Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Love at First Sight

No, I've never experienced that, and I don't believe that true lasting love could be entirely established upon a single initial audience. However, observation and experience tell me that in all things, there is something enchanting about the first view, something particularly wonderful in being awed by a person, place, or thing at first sight. That is what I'm talking about.

God has planted numerous blessings in each of our lives, and I personally know that I am overwhelmingly blessed. Yet sadly, taking things for granted every day is far easier than being grateful for what has already been given. God gives us reminders, and I do not want to neglect those reminders, lest God apply greater and more painful ones to grab our attention.

I live inside the church building, and the parsonage we occupy is a charming apartment indeed. Our church building is massive for our current congregation's size, with large halls, countless function rooms, and impressive technical support. As if that were not enough, God has bestowed upon UECM many talents in areas from music to computer, from cooking to preaching. Yet how often to I live like I remember these things? Not often, I'm afraid.

This past month, I've had the chance to entertain almost two dozen church visitors around the place upon different occasions. As I tour my friends around the building, narrating numerous details along the way, I am influenced once more to look at the place as "at first sight." As we tried out all those instruments, walked through every room, recounted all those tidbits, and discussed all those systems, I am awed once more by what God has granted our undeserving church and family. There is no real love at first sight, but there is a wonder and admiration in it that I do not want to lose.

Whenever blessings are being taken for granted, I now remind myself to take a step back to imagine myself as someone seeing for the first time my life. The spiritual heritage, the family support, the concerned friends, the various opportunities to serve, and the unbelievable blessing of God's election...I am blessed indeed.

And take a deep breath, my friends. I think you are indeed blessed too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

An Unexpected Adventure

Our family had an unexpected adventure last night. Well, it really was unexpected, and the tension and uncertainties involved could allow it to be called an adventure.

Dad, mom, Wen, Dan, and Kye were all shopping together at the mall late Wednesday afternoon when our father's cellphone rang as it does so often around the clock. The result of that call was rather urgent. A certain bereaved family from our church was in a worrisome state, and there were are many things that my dad needed to help settle with them as soon as possible.

In prompt response to duty and concern, the five of us quickly finished our shopping list and piled into our SUV. The rain was pouring hard, and the sky was growing dark. It didn't look like a good day for a family trip.

Our church member resides in a more sparsely populated part of Manila, within the area of Novaliches, and my dad was not sure of the way. He turned at a forkroad that led us to a very jam-packed road, and we were stuck to advance onto the highway whether we liked it or not. The rain was pouring, the sky was dark, and my dad was upset.

We edged along the highway, trying all our might to find a way to turn back. There was none. The rain was pouring, the sky was dark, the road was slippery, my mom was sleepy, we kids were tired, and my dad was upset.

"It's a waste of time, of gas, and of energy!" my dad exclaimed, frustrated that we could not get to our member's home sooner. The turn of events was rather disheartening, and we were all weary of the day. We exited the highway at the first stop, and the trip wore on with rickety roads, screeching wipers, and blurry lights in the dark of unfamiliar territory.

Then suddenly, my mom turned around to 9-year-old Kye. "Hey Kye," she piped up with a smile, "it's an adventure, and this time you are around to be part of it." Kye flashed his adorable grin. He had always complained that he was born too late to witness many family adventures, but this time he was there to be part of it.

Yes, why not think of it as an adventure? So we did.

From that point onwards, my dad didn't complain, my mom couldn't sleep, and all three of us were full of energy. Together as a family, we asked repeatedly for directions, some ambiguous and some amazing accurate. We tried to look for landmarks, ridiculous as some of them seemed. We turned into a one way, the vehicle shook along with the bad roads, we met a truck face-on...but it was all fun. A discouraging journey had turned into an unexpected adventure.

We finally arrived at our member's home an hour later than expected. By God's grace, however, that hour of supposed agony had become an hour of memories. Little Kye was thrilled, and so were the rest of us. It was an interesting piece for the family puzzle, and I know I will treasure it in the years to come.

Thank God for the unexpected adventure. Thank God for the unexpected memories.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Hidden Identity

I am a girl who has grown up within the world of ministry, and as a natural result, my identity is found in my relation to those who are in the ministry--my great big pastoral clan.

As I have previously mentioned, I've always been known as the grandchild of Rev. Ang, the daughter of Rev. Reyes, the niece of the junior Rev. Ang, and so on. My position in relation to these ministers molded me to be everything I am today, and it is also this position that defines my identity.

As I grow up, therefore, there is oftentimes an impulse to desire more personal recognition. I tell my parents and friends that I want to be Wenslyn, not merely the daughter or niece of this pastor and that pastor, not just a living homeschool testament, not just a ministerial starlet of the United Evangelical Church of Malabon. I am discontented that "I" should be recognized only in relation to others.

Yet God convicted me with an unexpected reminder this past week. As I was reading Elizabeth Elliot's book Let Me Be a Woman, I came across a chapter wherein the author reprimanded young wives who would be unwilling to be known only in relation to their husband. These young women argue that they want to be known as someone in themselves, not merely as "Mick's wife" or "Dave's wife." They want personal attention.

While I might not be able to directly apply that lesson in my life right now, the principle hit close to home. Like these young women, I am dissatisfied to have my identity hidden in that of others. Out of my pride, I am too selfish to be happily known by the position God has given me.

If I cannot be contentedly associated with the reputation of my family, how could I ever rejoice in being hidden in the glory of my King? If I am so concerned that people should recognize "me," how would I point them to Christ?

It is a lesson to learn indeed.

"He must increase, I must decrease," my life verse reads. May God continue to teach me this lesson. Let me be hidden, Lord, in Your glory.