It wasn’t easy to make this important decision. After contemplating about it, I was still hesitant and thought of postponing my plan.
I asked the Lord what I should do. I had hoped He would tell me to do what my heart desired. But He instructed me the opposite and even told me to go an extra mile and do what was difficult for me.
God’s message was clear and I was rebuked that my desires and actions were reflection of my defiance. He wants me to submit and respect authority, to imitate His character, to not just have an exceptional output but more importantly have a right heart before Him. He also wanted me to do something that was not even necessary.
After a few weeks, I asked Him again what I should do. I had a feeling this event was something inevitable and I thought maybe the Lord just wanted to correct my heart before affirming my decision. But He told me the same thing as before — no.
As the situation went to a climax, I cried out to the Lord wanting to be out of it. I asked His leading if I can do what I had been asking Him. The Lord comforted me by reminding me of His character and the things He has done:
Father, You are ultimately in control – You always are in all situations. You are the same yesterday, today and forever. You never change Your mind. My days are already set before You. You are faithful and dependable. You have shown Your faithfulness time and time again. I have no reason to doubt You. You are true, steadfast and unchangeable. You are not swayed by mere men. You are God all-powerful and all-knowing. Yet in all Your majesty and splendor, You make time for me. You have turned Your eyes on me and have shown me mercy…
A vast army from the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord.
At first, I just wanted to be encouraged with God’s character and the things He has done by reading Jehoshaphat’s prayer:
O Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?
They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying,‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir…Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
They cried out to God in their distress. And I realized this is the exact description of what I felt – distressed!
As I continued reading, the Lord comforted me with His response to Jehoshaphat’s prayer:
…This is what the Lord says to you: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.Tomorrow march down against them…
You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you… Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”
God’s response was addressed to Judah, Jerusalem and their king Jehoshaphat. But God’s character described in this passage is true for eternity and was the only thing I held on to.
Though they were greatly outnumbered, king Jehoshaphat obeyed without question. He trusted God and led the people to obedience. His confidence was not from great assurance in their military ability but confidence that comes in trusting God’s faithfulness to His promise and the assurance that He would be with them.
Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” . . .
As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it.
Find Peace in God’s Presence
The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.
The Lord was glorified through their obedience. He not only gave them victory over their enemies but also peace to the kingdom of Jehoshaphat.
Faith and trust in God produces obedience. Obedience is key to receiving God’s favor and blessings.
Problems, challenges and trials reveal the contents of man’s heart. And our response shows how we perceive God and how much we trust and obey Him.
The Lord is faithful in revealing my deepest sins, rebuking, correcting and confronting me through His Word — the Bible. At the same time showing and reminding me of His character, comforting and encouraging me to have a right heart before Him and to obey regardless how difficult or unreasonable it may seem.
We find true peace not in having a favorable circumstance but in God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. It enables us not to depend in our own strength or in what we see but only in God’s power and sovereignty.
God’s presence comforted me and His voice, through His Word, assured me. I found peace in the truth that though I am shortsighted, He who directs my path is all-knowing and trustworthy.
My situation did not change but the Lord changed my heart. I had the courage to face the vast army because my God promised to be with me. All I needed was to obey what He told me. The result belongs to Him.
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. (Philippians 4:6-7)
(First published on March 15, 2017 entitled: “Finding Peace and Comfort In the Face of a Vast Army”)
Further readings and study about King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30
Father, since when and why have we become so passive?! Have we been like this all this time?
At the beginning of this ministry, I asked long-time ministry leaders and volunteers to share their salvation testimony. Having known them and served alongside them for a decade, I was excited and confident that they would be more than eager to grab the opportunity to share their story beyond their spheres of influence.
Their response was the exact opposite. At first, I was disappointed but as I think about it, I get more confused.
We are part of a local church where the Bible is faithfully preached. We were taught about the Biblical basis and the importance of evangelism and missions, there are a lot of equipping classes and training about evangelism and missions, there are numerous ministries and church activities that allow us to apply what we’ve learned apart from sharing the Gospel and witnessing to our spheres of influence at home, school or work.
I was in a ministry which multiplied from one Bible study group to about a dozen, and it was all because of building relationships and witnessing to friends in the workplace.
So I do not understand where their response is coming from. It’s not that they are unwilling, they’re just busy. Unavailable.
