When God Closes A Door

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He proposed.

Not to me. But to her. The man I’ve been praying for for years is now someone else’s.

Can you relate? Is that a familiar song in your life? Perhaps you’ve been praying for someone you’d thought would make a good life partner. You thought the door was wide open, or even slightly ajar, only for it to be slammed shut. Or perhaps it’s a job or opportunity that you’ve been lifting up to God these past few months, or years.

We cannot twist God’s arm or bend Him to our will. But here are three lessons I’m learning from it.

1. It is God’s purpose.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I don’t see what God is doing behind the scenes. He brought this man into my life for a purpose. I can kick and wrestle, reasoning that God wouldn’t bring Him in if not to be my future spouse. But there are a thousand and one reasons for God to do so. I can only see within a finite and limited frame, but God sees all things. He can see ten, fifteen, twenty years from now and know what’s best for me.

When I met this man, I wasn’t a follower yet. I wanted to take my walk with Jesus seriously because I was following his example. I thought, this is the kind of woman he would be looking for. Indeed, but it’s not me. Nevertheless, God gripped me with an unsatiable thirst for Him, with or without this man. God used him to bring me closer to Him. And that is ten thousand better a reason than any temporal earthly relationship.

2. It is God’s protection.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? (Luke 11:11)

God hears my prayers. Or my rather lengthy list for a future spouse. This man, though on the outside is seemingly the perfect fit for me, may not be the best that God has in mind. God is the ultimate matchmaker. He’s not just thinking of what will give me joy now, but in the years to come as well. So much Kingdom time is lost on poorly made matches, says Gary Thomas in Sacred Search. In this case, God was sparing me.

The same is true for that dream job or perfect house or other closed doors. God knows us and our circumstances better than we know it. That glamorous job may be too stressful for you or it’s not really a good match of your skills and interests. Perhaps that rainbow-bright, white picket house may have a hidden leak or faulty foundation that years down the road would be a massive headache for you. We may not see how God is protecting us. But we can trust that He is.

3. It is God’s hope.

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? (Romans 8:24)

We are counting down the last few good single Christian men. Or are we? On one hand, I could, fist-in-air cry out, Lord, another one out the window! On the other, I could take it in stride and see that there are still men like him around. They are out there. I just need to be patient and wait.

There is hope. If not this one, then surely God is brewing something or someone out of the corner of heaven. He is raising up someone. He will speak that job into existence. Let’s not believe the lie that God is incapable of doing something right this very moment. Because He is. God wants that person to be a part of our life more than we do. Or for us to walk into His plan more than we seek for it. God is still in the business of answering our prayers.

But behind all this, there is one door that will never close for us. And that is Jesus. Through Him we have already gained everything. Let us continue to look to Him as our only source of purpose, protection and lasting hope.

 

 

 

When God wants to give you MORE

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It amazes me how God takes His time, beautifully crafting replies and reframing our perspective according to what He really means.

As I’ve been drowning out heaven with prayers for a mate FOR YEARS, I thought that what He meant with “immeasurably more” is with the partner He’ll give me. That if I’m praying for ten things I want in a future husband, then He’ll give me 15 more! Now that’s immeasurably more, right?

But I’ve come to realize that maybe that’s not what He meant. He wants me to have an abundant life (John 10:10). He doesn’t want me to just have a husband. He wants me to have a full life.

Remember the story of the woman at the well? She has had five husbands and yet she was still not satisfied with her life. She said to Jesus: “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:15, NIV) Five husbands and still thirsty!

So perhaps it’s not just one part of the equation that He wants to give us. He wants to give us so much more.

 

How to experience God’s “immeasurably more”

1. Let God define what is “more”. 

“Now to HIM who is able to do..” It starts with God. And He is the one who is able to do this. I could be wrong in what I want. But God knows me better than I know myself. So let go of what “more” looks like to you. For me, “more” is getting a better husband than what’s on my list. But God redefined that for me by giving me much more – a full life.

A husband would only be one of many relationships that I will have (albeit the most important if there is). But life covers a wide spectrum of needs – social, spiritual, emotional, physical, occupational, intellectual, environmental (Seven Dimensions of Wellness). So what about the rest? And this is where God wanted to meet me first. He wants me to experience wellness – establish healthy relationships with family and friends (social), be at peace with where He has me and experience joy no matter what (emotional), enjoy work and pursue passions (occupational and intellectual), learn how to take care of my skin and body (physical), live an organic and natural lifestyle (environmental), and most importantly, build my relationship with My Creator (spiritual).

Whatever “more” looks like to you, just let it go. Let God be the one to define it for you.

