Friday, March 31, 2006

From 12 to 39

“…He has been a missionary in the Philippines for 39 years..”

That statement was understandably followed by muted oohs and ahhs from the audience during the ATS commencement exercises earlier tonight. The person that illicited the murmurs of admiration was Rev. Mike Harrison. Kuya Mike to many of us. He was conferred an honorary doctorate by ATS for his many contributions to Christian ministry all these years. I wrote in my ‘congrats’ card to him, ‘Kuya Mike, you deserve it!’

And deserve it he does.

39 years—that’s like the whole of...uhm…somebody’s life! Well, almost the whole…

39 years—gasp! I myself have been serving full time in Christian ministry for about 12 years—not counting the arduous time in seminary. And already, there are days I feel spent, battle-scarred, tired and almost ready to throw in the towel.

What’s Kuya Mike’s secret? 39 years of service and he doesn’t look anything like how I feel in my 12 years of ministry. He still retains that élan and youthful passion for God that I am sure, compelled him and Ate Betty to Asia all those years ago.

If I can guess correctly, the secret is simply not quitting. Did they ever think of quitting? I actually never got to ask Kuya Mike and Ate Betty that. Maybe they did—maybe they do have times when they felt like throwing in the towel, they just didn’t give in to the feeling.

I would like to believe that like little ol’ me, they did feel that way too…and maybe, like them, I can also consider quitting but not give in to the feeling.

Maybe, like them, I can just hold on to God’s grace and keep on, keep on, and who knows?

Maybe one day, it’ll be 39 years later and I will still be found serving with élan and youthful passion for God, and who knows?

Maybe someday, I will be able to hear people gasp when they find out I have been serving for 39 years, and who knows?

Maybe, this will help them wonder about their own service to God, and maybe they will be encouraged to serve and not quit too…

Thank you, Lord for people like Kuya Mike and Ate Betty...thank you for how You use them to inspire us to continue serving You and not throw in the towel.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Change of Plans

This blog should have debuted two days ago. On my birthday.

I was already sorting through stuff in my brain on what I would write as my very first blog entry. I wanted that blog entry to be one special way of celebrating my birthday.

That didn’t happen. My laptop got sick, the office DSL connection was also down with ‘flu. So for the past five days or so, I was tragically, utterly off line. That set me to thinking in the most clichéd manner, “Why, Lord?? Don’t you want me to blog and bless?!”

Well, I figured, the reason is simple. He wanted me to reflect on one certain truth on my birthday: I have other, better plans for you.

For the past 30+ years, that seemed to be the pattern: He has better plans for me.

I wanted to take up Fine Arts in college—but He had other plans, so I ended up taking Communication Arts—and “discovered” my giftings in the process.

I went to Manila wanting to start a career in Advertising—but He had other plans—I ended up working in a IndoChinese Refugee Camp in Bataan—and “discovered” my potentials.

A closed door here, an open gate there, a nudge to the left and push to the right…all these altered plans have led me to where I am now.

It doesn’t mean I like them all the time. I have my share of heartaches and complaints too. But its been quite a ride. I don’t know what’s going to happen next but am sure it will be way better than how I would have planned it to be.

So on this belated birthday blog, celebrate with me, the fact that an infinitely wiser God always has other, better plans for me, for us.

“For I know the plans I have for you.” Declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah29:11