This World Is Not Our Home

On my way home from work last Friday night, I recorded a song in the car, out of the overflow of my heart. Just a few seconds after I said thanks to God for allowing me to finish it, I heard a loud, consistent beat at the right side of my car. A motorcyclist who drove by me then, signaled me to stop and look at my wheel. During the next three minutes, my world slowed down as I went out of the car to inspect the damage.

My jaw dropped as I saw my exploded tire at the side of the passenger’s seat. My mouth blurted out, “Shocks, Lord. Is this really happening? Please help me.” Within a  minute, even before I could call my dad, another motorcyclist stopped by to ask if I needed help. My initial reaction was “I hope this guy isn’t sketchy.” But in my desperation, I said, “Yes, please!” He spent the next 10 minutes, going through my car tools at the back, setting up my emergency signals, and trying to release the spare tire that was hidden under my car.

I remember telling him countless times how much I appreciated his help and how it really was impossible for me to change my tire by myself. After a few minutes, another motorcyclist stopped by to offer assistance. They ended up helping each other as they raised my car, changed my tire, protect me from being scammed by tow people, and even assist me as I drove to the nearest vulcanizing shop. All this happened in 25 minutes which may have caused a 30-minute delay along C5 north bound.

I safely drove home, by God’s grace, and updated my dad, mom, and eldest sister who were inside our house. I couldn’t contain what I was feeling, so I shared to them how the Lord had been so personal and intentional in teaching my heart a lesson AGAIN. With a few sobs, I shared that the Lord revealed one of my blind spots to me this week which crushed my heart and that it led me to composing a song that afternoon.

The song is entitled “This Isn’t My Home” and it talks about how our mistakes and regrets do not define us; how we have already been forgiven and free because of Jesus; how we are never alone; and how this world (with all our problems and pains) isn’t our home. It was such a humbling moment for me to realize that God knew my doubtful heart needed that push, that extra reminder through an exploded tire, for me to understand and absorb my security in Jesus and His unending and unconditional love for me. “This Isn’t My Home” was a timely encouragement too since I was literally on my way home when this happened.

“…live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things that you were redeemed from the empty way of life… but with the precious blood of Christ…” -1 Peter 1:17-19 

My heart broke this week because I sulked at the thought of how my blind spots, mistakes, shortcomings, and regrets affected my relationships with others and God. I wanted to turn back time and re-do some of my choices. I wanted to cringe and hide because of the shame and pain. But, this has always been a constant reminder for me:

GOD’S MERCIES ARE NEW EVERY MORNING. What a comforting reassurance from the Lord — this broken world is not our home! Because of Jesus, we can spend eternity with Him in Heaven, where there’ll be no more crying or pain; where angels will be praising His name.

The day after the incident, my dad accompanied me to buy new tires even if he needed to prepare for a message at church that afternoon. By God’s grace, God provided the two kind strangers (Anthony & June) at the right time who helped me on the road and my dad who guided and lent money to me for my new set of wheels.

There are still moments when I feel the ache in my heart especially when I remember my “What If’s” and other regrets. Sometimes, I still feel that I could make things better if only I had done certain things or made better decisions. But, as the Lord helped me see my frailty without Him, I am reminded to let go of the wheel, slow down, and trust that His ways, thoughts, and wisdom are better and higher than mine. Who am I to tell my Heavenly Father that Plan A is better than Plan B? Who am I to keep worrying about my past and my tomorrow when our God is sovereign and good?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:8-9

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” – 1 Corinthians 1:25

Today is a new day and the Lord has graciously put a new song in my heart. Thank You, Jesus, for Your sovereignty in the midst of my mistakes and regrets.

“One fall, one sin,

One mistake, one regret

Now, my world’s crumbling.

More lies, more heartbreaks.

More discouraging thoughts,

Will they ever go away?

In these times when my faith is shaken,

In these times when I begin to lose hope,

You remind me that You are still with me, Jesus.

You tell me that I’m never alone

And that this isn’t my home.”

-“This Isn’t My Home”

Thursday Tune #35: Weightless by Hawk Nelson

“I say no more, no more wasting a moment, worrying about my life, my life. Carried in Your love. God, I know I got no burdens dragging me down. My soul is lifted because You’re holding me now.”

These lyrics caught my attention while I was driving home after a long day at work. I was intrigued by the song’s concept, melody, and beat. It was as if the songwriters knew what I was going through at that moment. So many things were on my mind. So many insecurities, hesitations, and fears were hindering me from moving forward. Somehow, it felt like I was climbing up a mountain while carrying a heavy backpack filled with huge rocks. 