2. Know God as a Loving Father

Verse 20 is preceded with Verses 18 and 19: “(that you) may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

What is a loving father like? Fathers who care deeply about their children will not withhold good things from them. He will provide for all their needs and much more – toys, chocolates, birthday parties. He will not do this reluctantly but it would be his joy to give these things to his child.

We need to know that kind of love – how wide and long and high and deep, and which surpasses knowledge. That is how much He loves us. To see Him as a stingy, reluctant, unloving Father would limit who He is and what He can do in our lives.

Your earthly father may be different. Don’t confuse the two.

3. Start living the full life

“..According to his power that is at work within us.” As children of God, His very Spirit is at work within us. That full life began the moment we received Christ into our lives. So what does a full life look like to you? Don’t just look at it from one angle. Remember the Seven Dimensions of Wellness. Consider your relationships, work, spiritual life. All these factor in how well you live your life. You have a role to play. That immeasurably more is within your grasp as you recognize that power at work within you.

I don’t just sit around waiting for God to drop a husband on my lap. I live my life the best way I know how. I work on my relationships, I meet new people, I try out new things. I continue to seek God, know more of His Love for me and tell other people about it. I enjoy life and this is immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine.

Had He given me a husband first then I may not be able to appreciate this gift – a gnawing feeling may seethe deep within me as other aspects of my life are not satisfied. But He wants to answer that prayer, even ones that I have not uttered to Him. And so He is making sure that I am whole and complete first, not lacking in anything – and that is the fullness of life.

I don’t know what you’re praying for. But when we dictate too much what we want, we limit God. He wants to give us more than what we ask for, but first, we have to let Him. Let go of any expectations you may have on how God will answer you. Only then will you be able to recognize how God is already giving you that immeasurably more in this life. Let Him.

 

 

Taking that proverbial leap of faith

Today is my last day of the year here in the province.

I still remember that day my father talked to me. It was exactly five days before Christmas. He asked to talk to me at 4. I wondered what it could be. But I tried to think nothing of it.

By 4 I went to his unit. He was eating an orange. He gave me money. “Just a little something to buy gifts.” I was elated. I thought, hey whadyaknow, I got cash. Cool! Little did I know. And then he went on to talk about the situation of the business in the province.

Our manager quit. We need someone out there. We’ve been sending people but it hasn’t been working out. Yadda yadda yadda. Yawn.

“I want you to head our division over there.”

Huh?

“You mean I have to live there?” Anxiety was creeping in.

“Why, do you have to be here? This is business.”

Oh the curse that plagues Chinese families. Duty. Filial piety. More than that God’s word kept ringing in my head. Hupotasso – submit to your authority. Honor your father and mother – this is the first commandment with a promise. I knew that this was from God. Obedience.

The next day my ticket was booked. By the second day of the new year, I started my new role as region head of our exporting business.

I knew that God wanted me here. For reasons I may never know. Perhaps to get me alone with Him. To help me unlearn things that were hindering me in my walk with Him. To expand my borders, take me out of my comfort zone. To reach out to people here, serve in His ministry here. It could be all these or none of it. Only He knows.

But one thing for sure, He revealed a very precious truth to me here – how much He loves me.

Before I left Manila, I met up with a church friend. She asked me why I am hanging on to God. I said, because it’s the only thing that makes sense to me. For her, because she knows how much God loves her.

It was all still head knowledge for me. After walking with him for over a year, serving in church, leading a group, attending various bible studies. So I prayed, Lord, make me feel your Love.

Now I can say this. God loves me. He has been faithful to me even in the smallest of details.

A lot of times in the course of operations here, I can only say, Buti na lang (Good thing!). Good thing the Lord provided. Saved yet again! If not, it would have been a huge problem for me. He did say, do not worry (Matthew 6:25).

He provided a family for me here – my Sunday family (see previous post Windows) and my church family. He knew I needed support.

He got me to do new things – drive (driving in Manila scares me), regularly attend gym (yoga!), take voice lessons (I’ve wanted to do this for a looooong time. I love to sing!).

God knows what He is doing. I love the words of Oswald Chambers, Let Him have His way. Yes Lord, have Your way with me.

I doubt that this will be the last of “pruning” seasons that God has set for me. He wants to pour me out like wine that He may use me. All of life He prunes us ’til we reunite with Him in eternity.

This has been my 2014. I have declared it my Year of Faith.

God, can 2015 be my Year of Love?

This season of waiting on marriage

I’ve recently kicked my prayers into high gear when it comes to marriage. I’ve been hoping and praying for it for years but it’s only now that I’ve come to that place of also trusting God about it.