Unavailability is one of our challenges in encouraging others to take part in the different tasks in the ministry or in helping meet the needs of others in the church.
So how come they responded the same way? Do they realize it or are they unaware? Is the task too demanding? Is it because of the unresolved misunderstanding?
Writing one’s salvation testimony is just a one time work, not a lifetime commitment. And this is the testimony we had written and had shared before, I suppose, and we’re commanded and taught to share with others. So I really don’t know what’s the challenge.
After two months of asking people and following up on them, the Lord reminded me of a Bible verse so I moved on and asked Christian friends from other churches instead.
I was surprised they were more than willing and excited to do it. This was God’s affirmation that whatever work done for Him is His work. He planned the content, provides resources, and brings people to contribute. He has firmly and faithfully shown, week after week, that He is in control and will provide for every content He wants written or shared.
An affirmation and reminder that no one is indispensable in God’s work. In the absence, unwillingness or unavailability of one, the Lord provides another. He will never leave Himself without a witness. Jesus said even the stones would cry out if people keep quiet. And the whole creation speaks of His glory.
Why Have We Become Apathetic?
In August, someone sent a personal testimony that said: While at Bible school, I heard about people around the world really wanting to get to know God but there weren’t enough Christians willing to go.
I’m aware that there is a greater need in other parts of the world, that very few commits to serve as a cross-cultural missionary, and Christians do not share the Gospel more than we ought to. At the same time, I thought most “committed Christians” are ready, willing and available especially for the Gospel, and my experience with believers in my local church is an isolated case.
This statement coming from someone I know who lived on the other side of the world reflects what I have seen this year in this side of our world with regard to witnessing in our Judea and Samaria. This awoke me to the reality of how Christians respond to the Great Commission.
I thought the greater need for the Gospel in other parts of the world was mainly because of their resistance to the Gospel but now I understand it is because very few believers have the heart for the world. But how can we see the need of the ends of the world when we are passive even to the needs of our Judea and Samaria?
It made Jesus’ command in Matthew 9:38 and Luke 10:2 so true, real, relevant, imperative, urgent, living and active — to beg for laborers to be thrown into the harvest field!
Do a lot of Christians know not only the command but also it’s relevance and the state of the world? And if we are aware, what are we doing about it? Now I understand why missions-minded people are at times frustrated.
Indeed, a Christ-centered theology is a missionary theology.
How, why, and since when did we become so apathetic? Is it because of lack of awareness or lack of heart or both? Do our hearts break what breaks Yours?
How can we be so consumed of our own lives? How can we think only of our own selves, family, career, welfare, and advancement? Sometimes we even take pride of our ministries and programs in the church when we can’t even intentionally and effectively reach out to our Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and have forgotten that You also told us to go to the ends of the earth. Jesus, You are the God of the whole world not just of our family and our city!
Who Will Go for Jesus?
Looking back at the pain that happened in the recent years, I now find the reasons for my tears seem so petty compared to the greater need of a quarter of the world population who have yet to hear Jesus’ name for the first time, and the sacrifice and persecution that a handful of missionaries and believers endure for the sake of the Gospel.
If there’s very few who are willing, available, see the need, have the heart, and committed to finishing the Great Commission, then who would do the remaining and still extensive task? Who would go for You, Lord?
Here I am, send me! I want to go, Father, please I beg You to throw me into the harvest! I want to go to a people where no one has heard Jesus’ name, where the Gospel is most needed. I want to share in the suffering of a handful of believers who sacrifice their whole life for the sake of the Gospel. Millions of people have been waiting for 2,000 years. How much longer do they have to wait?! Thousands die every hour, there’s no time to waste. The remaining task is still so immense, it cannot be done by only a handful! Throw workers into these unengaged unreached people groups, Father. Throw me!
Have mercy, Father. Have mercy on these people who have yet to hear Your Gospel. Forgive us, Your people, for being apathetic, selfish, and self-centered. Change our hearts, open our eyes to see the great need, enable us to respond the way Jesus responded to our need — with love and compassion for the lost, and remind us that His sacrifice is not exclusive to our family, friends, and community but for the whole world.