As I listened to the song, I was reminded of truths about who God is. He is sovereign and faithful. He cares for you and me. He watches over us and He is our Father who loves us eternally. Going back to the truths found in His word helped me to slowly let go of my baggages.

I hope that as you listen to the song, you will also be encouraged to 1) humbly draw near to Him and 2) allow Him to work in your heart when you surrender your anxieties and burdens to Jesus.

 

Some verses that I hold on to whenever I am tempted to stay discouraged:

1 Peter 5:6-7

“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time.  Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.”

Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Isaiah 40:28-31 

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Courageous Caitie Launches Courageous Light

“There are moments that the words don’t reach. There is suffering too terrible to name. You hold your child as tight as you can and push away the unimaginable.”

These lines were taken from Lin Miranda’s song “It’s Quiet Uptown” from the American musical, Hamilton. I’ve been listening to the album for a few weeks now and I always take a deep sigh whenever I hear this particular song. In this tune, the main characters grieve over the loss of their child and other disheartening situations they experienced. It showed the reality of pain and how we feel and deal with it.

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I then remembered the story and life of  Courageous Caitie and how her parents (Jay Jay and Tine Lucas) and family shared their hearts, lives, and experiences to us earlier this year.

Their three-year old daughter, Caitie, was diagnosed last March 2016 with Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML), a rare cancer of the blood affecting infants and toddlers. Last March 30, her family posted an update on Courageous Caitie’s Facebook page which said: “Today our daughter has gone to Jesus already.”

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It has been been quite a roller-coaster ride for the Lucas family these past few months. But, by the grace of God, they still continue to share God’s love, goodness, grace, and power to people from all over the world. One of the many opportunities that God has given the Lucas family is a movement that aims to help families of children with illnesses find God’s hope and purpose. Last Saturday, their family launched this movement called “Courageous Light”.

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It was a privilege for me to witness the family gather relatives, friends, and strangers at the Gateway Mall Activity Center where they celebrated the life and legacy of Caitie. Here are some of the highlights of the launch last weekend:

 

1. STAR WARS – Star Wars characters showed a demo of how they used their lightsabers. The men and women part of the groups, The 501st Legion and FightSaber, also visit children in hospitals to help share the joy. They joined Caitie in distributing materials and visiting other kids in the hospital a few months ago too. (In the photo below: Jay Jay Lucas and Lem Enriquez hosting the event)

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2. VIDEOS – Videos of Caitie and her parents and family were shared to the audience. These videos included the first birthday of Caitie, hospital visits, interviews of her parents, wake services in the Philippines and in Singapore, and compilations of photos.

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3. GOD’S WORD – Mr. John Ong shared God’s Word and what it means to have Jesus in our hearts and lives; to have Him as our personal Lord and Savior.

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4. GALLERY OF PHOTOS – The family showcased a beautiful gallery of Caitie and their family. From the time she was born up until her heartwarming moments in the hospital with her parents, brother, and relatives. They also shared some of Caitie’s artworks, clothes, shoes, and things by displaying them on two tables (covered in glass) inside the activity center.

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5. LIGHT CEREMONY – The couple distributed cupcakes to those who were in the activity center and they encouraged everyone to participate in blowing the candles to celebrate Caitie’s birthday. In the video below, you’ll hear how Jay Jay shared that the light represents Jesus and that it was their desire to encourage more and more people to keep on sharing the light (Jesus) to those around us.

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6. GOSPEL TREES – They posted large photos of painted trees without leaves. It was the task of the participants to paint the leaves using their fingertips. There were five trees in that area which represented these: HEAVEN (Yellow), OUR SINS (Black), GOD’S LOVE FOR US (Red), , NEW LIFE IN CHRIST (White), and GROWTH (Green). This gallery shared about God’s love, hope, and salvation for us.

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7. COURAGEOUS LIGHT POSTCARDS – These postcards are printed Bible verses illustrated by different Filipino artists to remind us of the power of God’s Word. There were 100 selected postcards that were divided into four volumes. One volume is being sold at Php 495 each. The proceeds from these postcards will be used to fund materials for hospital visits and other events that can help families support their children with illnesses. They also sell other merchandise like notebooks, toys, shirts, etc.