There are many views when it comes to waiting on God for marriage:

1. Just wait for it. It’ll come. No need to do anything. You don’t find it. It comes when you least expect it.

My problem with this view is it’s passivity. Of course, you pray about it and trust God but you can’t expect Him to just drop it on your lap. There’s His role and there’s my role. It’s just like praying about finding a new job. You can’t expect a call if you haven’t submitted resumes and gone to interviews right? You have to do your part as well and leave everything else to God.

I’m reminded of this story from Eat, Pray, Love. There was a man who’s been praying to God to win the lottery. Everyday he would pray, Lord, Lord please let me win the lottery. Finally, one day God answers him: OK, but buy a ticket first.

Again, I refer to the term ‘stepping out in faith’. I expect and believe that God will hear me and guide me as I meet new guys and start dating.

2. Jesus is your husband. Just focus on Him and it will come.

Of course, this isn’t entirely wrong. Jesus is the groom and the bride is the Church. We ARE His bride. And it’s also true that we must focus all our being on Him – soul, mind, body and strength – til other people become mere shadows in light of who He is. But if we give off that impression to others that we’re in this super holy season of just between Jesus and me, then they might find this intimidating and may not want to disrupt this season for you.

It all boils down to what God is leading you to in this moment – whether to stay still or to move into action.

3. You shouldn’t want to get married, then maybe it’ll come.

This comes as a guilt feeling that wanting it is bad and you should feel content and happy to be single.

Enjoy whatever season you’re in, whether single or married, no doubt about that. But there is such a thing as holy discontent that leaves room for improvement. If our intentions for getting married is pure, that is to honor God and fulfill His will, then wanting marriage is not a bad thing. The danger is wanting it too much. Then it becomes an idol and that’s another thing you’d have to settle in your heart.

Marriage is a good thing. No less God designed it for His enjoyment and ours. But not everyone is called to it. It’s a gift, a blessing as with anything that He entrusts us with. Some are handed the gift of singleness, some with the gift of marriage. It’s all dependent on His will, that which will purify us and prepare us for eternity with Him. And marriage is not a passport to those pearly gates. A personal relationship with Him is, through Christ. Everything else is secondary.

What to do when you hit a car

Last Wednesday was a monumental day for me.

1. I drove by myself for the first time going to and from work. (Yeyyy..)

2. I hit the car behind me as I was backing in the parking. (..yeee *confidence drops*)

So there I was, left helpless in the throes of this furiously hysterical woman whose car I had given a “peck”.

Here’s how I handled the situation.

1. Pray. I believe prayer is my strongest defense. I kept talking to God that time, God ano ba to? Please help me. My heart was pounding, I didn’t know what to do and it was really my fault. Only God could save me then.

2. Stay calm. Oh it was easy to panic right then and there. Huwaattt?? I hit a car?! Waaaahhhhh!!! How did this happen?? Geez.. My class is in 10 minutes and this woman is still going on and on about what just happened!! And she wants to get my license? Report this?? What if her bumper comes off daw?? *faints*

3. Keep your cool. She was hurling expletives at me. Left and right. I tried to dodge them but admittedly it was my fault. So I understood how mad she was. I could have gotten mad myself at how she was criticizing every little thing about me – my parking, how long I’ve been driving, not even knowing where my building was – but I doubt that would’ve helped. We would have been two ticking time bombs going head to head. That’s no help. I tried to reason with her but she was playing the it’s-your-fault card. So I just took it. Apologized profusely, though she said it’s no use.

If I argued with her head on or took it nonchalantly and said, “Oh we have insurance. No biggie,” perhaps she wouldn’t let me go that easy. She took my number and til now hasn’t contacted me. Perhaps she’s let it go. There was a scratch on my car (which our driver said was an old one) and no sign of any kind on hers. At this point, if she does contact me, I don’t think it’ll hold water ‘cos it’s already been several days. How do I know it wasn’t caused by something else?

4. Practice diligence. At first she wanted to get and keep my license. I gave it to her but said I can’t let her keep it. I’ll need it. I just told her to take a photo of it. Remember, the person has no right to take your license. They’re not cops.

Take a photo of the incident. I did, and so I have proof that she can’t claim more than what the photo shows.

5. Be responsible. She got my number and I got hers as well. She said she will contact me when she’s done cleaning her car and “investigating” the damages. I said sure. Then she taunted, sana di mo ko tatakbuhan ah.

I have to say, hurl after hurl, one after the other. Ricochet, you take your aim, fly away fly away. 

Of course I won’t run away from her. That’s what insurances are for (as I later found out. HAHA.) But then again, it’s been several days. So I think I’m out of this hot water.

The night before, I fervently prayed to God to keep me safe and surround me with His legion of angels. Perhaps he came through that’s why there’s no bump marks. Hihi. Only a lesson to learn or a message to be delivered.

Til my next driving adventure then. Weeee!