Facing A Task Unfinished | Keith & Kristyn Getty
Facing a task unfinished That drives us to our knees A need that, undiminished Rebukes our slothful ease We, who rejoice to know Thee Renew before Thy throne The solemn pledge we owe Thee To go and make Thee known
Where other lords beside Thee Hold their unhindered sway Where forces that defied Thee Defy Thee still today With none to heed their crying For life, and love, and light Unnumbered souls are dying And pass into the night
We go to all the world With kingdom hope unfurled No other name has power to save But Jesus Christ the Lord
We bear the torch that flaming Fell from the hands of those Who gave their lives proclaiming That Jesus died and rose Ours is the same commission The same glad message ours Fired by the same ambition To Thee we yield our powers
We go to all the world With kingdom hope unfurled No other name has power to save But Jesus Christ the Lord
O Father who sustained them O Spirit who inspired Saviour, whose love constrained them To toil with zeal untired From cowardice defend us From lethargy awake! Forth on Thine errands send us To labour for Thy sake
We go to all the world With kingdom hope unfurled No other name has power to save But Jesus Christ The Lord
We go to all the world His kingdom hope unfurled No other name has power to save But Jesus Christ The Lord
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
While I am aware that we are in a spiritual battle, I used to think that the battle is only about our sinful nature. Then in January 2019, I read this article that says:
When God Moves, Satan Responds
The consistent pattern throughout the Bible is that every significant move of God is preceded by a season of increasingly difficult, discouraging opposition. And if we take Ephesians 6, Daniel 10, and other warfare texts seriously, we can understand why: God is invading what Satan considers his territory. God’s kingdom is breaking through the lines of the domain of darkness (Colossians 1:13).
If we are not encountering opposition, it’s likely we are not attacking a strategic location. But if we are, we are on to something. Where the enemy is fortifying his forces is where we must focus our assault.
And where the enemy is fortified, there is going to be a fierce fight if we are going to achieve a breakthrough. We are going to receive volleys of flaming darts (Ephesians 6:16). We are going to be attacked on the rear. There will be spies in the camp. There will be jeering and intimidation and accusations. There will be efforts to destroy our morale and determination.
A Call for Breakthrough Determination
So this is a call for holy determination. Keep praying and don’t lose heart (Luke 18:1). Just like in any large-scale war, there are many battles. Some breakthroughs are achieved relatively quickly; others require long, persevering endurance. But either way, breakthroughs require a determination to keep up the assault.
Usually breakthroughs are not achieved by prayer alone — there are works to be done and courage to be exercised. But real spiritual breakthroughs are not achieved at all without prayer. Concentrated, specific, persistent, prevailing prayer, often engaged in by two or more (Matthew 18:19), is needed to weaken our spiritual opposition. And fasting is a wonderful help. “Fasting tests where the heart is. And when it reveals that the heart is with God and not the world, a mighty blow is struck against Satan” (A Hunger for God).
So if you’re praying for a breakthrough and not seeing it, and in fact experiencing more temptations to discouragement, frustration, weariness, doubt, and cynicism than before, do not give up. Increasingly intense fighting always precedes strategic breakthroughs. Strategic ground is not yielded easily. You’re up against more than you know. But “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). He has overcome the world (John 16:33) and he will give you justice (Luke 18:8).
Don’t lose heart. Grow determined. There’s a breakthrough ahead.
It was because of this article and a prayer that the Lord placed in my mouth that made me understand everything I have been going through since 2017 is because of the war I am waging — proclaiming the Gospel.
The Lord is doing something great; there’s an incredible story I had only been sharing with my family and friends but the Lord wants me to share it to the whole world through different media platforms. And He promised an abundant harvest. This promise is actually more unimaginable for me than the story I’m about to share. And it is the only goal I’m looking at, it’s what fuels me in everything I’m doing now — God’s promise of an abundant harvest.
The war is fierce; everything came unexpectedly for me and once it’s revealed it may shock everyone. Although it’s nothing compared to what the apostles and the first-century church experienced or even what Christ went through. Every day the Lord upholds and encourages me. Yesterday He told me what Paul and other apostles went through to encourage me from their example, a lot of believers experienced greater sufferings than I have, and to teach me how to respond, which I find more difficult than persevering:
We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. (1 Corinthians 4:10-13)
I also read a post on Facebook about last Sunday’s sermon where our senior pastor was tagged: Don’t Shut Up! (pertaining to the proclamation of the Gospel). I decided to attend the Tagalog service with my mom hoping she’d no longer sleep during the sermon and I barely got anything. 😭 But this short encouragement from the English service filled me. 😁 And I’m excited to watch it online. It’s exactly what I need in moments when professing Christians are hounding me to stop what I’m doing without realizing it meant stop sharing the Gospel! It’s obvious where that came from.
