I cannot contain what God has done in me throughout the NLTC in one post. I have decided to take bite-sized pieces and chew on them slowly, for I'm afraid to miss out on important flavors and nutrients. I am thankful that He generously revealed Himself to me, for I sought Him with all my heart.
Our theme for the week-long conference was taken from John 10:10 in Today's English Version, wherein Jesus said, “I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.” Fullness of life may only be perfectly or completely realized when we see Him face to face in heaven, but we could also experience fullness of life in this world, if we let Him. I learned to let go of what I thought an abundant or full life meant in the days that I spent serving in Butuan City.
God is moving me once again, and I have to make decisions in my career, family, service, community, state of life, and even domicile before the year ends. This is enough to rattle me, but with God's assuring touch throughout the morning prayers, the plenary sessions, the tracks, night events, and retreat talks, I was able to surrender my life once more with abandon.
Whatever notions I had about holiness, mission, service, and purpose in life were challenged during the NLTC. God could choose to use me, and He could choose not to. What He was longing to do was to bless me, love me, and give me fullness of life. Whatever "good/holy things" I was holding on to, if they were hindering me from accepting God's unconditonal love for me, had to go. Repeatedly, God asked me to "let go" and to seek closure.
Brothers and sisters I had unfinished business with approached me and discussed issues, some dating years past, so that I could be at peace with my relationships. God spoke to me about my service as National Administrator, and the Chairman of the Lingkod Board, Tito Eddie, confirmed what the Lord said, that He was after my heart, not my particular service. Karreen prayed over me and spoke God's word - that He longed to see me resting in Him, and I need not search for a mission place to do so, for He would be in my heart wherever I go.
The Friday prayer meeting was a time of tears for me, for I let God strip away all of my latest attachments, all of the things that had become my source of pride. Bobby Q. is a gifted preacher, and being my friend I felt he was using my life as an example in his talk! Of course that wasn't true, but I was just struck by the truths that he pointed out. It was a painful process.
Yes, God allowed me to have fun while hosting the Thursday night NLTC Singing Icons (a la Philippine Idol), but I had to admit to Him that if He didn't pull a miracle by returning my voice, I wouldn't have been able to stand up on stage and say my lines properly. I wasn't able to sing, and that in itself was a lesson for me. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
I experienced love and care from the brothers and sisters, for while I was backing out from the hosting job, they sent encouragement and medication my way, and these strengthened me enough that I was able to have fun while hosting with Roman. The Lord knew what I liked to do, He really did let me have some fun as a form of rest from the admin concerns of the NLTC.
I was able to serve with passionate, generous and loving brothers and sisters, from Lingkod Butuan, to the service team, to the national staff, and finally, to the fantastic crew of Almont Hotel's Inland Resort. All I had to do was stand, the rest were well taken care of.
I was able to pray despite the busyness of the service. I tried to hide from Jesus during the retreat, but Menchie's words reached my heart and rested there. How could Jesus give me the living water if I insisted on the water that could not quench my thirst? I was cornered. I was found out. I was thirsty and yet I didn't know what was best for me. I doubted Jesus' love for me. I doubted His promise. For I thought He wanted a busy me, an important me, a special me. Long after I had realized how totally human, weak, and vulnerable I was, I still insisted on finishing a service that I was ill-suited for. It wasn't life-giving anymore, to me or to the people I claimed to serve. I wasn't being a good witness because of my pride and my fears.
Now for the first time in my life, I have no plan. I will rest. I will wait. I will discern. I will pray. I am open to receive fullness of life, to drink from the source of living water that never runs out, to be healed.
But I am so afraid to admit that I am thirsty, and that I need healing. May the people around me love me despite this strange new twist in my journey.
The warrior, the lawyer, the missionary, is once more a child. I need to pause for a while. I might take time. I can give, I can serve, I can share, but not now.
I hope the people closest to me would understand. If they don't, I hope I have enough strength to endure their disappointment. For I can make plans, but the Lord knows better, and I trust Him more than anyone.
What are gifts, if not to be used for God's glory? What are skills, if not to be used for God's service? What is life, if not to be spent seeking God?
I am increasingly disengaging myself from all that is familiar, and predictable, and expected of me. I live now to please my Audience of One.