my wake up call

 

Here’s a wake up call for me this month. You know that feeling when you see or read something and you know it’s for you and you have a choice that very moment whether to (1) say, “Ah, true true. I should act on this reminder!”; or (2) *Actually do something about it, now*

Well, I did no. 2. (So proud of me.) And getting sick one more time forced me to really do something. Ack. I turned down four clients and one social activity in a span of 10 days.

But it’s not a one-time decision, I should say. Everyday, we are called to do one of two things: Focus more or focus less.

So which one is it for you? 🙂

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When I Give Me the Weirds

Oh I just have to get this one out. I kept getting flashbacks. Well, no it’s not about a traumatic experience. But it’s making me feel uncomfortable whenever I remember.

Ever did something somewhat weird? But at the time you did it, you had no idea that it was kind of weird? But now, looking back, you’re worried that people must have thought you’re weird. Geez.

I think it was more that 10 years ago. I was in a family retreat or camp and it was break time. We were at a lounge area waiting for the “dinner is served” announcement. I was still very much into figure skating then, and I was learning how to do split jumps and chaines. Out of boredom, I started practicing on the lounge, from one corner to the other. I did that for a couple of minutes as some people who were on the chairs and sofa, friends actually, watched. Well not really watched watched but it’s not like I would be difficult to notice. It was not like the people there were super strangers. But remembering the scene makes me twitch a bit. What in the world was I trying to accomplish at that time? Was I hungry for attention? Probably! Now, I realized, I definitely was going through some issues at that time. Haha. I still am. But different ones this time.

Oh well. I just thought I needed to let the whole blogosphere know. Sometimes we really feel we’re normal but we’re really acting weird. Other times though, we think we’re having the strangest thoughts, but we’re actually going through something most people could relate to. 🙂

So… do you think I’m weird???

Cheers!

Riza O.

Mornings

It’s 2:00 am and why am I awake? Oh yes, my mom woke me up while I was in the middle of a dream that was just about to reach the best part: me hitting the beach waters. In the dream, I had been busy attending to important matters that I didn’t even get to glance at the horizon. When finally I was about to lift my eyes and take in the view, my perspective began to blur and fade, I struggled mildly at the realization that I had only been dreaming and it was about to dissipate, and this until I opened my eyes with a view of my mom’s face darkened by the shadows in my room. It’s 11:30 pm. I’m back in the city and I need to drink my meds. If this were a novel, I’d be screaming, “Noooooo….”

An hour and a half later, I’m here still. Just like yesterday. Only, yesterday was 3:00 am. I thought of browsing you through yesterday’s Instagram posts.

So my mom wakes me up Sunday morn around 7:30 am. (I have to discourage her from this before it becomes a habit!) She leaves then she returns later and hands me this £20 bill, a small but encouraging love gift from a friend. Believe me I was wasted when I woke up. That purple sheet, was to me, a spark of hope. Oh God had not forgotten me. How could He, right? But we sometimes have those thoughts. Just days ago, I had prayed for God to encourage me with financial provision for my trip to Dublin, He answered real fast again.

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Then I get up and say hello to my now becoming favorite window. (it used to be the other one. I have two.) Outside are moringga leaves hustling in the breeze. I thought I’d rotate the photo 180 degrees. Hurray for Instagram rotate feature. Hurray for the breeze. Hurray for the green leaves. And hurray for the sunshine.
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Then I got ready for church, put on a red dress, and hoped for the best. I was so glad my eye bags were no longer swollen. They were, at 3:00 am before I took a nap before waking up again. You see, even when your eyes puff up from crying and your under eyes swell from lack of sleep, God finds ways to cheer you up. So thank God for friends, for the courage to ask for prayer, and the courage to love even when it hurts. I know it’s coming. Just like the £s, the sunshine, breeze, and the red dress.
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Before Sunrise

I’ve been staring at this white sheet (or white square on my screen) for a while, between deep breathes. I woke up hours ago to drink my meds. Since 3:00 AM, the color of the sky had changed from black, deep purple, red then pink with hints of lavender, to now light grey, signaling a cloudy morning.

The moment I loved most happened around 5:30 AM when it turned red. It was, watercolor red, and neither my phone nor tablet could capture its hue. Red had faded in 60 seconds. To my dismay, now it’s broad daylight. One more deep breath.

