You Can’t Box It In

When events in our lives are unfolding the way it should, it’s so easy to praise God — feeling all His favors pouring on us like pixie dusts. But when events unravel the other way around a.k.a. the unexpected this-is-not-how-it-suppose-to-happen-ever way, do we still see God’s favor like rain — showering on us in the desert of chaos? Are we ever still grateful?

Last night in our DGroup, our discipleship leader asked us: what comes to your mind when you hear the word “favor?

I would want to formulate some smart answer as what I always intend to do to look smart in front of people (haha, and rarely succeeding at it ((read: never))) but she already called my attention to respond to the question (talk about, God doesn’t always want you to think that you should always be smart in answering questions — “It’s not a beauty pageant anyways; we’re just here spending Quality Time and it’s appreciated for you to answer truthfully.” — I can hear Him speak to my pride in my mind HAHA). So, what I told them was the first thing that I always feel with the word, and well yes, favor for me is like grace – something that is given to me which I really don’t deserve most of the time. Other words that came up in the discussion include favor being a blessing and a gift.

Then my DGroup leader gave some definitions of favor in reference to her notes, I was able to write some favorite points:

Favor is God’s goodness given to a person’s life, to which it’s only God who can get the credit.

Favor is a relationship with God of great confidence where no matter what, you know that with God, you will always end up on top.

Favor is the acceptance, approval and assistance of God awarded to us in the finish work of Jesus.

In different stories from the Bible, we’ll see how our Lord favors His people — there’s Abraham who became the father of all nations; Sarah who bore a child at a tender age and despite the fact that she’s barren (imagine that!); Jonah who was eventually thrown out from the insides of a whale; Daniel who was spared in the lion’s den; Joseph who was once a slave and became a king; David who battled Goliath (we all know this story); Gideon who was the timid and shy and yet considered a warrior in God’s sight; Paul who once a persecutor of Christians then became a servant of Jesus, reaching out to so many people and building so many ministries; etcetera etcetera. Then there was our dear friend, Mary, the virgin who gave birth to Jesus. Then there was Jesus who chose to suffer death on the cross for all of us. Amazing these favors from God are!

Every so often, though, our visions of these favors are limited when it comes to facing unbearable circumstances in our lives. When trials come gate crashing our mini-parties of happiness and just drenching every positive molecule of our being, sometimes we think the favors of God are nowhere. Have we ever learned to thank God when everything’s going great and when everything’s going not so?

You see, trials are also God’s way in wrapping up our favors for us. The problem is, we never really wanted to take those final exams even when we were in school – afraid of stress and failure. We always wanted a carefree life where we can chill to the max with good friends and good music as company. But we need those trials – our character is being molded and the power of God in our lives is revealed through it. More so, when we surpass it, it’s incredible how God polished us all throughout. We just need to persevere, after when the finals are done, here comes the summer break, or even, the graduation – where we can get enough time to bum before proceeding to our next stage in life a.k.a when trials will come pouring in again in metric tons.

As we continued to discuss favor, we were asked to examine our lives and share the most wonderful favor God has given us. The seven of us in the group, who were present that night, impart each one’s “favor story”. It sounded different from time to time but all of it were like bead strings attached to each one – like our story could be presented like a bead work; our stories interconnect. And I believe it’s the same in everyone of us when we all tell our “favor story”, it’ll always boil down to one: unimaginable. I can’t imagine going through life without God in it. I mean, you cannot express in words how God just do things in your life and place you wherever you are right now because His favor has always been on you. Oh, salvation is sweet!

“I’ll be good to you because I wanted to be good to you.” -God

It’s His attribute: He is Love and He is Good. He is our Father who always wanted to shower favors upon favors on us. Have you ever thought of that? Or do you always think that wherever you are right now, it is because of all you’ve done to make the most out of life; and the universe, somehow, is indebted to you that’s why it’s giving you what you are due?