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8. COURAGEOUS LIGHT VOLUNTEERS (a.k.a. Troopers) – The people who worked behind the scenes; those who helped with the program, posters, artworks, decorations, set-up of photos displayed, preparation of materials and merchandise, lights and sounds; the prayer warriors, those who committed to join the team in their hospital visits; and many more. Everyone did a great job! Praise God!

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While I was going around the activity center during the event, I caught glimpses of the couple and how they interacted with friends and strangers. Some of the guests who went there brought their child/children with illnesses to seek comfort from Jay Jay and Tine. It was very heartwarming to see the couple graciously welcome, encourage, and share Jesus to them that afternoon. They continued to point to Jesus for the source of joy, hope, peace, and security even during difficult moments. WOW.

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Just before I went to another part of the gallery, I saw that the couple was being interviewed by one of the reporters in the area. As I watched them eagerly share, I thought to myself “Wow. Many years ago, they wouldn’t have imagined going through what they went through these past three years. But, despite the pain and loss, God’s love, hope, and grace continues to shine through the hearts and lives of the Lucas family. Even though I don’t get to communicate with them often, I am very much encouraged by them to keep my eyes on Christ even if I stumble or go through major bumps along the way.

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“You hold your child as tight as you can and push away the unimaginable.” [The Musical: Hamilton]

In the case of the Lucas family, they aren’t pushing away the unimaginable. By God’s grace, they are going through it; witnessing God’s hand at work in the lives of hundreds of thousands who are being blessed by their testimony of God’s goodness. And this new movement that they are starting is just the beginning of another opportunity to share Jesus to the world. Thank you, Lucas family, for continuously stepping out in faith and trusting in the Lord. I pray that He would embrace you, give you wisdom, strengthen you, keep you from falling into pride or sin, and guide you as you honor Him with the resources He has blessed you with.

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“Don’t let your lights go down. Don’t let your fire burn out.
‘Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe

So when you get the chance, are you gonna take it?
There’s a really big world at your fingertips and you know you have the chance to change it.”

-Britt Nicole’s “The Lost Get Found”

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” –Ephesians 3:20-21

 

The gallery will be displayed at the Gateway Mall Activity Center until August 13, 2016. But, for the succeeding Saturdays (until Sept. 3), there will be activities for parents and kids. Feel free to drop by! For more details, you may visit the Facebook pages of Courageous Caitie and Today with the Lucas!

Thursday Tune #32: Press On by Mandisa

I guess it’s an early goodbye to the lovely summer skies because they have been very gloomy lately. Most of the time, on my way home from work, I see the surroundings through “natural filters”. It’s almost like everything is set in sepia mode. It’s pretty amazing how the mood of the sky quickly changes and reflects on the buildings, cars, and the people walking on the streets.

I wonder… If the sky can create such an impact to the things and people around us, can our gloomy hearts do the same too?

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I thought about this because I noticed how easily I allowed my heart to be gloomy lately. Specifically, I’ve had moments where I became easily annoyed and discouraged because of difficult people. This lasted for days and it was terrible since it did have an effect on the people around me. One of my closest colleagues even told me that I was becoming moody. In our almost two years of friendship, it was her first time to say something like this to me and it struck a chord in my heart. Without me realizing it, I was already carrying a stormy cloud over my head and it was zapping lightning bolts all over the place.

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I knew something was up (or down, in this case). So, I called for help. Since I had an extended rest time today, I humbly asked God to reveal the concerns of my heart that I needed to deal with and surrender to Him. By His grace, He reminded me of how important it is to be grounded in His truth, love, and promises instead of dwelling and sulking on my issues. I realized that in life, there will always, ALWAYS be problems and discouragements. But, by the grace of God, He gives us the courage and strength to overcome these as we trust in Him who is more than able to work in and through our hearts.

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Earlier today, we experienced a heavy pour of rain in the city. When my mom and I heard and saw the rain, she said to me: “Yes! At least, I won’t have to water the plants today!” She beamed with delight because the rain did one of her “Things to Do” for the day. That simple moment showed me that we can find purpose in the rain. Maybe, we’ve been going through a lot of difficult situations lately. Maybe, we’ve lost our motivation along the way. Nonetheless, we know that God is ALWAYS with us and we can find comfort and hope in this truth.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”-Psalm 28:7

“Press On” by Mandisa

“How many storms have I been through
How many led me right to You
You’re using the pain, the hardest days
For my good, my good
So what do I fear
God, You are with me
Guiding my steps today
Through the mountains, valleys, sun and rain
Lord, lead the way, lead the way.”