Wednesday, June 28, 2006

God dependence

Have you been in a season when everything you do seems to fail? You have done the best you can, yet you end up accomplishing nothing. You are prayerful, yet God seems so quite. Or so you thought.

It's what I had been feeling the past few months. But my hope lies in God's promise that in all things He works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). It is hard indeed. Especially when it affects your relationship with others.

In my quite time yesterday, I came across Bob Sorge's thoughts on "spiritual wilderness" and why God allows it to happen to His beloved. God puts us to various trials to make us grow in spiritual maturity. And maturity in Christ, as Sorge aptly puts it, is measuerd by how much we've come to depend on Him. The greater the dependence, he says, the greater the maturity. He continues: "God is looking for brokenness, helplessness, weakness, and absolute dependence upon Him."

There are four kinds of dependence, according to Sorge. Let me share with you excerpts from his book The Fire of Delayed Answers:

  • Total independence. This is the natural state of every unbeliever. Those outside Christ rely exclusively upon their own resources to survive.
  • Claimed dependence. When we first come to Christ we eagerly say, "Lord, I depend completely upon You!" But we're oblivious to the fact that we don't know the first thing yet about dependence. We continue to rely upon the personal support systems we naturally built before we came to Christ. The Lord loves us so much, though, that He will being to help us see our self-reliant independence.
  • Realized dependence. This is what happens when the Lord shows us how utterly dependent we are upon Him, and we embrace the truth that we can do nothing apart from Him. (John 15:5). At this level the believer sincerely cries out to God for help in every area of life.
  • Desperate dependence. This level of dependence, illustrated in Song of Solomon 8:5, is achieved only through the purposeful formation of the Holy Spirit. He leads us into a wilderness experience that He creates specifically and personally for just us. By the time He's finished with us, we hopefully will have learned this ultimate expression of dependence. One indicator that you've come to a place of desperate dependence is this: Time spent with Jesus in prayer is no longer a discipline, nor is it merely a delight; prayer (relationship with God) has become for you a matter of sheer survival.
It is not easy to go through the fire. But indeed, I have seen for myself that it is necessary for us to go through it for us to learn more about ourselves. I completely agree with Sorge that God allows us to go through this wilderness experience "to reveal ourselves to us."

When we have been a Christian for quite sometime, it is easy for us to fall into the trap of complacency. We even sometimes rationalize our actions and tend to be legalistic about things when all that matters more than anything else is our personal relationship with the Lord. Thus, God in His mercy, brings us back to our senses by allowing us to go through the wilderness experience until we completely learn to abandon ourselves in complete reliance to Him.

"Real wisdom is realizing our continual dependence upon God to give us His wisdom moment by moment." - Bob Sorge

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Enchanted Island...

IT'S NOT CALLED CAPE ENGAÑO FOR NOTHING. This cove in Palaui Island of the now-getting-famous Santa Ana, Cagayan North, is truly enchanting. I'm pretty sure the Spaniards who first set foot on this little island before they built the once majestic Faro de Cabo Engaño in the late 1800's fell under the spell of this enchanted island. The same spell that binds every stranger who willingly takes on the beckoning of the hills -- that strong presence so enticing you can't refuse.

I've been to Cape Engaño twice this summer and I swear I'll be back. I love the waters -- so clear and so cool. There's nothing more refreshing than the ice-cold seawater under the heat of the sun. But the best and more rewarding part of it all is the awesome sight on top of Cape Engaño where the lighthouse sits like a princess waiting for her beloved. I will never get tired of going up over and over again. It is not a very easy way up, I should tell you. A steep 20-minute or so walk uphill some 95 meters above sea level, that is. But swear, I will gladly do it again and again. The sight on top is just breathtaking you cannot have enough of it in two or three climbs.

Midway through the climb, I sat on the green grass with my friend Sheila. We basked on the wonderful scenery. Everywhere you look, you will be awed. Truly, there can only be a Divine Designer who entricately planned for all the things around us. One who designed the mountains exactly the way they are, or the colors of the sea, or the coolness of the wind...

Once on top of the lighthouse, you get a good glimpse of the Babuyan group of islands. But right in front of the cape at the mouth of the Pacific Ocean are the mysterious twin islands called Dos Hermanas. Legend has it that these were two sisters desperately awaiting for the return of their lovers. Dos Hermanas are rock formations covered with greens. Fisherfolks say the best gamet, that green seaweed used for Nori, can be found in this twin islands. But beware, not a few lives have been taken as they tried to break the silence of these twin sisters.

The lighthouse itself, while now in ruins, has traces of it grand old days. One can imagine a little palace perched on a hill where Prince Charming visits his beloved.

We only stayed in the lighthouse for an hour at the most. After some picture taking, we all decided to descend and frolick in the cool clear blue waters. It was only a little past 9am but on top of the hill, the heat felt like mid-day. Thankfully, it was windy so we didn't really feel the scorching sun on the way down.

Again, I slowly went down to enjoy the view. My daughter Star was already long enjoying the waters by the time I reached the beach with a few other friends. We were quite a big group -- almost 30 in all. Some chose to sleep under the shade of the trees. The cool breeze of the sea could indeed lull you to sleep. Hmmm, what a life! Others explored the virgin forest of Palaui, following the narrow trail that leads to a small waterfalls.

As the "GRO" of the group (I have volunteered to help my friend Pinky and her husband Mayor Vic Rodriguez promote their town), I deliberately left out forest trekking in our itinerary. The forest can be scary. It gives you an eerrie feeling -- hearing those strange sounds of wild animals. But some media friends chose to go anyway.

Frolicking in the clear blue waters, away from the stressful life in the metro, was truly refreshing. But like anything else in the world, our time in the midst of the enchanted island had come to an end. By noontime, we all had to pack up and bid adeu. Happily, a lunch of fresh lobsters, crabs, shrimps and lapu-lapu awaited us back in the mainland. Of course, over lunch and in the days that followed, we never ran out of stories of the enchanting Cape Engaño.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Mt. nEverest "summiteers"

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Lost in paradise...

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I LOVE NATURE.When I was a child, our parents would take us trekking in the mountains of Canlaon during the summer breaks. If we were blessed, we would find ourselves in the forests of South Cotabato with the tribal T'Bolis or Manobos. On ordinary weekends, we would be in our good old "pantalan" in my hometown Guihulngan in Negros, diving with our cousins like crazy from the top of the wharf until we could dive no more.

I have always been a sea-person, not just a beach-bum, because I love the deep blue sea as well. After graduating at Silliman, I worked for almost a year running a small resort about 30-minutes drive from Dumaguete. It didn't feel like work at all, being in the beach all day long, taking good care of our guests who were mostly foreigners but of course, at the same time making sure we were in the best business shape.

If I didn't become a journalist, I'd probably still been running a resort hotel or maybe own a travel agency and bring tourists all over the country. I love the Philippines. We were blessed our father worked with Panamin, the agency which took care of indigenous peoples during the Marcos years. His work took us to different places all over the Philippines. Maybe it was because of those trips in tribal communities that my whole family became so in-love with nature. It is a legacy, if you can call it that, I wanna pass on to my kids as well.

So when I "discovered" Santa Ana, Cagayan late last year, I swear to bring my whole family there. Places like these are the country's best kept secrets that have to be spred. I have become an "adopted daughter" of Santa Ana as declared by my good friend Pinky (the charming and vibrant wife of Mayor Vic Rodriguez). And so I will live up to being a dutiful daughter, bringing whoever is willing to this paradise called Santa Ana.