When I heard the favor stories of the other girls in the group and what I’ve witnessed personally in my own life, I cannot help but be humbled by just about everything. And I can’t think of any other way but to be grateful for all of it. You can’t box favor. You can’t box what the Lord wants to give you – it will always fill your cup, it will always have an overflow in your heart. You can’t box God in all His great might! Once we do realize how God sees us and just gives generously in this life for us, we can never be the same. I can only live to give Him the praise everyday of my life. It’s just wonderful. It’s undeserved. It’s overwhelming. It’s all God’s favor!

Blessed be the name of the Lord, from this time forth and forever. (Psalm 113:2)

Dear Girlie

I know, this has taken so long before I decided to write this all down. Frankly, I don’t have an idea as to how I will start writing this and the strength to continue doing it until I can finally reach the end of this stream of thoughts where I can finally make sense of the boat waiting to cross over the other side of the river.

I guess, even on this tiny white internet space, I can’t find the courage to face the word: goodbye

Tragic, isn’t it? How people cannot comprehend distance, time and lost? Well, not the actual lost but the thought of someone they cared for, leaving? And people, people will do all kinds of stubborn things to ignore the idea of someone they cherished is already 1400 miles away .

Is there a word for hating someone leaving? That someone, who you spent hours, days, weeks and months of getting connected in a much deeper level, gone? Is there a word for that? Is there a word for making yourself believe that this other side of the world apart from yours is measured only by breath? That when I blow this candle on a birthday cake, you would still feel the candle’s heat? Is there a word for all the clichés that continues to hang in the air like Metro Manila pollution? The trigger-point of these endless questions stinging the walls of my mind like how Peeta slammed on the force field wall in the Hunger Games Quarter Quell?

Maybe not everything can be delineated in a word. Maybe not every emotion can fit in a poetry; there’s so much left unsaid. Maybe goodbye has always meant so much more than just parting ways. And maybe leaving is not certainly abandonment.

Because leaving does not always mean betrayal. And I think that, sometimes, we’re not particularly afraid of losing people. What we’re really afraid of is having to learn to do life without them. Because, ultimately, we are creatures of habit and comfort.

-Isabel Garcia

Dear Girlie, I know you did not abandon us. It’s just that I am a creature of habit and comfort  you are ordered by the Higher Up to conquer more borders, to bring more ships to the coast and to help those who were stranded in the middle of a chaotic island back to the stillness of Home. You fervently asked and knocked the gates of heavens for this desire of yours and you have been permitted to do it to accomplish His purpose and to witness the majestic favors He has poured on you.

It wasn’t an easy bargain from the start, but admit it, His sense of humor is truly amazing. He has made, not only you, but us (in the Dgroup) see how things work out together for the good of those who love Him and do things according to His will. I praise God for your heart that has patiently waited for the go signal before leaving the fields. He has crafted your attitude of dependence on His grace and the humility of your whole being. It is such a blessing to see how you have addressed your concerns to Him and bringing forth more than 365 pales of faith for the journey.

I thank you for sharing all the wonderful memories with me (us) even though it’s not that too many in terms of quantity. But I genuinely appreciate the times I had spent with you because you made me feel you. And you have been one inspiration. You inspired me with your dedication for work , for God’s word and for life itself. Thank you for riding on the Sarah Kay madness, the blogging madness (although you are at this for a long time already), the friendship madness and even my own madness. Haha! Your happy spirit is also a favorite!

Even I have tendencies to not understand distance, I know one thing for sure, our current goodbye is not measurable by length, time or space; and leaving, leaving is for the brave. You are brave!

When there would be times where you would be submerged deep down the murky waters, always remember that Faith will let you see things through. Our hands, you can hold them, when you’re feet is tired of running. We will reserve you more pockets full of sunshine so that when you need it as umbrella for a stormy weather, we will throw it in the air, like million bits of pieces, like stars. It will shine on you, too bright that it would make you close your eyes and realize that nothing is as good as a simple prayer of thanks to the Father.