It’s only now that I realized I am in the frontline of the battle. Flaming arrows are coming from every direction and they are either distracting or slowing me down from the task. I’m not used to sharing my spiritual journey in public because I consider it an intimate portion of my life, neither do I share prayer requests with strangers and I rarely share my deepest prayers with anyone. But now realizing I am in the frontline made me understand I badly and urgently need someone to constantly pray for me, not just me praying for this alone. Sharing this is even difficult for fear that it may offend but God is continually training and teaching me to speak boldly, and reminding me that my allegiance is to Him alone.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Thank you. I greatly appreciate your prayers. God Bless!
This is just a quick note and isn’t part of my weekly blog, I hope to publish this week’s post tomorrow.
Only 10 days after publishing Uncontainable Musing’s Facebook Page, I got this notification:
From the very beginning of this ministry, it is the Lord who has planned the content, brings people to contribute, and provides for resources. Everything is covered by God. I don’t know if getting free credit is common in FB Pages, BUT I certainly didn’t expect that God would give me an advertising budget this way and this early! 😂😍 How amazing is the Lord? 😍
So here’s my very first boosted post as seen in FB and IG:
Here’s the second boosted post which would consume the remaining credit:
This serves as a testimony and memory of God’s faithfulness, favor, provision. And this is just the beginning! Weeeeeh! ❤️
Well… It’s entitled that for a reason. I’d appreciate if you’d give me some privacy. Thank you!
I published this only because the Lord wants me to.
But this is “For my eyes only”.
Please exit now.
I forgive you if you close this now.
✋ Stop right now. Thank you very much!
An Offering to You, My Father . . .
Now again, with this persistent and irresistible desire to share this? Olive, what has gotten into you? Why are you sharing this in public?! Maybe I should’ve called this blog “Intimate Thoughts”. Nah! Some people might get the wrong idea.
Father, I know You have anointed me for this task. This is the purpose of my existence. Though it’s still a mystery to me how You had thought of me before the world began and at the same time didn’t want/planned sin yet I was conceived out of it. How can that be? But whatever it is, I am immensely grateful for having You and knowing You (grateful is even inadequate; I don’t know how to thank You.) And it is for this reason I was born and is alive now: to proclaim Your Name to all the Nations in whatever way You show me.
I want to do whatever You want me to do, Lord; I want to please You and find favor in your eyes. Now I know how it feels to seek approval from a father. Just like a child who would say to her dad, “Daddy look what I did!” “Wow! That’s awesome! Great work, anak.” I bet she’s beaming with happiness because her dad’s approval is her greatest reward. And that is exactly how I feel. Your approval is my greatest reward. I want to please You and constantly feel your presence, to constantly hear Your voice.
I had tried pursuing achievements, knowledge, position, power, money, relevance. But I found everything is only as good as my last performance. So I had to keep on, and on, and on, and on. Until these pursuits had become tiring, repetitive and boring. None is completely satisfying and enjoyable. So I always find myself back to You because You are the only one who fills my heart and completely satisfies me.
At first, I left everything because You said so. But now, I chose to leave everything because I want to for You, by Your grace. I left everything yet I gained more than what I came for. Your ways are so exciting, Lord, You never fail to exceed my expectations. You have given me the opportunity to experience giving myself fully to You: my whole life, my whole being, my whole time, all of my resources (well, technically they’re no longer my resources xD). Everything I know, all of my skills, knowledge, gifts – everything I have or the lack of it I give to You. And I will do it over and over again because I want Your approval and Your favor. And I want to serve the purpose of my existence: to be how You intended me to be and do exactly what You purposed me to do.