There are days when you want to stay under a red sky. For once, gaze at something different, even for only a minute, know that the sky has its odd moments too. That is has bursts of passion and seconds of rage, that is smiles through transitions from deep darkness to multiples colors that eventually surrender to the sun’s blinding white rays.

We need daylight to see. But who is not in awe of those seconds before sunrise, when the heaven’s heart strings spill a mess of rainbow over your head? Is it uncertainty or skillful art? I am learning now, we can love the sky even before we see the light.

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Fire After Winter

via www.glogster.com
via http://www.glogster.com

Survive the winter, the flood, the rain and everything else that kills fire, that ends a flicker and cools a burn. Congratulations to those who survived, even with fragments and pieces that correspond to life when put together at the joints. You are alive. At least, by the doctor’s assessment, you are still pumping blood and performing the minimum functions required of a human being.

Say “good morning” to the sun. It’s 36 degrees Centigrade and a sweaty oven outdoors. Would you rather burn out in the field or die of gradual suffocation inside a sunless coffin? Options hardly give you an easy way out.

I switched on some video and found a sound that sounded like me before there was snow and rain… before the floods drenched all wood and made it impossible for them to catch fire. He was singing my song, my anthem, my purpose. He is alive. And not by doctor’s standards but by virtue of the purpose for which he breathed and pumped oxygen and blood.

Life can be likened to when your heart pumps a hybrid of fire and plasma. If blood flows through your veins, let it carry fire back into your heart. As hot as the sun’s rays feel against your checks, so is the fire that wants to invade you. When you close your eyes and feel but nothing, remember a song that made you gasp for air, because it reminded you of the fact that you are barely breathing. A mediocre breath on a mediocre day is a mediocre life. Many of us are entangled in these.

I am walking on concrete and playing it safe. I am embracing my pillow as I wave my sword. I am lured by comfort as much as I am excited by war. And so I stay in the middle and hope life sweeps me off my feet. I need you to remind me that I was made to burn and not fade away.

Forget the trophies, the laurels and the luxuries. Forget the scars and endure the healing wounds. Your cause has not forgotten you. It has always remained right there, waiting for you to pick it up. Or so I would remind myself… because I was not made to pump blood. I was created to cary fire in my bones.

Today Felt Like I Was Going to Die Again

I think I should stop counting the times I sink so deep into a tiredness that makes me question the sense of what I am doing and the reason why I am holding on to this job that has compelled me to give more of myself, time, energy, even what seemed like my very life in ways I never thought possible. Ever since I was employed here, I have literally gone back and forth from the doctor’s clinic in hopes of a stronger body and renewed health only to squander it all again.

Believe me, every time I had gotten sick, I have thought of resigning. And with each major health catastrophe, I would always bounce back into the conviction that my time in this place is not yet up. I go back with a firmer resolve to take the inheritance that is rightfully mine, rightfully God’s but mine for the taking.

What does sickness have to do with taking an inheritance? Heck! I do not understand either!

First, it was my blood which lacked something which a prescription of b-complex from Madam physician cured.

Then, it was probably the 6-am dawn prayers 4x weekly that got me spending 15 hours a day at the office. It was a joy to behold the gentle sun beams in the morning, and to shout aloud Psalm 24 from a roof top overlooking the city, the campus we’re praying for, and the thousands of teens in it. But the sad thing is every time I fall ill, I always feel that sense of deprivation. As if the very life I have left is being swallowed by a huge mess. I love praying. I love warring. I love ministry work. But more than anything, I love God. I love His presence. And I love spending time with Him. But work is work and I really miss my one-on-one times with God, something that a corporate service or a fiery intercessory meeting could never replace. I miss my Abba, the lifter of my head. And every time I get sick, I miss Him more. I realize that I losing it. I feel like I am losing the tenderness that once characterized my heart before Him. I am losing the sense of abandon when worship sessions have to time limits or depth limits! When we sing not because a crowd will listen to us the next day. Where we don’t kneel because the pastor asked us to kneel. Where we don’t care about lying prostrate despite the dusty ground.

