And I’m not talking the bakery case at the grocery store. Or the shoe department at Nordstrom.
I’m talking, a soul pull. A spirit attraction.
Ever since I’ve been home during my mom’s stroke recovery, I’ve discovered a little place in our house that I keep finding myself sitting in. Just ending up there.
It’s a little sitting area in front of the fire place, and focal point of this nook is a beautiful painting of Jesus. It’s called the image of the Divine Mercy. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.
But I’ll often find myself sitting, just looking into the eyes of Jesus in this painting.
Now, to be honest, I’ve never really considered myself a “religious art person.” I mean, I think it’s beautiful and great for, say, a church, but I don’t know. I’ve just never really given it much contemplation.
Home of the world-famous Chocolate Hills and the smallest mammal Tarsier, Bohol, Philiplines surely didn’t disappoint me. I once again fell inlove with the whole place, from its panoramic view of hills and mountains to its diverse and bright colors.
Jesus was referred to as the Lamb of God in John 1:19. I just learned from a retreat the characteristics of a sheep. And, wow! It was my initial reaction when I realized what the verse really meant. What is it with being a Lamb?
‘There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.‘ (John 1:29)
In John 1:29, Jesus was referred to as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus’ title ‘Lamb of God’ is but a common or popular one, yet I seem to disregard the significance of it. Every time I hear that phrase before, what registers to my mind is God himself, with all His power, strength, and might. It was only earlier this month, when I attended the Regional Leader’s Retreat of Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon Eastern Visayas Region that I began to look at it differently.
During the leader’s retreat, we were to understand the characteristics of a sheep for us to be a better shepherd who can lead a flock. I learned from the retreat that a sheep is a dumb and directionless animal and that it really needs the guidance of a shepherd because of the said weaknesses.
And here comes this verse in John 1:29 saying, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God. Behold, he who takes away the sin of the world.‘ Wow! It was my initial reaction when I realized what that verse really meant. What is it with being a Lamb? This question paves way to our salvation. Jesus, humbled himself to be our sacrificial lamb and accepted all the punishment for our sins which He didn’t commit. He did it despite Him being God himself, Jesus may have actually done it differently. He could have still saved us without Him going through all those sufferings, but He didn’t do otherwise. Jesus allowed Himself to go through all the sufferings of physical pain, torture, and even death to pay for our sins and save everyone of us, astrayed and sinful people. With that realization, I asked myself: “who am I to deserve such great act from the Lord? Who am I to deserve His love?” For I know that I, like all other people, am but a sinner; I am but a person whose faith is still shaky sometimes; I am a person who sometimes doubts Him; a person who sometimes does not acknowledge Him. And He allowed Himself to die on the cross to save me? to save us? Wow! Its a big, big wow! Moments after I asked myself that question, I was enlightened right away. The answer was in one of the songs that is usually used during Lingkod Cebu’s prayer meetings entitled ‘How Great is Your Love’ by Mark Altrogge. The second stanza of the song says:
“For everyone who has believed.
You brought us near
And called us Your own
And made us joint heirs with
That line from the song is the answer. We were made equal heirs of His own son. We are also His children, we are considered as God the Father’s own sons and daughters. Thus, having Him acknowledge us as His own is enough reason to accept and experience the great love only Him can give. With that, I was instantly overwhelmed with God’s great love. And so, I was lead to appreciating my life even more. I was suddenly enlightened and overwhelmed with all the blessings He’s been granting me daily since before, yet I fail to recognize. On that very moment, I was thankful and appreciative that He granted me another day to live with all my senses still intact! I was and still am thankful I still have the ability to see clearly the things around me, I could still hear, touch and taste, I still have the capacity to feel, connect and relate with people around me, I still have my family, friends and officemates, I still have my job, Im provided with air to breath, food and water; those random people and instances He puts in my life for me to know a thing or two; I also realized that He was there with me during all the tiring times of my life, Im most thankful of Him for that. My list of the blessings and graces He granted me could still go on, I believe its never ending, but my point is, during the retreat I realized how blessed I am with every detail the Lord passionately puts into my life to make it colorful.
