicking stuff under the bed. 

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Matthew 24: 36) On that day, He will come “like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” (2 Peter 3: 10) And I certainly don’t want Him to find me chocking under my junk.

Thinking about all these helped me accept reality. I have to simplify and de-clutter my life.

How do I even begin to do that? I have no clue. One thing I do know, however, is that there isn’t any better motivation for cleaning one’s house than knowing that guests are coming. And since I know the most important guess of my life is coming un-announced and when I least expect Him, I better get busy!

A New Song

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.”  (Psalm 96:1)
This verse came to mind at worship today when I heard the missionary from Guatemala sing the familiar tunes of Christian singer/song writer Matt Redman in Spanish.

I have to say that The Lord has profoundly transformed me during the last decade; and I believe that His most useful tool to reach my disheveled heart has been praise and worship music.  Ever since the first time I became acquainted with the genre, God began to work in me, to change me.  I remember the night I came face to face with Christian music.  It was at an Alive Festival in the bowels of the Ohio farmlands about 8 years ago.  The Lord used the melancholic rock tunes of Third Day to pull at the strings of my heart with an intensity that permanently marked my soul.

He sure has never let go ever since.

I listen to praise and worship music exclusively now.  Bible verses flow freely in my car, out of my IPod and in my home all day long.  The melodious voices of all the popular contemporary Christian singers teach me the Word in song every time I listen to them, and for that I praise the Lord with all my soul.

Songs like “You Never Let Go” and “Blessed be the Name of the Lord,” by Matt Redman have been among my favorites right from the beginning.  I consider them “classics” in my repertoire.  But today, at worship, they became a “new song” to sing to the Most High as I heard them sang in my native language Spanish for the very first time.  

I never imagined the impact hearing those songs in Spanish would have in me.  But they truly became a “new song” skillfully performed by the Guatemalan missionary visiting our church, and for that I am most grateful.  The familiar words became fresh with the sounds of long ago.  The Lord turned the songs into living waters for my thirsty soul.

He sure put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to Him, our God. (Psalm 40:3)

Blessed be the name of the Lord…Blessed be His glorious name for He never lets us go.

Friday, June 22, 2012

May We Remain as One Nation Under God

On June 25, 1962, Engel v. Vitale was decided by the United States Supreme Court on an 8-1 vote.  On that day, the highest court of the land established that the reading of a nondenominational prayer at the start of the school day violates the "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment.  This was the first in a series of cases in which the Court used the establishment clause to eliminate religious activities of all sorts, which had traditionally been a part of public ceremonies. (ENGEL v. VITALE. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 21 June 2012. <>.)

Justice Potter Stewart, the one dissenting vote blasted the ruling saying, "It led not to true neutrality with respect to religion, but to the establishment of a religion of secularism."  (

Fifty years later my question is:  what kind of a society has emerged in the United States after kicking God out of our public schools?

I did not go to elementary, middle or high school here in the United States so I do not have any personal experience per se.  I wonder, however, if incidents brought to light a few days ago regarding a bus monitor for a school district in Illinois have anything to do with the Godlessness instituted in our public schools by our national government.

As I watched the terribly disturbing video of these young students insulting, in the worst possible ways, this hearing-impaired, elderly woman who works as their bus monitor, the cold chills of fear ran down my spine.  I cannot understand anybody being so vicious and mean to anyone, let alone to a Grandmother figure that has done nothing to provoke such treatment.  I cannot conceive how these young students (by their voices they can’t be older than pre-teens) are able to do this.  I cannot help but think that behavior such as this is a direct result of a life without God.

It is not my intention to trash public education. Neither it is to blame all the ills of society on public schools for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3: 23) My intention is precisely to offer a reminder of this very verse in order for us never to forget it. “We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” “There is no one who does not sin.” (1 Kings 8: 46) “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7: 20) “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.” (Romans 3: 9) Therefore, we all need a Savior. Without God we are reduced to putrid waste.

Why then force God out of the place where the future of our society is forged?

