Love to the Next Level

READ: 1 John 4:7-21

MC900444883[1]Who wouldn’t be interested when we talk about love? Love makes it as the trending topic this week among the leading social networks and search engines online.

If you are a young adult or already in your 30’s or 40’s like me, I’m sure that at some point in your life, you’ve experienced how it is to fall in love.

It’s a wonderful feeling to love someone and be loved in return. There you get nervous and start to blush…. You stammer and you couldn’t speak a word…. You feel like you would melt as that special someone fixes his or her eyes on you…. It’s crazy…. You find it awkward, and yet, it’s a dreamlike moment…. Those mixed emotions simply take your breath away until you find yourself floating on Cloud 9.

Then, what’s next? How long will the pleasant emotional mode last? For a week? A few months? Or several years?

Unfortunately, human love is neither permanent nor long lasting.That’s why we hear of sentimental love songs depicting heartaches and painful separation. A popular song I used to abhor and recoil from goes, “Please release me, let me go…. For I don’t love you anymore.”

Why such momentary highs and sad endings?

Well, maybe because feelings change as you wake up to reality and see a close-up view of the other person’s flaws. You discover you can’t tolerate mistakes and differences. Now you look around and you get to know someone better. There you see somebody more good-looking, wittier, dependable.

Here is where relationships and marriages break up. You hear a story of relational problems and divorce everywhere. It happens to adults—whether young or old, rich or poor. All because they are human beings with emotions—with hang-ups, prejudices, lusts and idiosyncrasies.

No one  is perfect. Each one of us has his own weaknesses. Everybody is bound to fail. But those who have received the unconditional love of God will be able to extend the love that lasts a lifetime.This God kind of love is a decision, a choice and not based on feelings. I may not constantly feel like loving my husband, as at times he disappoints me and gets into my nerves. A “bed of roses with thorns” invites in our room, as we disagree and clash…. But we can always choose to stay sober. We can choose to be patient and kind…. We can always decide to protect, trust, hope and persevere (1 Corinthians 13:4,7).

The love of God that’s in us and working through us transcends personality differences; language, cultural, intellectual and educational barriers; shortcomings and imperfections…. 

Who could resist this kind of love? 

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.” — Jeremiah 31:3

Get Rid of those Remnants

READ: Isaiah 43:18-19

Every intimate and serious involvement with another person creates soul ties that cannot be easily broken by time, distance or mere physical separation. My previous post entitled “Moving On” brought up this issue on soul ties. But just what are soul ties and how are they formed?

Stephen Gola, in his site Divorce Hope, describes that soul ties are like connections or bridges in relationships; they are formed many different ways as by willing or forced sexual relations, by speaking words of commitment or vows like “I will always love you,” “I will never forget,” and by accepting things that may be symbols of a covenant, commitment or a love relationship.Bonfire

Speaking confessions and prayers from the heart are not the only essential steps in breaking soul ties. The same site above stresses the need to get rid of the things that remind you of the person and the broken relationship. While I had already returned (fourteen years ago) the engagement ring from my ex-fiancé only a week after our breakup, I must admit that several months back when I wrote my previous post, I still had a few small things kept somewhere.

So I resolved to take off a few leaves (with written notes related to my ex) from an old notebook…. I also pulled out a leftover picture from an old photo album…. What else? Some more post cards…. They all deserved to vanish, so I threw them into the fireplace. They are “to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt” (Deut. 13:16). The emotions they tried to rekindle have been ushered to death, never to resurrect or bother once again.

Moving on necessitates a symbolic and decisive act. Isn’t it a lot easier to move on without any visible baggage from the past?

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” — Isaiah 43:18, 19a


Moving On

READ: Philippians 3:12-16

Marrying your first boyfriend or girlfriend is quite romantic. Having an ex, though, or a number of them gives you experiences to learn from.

To think and say that “Past is past…” sounds appropriate. But believe me, sometimes it’s nothing more than a cliché—overused and abused—while it doesn’t really speak of the truth inside your heart. If you have an ex, chances are, you might have had a few recurring dreams about the unforgettable guy or lady from your past. You may have wondered how it would feel to see him or her again, now that you are happily married.

