Sunday, March 27, 2016

Your Purpose for This Generation

A friend passed away in her hospital bed last week. She was only 45. Too young to die in midlife, I lamented. She left three children who are all still going to school. She has dreams for her family and for herself, but now she wouldn't be able to fulfill them in this temporal setting. We who love her are somehow comforted when we try to see things through teary eyes of faith, believing in the wisdom of God's sovereign purpose.

Then I remembered a shepherd boy-turned-king named David who lived a full life: "For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay" (Acts 13:36). King David conquered the city of Jerusalem and made it a flourishing capital; united the north and south kingdom into one Israel; drove away their many enemies; and paved the way for a succession of leadership over Israel and the building of the grand temple by his son Solomon. Most of us would be timid to compare our resume with the beloved king's curriculum vitae. I wouldn't; there's no comparison at all.

Yet reading a line from Samuel Bakutana's devotional article from Light for the Writer's Soul* sparked hope in me today. "Every Christian writer is a gift to his or her generation." Furthermore, he said, "We often underrate the greatness of God's writing gift in us...we often utilize that gift with slow speed, little passion and almost no urgency."

Though I have dedicated God's writing gift to me for His use, I feel guilty at times of not making the most of every opportunity to write more books, help an author reach more readers by translating his material, or work with a writer in polishing his or her manuscript. I allow myself to be distracted by scrolling down further and clicking more links on my Facebook. Or I take a break from the computer screen to focus on the TV screen and linger much longer. I blame lethargy for postponing a translation project that's long overdue. And I admit, sometimes multi-tasking didn't help accomplish more what I thought I could.

If I want to fufill my God-given purpose for this generation, I must use through God's grace what was entrusted to me--time, talent, treasure, things--while I'm still here on earth. In the end, we don't compare our accomplishments against our siblings or colleagues. We will be judged according to how faithful we have been in using our gifts to fulfill our purpose for this generation.

*Light for the Writer's Soul: 100 Devotions by Global Christian Writers is jointly published by Media Associates International and Armour Publishing. To order, please click on the links.

 How will you serve God and this generation effectively in today's turbulent times? Our Anchor in a World Adrift by Jon Hirst and Marlene Legaspi-Munar tackles seven things that are changing our world (refugee crisis, economic instability, disconnection in a digital world, shifting sexual morality, secularism, suicide, and the quest for spiritual home) and how you can make a difference. To order, click here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Slow Down

As cars and jeeps honk and snake their way to downtown, I silently sent a request. "Lord, please make this a quick trip." I recalled my itinerary for the day--pay bills, make deposits, buy groceries. I wanted to finish everything quickly so I can get back home and continue writing. But when I reached downtown, instead of going to the bank, I followed the alley leading to a cafe. I haven't had a full breakfast and my tummy wants to be filled.

I scanned the menu and ordered a sausage penne and lemon cucumber shake. I was hoping I could finish the brunch in a few minutes so I could then go to the bank, but I saw a reminder in front of the cash register: We slow-cook your meal so please bear with us. Oh, maybe that's one reason why the small restaurant has a shelf of books. So while waiting for my meal, I randomly picked one. The title is The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in  Love with The God Jesus Knows. I began to browse.

I surveyed the table of contents and saw that the last chapter has the most interesting title: How to Make a Pickle. It's subtitle gives a hint on what the chapter is about: Soul Training: Slowing Down. The author, James Bryan Smith, reminds us readers to slow down so we can get a clear perspective of things and hear from God. Actually, I've been planning to go on a personal retreat the next day. I've just been dispatched.

So I'm slowing down for a day or two. And yes, I'm enjoying the view.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Morning Blessing

I stepped out of the house for my early morning walk and talk with God.  The air is chilly and fresh. No bustling sound coming from the main road a few meters away from our place. No belting from videoke enthusiasts in the neighborhood. It's too early for that. Even the birds are still asleep. I couldn't hear even a faint delightful chirping. Perfect moment.

I uttered a prayer. Bless me, O Lord with the joy of  Your presence. Increase my rejoicing with Your wonderful promises. Make me happy with answers to my prayers. 

I needed God's comforting presence. The past days have given me enough reasons to weep, worry and be worn. Two friends lost their fathers. A contagious virus struck my son at a time when he needed to complete requirements for graduation. For months now, I've been looking and hoping to find a lost item. And we've been praying for an important application to be finally approved. I desperately needed God's presence and promise. And so I prayed.

In my past conversations with God, He would speak as I open the Scriptures. Sometimes the verse is the exact answer to my question. But at times, I would read a passage that has nothing to do with the thought that's troubling me. Then I would just trust that God heard me anyway. I may not get my answer now, maybe it will come later, or not at all. God's silence doesn't mean His absence.

But this morning, God answered my prayer with a promise as I turned to a Bible reading guide and discovered the verse for the day. It's Romans 15:13. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Joy and peace come from trust in God, but such trust is finally the gift of God, for believers abound in hope only by his grace (ESV Study Bible). Thank You, LORD for enabling me to trust You, and as I trust You, You fill my heart with gladness. What a blessing for this lovely morning.