God finds a way, however, and He always wins. Just like the outpouring of support for the bus monitor and condemnation for the kids that verbally abused her has been overwhelming, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords reigns now and forever. And ultimately, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” (Philippians 2: 10)

Regardless of any high court ruling or of the depths to which we are descending as a society, in the end, “It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" (Romans 14: 11)

Revelation 5:13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"

Monday, June 18, 2012

Faith and Broken Toes

My sister and my niece are both very stylish, trendy and fashion conscious.  They pay great attention to what’s in when it comes to clothes and accessories.  I, on the other hand…not so much.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE clothes!  I dream of walk-in-closets filled with my stuff.  (I have nightmares that one day I’m going to show up to my early class wearing Dan’s pants because they hang right next to mine, and the nightmare is that his pants DO fit me!)  The thing is that where my sister and niece are glamorous and certainly “urban-chic” women, I am more of the “thrift-store-chic” kind of girl. 

I don’t spend much money at all in clothes.  I bargain hunt.  I’m not afraid of buying “twice loved” apparel.  I am able to have a nice selection of clothes without the added cost.  It makes me feel good about myself.  It makes me feel proud.  I boast on my ability to not be a slave to fashion.  I laugh at those who waste exorbitant amounts of money on materialistic pursuits.  I scorn those subject to Vogue Magazine’s whims.  I am beyond that.  I am above that.  I am immune to that.

The funny thing, however, is that a recent incident helped me re-think the image I’ve constructed of myself as Mrs. High-n-Mighty-Thrift-Store-Queen who is immune to the tricks of fashion.  This incident taught me a lesson in humility and showed me a different reality about myself from that which I had proudly concocted in my imagination.

The lesson began when not long ago, my sister told my niece and I that she had fallen victim of fashion…pun totally intended… : )  She works at a car dealership in Panama; and apparently, while she was walking in her fashionable high-heel shoes through the garage section of the dealership, she tripped and fell.  As a result of that fall, she broke several toes…ouch…

Her message was followed by my niece Nicole’s own stories of the broken toes she’s had due also to high-heel incidents and other various scenarios that I can’t remember.  I quietly read their back and forth accounts of their broken toes, laughing in my head, thinking how silly they both were. I felt a tinge of superiority as I thought, “it serves them right for not wearing sensible shoes.”  Who is foolish enough to end up with broken toes due to fashion? Suddenly, a flashback came rushing through my mind. 

I was in 8th grade.  I was getting ready for school.  I had spent a considerably long amount of time wrestling with my hair.  My hair has always been a point of contention in my life.  It still is, but now I just don’t care.  I gave up a long time ago.  But back then, I was so frustrated with it, I didn’t know what to do.  So, there I was, staring at my mane on the mirror until I finally got it to a point when I didn’t feel embarrassed.  I didn’t have any hair spray in my bathroom, so I went to my Mom’s room and found hers in her beautiful vanity.  I sprayed myself into a cloud.  I had lost track of time, so when I heard the beep of the school bus outside, I panicked.  I ran.  I didn’t have my shoes on.  I ran into the legs of my parent’s 100% mahogany bed with my foot.  I broke my middle toe.

I remember vividly the pain as I put my school shoes on (I wore uniform so I had to wear black moccasins).  I remember walking down the long driveway, limping.  It even hurt to take a breath…

How could I have forgotten?   After I re-played my very own injure-by-fashion episode in my mind, I looked down at my left foot and there it was.  There was my permanent reminder of my incident, my middle toe forever leaning on its big brother to the right.

I was not immune to the powerful influence that fashion exerts in the female psyche.  Regardless of what I may want to believe about myself, I am as preoccupied with looks as anybody else.  I was back then in 8th grade, and I still am today in my middle age.  I worry about it.  I care about it.  I think about it.  It impacts my life the same way it impacts other women’s, right down to the broken toes.

I, however, also know what the Lord says,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?   "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? (Matthew 6: 25-30)

His Word is clear; we are to trust Him because everything comes from Him even our clothes. We are not to boast about anything, but only about Him who is our strength, our guide, our inspiration, our Provider, our Redeemer and our Salvation. I want to trust Him. I want to rely on Him. I want to believe in the assurance of His provision. I want to have peace. I want to be still and know that He is God and that He is in control. I want to believe what He says. I want to rest in His shadow and take refuge in Him, my Tower of Strength. But I too falter. Often I fall prey of the schemes of the enemy who deceives me into doubting God. Often I forget that His plan is perfect and His grace is sufficient. Often I am one with “little faith.” Often I am the one with the false sense of pride.

This broken-toes incident has showed me, once again, that no matter how much I like thinking that I got things figured out, I really don’t. I am humbled in His presence and I admit that I only know that I know nothing.