I’m in a season of the most enjoyable, fulfilling, satisfying moments in my life because of Your presence. Since the time You told me to write in 2016, I have felt Your constant presence and leading I have never experienced before. Maybe because of the freedom to spend time with You for as long as I want; I don’t know. And even during my lowest moments, while it was painful, it was one of the most fulfilling because of our unceasing communication and Your comforting voice sustaining me. I remember when I was a new believer, I kept on asking You what it’s like to pray unceasingly. That’s Your command but I didn’t know how anyone can do that. More than a decade after, You taught me during the most painful moments of my life. Because of these experiences, my heart is slowly embracing the fact that suffering will always be a part of my life here (will always be talaga?! unending? xD). But I have something to look forward to — an opportunity to be more intimate with You and learn from You from a standpoint of suffering.
At the same time, I know greater things are yet to come! I’m excited about what You’re doing but at the same time getting impatient and tired of waiting because of the cause of delay to this! But remember Your promise, Lord. You promised an abundant harvest and I expect it will be infinitely more than anyone can ask or imagine. Nothing is too difficult for You.
As I do this ministry, help me not to be task/goal-oriented but people-oriented. I don’t want this ministry to be brought down to a mere to-do list. People are more important than tasks. And ministry is for people. My work is not about doing but being — being like You in character as I relate with other people
And in all these, Lord, there is only one thing I ask of You: Your presence. I want to always feel Your presence, hear Your voice, know Your instruction, and be certain of Your leading. What would I do without it? What would I do without You? This is Your work. This is Your mission. You are the authority. And You promised You will ALWAYS be with Your people to the end of the age.
So I offer this to You. This blogsite is Yours. The story of Your people. The testimony of Your character. Your story. We offer this to You.
I want to share this short story. I don’t know why I can’t help it. Maybe I’m just excited for tomorrow. Or maybe I just want to blabber. 😂
I have been stalling from creating an FB page since the resumption of this blog in March because:
1) I still don’t have a logo.
2) I don’t have a cover photo.
3) Though the “brand name: Uncontainable Musings” completely captures the content/nature of the blog and has ‘brand retention’ (I think😂), I’m still having second thoughts about it because it’s a bit of a mouthful and too long for Twitter 😂😭
Brands has to have the same name in all platforms! And once I create an FB page, then I’d have to stick to the name.
But in the last week of June, there was this consistent tug to create an FB page.
“Shhh… I’m not yet ready.”
Then it comes to mind again.
“I still don’t have a logo!” 😭😭
“What logo should I use?! And I don’t have a cover photo!” 😭😭
I started to create a trial FB page to know how it works.
“I don’t have a logo and cover photo!” I grumbled.
He reminded me of the banner photo I got the previous week.
💡”Oh yeah! That’s perfect!” 😍
. . . . .
“But what would be the logo? My face?! Nooooo!” 😭😭😭
. . . . .
“And I don’t have a solo picture!” 😭😂
But thinking about accountability over all the information, Biblical authority / religious content, published in this blog which will be shared in a public platform, it makes sense that I put a face on it (literally 😂) especially while it’s still at its birth.
Now after obedience, I saw the wisdom behind it. Especially the timing!
And one important lesson I learned is to always have an updated solo picture. I ran out of photos to recycle! 😂😂
Now two more platforms remaining… 😍😍 Weeeeh! I’m sooo excited! 😄🔥🔥
I love God’s leading, it’s so exciting! Expected yet unexpected. Unreasonable yet very reasonable. 😊❤️
In January 2019, I reconnected with my Christian community. I was excited to share with my friends everything God told me. But the moment I met with someone, the Lord warned me to prepare my heart for the unexpected. I thought being away for a year and a month was a very long time but maybe it isn’t because a lot hasn’t changed. I found myself back to the same situation as I was in 2017.
“Why aren’t you working?”
“You can apply here or there.”
“Until when do you plan to be unemployed?”
“So how do you provide for your needs?”
“Even Paul was a tentmaker.”
“Single women shouldn’t leave their job.”
“How about your responsibility to provide for yourself?”
“Why are you depending on your family?”
“You’re burdening your family.”
When the apostles left their profession, they had Jesus in the flesh with them. Most Christians who left their profession to follow God’s call for their lives are in exchange employed either in a church or a Christian organization. Missionaries raise support from a church or a missions organization, while others are employed to support themselves, just like the Apostle Paul who was a tent maker (where the Christian term “tentmaking/tentmaker” came from). Wives who left their careers to be the primary caregiver of their children have their husband to provide for them, but they also get their share of disapproval from the world.
