My parents spiritual legacy started when they both gave their lives to Jesus Christ in Saudi Arabia. They were both overseas Filipino workers who originally came from a strong catholic background. My parents told my siblings and I awesome stories about how serving God was in such a hostile environment. And even now, all I could do is imagine what would I do if I were in their shoes. But this deep impact of the reality of Christ is ingrained in them that they continued to serve God till this very day. It’s more than a religion, it’s a relationship. It’s more than just looking like and acting like a Christian it is being more and more like Christ. But I didn’t always know these truths. It’s only through God’s spirit that the gospel will permeate and bring revelation.
I was blessed to be able to be raised in a Christian home. We went to church every Sunday, my parents served in our local church and I was raised in a family that taught me good Christian values. I still remember being a naughty child (along with my siblings), but I know and was raised with the knowledge of good and bad, and of God and his son Jesus. But that’s just what it was–mere knowledge. Just knowing, just something cerebral, something intellectual. I took this for granted, I lived selfishly thinking I was “saved” because my parents are. It’s deceptive. Salvation isn’t inherited, it is an individual experience, an individual relationship. But I didn’t know that.
After I graduated elementary school and in my transition to middle school, my mom, my siblings and I finally had the opportunity to go to Guam (If you don’t know where it is, please Google it) with my father. We’ve been separated for years to process or US visa/passport/naturalization. In Guam, I met more “on fire” Christians: Christians who are sold out for Christ, those who are living their faith. And I found it amazing. I yearned for it. I wanted to be like them–find purpose and joy and peace. So I gave my life to Christ around this time and got involved in church activities, joined youth and ministry and had great Christian friends. I had joy, I had love. It was fun serving God.
But my faith was tested when I entered high school. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. I found out Christians were flawed, they were selfish, unreasonable and sometimes outright rude. This dampened and discouraged my faith. In my mind, how could these people call themselves Christians when they act this way? A couple of truly amazing people who were on fire took my sister and I and helped us through this time of doubt and spiritual instability. My sister caught the vision from these girls, while I just joined along. I saw the change in her, I saw the love and the joy…the very things I wanted in the beginning.
Then due unfortunate events they left the church.
My sister was devastated–so much so that she started harming herself and plunged into deep depression. The atmosphere in my home changed when this happened. My parents started fighting more, trying to figure out what to do with my sister. My brother hated coming home. I didn’t know what to do. I was even more lost than her. If my sister who I considered ‘spiritually stronger’ than me fell, who am I to hold on? So I shut myself in and started looking for acceptance and love from my peers and classmates—I can’t get it at church, I can’t get it at home…so where can I turn to? I turned rebellious. I hated my parents and started doing things behind their backs (not too insane, but still, it was bad). During this dark times, I felt so hypocritical going to church knowing my family is falling apart. We easily wore masks outside but was dying inside. No matter what we felt, we continued to go to church. Every time I felt convicted, sinful, and so far apart from God. I had a selfish apathetic view of everything during high school. I started not caring about God.
Maybe I even hated him. But I think I just hated myself more.
Looking back, even though I hated the standards my parents put in my live during my rebellious teen years, I realized how much evil they kept me away from and how much God’s grace extended to me and how well they instilled values in my heart that I do not wish to break even in my sinful condition. Then I realized that all of this happened because we based our Christianity not on Christ, the cornerstone but on other people. I didn’t know Christ and God at all. I knew about him, but I didn’t know him Him personally. Instead I trusted people and looked at people more than God, when they fell, I fell with them. I learned people will disappoint, people are flawed and sinful. And I learned it the hard way.
Time flew by, I graduated high school and entered college and we started healing. Slowly, but surely. It was hard at first but we all did. My sister found hope and selflessly starting to serve God. My parents and my brother did the same. I on the other hand, somewhat returned, did go back to the altar to repent but I didn’t feel like I changed. I felt like I was disconnected from God and that he won’t hear me anymore. But I tried. I tried to get back to church activities, pray, read my bible and make good Christian friends…but It was so hard. No matter how good I was, or how hard I tried, I wasn’t good enough. Nothing is good enough. I felt like I didn’t fit in this church atmosphere. I felt alone and isolated no matter how hard I tried. Then there were times when I feel God’s presence, and sometimes not at all. It’s like a spiritual rollercoaster. It was tiring. I was always up and down, up and down.
Then there was a revival service when the revivalist asked if you want a word from God, step up. My sister’s relationship with God was restored by a timely word. I wanted one. I want God to speak to my condition. I didn’t care if He reprimands me, or what. I just need to hear from Him…anything. I’ve seen people get one time and time again and it seems like God just passed me by every time.
Then for the first time in my life I got a word:
“Yea, the Lord would say unto thee that sometimes you feel like a stranger, even when you’re around others, saith God. But behold this my daughter, I know you by name. I know the very numbers of hairs on your head, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord there is no second class citizens in My house, but you are a co-heir, a joint heir with my son in the kingdom, saith the Lord. Walk upright as a daughter of heaven and never be afraid or bashful to come to me, saith God. Do not let doubt say in your mind I would not do it for you, for it is my good pleasure to work in your life. Be holy unto Me, be chaste and virtuous unto me, for I have a good future for your life, saith the Lord.”
I didn’t understand it fully. It seems so surreal. Me? God knows me? God calls me a daughter? I’m an heir to His kingdom? He’s pleased to work in my life? I have a good future?
It didn’t hit me till months after I received this word. How God will suddenly reveal to me his plans for my life, how he will meet me in the most unexpected place during the most unexpected time (Which I will save for another blog post for another day).
As I type this out, I could say that the word I got that day was fulfilled. Suddenly, unexpectedly. In His own perfect timing and his own perfect way. And that Jesus healed me and met with me and showed me his love and his grace and his faithfulness despite the detours that I had to go along the way to meet him. And he indeed has an amazing will, plan and purpose in my life (as you could see, it’s one of my favorite things to write about because I’m excited, too excited to contain it).
I encourage you;
If you haven’t received Jesus in your heart, give Him a chance.
He’s going to change your life forever.