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!

God of Restoration

READ: 1 Peter 5:6-11

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My daughter (when she was a toddler) and my three-year-old boy simply love books. How I wish they were bookworms. But the thing is they just enjoy turning the pages–until they get bored and start scrunching and tearing them to pieces.

Naturally, I would discipline my kids and explain to them that books are precious…. How many children’s books were destroyed? Well, I’m not exactly good in math.

Where I’ve been “expert,” though, is in the art of restoring the pages of each book. No matter how many pieces are there, I would take time to pick them up and put them together with a transparent adhesive tape. It gives me fulfillment that even though the books no longer look perfect, they are fixed and back in shape to serve their purpose again.

Amazingly, we have a GOD who does the same thing…. There may have been times when mistakes, hurts, disappointments, worries, fear, anger, unforgiveness, or the enemy’s attacks have set in and messed up our lives…. There we stand miserable, broken and rendered useless. Yet as we come to Him, becoming as humble and consenting as those lifeless bits of paper are, our God begins to pick up our mess and put the pieces back together.

Nothing is wasted in the hands of our creative God…. And His grace is a lot better than any kind of adhesive tape. Our pages may not look perfect yet in our own eyes, but it pleases Him when we’re back in shape to serve His purposes in our lives.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered  a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”

–1 Peter 5: 10 (NIV)

All About Grace

Peter came up to the Lord and asked, “How many times should I forgive someone….?” Jesus answered: “Not just seven times, but 77 times.” – Matthew 18:21-22 (CEV)

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“Enough. I give up.” This was all I could think of, while I was on a bus on the way to my church’s Sunday worship service. My husband and I couldn’t settle some differences and I was really offended, upset and on the brink of quitting on my marriage.

Seven years were too much. I made up my mind and I was already thinking of an annulment. I didn’t have the money for it, but at least, I thought I might as well strive to make things legal. It was as though I had reached a certain level of emotional stability that I would no longer feel hurt no matter what happens.

As I started to consider some options on what I am going to do with my then five-year-old daughter, I still managed to pray and ask God to intervene in our situation.

It was time to get off from the bus. Alone by myself, I walked in to our worship service. The church bulletin was handed to me by one of the ushers. I couldn’t believe what I just read—that Sunday’s preaching topic was on “Holiness.” I quietly said to myself, “How appropriate for my husband…. He should have been here with me.”

After a series of songs by the worship team, our pastor came up the stage and welcomed everyone. He proceeded with his preaching, “…I was actually supposed to preach on ‘Holiness’ this morning, but the Lord impressed on me earlier to speak on ‘Grace’ instead…” He went on to articulate, “Grace is about forgiving…77 times…it is limitless…. It is about peace-making…. Grace is about not giving up….”

The message, which I thought should have been for my husband, turned out to be absolutely for me. It stabbed and softened my stubborn heart. Dumbfounded on my seat, I had no choice but to cry and repent of my legalism and self-righteousness.

I went home humbled and ready for peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. Well, the rest is history. Until now I couldn’t help but be amazed with how God’s has intervened in my marriage relationship. He has erased words such as I give upenough… and annulment from my vocabulary.

The lesson I learned: God is able to save and restore our marriage to the extent that we allow Him to be the center of our relationship. Above all, our God is a gracious God. We are able to receive and extend His grace only for as long as we let Him reign in our hearts.

Who dominates your heart and marriage relationship?