Humbly with the Lord is the only way to walk on the road to sanctification. I could never overestimate myself. I can’t ever elevate myself, for in God’s Kingdom, the way up is down on our knees, and the way to life is dying to self.

After I was done reminiscing, I typed my very own fashion-injury story to my sister and niece. It was then their time to laugh at me. It was then my time to laugh at myself.

Monday, June 11, 2012

His Hand is Always Reaching Out to Save Us

It was going to be a beautiful early June weekend, so in a spur-of-the-moment decision, I took 3 boys and one Grandma to an amusement/water park on Saturday.  It was perfect!  They boys were very excited and of course, it being 80 degrees and all, their favorite part was the water park.  Once we hit the Soak Zone, the boys headed straight for the “Wave Pool.”  This pool has a restriction for kids who are 48 inches tall and under.  They have to wear a life vest and be accompanied by an adult the entire time they are in there.  The adult must be at arm’s length of the child at all times. 

Dylan is just 46 inches tall, so we got the vest and in we went.  As you may know, the way “Wave Pools” work is that there are periods of total calm followed by a period of powerful, man-made waves.  When Dylan and I walked into the pool, it was calmed.  We played and enjoyed some much needed coolness.  We sat in the shallow end and let the refreshing caress of the water relax our tense muscles.  Then, as soon as the whistled blew announcing the beginning of the waves, I realized the reason for the strict enforcement of the rule regarding young kids at the entrance. 

Dylan got tossed and turned and jerked around like the laundry in the spin cycle!  The mighty waves were too strong for my little one, whom I had to keep rescuing by grabbing him with both hands to lift him out of the powerful waters.  We moved to the side where it seemed tamer, but still, he could not stand without been tossed about.  He got braver and his legs steadier as he journeyed through the waves several rounds and as he realized that I was there with him all the time. 

He became more confident because he knew my hand was permanently reached out to him.  Every time he needed to pull himself out of the water and couldn’t do it by himself, he sought my hand which he found faithfully every time.  He also realized that even when he couldn’t or didn’t have the strength to reach out to grab my hand, that I would not wait and with precise timing, both my hands would hold him by his side and pull him out into safety so he could breathe again. 

Hmm…yes, that’s exactly right.  Though dim, this was a pretty good reflection of our lives with the Lord our God.  As we toss and turn in the middle of violent waves that threaten to tear us apart limb by limb, the Almighty God we serve stands right next to us, unmovable, unshakable, and unchangeable. 

Dylan’s experience at the “Wave Pool” resembles our walk with the Lord.  Periods of calm, when we playfully wade in the water or just sit and enjoy the peace, followed by seasons when we can barely seem to be able to catch our breath.  Periods when we have time to relax and soak in the wonders of our Great God, followed by moments of confusion when the only thing that saves us is reaching out our hand to His which is always extended to us.  Periods of evident joy when everything seems just right, followed by times when we are too weak, too lost, too beat up to even raise our hand to grab the hand that is reaching out to save us.

As I drove a car full of exhausted little boys (and one Grandma), I took time to praise Him for who He is.  I am so glad that our God is mighty to save and loving enough to do it all the time.  I praise Him for “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us.  On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us,” as we know He will.  (2 Corinthians 1: 10)  After all, we know that He is “my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Scoop of Life

About 15 years ago or so, as I worked at the regional offices of Youngstown Area Goodwill Industries, I felt like I was at the lowest point of my professional life.  I remember how hard it was for me to experience any sense of satisfaction and contentment with my situation at the time. 

The Goodwill regional office is an 86,000 square foot complex that houses what they call “The Plant.”  That’s where they process the donations they receive.  It takes a small army to process each and every donated item that Goodwill receives each day.  And that is a good thing, because that means more jobs for the disabled and for those who have not been dealt a lucky hand in life.  That is the main purpose behind the organization.  Goodwill employs disabled individuals, persons who are trying to come out of welfare and have no skills, single mothers who have no other prospects of getting a job and many others who would find it very difficult to find gainful employment anywhere else.  They are the Goodwill recruits who work at “the Plant,” sorting, cleaning, packing, shipping and even fixing all donated items. 

Goodwill also is a contractor for cleaning services and small assembly jobs.  Again, these jobs are performed mainly by people with a wide array of disabilities who are able to feel productive and independent thanks to this organization. 

