MAKING THE PROUD FATHER

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August 18, 2008

“…When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth…” (Matthew19:22)

Last Thursday was a milestone in my life as a father. For the first time, I saw my 3 year old daughter perform in public. And boy, was I proud father.

It was her pre-school’s Linggo ng Wika (Language Week) celebration, and the children were made to perform various Filipino-inspired numbers on stage. And there I was on the front row, with camera in hand, waving occasionally at my daughter as she gracefully danced and sang to the tune of “Pinoy Ako”. In fact, I was so engrossed with her performance that I caught myself on my feet dancing as well to the same tune (No wonder I noticed some from the audience looking like they were actually clapping for me after the presentation.)

Pride.

That was what I felt that afternoon. Pride for my little angel who bravely strutted her talent before that crowd. Proud that she gave her all. Pride that she tried her best. Proud that she even dared to do what she did.

Never mind if she missed a step during the dance number. Never mind if she forgot a few lines. Never mind if she didn’t get some of the actions correctly. Nope. I didn’t mind any of those. In fact, I hardly noticed them. The song could be Yoyoy Villame’s “Butchikik” for all I care, and it was still for me, a masterful performance. Because from the very beginning, it was never about the performance. It was really all about her.

You know, I believe our Father in Heaven thinks of us in the same way.

He feels proud when we try our best to be righteous. When we give our all in service. When we get up whenever we fall. Never mind if you hesitatingly serve at times. Never mind if you sometimes give in to your worries. Never mind if you doubt occasionally. Because from the beginning, for God, it’s not about how good you are. It’s more of who you are — His child, His treasure, the apple of His eye.

Early on in my ministry, I used to think that I needed to earn God’s approval. That God’s love for me would be diminished if I didn’t do well in what God has called me to do. I know differently now.

God’s love for me isn’t increased or decreased by what I do. It is constant. Unaffected by what I do. He loves not because of what I do, but because of who I am.

Rick Warren, author of the book “Purpose Driven Life” once said: “You don’t let God down, because you never hold him up in the first place”.

That’s the reason that whenever I reflect on the story of the rich young man, I always try to be kind to him. Sure he walked away from Jesus’ challenge. Sure he buckled under pressure. Sure he swallowed hard and turned his back on the Lord. But don’t we all?

Sometimes, we give in to that gossipy conversation. We entertained lustful thoughts. We judge others rashly. We treat others harshly. We boast. We brag. We belittle. Yes, in our own way, just like the rich young man, we also walk away from God.

“…When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth…” (Matthew19:22)

But I repeat, God’s love for us is never diminished. His faith in us is never shaken. His pride of us is always intact. Simply because of who we are — his children, his treasures, the apples of his eye.

Have a blessed day, my friend!

In Christ,

Bobby

Straight from your Heart

August 07, 2008

“…It is well for you, SImon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you but my Father in Heaven…” Matthew 16:17

“Brother Bobby! Brother Bobby!”

I turned around to see who was calling me. It was one of my co-parents in my daughter’s pre-school. I recognized him as one of those who attended the Parents Spiritual Orientation I conducted for the PTA some weeks back.

When he finally caught up with me, he began to speak, “…I just want you to know, Brother Bobby, that I finally went to the sacrament of reconciliation after thirty years…”.  

A bit dazed, I tried to clarify, “What do you mean?”.

“I am back in the church,” he replied with a big smile (It was so big, he could swallow me in it).

“How?”, I queried further.

“Well, I did it for my children and for my wife. I did it for me too. I guess God has been convicting me in my heart the past year about returning to the church. It was just a few weeks ago when I decided to finally say ‘yes’ to God…”

I said my congratulations, chitchat a little and then said goodbye.

It happened yesterday, but it was only after I read today’s gospel when that event really hit me. God is really residing in our hearts. For how does one explain what happened to my co-parent. 

His story isn’t about powerful evangelistic rallies or seminars. Neither is it about a book which brought him to conversion. Or breaking down in tears after listening to a televangelist. No, his is a story of God’s direct intervention in the life of his son. God, speaking not through anyone else, but directly in the heart of a lost child. Listen to his words again, “God has been convicting me in my heart”.

Yes, God does that. He speaks directly. Without a mediator. Without a prophet. Without a mouthpiece. From his mouth to your heart. And he can do that because he has taken up residence in it. His address is your heart. His mailbox is right oustide its door. He is a permanent resident.

The same thing happened to Peter. When Jesus asked his disciples who they say he was, Peter’s knee-jerk reaction was to blurt out what his heart commanded. This was one of the few times perhaps when Peter’s impulsiveness was put to good use. God spoke to his heart, and Peter spoke from his heart.

“You are the Christ, Son of the Living God” (Matthew 17:15).

To which Jesus replied, “…It is well for you, SImon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you but my Father in Heaven…” (Matthew 16:17)

Yep. No mediator. No prophet. No mouthpiece. Not flesh and blood. It was God directly speaking to Peter’s heart.

Today, I invite you listen to your heart. What does it say? God usually speaks from there. Remember, while Jesus is God with us, the Holy Spirit is God in us. So journey within your heart today. Listen closely to His voice. He guides. He commands. He comforts.

It’s God. Straight from your heart.

Have a blessed day!

In Christ, your friend always,

Bobby Q.