The recollection was truly a timely activity for me. The week before that, I was actually feeling down without a particular reason at all. All I know was I was feeling sad and I was longing for a certain connection with the Lord. I was trying to feel Him during my prayer time yet it seems that I just can’t, seems that He was not around. And during the recollection, my longing for that certain connection with the Lord was answered through our retreat master when he mentioned a passage from 1 Kings 19:11-12 saying the Lord was not in the storm, not in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the whisper of a gentle breeze. I was struck upon hearing it that I realized I have to be still for a moment and allow the Lord to speak to me in my stillness, I was searching Him probably the wrong way, for during my prayer times I didn’t allow myself to listen to Him. And so upon hearing that passage, I closed my eyes and looked back to what had happened in my life. Scenes of my life began to flash in my mind, higlighting all the challenging times I went through together with my family. Those challenges includes financial difficulty that our family started to experience way before I even finished elementary schooling and we continued to carry up until I was in college. And during those times I could say that the Lord was with us, the Lord helped us get through all the hardships our family went through. He was already with me way before I started searching for Him. All those challenges we went through, no matter how hard, were all that we needed to experience for a reason that He best knows. And so before the retreat ended I sensed the Lord answering my longing of Him by telling me, ‘Wake up! I am with you all along. You may not know, you may not notice, but I am always here. Allow my plans to be revealed in my own time. Surrender yourself to me and I will take care of you as I always did.’ It was such an overwhelming experience to finally realize the Lord is with me all along even before I cared to seek help from Him and built a personal relationship with Him.
In conclusion, I’d like to share few more important points I was reminded of during the retreat. They are as follows:
1. Juses humbled Himself to be the Lamb of God out of obedience and love of the Father.
2. Obedience comes with total surrender, that includes everything in life from dreams, plans, finances, responsibilities, worries, and even sin.
3. Being a leader, or a shepherd to a flock should be done out of obedience and out of love.
One Sunday morning, I attended an Evangelization workshop. We were tasked to post #instaworthy photo showing who God is or how He touched our lives. And I honestly had a hard time deciding what photo to post, or how to caption it which is new to me being #socialmedia girl that I am. The task was supposed to be easy, but it lead me to a hardcore reflection on who God is and how He touched my life.
One Sunday morning, I attended an Evangelization Workshop at West Gorodo Hotel, Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City organized by Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon-Cebu for its committed members. The objective of the workshop was to prepare the members for the upcoming activities, wherein it is a goal to invite more single professionals to serving the Lord. The workshop consists of four talks, but Im not going to re-echo what I learned from the entire workshop. Haha.
I want to talk about one of the task given to us during the 1st talk (Social Media Evangelization). We were tasked to post #instaworthy photo showing who God is and how He touched our lives. And I honestly had a hard time deciding what photo to share and how to caption it, which is new to me being a #socialmedia girl. The task was supposed to be easy, but it lead me to a hardcore reflection on who really is God in my life and how has He touched my life. To answer the first question, since I developed or improved my relationship with our Lord, I have known Him personally as these three: (1) Prince of Peace; (2) My Comfort; (3) My Grandest Lover. Why do I consider Him as such? Below are the reasons why.
1. My Prince of Peace
“You are my Prince of Peace and I will live my life for you”
I still remember how my heart leaped with joy and gladness during the times I first heard of this song entitled Prince of Peace by Marc Imboden in one of the prayer meetings I attended with #LingkodCebu. This song made me realize the fact that indeed, God is a Prince of Peace. He granted me my most needed peace of mind in a way that I didn’t even notice until I heard this very song.
Like many other individuals out there, I used to be a worrier. I worry about almost evrything, especially about my finances back to when I was still studying. I worry about where to get money for my next day’s fare to school, money to cover expenses of my project, research, food for our family, and good clothing for school presentation. Even when I already started working, I still worry. I worry weather what Im currently doing is enough for me to win the life battles coming my way. I worry weather Im on the right tract or not. And worrying didn’t help at all. I started to get tired of it. Good thing the day came when I had developed a better relationship with our Lord. My reasons to worry didn’t leave me. I still have my bills to pay, future battles to encounter, dreams to hopefully achieve, and more, but now I worry no more. Why still worry? God is there to help me. And as He promised in John 14:27 saying: “Peace be with you! My peace I give to you; not as the world gives peace do I give it to you. Do not be troubled! Do not be afraid!” I was given peace like no other. He made me experience peace that He is. I didn’t instruct myself to stop worrying, God removed the worries out of my head and filled my thoughts with every good thing about Him. Its such a great relief to live without worrying at all. All credits to my Prince of Peace.
