Our church had just gone through a three-day mid-year prayer and fasting last week.
I honestly love it when I get to pray and fast with my spiritual family. It’s like Christmas to me, only this one with the absence of food on the table.
I also love the idea of doing one in the middle of the year because I sure could use some recalibrating and refocusing.
Few days before we started the fasting, I woke up one morning thinking of the faith goals that I wrote in January and how I thought I need to revisit it once again.
Lazy to get up, I tried to see if I could briefly recall by memory what I had written down in my journal and while going through it in my head, it dawned on me that the opportunity I had just lost a week ago was actually one of the faith goals I wanted to believe God to come through for me this year.
I stared blankly at the ceiling upon that realization, shocked at how six months ago, when I wrote that faith goal down, I was full of reason to believe it’s gonna come to pass. And then six months later, all the chances I knew were no more and the only word I could come up with to describe my situation would be the word impossible.
And you know, for me, if that’s what it is, I’m totally fine with that.
It’s just that lying on my bed that morning, I had no clue what to do next. Is it still gonna be a faith goal then? Or should I just cross it out? Besides, it’s already gonna be impossible to happen.
I was thinking of that and then asked God about it, but I felt He only asked me back, “Do you still have faith for that? Do you still want to be in faith?”
Do I still want to be in faith? What.
I was waiting to hear a yes or a no from Him that morning but what I got was a fresh invitation to see faith simply for what it is.
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and being certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
The answer is yes. It is a yes because today it looks impossible to happen. It is illogical, crazy, and not to mention pathetic in my own terms. It is a yes because everything around me shouts no. It is a yes because it’s not gonna be based on circumstance but rather on who God is.
I don’t know what faith looks like for you this year. But for some of us, faith looks like waking up one morning in the face of impossibility, seeing nothing. And the moment you saw it’s impossible, all the more it makes sense for you now to believe because you realize that’s the essence of faith anyway – it’s believing for things we have yet to see.
And so you say Yes to His voice inviting you, “Do you still want to be in faith?”
“Like a stunt man adding one more car to the pile, one more hurdle to jump so that the feat is even more miraculous than what we had at first hoped and imagined, God is making our situation just a bit more impossible right now. And while we doubt and scratch our heads and ask how, He says two words: Watch Me.”
– Nicole Baart
I learned to eat and appreciate Greek food because of my best friend Mariel.
It all started few years ago when we picked a Greek restaurant for my birthday.
Over a generous helping of grilled lamb and watermelon salad and a huge portion of angus beef burger we decided to half, Mariel and I took the time to enjoy the flavors of our glorious food while dreaming about our future and talking about our big plans in life.
Mariel is that one friend who I feel very safe to tell my biggest dreams and biggest failures to. Maybe because we’ve already seen each other in almost everything for having to go through college years together (she went to Ateneo while I went to Miriam College) and entering the single professional life together. We’ve sat in the same boat many times that I feel I am most understood when I’m with her.
I love Greek food because I remember it for that – for that conversation we had on my birthday, for being understood, for the liberty to dream big without being questioned for it, for the freedom to know there’s beauty in all of my failures, and for the comfort it gives to know someone else is also sitting in the same boat with me.
It’s the reason I sat quietly for a brief moment the other day at another Greek restaurant we tried for the first time. We had our staple lamb and watermelon salad on the table, partnered with a hearty skewer of beef souvlaki and a siding of moussaka. We went on and talked about our dreams and plans in life as usual (and how Sheryl Sandberg rocks). And again, I felt it was a safe place.
I told Mariel that evening how I’ve been praying to God for clarity and direction for a certain dream I want to pursue next in this chapter of my life, and how I’ve been so blown away at how faithful He is for answering that prayer.
Some of you might have found yourselves needing to say that prayer too. When the roads split into two different directions and you’re not sure which one to take, “Lord, I pray for direction.”
Or when both of the opportunities in front of you are equally good and yet you need to choose, “Lord, please make it clear which is one You want me to pursue.”
The last time I prayed for clarity and direction, the answer came in a form of a door of opportunity that God swung wide open, while in the process also gently closing some doors that are not for me. One of which is the one door I was hoping He’d keep open.
And right before my very eyes, there it was—clarity. A crystal clear one.
I was telling Mariel all of that, of how I’m grateful to God for answering my prayer, and then in the same breath I said something I couldn’t place to admit for the longest time until we were at that table eating Greek food.
“You know, the thing with clarity sometimes,” I said while I struggled to find the most diplomatic word to express what I think.
But then with Mariel, I realized, I didn’t need a diplomatic word. I could be all straight out honest and true and so I finally let it out unfiltered,
“Just sometimes, clarity is painful.”
It’s that one conversation I’ve been pondering on lately, why there could be pain in the midst of clarity.
What I’ve learned is that when God brings clarity, He illuminates His plans for us.
We see it and while that is good, part of us pains for the truth that it is different from what we thought we already beautifully planned and figured out for ourselves.
I learned the pain comes from being human, broken and wanting to be in control. Now I realize that it is totally ridiculous of us to sometimes wish we know everything because if we do, I don’t really think we can handle that. I remember a friend telling me once that if we will see at once the totality of God’s great plans for us here on earth, we will only either get proud because it looks too great, or we will get disappointed because it’s not what we imagined.
Maybe it’s the reason we only know in part, why we only know what we have to know right now.
Clarity is painful because it exposes our hearts, where it is really yielded to. Is it yielded to our own dreams and plans? Or is it yielded to God?
I hope we will all walk this life yielded to a Person and not a plan.
The good part is, no matter what God illuminates to us as His plan when we ask Him for clarity, we are assured to know that it is the best for us.
And that there’s a promise that always stands true in moments it gets a little painful to understand (you all know this): “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. 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)
Just in case you find yourself still needing a little more comfort, I hope you find it from knowing that you are not alone and someone else is also sitting in the same boat with you. You’ll find me there with maybe a good helping of moussaka to share. :)