Guess what…. The real test whether you have moved on or not doesn’t actually lie on having a new partner or a spouse. An unplanned personal encounter will reveal the real score.

Six years ago, I happened to meet my Korean ex-boyfriend in Baguio City where my family and I were supposed to attend a three-month training school. He was not one of our fellow students, but unfortunately, he served as interpreter for a Korean couple who were our classmates. Somehow, I knew it that I would see him there, but I wasn’t expecting he would be a part of the school.

My husband was even teasing me as to how my reaction and feelings would be. We had gotten married a year after the breakup. My ex did three or four years later…. I was just curious how it would feel, since our relationship was ended only through a series of communication by phone calls and letters. As far as my knowledge, I had completely released forgiveness and let bygones be bygones despite the lack of a formal breakup.

The first time I saw him in eight years, I just couldn’t explain how awkward and uncomfortable it was. I must admit having mixed feelings…. Angry? Yes, for finally seeing the coward—the man who did not have the guts to break up with me in person. Ecstatic? Yes, sort of, because there was still a soft spot in my heart for him.

Thank God that my hubby has been blessed with security and understanding! He knew it that I struggled for days and weeks with my mixed emotions. There were also times when I would get to see the wife of my ex. With a bit of jealousy, I thought, “Good for them! They want to have a baby, but until now they are childless….” All the while I was so proud then of having a lovely four-year-old daughter.

Guilty of all my negative thoughts, I consulted a professional counselor who was also our speaker in the school during that week. I went on with my confession about my ex … that it was a relationship that was hoped to end up in marriage eight years ago…. The third party was no one but God … and that I couldn’t help but still be resentful … and yet at the same time it’s crazy that I would often catch myself secretly staring at him….

The counselor smiled and assured me that what I was going through was normal, considering the lack of a proper closure in my previous relationship. Also, it became clear to me that every intimate and serious involvement with the opposite sex creates soul ties that cannot be easily broken by time, distance or mere physical separation.

So we did cut off my soul ties with my ex verbally and spiritually in prayer. I wanted to settle things out with a formal heart to heart talk and tell him right on his face, “I’m releasing you…. I’m moving on with my life… I speak blessings to you and your wife….” I was told, however, that it was unnecessary. But even if I wasn’t able to do things as I wanted, I thank God that He has brought real healing in my heart through bumping into the man who caused my heartbreak.

I can only look back and smile at the past for all the precious lessons it has blessed me with. With no bitterness and regrets, I can say that I have moved on. Like the Apostle Paul I declare, the one thing I do…is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead (Phil. 3:13).

His Ways are Higher

READ: Jeremiah 29:13-14

I fell in love with the Oriental culture and its people. No wonder a Korean friend and I smoothly embarked into a special relationship that was hoped to end up in marriage. After less than 8 months, however, he broke up with me due to a third party that was no one but God. It was like the end of the world to me and I felt like dying and quitting ministry. My hope livened up, though, for our reconciliation. I kept on praying, “Lord bring him back…. I don’t want a Filipino…. I only want him … not a Filipino Lord….”

I just didn’t know that God’s answer to my prayer would come sooner than expected. That was in a Sunday service when the pastor read a passage in Acts 3. Verse 22 specifically caught my attention: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you” (emphasis mine).

With such an impression that was contradictory to my heart’s desire, I managed to say to myself that it couldn’t be from the Lord. But I had yet to be dumbfounded.

Two of our frontier staff came back from the field to spend a few weeks in the YWAM Zamboanga Center. Joel, who was one of the two, was telling me of a number of his dreams that had come to pass. So I asked, “Why is it that most of your dreams are coming true?” His answer: “Because my name is Joel— prophet Joel.”

Incidentally Joel is a Filipino, so again I tried to rebuke silently, “In Jesus’ name! It couldn’t be Joel!” I realized, though, I had to repent for using the name of Jesus in vain. It turned out my “spiritual warfare strategy” just didn’t work— Joel is now my husband and we’ve been married for 10 years now.

As the heavens are higher than the earth, 

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

– Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)