That’s where I worked when I felt at my lowest professionally.  Only a few years earlier I had been in charge of Marketing for ESSO Standard Oil in Panama, only to then find myself working part-time as a Marketing Assistant in the main office of the regional Goodwill Industries.  The reason all these memories come back to me today is because I just found something I wrote when I was at the end of my tenure at Goodwill.  It made me look back and recognize how blessed I really was to have landed that job so many years ago.  I titled it “A Scoop of Life.”  Pretty ingenious title, I think.  I’m glad I printed it back then, for I have no electronic record of it anywhere.  I believe I might’ve saved it in one of those floppy discs that nobody can access now, unless you still have a very old computer that still works.  At any rate, this is what I wrote, in case you’re curious:

It was not a particularly nice morning that day.   We don’t have many of those around here…It was unseasonably cool for that late in June.  I drove in the parking lot, found a spot, got out of the car, slammed the door and headed toward the building thinking how the rust on the car’s door was getting worse by the minute.

The usual parade of “hellos” and “good mornings” started as I approached the main door.  As usual, I wasn’t much in the mood to reply, but I did out of obligation.  I entered the reception area, punched the clock and went to the office I shared with my two bosses.  I was the first one to arrive.  Soon, though, I heard the sound of high hills out in the hallway announcing my two female superiors’ arrival. 

Shortly after my daily routine began, the CEO came into our office with bad news.  “Laverne died last night,” he said gravely.  Laverne had been a prominent member of the Goodwill Senior Volunteer Guild for the last thirty years.  The Guild was a group of seniors that performed several volunteer activities all year round, from sorting books to organizing employees’ Christmas Parties.  Unfortunately, the Guild had not been able to recruit new members, and it had decreased to a mere three people who did all the strenuous work. 

The atmosphere turned dark as we meditated on the future of the Senior Guild.  The phone rang and it was Betty, the current president of the Guild.  We talked about the sad news and also about the ice-cream social that the Guild had planned for the lunch break on that day for the employees.  As we discussed the alternatives, we decided to continue ahead with the plans.  Laverne would have liked it that way.

The morning continued with the same hectic pace as any other day.  Soon it was time to get the cafeteria ready for the frozen treats.  I pushed my chair back and got up with a sigh that revealed my lack of enthusiasm.  I really didn’t want to do this, but it was my job, so I left my desk and walked to the employee cafeteria to perform my duty.

As I walked back and forth looking for paper products and scoops, dragging tables, and pushing the darn cart with half a dozen of ice-cream tubs on it, my mind drifted away.  “How did I get to be this old?”  I asked myself.  “How come I’m not managing an entire department at some important corporation and making lots of money, or even some “decent” money, like some of my friends are?”  “Tomorrow is pay day, what a joke,” I thought.  With a sigh, I recalled that my bi-weekly check was always spent before it even made it into my account. 

Cheerful greetings from Betty, Jerry and Hilda pulled me out of my thoughts.   They were the only remaining active members of the Guild.  It was 11:45 and people began to come into the cafeteria to enjoy their lunch break.  Over 300 workers would show up in shifts of half an hour each, so we would be there until past 1pm.  I stood next to Hilda as she handed out spoons and napkins to those who approached the table.  My job was to make sure that Betty and Jerry had enough cones, cups, and, of course, ice-cream.  I mainly just stood out of the way.

The receptionist had made several announcements over the speakers about the ice-cream social so the workers’ faces lit up as they approached the table.  People on crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, walking canes slowly maneuvered their way to the ice-cream.  There were also many visually impaired persons who felt their way with their white canes. 

Jerry and Betty kept serving ice-cream with a smile and a funny remark to all who came by.  To their left was Hilda.  Everything was running smoothly.  Everyone was enjoying themselves.  The place became alive with laughter and conversation.  I took a few steps back and just stood there.  I looked at everyone’s movements.  Then I concentrated on their hands.  I saw how Hilda’s eighty-two-year-old hands carefully distributed spoons and napkins with a loving smile on her weathered face.  I saw Jerry’s fingers passing out the cups to the fingers that received them.  Some fingers were shy, some were assertive, some firm, many shaky, some well manicured with polished nails.  Others were curled up, unusable or even missing, but certainly, all very appreciative.  My eyes then went down to my own hands...they just hung from my long arms, able and full of fingers, but lacking a purpose.  “What have I done with such a great gift?” I asked myself.  The answer didn’t come.

