Right Place at the Wrong Time

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” — 1Peter 5:6

How many of you have gone to the place of your dreams only to find out that the timing was not so favorable? It must have felt like having a glass full of ice-cold water poured on your warm head. Frustration and worries obviously tried to steal my joy when it happened to me about two years ago.

While I marveled at the favor of renewing my passport via the DFA courtesy lane and seeing it stamped with a multiple entry visa at the U.S. Embassy, my 2016 U.S. trip did not exactly come out as an opportune breakthrough. Yes, I made it to the land flowing with milk and honey! I enjoyed the clean air, the warmth of the American culture and the luxury of their Thanksgiving celebration. But the discomfort of the coming winter season was too much for my system to manage. And so, it dawned on me that maybe I was in the right place at the wrong season.

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The conference venue in Grand Prairie looks amazingly spacious, but the multicultural environment only reminds me of a YWAM conference.

It was not an issue to come back home to the Philippines in about a month had I met my expectation of being able to promote my book to thousands of audience. Unfortunately, the conference my former pastor (with two other church leaders) and I attended only had a few hundred participants. Our pastor was supposed to speak, but he did not even make it to share his testimony. So why even bother to insist on my book promotion?

I would have come back home financially blessed had I been brave enough to extend my stay and accept a job offer to serve as a home care worker in Michigan or simply assist my sister in Texas for a month or two. Honestly, though, I wasn’t that brave or self-sacrificing for an adventure that others wouldn’t mind stepping into for the sake of their families.

My elder sister was also too protective to release me to go to other places other than back home. Although she was generous enough to tour me around and fund my shopping spree, I just felt like I was stuck in their house. I wasn’t able to do what I thought would have compensated my unmet expectations.

Was it a consequence of some unwise decisions? Maybe pride had crept in from the start as I was looking to prove my worth. Maybe I had placed things in my hands and not under the mighty hand of God. Despite all these maybes, I found encouragement from the timely preaching of the senior pastor of New Beginnings in Bedford. It wasn’t an accident that we made it to that church. He said, “Just when you think God is not at work or it seems He is not moving, He’s really doing something.”

The pastor expounded on the second chapter of the book of Joel. Verses 21-25 specifically spoke to me:

“Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things! Do not be afraid, you wild animals, for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches. Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm — my great army that I sent among you.”

Now as I reflect on what has gone wrong, the Lord has given me this assurance that in due time, and as I learn to humble myself under His mighty hand, I will be in the right place at the right time for the right reasons. The opportune moment is coming because our God is a God of second chances. He can intervene with His abounding grace to bring forth vindication and restoration!

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Our Spiritual Eyes

eyes

READ: Philippians 4:8-9

As an OC, I get irritated at times with mess, and I grow tired of too much unwholesome talks. Thank God that by His grace, He has given me eyes which dwell on the positive.

Whenever I see unpleasant or unfavorable situations, I normally get disappointed in a moment, but not after “wearing the eyes” that cool me down and bring me back to my normal adrenalin level. Thanks that these eyes are available whenever I need them.

The problem, though, is that sometimes I turn to be too independent. I forget those eyes, and I depend credulously on my own defective eyesight. The result—my surroundings and I repel, because both of us are “negatively charged.” I see somebody’s irresponsibility, and I get impatient. A brother or sister seems careless and unreasonable, and I become cynical. I glean through an unfulfilled dream, and I get bitter and depressed. Someone is in trouble, and I am too insensitive. Here come discouragement and disappointments.

Either an interpersonal or an intrapersonal conflict is present, simply because the God-given eyes are forgotten and left somewhere else. I have suffered a number of times the consequences of my neglect of these eyes. I treasure the lessons I’ve learned as I am still in the process of learning.

But God is not pleased when we keep on using our own eyes that center on ourselves—what we want and what we expect. Conflicts will be here and there if we won’t make use of the gift God has imparted.

Every Christian is just gifted with spiritual eyes. These eyes, which transcend superficiality and every form of facade, enable us to look not only to our own interests but also to the interest of others (Phil. 2:4).

Are we often caught grumbling as if we were carrying the whole world on our shoulders? Are we quick to detect imperfections, shortcomings and inconsistencies? Do we feel so discouraged and disappointed?

Perhaps we must learn the habit of “wearing our spiritual eyes.” These eyes focus on the positive side of everything and make us thankful under whatever circumstances. They represent the eyes of the Father. Do we look and see with His eyes?

“… Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

– Philippians 4:8

Reality Test

READ: Matt 6:24-34 (NIV)

My husband and I have been serving as missionaries under a non-salaried mission organization. While we raise our own support, we’ve experienced both living in lack and abundance and yet have learned to live a carefree life, with Matthew 6 really sinking in our hearts.

My family of origin, though, couldn’t fully accept our God-given vocation. My sister would often worry about me and ask, “What about going back to real work?… So what about your plans?… Your children? Don’t you have plans for their future?”

What sensible and practical questions that we had never seriously thought of. When I tried to put on my sister’s world view glasses, I actually began to ask myself, “Are we being irresponsible for not even thinking about our children’s future?” We have a seven-year-old daughter and a baby boy who both have a lot of growing needs. “Can we afford to raise them or give them good education?”

Honestly, I was caught unprepared and even a bit upset to answer my sister’s inquiries. I didn’t want to sound spiritual. But at the back of my mind, I know and I am confident of the answer. The first requirement in our calling is to trust God. He’s the Boss! We’ve seen His faithfulness in other people’s lives and in our lives as well. We only have to count His blessings and be faithful to His call. No more question marks…

I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be blessed.
— Psalm 37:25-26