A Visitor’s Perspective

“Do not love the world or the things of the world.” (1 John 2:15)

A rich man once visited the small house of a holy man. Surprised that the house was practically empty, the rich man asked the holy man, “Where are your furnitures?” The holy man replied, “Where are yours?”. Confused, the rich man answered, “But I am just a visitor here. I am just passing through.” The holy man smiled, “So am I.”

The year is about to end. And many of us will start to open our planners and begin to plan the year ahead. We will visualize dreams. Set goals. Make resolutions. If you are just about to do that, can I make a suggestion to you? Don’t plan so much on your earthly goals to the detriment of your eternal goals.

On your planner, make sure there is a column reserved for your dreams, goals and resolutions in the area of your spirituality. For while it is good to plan on how to improve your financial condition next year, we must also make plans to improve our spiritual health. We cannot limit our plans to this world. We must also plan for eternity.

For just like the holy man, we must remember that we are mere visitors in this planet. This isn’t our home. This isn’t our destiny. We are merely passing through.

As scripture says: 

“Do not love the world or the things of the world.” (1 John 2:15)

Make sure that the “furnitures” you buy are not so much for your earthly huts but more for your eternal mansions. Plan the year right. Plan the year from the perspective of a visitor, of someone who is merely passing through.

Have a blessed year ahead, my friend!

Bobby

Slick and the Christmas Message

 

Imagine you have a pet earthworm named “SLICK”.

          One day, thinking that he has become so dirty, you turned on the garden faucet and tried convincing him to move towards the flowing water and get a well-deserved and long-overdue bath. Not comprehending a single word you were saying, SLICK completely ignored you.

           Just then, you hear a booming voice from heaven, “Do you really love SLICK?” “Yes, Lord, I do.”, you replied.

         “Do you really want to make him clean?”, God asked.

            “Yes, Lord, I do.”

            “Are you willing to do anything to make him clean?”

            “Of course, Lord.”

            God then sighed, “SLICK will not be able to understand a single word you say. If you want him to understand you, you will have to become a worm yourself and speak earthworm language — the language he understands. Are you willing to do that?”

            You nodded your head with conviction. You love SLICK enough to join him in the dirt. 

            C.S. Lewis, the great Christian writer, once remarked that for man to become a worm is like God becoming man.

            That’s what He did on the first Christmas 2,000 years ago. He not only became sin for us, but he cleansed us of ours. He not only gave us life-giving water, but also washed us with His most precious blood. He became one like us, not only to tell but also to demonstrate His love for us. He was willing to do all these if only to make us understand the extent of His love.

            Just like SLICK, humankind was dirty. We needed to be cleansed of our sins.

            Just like SLICK, we were stubborn. God sent us prophets in the Old Testament to call us to repentance, but we refused to heed their call.

            Just like SLICK, we were slow to comprehend. We could not understand the height, depth and width of God’s love for us.

            No wonder God did what He did. He loved us enough to join us in our mess.

            And guess what?

            He continues to do the same thing today.

            God joins you in the midst of your pain and of your joy. He cries with you in your disappointment and celebrates with you in your triumph. He held you when you fell and upheld you when you flew. There he was with you in that funeral, and there with you inside that nursery. He isn’t an insulated king in heaven, but an intimate friend on earth.

            Yes, dear fiend. He was, is and will always be Emmanuel — God with us!

             A blessed and joyous Christmas to all!

 Bobby Q.

Not Obstacles but Stepping Stones

“…Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years…” (Luke 1:6-7)

I had lunch with a friend last week and as he updated me of what was happening in his life, I couldn’t help but feel for him. It also led me to ask a perennial life question: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

My friend and his wife were devoted and faithful Christians. They live righteous and generous lives. They serve. They witness. They give. And yet in the midst of all these, they are also enduring much.

My friend lost his job at the time when he was also diagnosed to have a delicate cardio-related health concern while his wife is battling a possible recurrence of cancer. They have two small children and the threat of having their family resources depleted is a real possibility now because of their present condition.

As I prayed for them today, I was re-assuringly consoled by the reflection I had of today’s gospel.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous people too. Yet God allowed them to suffer much. Despite Zecahariah’s service to Him, God did not will for them to have a child. Elizabeth was barren.

“…Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years…” (Luke 1:6-7)

And as the months turned to years, and the years to decades, and their black hairs to grey, the righteous couple abandoned all their hopes of still bearing a child. Days became shorter and nights longer. Bones became brittle. And voices cracked with age. Then  just as they were about to give up, the angel appeared. A child was promised. A future foretold. And a dream fulfilled. God did the impossible. He gave them a child.

From this story, I felt my faith telling me this: The challenges of good people are not obstacles but stepping stones to greater blessings. 

Sometimes, when good people suffer, we may be tempted to conclude that God may be punishing them for some secret sin that they may have. Possibly, yes. But I am of the firm belief that more often than not, when God allows good people to suffer, he does this because he is leading them towards a path where they can be in a better position to receive His blessings. Hence, the challenges of good people should not be seen as a punishment but as a vehicle to carry them to a much better place.

To my friend and his wife, and to all the readers who may be in a similar situation as them, I tell you today, rejoice in your challenges and be excited. These challenges are conduits of God’s manifold blessings in your life. Behind the night is the light. Behind the pain is the gain. Behind every challenge is a blessing that awaits.

He did it for Zechariah and Elizabeth. He can surely do it for you.

I remain, in Christ,

Bobby Q.

Sincere Seeker or Stubborn Skeptic

“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Matthew 21:27)

In my line of work, I often meet two kinds of people: sincere seekers and stubborn skeptics. Learning from Jesus, my master, I found the best way to deal with them.

Sincere seekers and stubborn skeptics ask basically the same questions. But here lies their difference: The former seeks the truth. The latter picks a fight.

Sincere seekers are those who are truly hungry for the truth about God. Searching for peace. Hungry for enlightenment. Thirsting for wisdom.  

Stubborn skeptics, on the other hand, simply want to pin you down. They do not care about the truth. They only care about shutting you out. They pry. They query. They ask. All for the purpose of making you look bad.

From the Gospel today, we see Jesus showing us how we deal with stubborn skeptics. Jesus loves to answer the queries of sincere seekers. The rich young man got his answer. The woman at the well had her thirst quenched. Nicodemus went home fulfilled. But when it comes to stubborn skeptics, Jesus will not waste his time.

In today’s Gospel, the chief priests and elders came to him not so much to get the truth but to set a trap. They wanted to pin Jesus down. They wanted to corner him. Embarrass him. Shame him. That was probably why Jesus said what he said:

“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Matthew 21:27)

Instead of engaging them in a debate, Jesus simply brushed them aside. Not because he didn’t care about them. But because they didn’t care about the truth.

My friend, I want to ask you on levels:

1. First Level – Are a sincere seeker or a stubborn skeptic? Remember, if you are the former, you will be satisfied. If you are the latter, you will miss the truth.

2. Second Level – When people confront you with your faith, do you answer them right away or do you first see if the person is really sincere in knowing the truth? If the person is not after the truth, then I suggest you do what Jesus did: he refused to engage them in a fight.

Choose your battles. God did. Go and do the same.

I remain, in Christ,

Bobby Q.