None of these is the case with me. I’m a single woman who quit her job to bear witness for Christ through writing. I’m not employed in any institution or organization. I don’t have a business and I don’t intend to venture on one. I no longer have any form of income that would sustain me. I’m not paid to write and I don’t intend to monetize this blog nor receive any form of donation from anyone. In a literal sense, I work alone and I work for free. I know; I live a pathetic life. 😁
Some may reason we can evangelize in the workplace so why choose “unemployment”? Or I can continue working and write in my spare time. My motive is right but the means is foolish. This is the root of their disapproval: Who do I expect to provide for myself if I quit my job? Do I intend on burdening my family for the rest of my life? God’s calling for my life is unconventional. Others may call it impractical or even irresponsible which should clearly show it’s contrary to God’s will. These are reasonable arguments nonetheless focuses only on man’s strengths and limitations, not on God’s power. And responding “the Lord provides” would be taken either as blind faith or presuming on God despite all the evidence from God’s Word.
Though their words won’t change my mind, they still affect me. It pains to hear these words not from the world, not even from my own family who has always been supportive of me, but from close friends who profess the same faith. And the most painful is the thought that I’m burdening my family. It isn’t easy for me to obey the Lord in “renouncing” my family to completely follow His call and their words only rubbed salt into the wound.
But I know God won’t lead me to do something only to leave me to my own devices. And indeed He is faithful! It amazes me how He has been blessing my family more than before. This is His way of showing me how He generously provides, and how He keeps His promise that He is indeed taking care of my family and I needn’t worry about them. These are constant truths but my perspective was clouded when I was still helping them.
Another unexpected event which made me doubt about a specific task and almost caused a delay in the schedule of the initial post was, I never thought that, within my close friends who are leaders in the ministry, no one is ready to share their testimony. I had to persistently ask the most accommodating just to produce the first story. One of the goals of this blog is to encourage believers to boldly share their life story for God’s glory. I was so certain they’d catch the vision. I even imagined they’d also be excited to take part in it because I thought this opportunity is something Christians would take advantage of. It’s not that they’re unwilling. Most are of course willing but don’t have time. They did say they were busy with work, and maybe with ministry and other things too, so maybe a month isn’t enough to write a testimony. I should’ve also considered that they may find it more difficult to write than to speak especially using a foreign language.
These are some experiences that opened my eyes to the realities within a Christian community. I ran back to God crying, “Lord, do you really want me to do it this way? Please talk to me, Lord! Speak to me again. Tell me again. I know that if this is Your will, You can affirm me again. Just speak to me again. I want to hear Your voice.”
(I would like to point out two things. First, this story is known only within my circle of friends in the church, which means this is unknown to the congregation, and how my friends responded doesn’t represent our local church as a whole. Second, my purpose is not to malign my Christian friends but to testify about God’s unconventional calling and His work in my life, which inevitably includes the context of this story; to share the realities I have experienced and learned a lot from; and to serve as part of a more complex and incredible story I will be sharing soon. In God’s sovereignty, He allowed these things to happen for His purposes. This would also enable us to understand that everyone is imperfect even Christians; only God is perfect and all of us need Him.)
19 So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field. There were twelve teams of oxen in the field, and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away.20 Elisha left the oxen standing there, ran after Elijah, and said to him, “First let me go and kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you!”
Elijah replied, “Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.”
21 So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant.
So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field. There were twelve teams of oxen in the field, and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team.
Elijah was a prophet of God. During those times, God speaks through prophets. They are spokesmen for God; they speak in God’s name and by His authority.
While Elisha was a farmer as he is described plowing a field.
As Elisha was busy plowing the field and was driving the 12th pair of oxen, Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away.The cloak is a symbol of Elijah’s calling upon his life and on his ministry as a prophet. Throwing the cloak across Elisha’s shoulder is like saying: “Elisha, God has a job for you, so leave everything you’re doing.” It meant he would be Elijah’s successor.
Elisha left the oxen standing there, ran after Elijah, and said to him, “First let me go and kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you!”
Elijah replied, “Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.”
Elijah didn’t stop Elisha from going back home. He gave Elisha space to make the commitment himself without pressure, without manipulation. He has to decide.