And even when reality makes you cry because of it’s harshness apart from all our poetry combined, we will tap your back and cry with you. Because crying is like rain, it washes everything, it washes the pain and the fear inside. And then, when it’s time to get back up and you still don’t want to, we will drag you down the porch for you to see the sunrise. And we could only hope that that can make you once again realize the beauty of life. There would be bumpy roads ahead, but, we will wait for you until you can visit us again, not only in dreamland, but in our homeland.

I could go on with all my metaphors but the bottomline of all these is not goodbye, but a See you soon, Girlie! We will miss you! I’ll miss you and our rolling eyes! :P

P.S.

I’m starting to be allergic at the Dear (blanks) in my title. It always suggest someone going far away. Ha! :P

Dear Abby

If Isa Garcia has Dear Patty, I got something for you Abby! Haha!

20120622-100440.jpg
Hence the title. :)

It’s hard to say goodbye to someone you barely even had a chance to be with (but you would love to bond with) for quite sometime. It’s like eating an 18-inch New York’s Finest pizza with only three minutes on your shot clock – as much as you wanted to enjoy very bite of it, you have to let go once the clock strikes three. It’s hard. It’s like you haven’t even said the how are you after the Hi and yet you are bound to say goodbye. Oh well, life gets unpredictable like that – the beauty, you see, is in the simplest things before the boat splashed onto the rocks of the high waters.

Dear (Ate) Abby, we don’t have a lot of memories but I do remember moments when your being genuine, sincere and dependent on God made me admire you on a high level (well, all the girls too at DGroup had a fair share of my admirations – you guys inspire me A LOT). That’s apart from your confidence and strong personality which I think, is just an overflow of your love for something, for Someone greater.

It is sweet of you when you asked me if I wanted to taste the Ginger Ale you bought on your way to our DGroup one Thursday night. When I said it’s okay, and you thought I don’t like to taste it, I really meant yes I wanted to taste. Haha! It’s just that sometimes I get dumbfounded and tongue-tied when talking to people who I only met for the first time. I’m not so good with that. But you, you effortlessly can ask a total stranger if she wanted a drink you bought. And I thought you are cool doing so. You see, people who do acts of random kindness to me, I make a big deal out of whatever small they did. That’s because, the simplest things are what can touch the beating human heart. And you touched mine since then.

And then couple of weeks later, you were chosen to host the Networking Event. You were not shy. You were confident being the Master of Ceremonies and Games. Yes, you were confident but definitely grounded. It’s not something you did to get praise from people. It’s something you did for God’s people to praise and fellowship together. That’s another point for admiration. When the time of worship came, I saw how you sing – it’s with heart, passion and fire. It’s your declaration of your love for our Father. I was blessed by that.

In a short span of knowing you, you modeled one thing to me: you are living and totally devoted to our good Lord. In fact, your life and actions carry out the gospel. It carries out Christ. It’s wonderful. It’s priceless.

You showed me (even the rest of the girls) how sweet it is to be in the presence of the Almighty – being succumbed with His great big plans, stepping out of your comfort zone to do His will, and sharing Him to others just because you are living for Him. It’s ohhh-some dearest Abby.

20120622-100544.jpg
You had been one fruitful branch among these. :)

Now that you’re off to somewhere where you’d be independent most of the time, I pray that you would continue to live in Christ and with Christ. Be that woman full of confidence, not on her own strength, but of her Father. Be hopeful and hold on to faith when you lose sight of the shore. Be not afraid to live and breathe and let go. Do things you never thought of doing and learn from them. Go play in the mud when it rains. There may be bruises and scars along the way but you’ll need them; they’re like weapons of how you were trained to be a fighter. Be that fighter of life, courageous and true.

Dear Abby, may favor be on you. May the angels protect you. Know that I, even when we haven’t had a lot of memories, and the rest of the girls in our DGroup will definitely miss you!

20120622-100636.jpg
I don’t know when you’d be able to read this (or maybe not), but we’ll pray for you. Have a safe trip Abby! :)