Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Something Beyond the Theoretical

Over the years, I have seen some friends who went through months, even years, of joblessness. A few of them even had master’s degrees and double majors from top universities, and yet they each came to a point when nothing just seemed to fit. A sister from my action group in Lingkod shared with us that she was sustained throughout those lean years by God. “He provides for my needs”, Cindy assured us over our worried and sympathetic looks.

I used to wonder at how that worked practically, since manna did not fall from heaven anymore in my generation, and money did not grow from trees as far as my limited experience showed. Bushes didn’t talk anymore, and angels didn’t provide food and water to God’s servants running away from their persecutors. The time of Moses and Elijah belonged to the distant past. As far as I was concerned, flour and oil ran out and their jugs did not miraculously get refilled.

Last Monday, I counted that it had been one month since I resigned from my last job. How am I doing? People are kind enough to ask that. I can say this with conviction: I have moved beyond the theoretical in seeing and realizing the phrase “God will provide”. I am living it out 24/7.

1. God provides through my parents. I have a roof over my head even if I don’t pay rent. I used to berate myself for this, thinking I should get a place of my own already, but now that it’s next to impossible, I am appreciating this blessing. Utilities are paid even as I close my eyes when I hand them the bills from the mailbox. I close my eyes and dream of the day when I would once again be handling the groceries and giving my share for our bills.

2. God provides through my siblings. Even while I was a volunteer missionary, getting around 1/10 of my earning capacity (as a salary expert assessed), which let me just say did not bother me too much as it was part of what I got myself into, I did not need material things because my blood brothers and sisters often sent me things. Bags, perfumes, shirts and stuff came through the door, in balikbayan boxes and packages. They knew what to give me for birthdays and Christmas, too, the much-needed extra cash that I could use, to buy gifts for others!

3. God provides through my friends. I used to be overly sensitive about others paying for my meals, but I had to face my pride head-on and learn to accept my situation. I know it is better to give than to receive, but the time to give shall come, now I receive their offers to buy me lunch, dinner or coffee, as long as it isn’t the same person and I know I’m not abusing their generosity. One friend even described me as a “cheap date” as I always chose the hot drinks at Starbucks over his frappuccinos, and I explained that it was not so much the cost but the calories that I was concerned about. This was so far from the me who used to be regarded as a “high maintenance date”, a title I resented. I have a Starbucks planner mostly earned from friends’ treats and stickers, proof that even little whims are answered if they wouldn’t do me harm.

4. God provides through my community. This happens in countless, unexpected, and wonderful ways. Last night, I attended my last Action Group meeting in Lingkod QC and the sisters gave me an honoring – saying what they appreciated most about me as a sister – through beauty products, for they knew me as a beauty junkie. I got an eyemask because I was described as “relaxing” and an “eye-opener” to the beauty of Scripture study. I got lip gloss because I was said to be a gifted speaker and always shared with wisdom and love. I got a hand sanitizer because I was “clear” in dealing with sisters, quick to point out what needed to be said without beating around the bush; I made them “germ-free” because of loving correction; and “sweet but potent” because I made people laugh during my talks but deep inside I got the message across convincingly. I was surprised at their gifts and how they described me, because having been cooped up in my room for a month I had forgotten who I really was, a daughter of God and a follower of Christ, whom the Holy Spirit could use to share the good news to others.

The QT’s are my second home, for they allow me to live out my love for God. Of course I have to grow in love with another community and another service now (at the “Parokya ni Ella”, as they put it) but as far as committed Christian relationships went, Lingkod brothers and sisters have really seen me through the best and the worst of times. This is just one of them.

5. God provides by transforming me. The difference between “needs” and “wants” was vague to me until I lost all purchasing power in my wallet. Since I still did not trust myself around mall sales, I minimized my stays at the mall, arriving just in time for appointments and not strolling around too much lest the call of the huge discounts wreak havoc on my already precarious finances.

I sit here typing amidst my anxieties and doubts, chasing the blues away by counting my blessings and reminding myself that this too shall pass. Everything belongs to God and He can easily open doors for me. I try to follow His commands and explore job opportunities, but until the matter of my joblessness is addressed with finality, I have to deal with this humbling, learning experience. I often say that money is inversely proportional to time in my world, and ne’er the twain shall meet. Well, I really I hope they do at the right time.

Every single day I try to spend my time wisely by praying earnestly, receiving Communion, doing chores, running errands, pursuing opportunities, meeting old friends, making new ones, taking on service, giving up attachments, and drinking everything in from the Cup that is before me.

I am 32, single, jobless, and extremely blessed. Shudder, shudder. When I say that God provides us in our emptiness, at times in our lives when we have nothing to be proud of – no job, position, relationship, or accomplishment – I now speak from experience and not just from obedience. This is a sink-or-swim situation, and I’m one person who has always loved to swim. As Dory told the clown fish in “Finding Nemo” whenever he felt distressed and hopeless, “Just keep swimmin’… just keep swimmin’…”

What’s even better than swimmin’, on days when the current gets too rough, is the idea of floating and letting the water take me on its normal course. I am consciously aware that Jesus has the best solution, however, for He walks on water! I used to think I was walking towards Him, but I lost my focus and I started this sinking process. I am glad that He provides second chances, and when He calls, I hope to be ready to walk with Him again. For now, I’m practicing listening to His voice and turning to Him for all of my needs, so that I will be stronger against distractions.

Miracles don’t happen in ways we expect them to. Water is not turned into wine the same way it was when Jesus walked the earth. In my life, however, as in the lives of those who have offered everything to the Lord, there are miracle stories that are slowly recognized and appreciated, for they have to do with encouraging me to take one foot in front of the other, to live one day at a time, and to wait with expectant faith and unwavering hope, because God surely provides. Finally, I have seen how He does this in the example of my colorful life.

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