2. My Comfort
As I mentioned above, I was once a worrier. Being such, I had a troubled heart. A very sad one. I will even sleep my sadness away, letting my heart get broken while my tears were flowing. The good thing being sad is you get to be comforted by your family or friends. That is when you live with or near them. Back when I was still a student and used to live with my family at home, I have multiple friends to share my sadness with. Im blessed to have friends who were understanding and who were patient in listening to my dramas and giving me advice afterwards. Then the time came when I needed to leave home and move to live alone to work in a place new to me. A place where I have no friends nor relatives living nearby. At first, I still text with my friends, constantly updating them with my newly found freedom living indepently. Until I became busy with work that everytime I get home I sleep right away and do the same during my daysoff. I no more had time for texting or calling friends. It was sad. Not that I didn’t find new friends, I have many new friends and they are dear to me. There’s just a time when you have no one near you to talk about your sadness, to talk about your random dramas. Trust me, I had so many reasons to be sad last year, from new friends leaving, to a dear friend dying, to having no one near you whom your comfortabe enough to talk with. It was such a challenging year if you think of it, and during those times when my heart was broken and sad, I suddenly found comfort. Our good Lord comforted me when no one else can. Many times I feel His love touching my heart during prayer meetings, mass celebrations, my personal prayer time, and in my daily life. When I get to know Him better, I eventually know the happiness that He is and the comfort that He brings. And I want to personally share it to you! If you feel alone, if you feel like you have no one to turn to, no one understands and wills to listen to you, you are wrong! You have Him! He will always be there for you. No matter how sad or broken you are, He will comfort you, for you are Hid dear child. Call on Him! Go on!
3. My Grandest Lover
Being a woman that I am, I also dream of my own fairytale, or my own version of a lovestory like the ones written by Nicholas Sparks. Im a hopeless romantic so I tend to dream of the guy who will love me beautifully. A man who will pass as the next leading man to a fairytale movie or a protagonist in a best-selling romantic novel. Shallow. That was how shallow my understanding to the word ‘love’ was. I was looking for it the wrong way. Little did I learn that love is far greater than a man can offer. For love itself is the Lord, Our God. He is my Grandest Lover. He showed it many times before, and still shows it until now. Last year when I was in a process of moving on from a failed long-term relationship, Im glad that I developed my personal relationship with the Lord, my Grandest Lover. I started to recall the stories in the book of Genesis when He made the world and everything on it out of love, up to the story when He sacrificed His Son to save us. What a great love it is to still love and continue loving if the people you love doesn’t seem to be deserving. I am a sinner. Many times I have sinned, yet He never gave up on me. That’s how grand His love is. A love that is willing to sacrifice the most important belonging that there is to save a beloved. A love that truly never dies. A love that’s fire burning and gives life.
Moving on to the second question which is: “How did He touched my life?” I’d like to let you guys know that I’ve known Him since I was a kid. Growing up, the Lord was a known entity in my life. I remember my mother leading us to prayer before we doze off to sleep and that during my teens, I served Him as a lector in our parish. I know Him to be always there to watch, guide, and protect me. And just recently, I have known Him differently. He touched my life in a way that I am willing to serve Him more, in a way that I crave more of His love, I think of Him almost evry hour of my day, I do things now with cautiousness that I will glorify Him. He touched my life by responding to the interest I have of Him. That is how our God is, He does not ignore those who wants Him. He will come to you once you allow Him to. And once He touches your life, brace yourself, its just the start. Knoe that you will be overwhelmed with His Holy presence. Just allow Him to be the God that He is.
Now that I’ve already shared who God is in my life, its your turn to share who God is in your life. 😊 Also I’d like to know how He touched your life. Im excited to know your touching stories. So keep them coming!