Betty’s gentle laughter brought me back to the table and I realized that they soon would need more ice-cream. I hurried through the hallways pushing the cart among boxes and bins.  I thought about how life presents us with so many opportunities to look at things from a different perspective.  “Lord,” I prayed, “I’ve been so frustrated trying to get what I lack, that I have forgotten to thank you for the many blessings that I do have.” 

Back at the table, I continued watching from a distance.  I caught myself smiling at the funny, witty and above all,  appreciative comments my co-workers would say.  I saw how Jerry kept joking around with everyone.  I saw Richard handling his cone despite his crutches.  I saw Margaret expertly minding her way around the place with her white cane.  I saw Lona extending a dollar bill to pay for the treat.  She hadn’t realized the ice-cream was free because she was hearing impaired and could not hear the announcements, and I had forgotten to post signs around the Plant.  “Thank you very much,” she said to us with a broad smile as she got her cone.

I saw the most wonderful parade of smiles and compliments I’ve ever seen.  I saw my co-workers one by one; slowly move around the room enjoying their treat.  Some with severe and multiple disabilities, some with wounded self-esteems caused by generations of government assisted dependency, all savoring their scoop of vanilla joy.  “Thank you for doing this for us.”  “It’s been real nice of you to come and serve us ice-cream.”  “God bless you all.”  It didn’t matter how disabled their bodies were, or how much life had torn them apart, the light of their spirits shone on us through the brightness of their eyes.

After the last scoop was served, I cleaned up and said good bye to Jerry, Betty and Hilda.  We would probably see each other at Laverne’s funeral the next day, I thought.  I put the remaining supplies back on the cart to store them away and I pushed it out of the cafeteria wondering whether that had been the last Senior Guild-sponsored event. 

Back at my desk, I gulped my scant lunch and went back to my routine.  I sensed, however, that at that moment, perhaps something in me had begun to change. 

The day slipped away and soon I found myself saying goodbye to the guard at the main entrance.  I stepped outside and started to walk to the parking lot.  My car was the only one left.  Distracted by the gentle breeze, I missed the rust spots on the bottom of the door.  Instead, I noticed the beauty of the early summer afternoon.  For the first time I actually thanked God for having placed me there at that very moment.  I started my old car, rolled down the windows and drove off thinking how it had turned out to be a beautiful day after all. 

Every time you drop off a bag full of your unwanted items at one of the local Goodwill stations behind their stores, think about this story and how Goodwill changes lives on a daily basis.  It sure changed mine.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


“Someone is always saying goodbye,” a wise man once said.  It is true.  Saying goodbye is part of being alive.  Young and old, we all wave our hands, hug our loved ones tight, wipe a tear away, force a smile.

Sooner or later, we all have to say goodbye.  It is just part of life.

Usually a rather unpleasant moment, a moment that involves separation, farewells are hard and some try to avoid them with all they've got.  But as fate has it, sooner or later, we all have to say goodbye.

Some are expected.  There are some, however, that take us completely by surprise, unguarded, unprepared.  They hit us like a blow.  They take all the air out of our lungs.
Yet some others are just left unsaid.  Never spoken, unexplained, unbearable, they leave us broken.  They fill the heart with regrets.  They leave us wondering.

Goodbyes that never come bring up an unanswered set of “whys.”
Inevitably they leave us questioning a series of “what ifs,” dreadful scenarios that would never be resolved.  They leave us pondering a list of painful “would’ve” “should’ve” “could’ve” enough to create hypothesis that would never be put to the test.

The goodbye that is left unsaid pierces the heart of the one left behind.  The un-uttered words cause deep agony in the soul of the other.  But sometimes, it is just plainly impossible to say goodbye.

It is not by choice that the words are never spoken.  It is the result of an often tragic moment that denies the chance for parting words.  The circumstance makes it inevitable for the one to depart without being able to say goodbye.  