I am willing to just let go, you know. With one stroke from a pen, one raising of  a flag, one string in my heart to snap… I could just let go, and trade it all for the sake of running away again with God. Why should I let myself be swallowed up alive in a culture where time is paid but results aren’t? I wanna scream so loud the words, “GIVE ME FIVE HOURS WITH GOD and I’ll give you results equivalent to a day’s work, or even more. I wanna scream, I was made for His presence and not for a salary or wage that corrodes through time. I don’t need your compensation, I just need to be with Him.

Or I could just quit the 6-am and mellow down into an even more purposeless life.

But then I flip the book around and on the other side I see the silhouettes of those who are waiting to be prayed into life, birthed into salvation, groaned through intercession, preached into repentance, and loved into submission and fullness of life. I realize that I face two painful realities: first, the difficulties and constraints of being under a system that has yet to be redeemed into following Kingdom principles, and second, the fact that real persons waiting to be set free from the shackles of sin.

Why am I here? And is this really the place from which I must intercede? Why am I here? Is there not a better place for me to exercise my gifts and fulfill my purpose? Why here?

And if this is really the place for me, why am I sick? Why do I feel like I’m dying? Why do I feel like I’m warring alone?

As I sat in front of the computer today, I rummaged for someone to ask prayer from. I felt like I needed someone to intercede every day. The was doesn’t really fade a way when you close your eyes and try to think happy thoughts. Sometimes, I feel like people quit praying as soon as a week had passed. Or they mellow down, thinking that there really isn’t any war you’re battling. It’s been more than a year and it has been a year of war. Rests come in between but the war never ceased. I still weep over souls. If only my sickness could save them, but no, only the Gospel will. And I have to stay alive and kicking in order for that to happen.

All the friends I used to know seemed too distant already for me share how painful it is to go through sacrifice that costs freedom. Yet it is a freedom I freely surrender. I could just quit. But the love of Christ lays hold of me. And for today, this is my reminder that I should press on (see excerpt below). I will avoid the doctor. But if I must go there again, then so be it for the sake of lives that will be changed.

I still feel like I have become a live target for the enemy to assault. But who cares. It’s not like there’s another way to live.

The face that Moses had begged to see – was forbidden to see – was slapped bloody (Exodus 33:19-20). The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around his own brow…

“On your back with you!” One raises a mallet to sink in the spike. But the soldier’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier’s life minute by minute, for no man has the power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). The victim wills that the soldier live on – he grants the warriors continued existence. The man swings.

As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm – the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless – the nerves perform exquisitely. “Up you go!” They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe.

But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being – the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot.

His Father! He must face his Father like this!

From Heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seem the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognise these eyes.

“Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten – fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh, the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk – you, who molest young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp – buying pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves – relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe this things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?”

Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.

The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind for every century explodes in a single direction.

” Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!”

But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.

The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.

‘Cause More Means Less and Vise-Versa

A good friend of my family’s, and one of my Dad’s mentors, sent us an email on his birthday last week. It was so timely and the words stuck deep. Please allow me to share a huge portion of it:

I’ve been re-reading William Law in A SERIOUS CALL OT A DEVOUT AND
HOLY LIFE – “The greatness of those things which follow death makes all that goes before it sink into nothing.”

I would say that I am a thinker, a dreamer, and adventurist; and there is a place for this – although if my life is centered upon me and what I enjoy, what will be my state when it is gone? Or, what will I be when I have decreased physical facilities?

When age takes away freedoms and activities, the true state of my life will be revealed. Then peace, and the virtues of contentment and pleasure, will reveal where I have placed my priorities – when only the memory is there of past joys, what will my condition of spirit and soul? The simple joys are the greatest joys, and the simplest most pure joy is in the spirit with Christ – whether alone or with others, this is pure reality.

When life comes nearer toward death, and the conscience of a person begins to examine the vanity of life and the reality of coming judgment – what uncertain state of mind and spirit will such a person experience which has wasted their life primarily on self and pleasures.

How easily we, who call ourselves followers of Christ become passive in our devotion to Christ; assuming – without thinking, we can live a pretense of faith in Christ while spending our mental devotion on temporal pursuits.

“Straight is the door, and narrow is the way, that leads to life, and few will find it.” Matt 7:14

“For many are called, but few are chosen”, Matt 22:14; and, “Strive to enter through the narrow door, For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able”, Luke 13:24.

Precisely similar to the questions I’ve been asking myself these past weeks. How much value are we adding to our lives, really?