Monday, April 30, 2007

Am I Royal?

I recently went to a camp in which some full-timers (people who have dedicated themselves to full-time ministry) joked that I have Filipino-Chinese ministry's "royal blood." It was an interesting comment, though I did not know exactly what to feel when it was said.

All my life, I have been identified as the grandchild of Rev. Ang, the daughter of Rev. Reyes, the niece of the junior Rev. Ang, the grand-niece of Rev. Huang, the grand-niece of Rev. Go, and so on and so on. This identity has always born with it its share of concern, of pressures, of love, and of expectations.

I have no complaints about my position, as I trust it to be a divine appointment of God. However, it is oftentimes a temptation to wonder, "What would life be like otherwise?"

Am I royal? Are the expectations and pressures I have to face any more demanding that those laid upon other teenagers? In other words, do I have the right to complain?

Yesterday was my grandfather's 70th birthday, and we conducted a thanksgiving service to commemorate God's grace in his life and in his 42 years of ministry. As the representatives from different churches took the stage to describe his ministerial work in their respective churches over the years, a realization came over me.

This is the heritage I have--42 years of ministry for my grandfather, 23 years of ministry for my father, almost 20 relatives in the ministry. I never asked God for these, but He gave it all to me. Those four hundred people sitting their with their smiles and support, the numerous church workers who helped with the thanksgiving service...these are God's gifts to me.

God's grace is sufficient. No, wait, His grace is more than enough.

Even if I face expectations that appear to be higher than usual, I also have the heritage, the support, and the guidance to live up to them. I do not need to wallow in self-pity, claiming that I have a life more pressured than I can bear. Instead, I ought to build my life upon what the Lord has given to me, to reach what He has ordained for me.

"Royal blood" may bring pressures that are beyond the usual. Yet at the same time, it offers a heritage beyond compare.

I do not intend to boast. It is all about God. I am nothing but a little girl overwhelmed by the wonder of what He has done in my life. And the only response I can have is to strive to be all He wants me to be, trusting daily that His love is everlasting, His grace sufficient, and His strength ever perfect.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Why I Should Trust

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what the Lord has prepared for those who love Him."--I Cor. 2:9

As my family prepares for the celebrations of my maternal grandfather's 70th birthday, I will finally post something with a lighter tone. After all, Christian life is equally if not more about rejoicing in our God than in cowering beneath His chastisement.

The above is my favorite Bible verse. The things that we see and hear in this world are already indescribable, be it nature, techonology, or anything pertaining to complex humanity. Then there are also the things we imagine, the things our mind conceive as combinations of our former ideas and experiences. And yet, the Lord declares that none can compare to what He has prepared for those who love Him.

A friend once shared an idea with me: if the imperfect love that we chase after in our youth may already feel so good to the mind and heart, then how wonderful indeed must be the true love that the Lord has prepared for our future! Even though this statement may primarily address the issue of romantic love, its principle stands true in every aspect of Christian life.

What we may consider as the best pales in comparison to what God has planned--things beyond our human conceptions.

Who could have expected my grandfather, nearly the youngest in his family, to be instrumental in bringing our other relatives to the Lord? Who could have imagined that my parents would meet each other with negative impressions only to be gladly celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary this year? Who could have thought that a little gospel center in Malabon so many years ago would grow to be the nearly 400-person congregation it is today? Really, who could have known?

God is amazing.

As a young girl facing various uncertainties in the near future, I have to admit it is oftentimes incredibly difficult to completely trust in the goodwill of the Lord. Yet if what He has prepared is even more than anything I can ever imagine...what have I to doubt?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Retreat Woes

In our recent church family retreat, I had to sing back-up for the five major worship time slots, in addition to translating twice for another church’s camp, in addition to counselling a young child or two, in addition to socializing more with the people of our church. It was a full, full schedule. Take note of the fact that I was among the retreat’s youngest official officers (people with their names in the handbook), and the list seems more impressive.

People have always taken me for a ministerial prodigy who is multi-talented and extremely capable. Over the years, I have enjoyed that image, and I went to our retreat this year with a desire to prove myself to truly be a young ministry “supergirl.” After all, I had my schedule and age as evidence.

Yet once more, I was wrong.

In reference to my previous post, I did serve the Lord with thanksgiving. And I also felt humbled to be used by Him time and again. However, I was thankful and humble with the wrong goal in mind. Instead of delighting in the fact that God could use me for His glory, I was excited to use God’s work in this retreat to add another building block to my reputation. Instead of desiring my efforts to prove how wonderful He is, I awaited the product of my “service” to prove my ability.

God’s rod struck me again. This time, it did not strike in an area as obvious to the eye as physical frailty…it struck me on my weakest, most girlish, most childish place—my heart.

I do not wish to go into details. Suffice it to say that many unpretty, painful emotions that I thought I had long overcome came flooding over me again during those hours of the retreat. It was horrible, facing a tight schedule and a throbbing heart simultaneously. I had enough strength to fulfill my duties, but with so much pain that I had to constantly cry out to the Lord for help. Well, I guess that’s what He wanted to have happen.

It is one thing to rely on the Lord’s power for His glory, entirely another to abuse it for one’s own acclaim. God had to give me some spanking before I remembered that.

They were painful to undergo, but those emotional struggles successfully reminded me that I was merely a “child of weakness” in God’s eyes who would fail in any attempt to glorify herself. Thus now, looking back, I thank God for those pains, piercing as they were during their peak. The Chinese say that “Good medicine is bitter to the mouth.” I thank God for that bitter medicine, knowing that it was a good and timely medication for me.