Hope remains, however, because, regardless of how it happens or not, there is always the comforting thought of that eternal reunion where all the wrongs are righted and where all the tears are wiped away.  That’ll be the day of no more goodbyes and no more crying.  It will be the time for cheerful greetings.  It will be the time to forget about farewells.  That glorious day will arrive so we can all finally exhale, give our soul respite and learn to smile again.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Hope in the Pit

I’m dwelling inside a pit of dissatisfaction today. I am too weak to climb out of it. Left to my own devices and strength, I choose to stay in there, at the bottom of it. This is the spiritual battle I am waging right now.

Some spiritual battles are impossible to fight at all. I’m in one right now. I can’t do anything. All I can do is wait until is over. It is one of those in which no matter what I try to do, nothing works. It is one of those in which I actually don’t want to do anything. It is one of those in which I want to be in the pit. It is one of those in which I actually choose to dwell in darkness. It is one of those in which I don’t want to lift a finger.

It sure seems hopeless; but is it? Of course it is not. There is always hope in the Lord.

I wonder if there is something I can do even when I don’t feel like doing anything at all. There is. I can release it to the Lord. I can wait in the Lord.  And I can believe that there is victory in Him, and that victory belongs to me as her adopted daughter. That victory will come to me for it has already been declared in the heavenly realm. That victory will become evident as the Lord fights this battle for me.

I realize that I go through these kinds of battles more often than I would like to so I wonder if there is some sort of spiritual “procedure” that the Holy Spirit can provide to those, whom like me, go through these struggles at times. As I type, my mind goes to the Bible, my compass. I decide to let the Bible guide me in my present visit to this current valley/pit in which I find myself today.

I search and I realize that there some steps to follow from a Biblical perspective. In my case, the first thing I need to do involves the process of recognizing. I have to recognize that spiritual warfare is real, as Paul warns us in Ephesians 6: 12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (NKJV) I have to recognize that it can happen to me; and I have to recognize the moment when I am in the middle of one. I also have to recognize that sometimes the battle pushes me down into the depths of the pit and makes me feel like I would drown, like David felt in Psalm 69: 2
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.

Like David, I also feel like God is nowhere to be found for…
I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.
(Psalm 69: 3)

As I recognize that I am engulfed by the waters in the bottom of the pit, I also realize that there is not much I can do for I am indeed weak and helpless on my own.  In that state, my eyes fail me and I can't see my Lord.

I recognize that not only I am weak, but I sometimes choose to dwell in that pit and mire. Left to my own device, I choose the pit. Not only I cannot fight, but I don’t want to fight. So, in that moment, when I realize the condition of my soul, I let go and I let God be God. I remember who He is, and I accept that sometimes I need to let Him fight the battles for there is no way I can do it myself. I recognize that “the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Samuel 17: 47) I recognize that “I shall not fear for the Lord my God will fight for me.” (Deuteronomy 3: 22)   I try not to fear for

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)

As this truth sinks in, the next step kicks in. I acknowledge that despite feeling like a failure, there is victory; but that such is only found in the Lord. He fights my battle and He is victorious, and so am I. In time, the sense of that victory will become evident in my life, but in the meantime, I wait in the knowledge of this truth: that God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15: 57)

I wait. I allow the knowledge of His goodness and of His power sooth my depressed soul and I wait. When I’m too weak, too tired or too unwilling to fight, I sit still and let the Lord fight for me and I wait. I wait and I remember that His grace is sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

While I wait, I follow 1 Thessalonians 5: 17 and “pray without ceasing.” I “rely on the Lord” even while in the depth of the abyss.(Psalm 27:14) I trust His word when He assures me that He will lift me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire and that He will set my feet on a rock and give me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:2)

I know that victory has already been won because I belong to Him. I don’t trust my feelings, but I trust His word when he says that “whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5)

Victory is here. Even if my eyes are not ready to see it and my feelings betray me, I know it for He said so, and I trust Him. I believe His promises, and He is faithful. He promises that He will deliver me and draw me to Himself from every assault of evil. He will preserve and bring me safe unto His heavenly kingdom. (2 Timothy 4: 18)

He promises that “ all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39 NKJV)

Victory is here, it just needs to be revealed. In His timing, He will let us see it, feel it, and experience it. In the meantime, I wait in Him, pray without ceasing and trust His promises for they are all true. I wait for darkness to dissipate and for morning to come.

He will bring me out of darkness and the deepest gloom and break away my chains. (Psalm 107: 14)

Therefore, today, as I choose to dwell in my own personal pit of dissatisfaction, I remain hopeful because I know that He will lead me to triumph!