In the previous post “Counting the Cost of Discipleship”, we studied Luke 9:57-62. There was a would-be disciple who wanted to follow Jesus but asked to go back first and say goodbye to his family to which Jesus replied: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Jesus’ reply reflects the man’s divided heart for God.
No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62)
While in this passage we see Elijah allowing Elisha to say goodbye to his family first. So how do we reconcile these two passages? Does it mean Elisha also has a divided heart? Or does it mean Jesus pressured the would-be disciple by replying that way?
First, we need to remember that Jesus is God. He knows the hearts of men and He knew the heart of that would-be disciple, that he has a divided heart. Jesus wanted him to understand the cost of being His disciple: giving a wholehearted commitment. He wanted the carefully thought out, understood commitment of a lifetime. So it was still the man’s decision whether he would follow Jesus on His terms. Through God’s grace, the decision is still ours to make.
It was also Elisha’s decision to make. But Elijah reminded him to think about what he had done to him. So Elisha did go back but what he did afterward reflects his outrageous commitment to God’s calling for his life.
So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant.
Elisha owned 12 pairs of oxen which shows he probably was a wealthy person. And wealthy people often got a lot of options and possibilities. But now he’s about to leave all of those and attach himself to a prophet and face a life of opposition, danger, and sacrifice.He chose to leave all of the options back.
A plow is a symbol of identity for a farmer. For somebody who works the field, that was his life. Take away his plow; he’s a nobody. That’s how important the plow is for a farmer. But Elisha used the wood from his plow to build a fire to roast his oxen, which were also part of his life as a farmer.
What he did was a defining part of who he is. If there is evidence or a sign of his commitment to follow God’s call for his life, it’s him burning everything that he looks to for his identity, for his security, for his comfort, and for his provision. It’s all included in that plow. Burning that plow is an extraordinary commitment that says: “I am going to do what You (God) say I’m going to do.”
Elijah placed his cloak over Elisha which meant God has called him into ministry. And Elisha is basically saying: “I’m ready for it! I don’t care how hard it gets, how high the cost, I’m not turning back. I cannot go back to my old life. I’ve burned the plow. That way of life is cut off from me. There is no retreat!”
No Turning Back
Pastor Ta’s sermon through the example of Elisha’s outrageous commitment to the Lord fueled me at the time when I was beginning to doubt and was getting discouraged. I’m grateful for the examples of these faithful and committed men of God.
And most of all the example set by Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus, the Son of God, gave up His divine privileges and took the humble position of a slave, humbled himself and became obedient to death on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
“Yes, Lord, I don’t care how hard it gets, how high the cost, how painful the journey; I will follow You completely! I will ‘burn’ everything that I look to for my identity, security, comfort, and provision. I don’t want anything or anyone that would hinder me from doing what You want me to do. And You alone can fully move me to do this.”
While every believer in Christ is commanded to proclaim the Gospel, each one has a specific function in the Body. I shouldn’t allow other people’s response to affect my obedience because it is I whom God commissioned to do this specific task; therefore, I’m the one accountable for it.
The doors in the workplace are still wide open for me. Opportunities are still there. I can go back whenever I choose to. The experiences and skills I acquired are still a part of me. But I decided to leave all my options behind and chose to live a “pathetic life” for Jesus Christ my Lord. Why? Because Jesus said so, I will. My decision is final. There’s no turning back. I no longer see myself going back. God told me before: “The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.” He already gave me freedom; there’s no point of going back. Regardless of challenges or difficulties, oppositions and discouragements, I cannot see myself doing any other work but this.
Since the time the Lord called me to Himself, I knew I’d be leaving the corporate industry soon. I had been asking the Lord what He wants me to do for the rest of my life but He was silent. So I stayed where I was. I enjoyed my work and my time with friends at the workplace. But at one point, I saw an opportunity and risked changing careers in an effort to find out where God wants me to be.
This is the answer! This is the work God wants me to do for the rest of my life: testifying for Jesus to the whole world until my last breath. And blogging is just the beginning. A preparation for bigger tasks ahead. That’s why it’s imperative I leave everything behind so I can focus on this training.
My eyes are fixed on God’s great promises ahead of me, why should I look back on mundane things behind me? Greater things are yet to come! Indeed, greater things are yet to come. And I wouldn’t let anything or anyone hinder me from seeing and experiencing the full realization of that vision.
I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. Not even looking back.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.