Friday, January 16, 2009

What I learned these last seven days

As I’ve mentioned in my last post, we just concluded our 7-day Prayer and Fasting today. The last seven days were powerful and exciting. Hearing the testimonies of breakthroughs today (like our church mate, soprano Alexis Edralin being healed of leukemia) was awesome. You can’t help but be amazed at how our God works.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to document some of the things I learned in the last 7 days. So here goes.

1. Be open. This seems to be the operative phrase for my life in 2009. If I am to walk in faith this year, I need to be open. I don’t have to know exactly where I’m going for as long as I trust Who is leading. Step by step. Day by day. I don’t know what the future holds but I am certainly open to anything.

2. The walls I thought were there were walls I made up. I don’t want to make excuses anymore. There are a lot of things I have not been able to do in my life because I was too scared to do them. I was too intimidated, too insecure. There was always an excuse why I couldn’t, why it wasn’t going to happen, why it was not possible. I failed to remember that even if I couldn’t, it says in the bible that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”(Philippians 4:13) Even when things seem impossible, it says in the Bible that “with man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible”(Matthew 9:26) and “everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23) I’m tired of making excuses. This is the year to walk on water.

3. God opens doors but it’s still up to us to do the walking. I can’t tell you how many times God has opened doors for me just this week . They were clearly wide open doors but although walking would have been a no-brainer, I still had to muster up the courage to go for it. It is no wonder God had to tell Joshua FOUR times in Joshua 1 alone to “be strong and courageous.” The fear will always creep in. But if we have faith and believe that God “will be with you(us); … will never leave you(us) nor forsake you(us)” (Joshua 1:5), it becomes easier to take the first step.

4. Prayer calms me. I have to admit I wasn’t praying as much as I should have been the first few days of fasting. I was too busy not eating, it seemed. By Monday, I could feel that something was terribly wrong. I was jittery and not at peace at all. I talk to God all the time. When I wake up, while I’m in the shower, as I get out of the house, when I ride a cab, while I drive, when I get to work, when I get on the bus to go home, when I ride a cab from the mall, when I’m about to sleep. But pockets of prayer, for me, are not enough. I need TIME to pray, to just go into a room, be alone and pray.

I also need to pray for others. I have had many people, especially those who are new in church, tell me that they wished they knew how to pray like I did. Well, believe it or not, I could not pray for anyone out loud to save my life back in 2004, when I first started attending Victory. So, in January of 2005, the first year I joined Prayer and Fasting, one of my faith goals was to receive the gift of intercession. I have no idea when I actually learned but I found myself praying for more and more people and I was even quoting scripture I didn’t even know I knew at the time. So last Monday, I told God I will not let this day end without praying for someone. So I prayed for someone. The next day, I was very tired and very down because of something that happened at work. When I got to the prayer meeting, I was listless. Something was going on inside of me. I knew right then I had to pray. So I did, not for myself but for two people God led me to pray for that night. I left the Victory Center with joy in my heart and energy that kept me up until 2:00 A.M.

5. This is going to sound funny but when it gets cold, wear socks and double up on blankets. I have never felt so cold in my life. I remember going to the south of France when I was 11 and experiencing snow for the first time. Yes, it was cold, but I knew I was going to be cold so I was ready with warmers under my jeans, layers and layers of clothing, gloves, very thick socks and snow boots. Who would have thought we’d need to wear cold weather clothes in Manila! My blanket in the condo where I stay is flimsy. I don’t have airconditioning there and that’s why I never thought to bring thicker blankets. So I was freezing for a good 7 days. Until I realized I could wear socks to sleep. Then another realization hit me: I could buy a cheap, thick blanket. I didn’t even know they sold blankets in the grocery! Good, thick ones for only P199! That night, I slept comfortably with double blankets and thick socks keeping my feet warm.

My point? There are times in our lives when unexpected things happen. It gets cold in Manila. Go figure. But these things happen and most of the time, we are not ready for them. So we settle for suffering. We suffer through cold nights thinking “gosh, this is just my lot in life.” You forget your socks are in your closet, just a few steps away from where you’re shivering. You forget the malls sell blankets of all kinds and the mall is just right next where you work.

We always have a choice. It says in John 10:10 that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have (has) come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Life to the full. Sounds good, right? Granted, it may not always be comfortable, may be downright cold, even painful sometimes. But many times we forget that God is always there. And we have a choice. Do we go on suffering through life or do we choose God who “is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” “Though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging,” God promises to be with us. Cold, sleepless, fearful nights or safe, warm, and secure knowing that God who created the universe is surely bigger than all your problems and issues combined. Hmmm… Tough choice, huh?

Sometimes all we have to do is ask.

In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me” -Psalm 118:5-6