Tuesday, July 13, 2010
It takes supreme courage and great sacrifice to follow Christ. In my life, I have, more or less, given five out of the ten asked of me, as I figure it. Call it halfhearted or half-full then and it would still not amount to anything until I have given myself fully.
Some have called me the reluctant preacher, reluctant artist and reluctant whatever. And I can understand why they see me that way. I ascribe it to their not knowing the value of “being”, as opposed to that of “doing”. It seems one who has done something or has acquired things is preferred over one who has not done or acquired anything but has simply become what he needs to be. (Does a preacher need to have a pulpit? Must an artist have to hold a one-man show?) Add the fact that I’ve lost so many things in life and you have a real, reluctant loser me. Greater men would have learned to amend early on.
Not me. I know God does not judge according to appearances. And that the essence of life is unseen. What we cannot see, therefore, is often misunderstood. What people see as idleness or unproductiveness, I simply call waiting.
I love waiting. I guess it’s a fault I have perfected. I enjoy waiting for the sun to rise after dawn or to disappear into the night. No other powerful display of harmony of emotions and colors can come close to giving us a glimpse of heaven’s glory. It’s a free show I learned to appreciate since I was a child. While the rich man goes to fancy cinemas and opera houses, the poor man sits down by his window to feast on God’s recreation of Creation Day – and, by design, a preview of Resurrection Day. The hundreds of sunrise and sunset photos I’ve taken, perhaps, are a record of my worshipful waiting for life’s majestic promises.
I love waiting for journeys to end on long rides in buses and cars. At times, I wish I would never arrive. Those trips not only allow me to think, they also let me see the colorful countrysides, the small towns, the crowded cities and the smatterings of people here and there. Seeing people and nature thrive in a moving panorama reflects and refreshes my own enthusiasm for life.
Finally, I love waiting on the Lord. Anticipating what He will do in my life, as opposed to what I intend to do by myself, has given me the real freedom to savor life every moment. This is how I conquered all those years of worrying in my youth. For no one else can create stupendous surprises the way God does. It’s a dangerous adventure I love to play where I have full assurance of coming out laden with promised treasures every time. One day, I’ll get to enjoy them where they are now laid up in my mansion up there.
Many have been the times when I waited on my knees. It is at such moments when waiting becomes the answer or the fulfillment itself. Or the asking becomes the receiving itself. For me, genuine love comes only through patient waiting. Jacob waited for 14 years to win his Rachel. Surely, our God deserves love greater than that. And yet, not many can wait on God to show His loving face to them.
So many people, therefore, spend so much time dreaming, planning and working to achieve their goals, but only to find that what they have amassed eventually loses its worth. Think of all the ancient palaces, lost dynasties and even broken marriages. Not waiting on God has disastrous consequences.
Nothing lasts except what God has given us. I know that death proves beyond doubt the value of the human spirit – not just to the physical body we now have but also to the immortal body we will receive from Christ. What we do with it from birth to death determines our eternal destiny. Is there anything else worth waiting for even beyond the grave?
The seed and the farmer both await the fruits of harvest. Waiting, in reality, is living out one’s God-given purpose in life. Everything and everyone must seek to know and attain that purpose. As Job and Noah both discovered in their own pursuits, waiting is the key to gaining enduring courage and faithful service.
Yes, we all long to live comfortably from all the labors we do in this life. In my case, I have enough experience on waiting to cover me through all the discomforts and failures that will surely come. The material rewards may not come; but that is not a problem. As I said, the waiting – or the journey – is what matters.
Ultimately, the One Who has the “steerage of my course (shall) direct my sail” to His golden shores.
(Photo above: An almost deserted Intramuros street in Manila. Old paths can teach us to walk in new ways.)