LETTER FROM A MISSIONARY DAD

Dear Franco,

On this your 6th year, I want you to know once more that I love you very much. In fact, I love you so much that I want you to understand the life that I have chosen if only to make you appreciate what I hope to achieve for you. I know that you are still too young to understand what I write here, but someday, you will remove this from some stuffy old drawer, and read. Really read. And then I hope that on that day, you will look back with greater appreciation for this God who called me to this ministry.

Because of the life I’ve chosen,

I may not be able to leave you a hefty inheritance but I hope to leave you an enormous legacy.

I may not be able to leave you an earthly mansion but I am working to give you an eternal one.

I may not be an excellent teacher when it comes to saving money but I can sure teach you how to save souls.

I know I am not your typical dad who does the fixing in the house (Your mother does that!) but I can coach you on how to help others fix their lives.

I know I travel a lot to save souls but please know that I will cross oceans in a second just to save you.

I may not get to buy all the toys you want to play with but know that I want you to remember me as the “toy” who loves to play with you.

I can actually earn a lot and spend a lot of money on you if I want to but I choose to earn your love instead by spending my time with you.

I may not be able to introduce you to the big shots of this world, but I hope that as you grow up, I get to introduce you slowly but surely to the “biggest shot” of the Universe because He alone matters.

I say this not to justify my choices nor do I say that my choice is better than the choices of other Dads. We all make choices based on what we believe is right. I say this so you know that everything I do, no matter how crazy they may seem at times, I always do for you.

I love you, Buddy. Happy Birthday!

Papang

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PINCH IN THE HEART

When our son Franco received his gifts for Christmas the other night, he couldn’t stopped thanking us. While his endless “thank yous” did not add value to his gratitude, it added inexplicable warmth in our hearts. The voluntary and almost instinctive “Thank you, Papang and Mama” which echoed from his lips throughout the night as he played with his toys evoked unmatched joy within us — a delightful pinch in the heart, you might say. “So this is how it feels for someone to really, really thank you”, I said to myself. And then it dawned on me. Have I ever really, really thanked God enough?

For exchanging his throne for a manger…
His scepter for a cross…
His palace for a stable…
His glory for indignity…
His honor for shame…all for my sake?

I don’t think so.

How often do I undermine his sacrifice with the way I live my life?
For uttering careless words that tear down instead of build up?
Or thinking unholy thoughts?
Or turning away when I should have helped?
Or walking away rather than indulge?

On this Christmas season, I wish I can be like Franco — really grateful to my Father. For loving me. For blessing me. For saving me.

And may my life reflect that gratitude. Let every time that I say no to temptation or sacrifice for the good of another be my expression of thanks for what God has done for me on that first Christmas day. May my endless “thank yous” to my heavenly Father be what Franco’s endless “thank yous” to me were — an inexplicable yet delightful pinch in the heart.

I pray the same for you.

Have a blessed Christmas, my friend!

IN HIS EYES

As a young boy, I remember how carefree life was for me.No bills to pay.
No deadlines to meet.
No future to secure.

My greatest crisis was the emergence of acne on my pubescent face. My worst fear was failing to have a haircut in time for the Boy Scout inspection. My biggest disaster was when my crush didn’t notice me in my new pair of skinny jeans — nothing that a warm and cuddly hug from Papang and Mama at the end of the day could not address.

I remember those days like it was just yesterday. Bad days were washed away instantly with laughter around our dining table, and my worst fears appeased with watching the delayed telecast of a PBA game with my dad just before bedtime.

Life was simple then. Until I had to grow up.

It’s true for me. I guess it’s true for most.

You see, by nature, time moves. Pretty soon you find yourself off to college. Graduation. Job interviews. Work. Work. Work.

It’s like leaving the Shire and off to Mordor.

Fairy tales become a thing of the past. The invincibility of your Power Ranger persona is now jolted with daily bouts with acid reflux and migraines. Your swordfights against ancient dragons are now often replaced with daily skirmishes with office stress. Your cowboy horse rides are now substituted with daily traffic commutes.

Don’t get me wrong.

I love my life as a grown up. But there are some days when you just wish life was simpler. When you can pause. When you can rest. When you can cuddle up to your dad and mom as they squeeze your woes away.

It’s a good thing that a phrase in scriptures reminds us of how to find our rest from all this:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

There is one place where we can be children again. A place of refuge. A place of comfort. A place of peace.

Find that place today.

In the chapel.
In your room.
On the bus.

He invites you to turn to Him anytime. Pour out your heart. Shed those tears. Be vulnerable. Be real. Let His soothing love appease you. Let His warm embrace secure you. Let His comforting words edify you.

For though in truth you are no longer a child, in His eyes, you will always be.

NEVER TOO LATE

Moses thought his best years were behind him. In fact, he might have already been thinking of retirement.Of morning walks and afternoon naps.
Of family dinners and quiet evenings.
Of long and meaningful conversations with his wife and of recounting old tales to his children.

But as always, God had other plans.

Speaking through a burning bush, God revealed to Moses his amazing rescue plan for his people and how Moses will play a prominent role in it.

It seemed like God was not done with him yet. Apparently, his best years were still ahead of him.

How about you, dear friend? Are you reaching the end of your rope?

You might be at the tail end of a long and fruitful career and is now in the process of winding down, or you might feel browbeaten by your futile efforts at success and is on the brink of giving up.

Know that God always has other plans.

In Isaiah, it says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” (Isaiah 55:8)

When you say “I’m done”, God says “Let’s go!”
When you say “This is it”, God says “There is more!”
When you say “It’s the end”, God says “When do we start?”

Nothing is ever too late for God’s most spectacular miracles in your life.

He did it to Moses.

He can do it to us too!

PERFECT JOY

It is ironic that I am writing about JOY in a hospital room where I am watching over my daughter Robelle who is presently admitted for pneumonia and while my wife and two other children are at home also recovering from bouts with flu.How can I write about joy when my circumstances are anything but “joyful”?

Because joy has nothing to do with your circumstances but everything to do with your relationship with God.

When you know you are loved by God despite your failures, you can be joyful.

When you know you can trust Him to know and do what’s best for you, you can be joyful.

When you know you’re temporal circumstances cannot define your eternal inheritance, you can be joyful.

When you know you are right with God even if your circumstances aren’t all right, you can be joyful.

The world can take our wealth or even our health, but it can never take away our joy.

The Bible says: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12).

My friend, your circumstances may not be perfect but your God is.

In Him alone can you find perfect joy!

HOLY INDIFFERENCE

When your peace comes not from everything being right in your life but everything being right with you and God. When your joy comes not from your riches but in the richness of your relationship with God.

When your contentment comes not from getting everything you want but in giving everything God wants from you.

When your measure of success comes not from what you have achieved but from what God has achieved in you.

My friend, strive for “Holy Indifference”.

When what matters most to God is what truly matters most to you.

FAITH THAT OVERCOMES

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.” (1 John 4:4)

Because of faith…

An ark was built to save the human race.

A super senior citizen had a child and became the father of a multitude.

A Hebrew slave of Egypt became its prince.

A modest staff parted a vast sea.

A shepherd boy defeated a giant.

A lowly teenager became the mother of the savior of the world.

Yes, my dear friend, there is nothing that your faith cannot overcome.

There is nothing that your faith cannot overcome.