When Will You Learn To Surrender?

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“My son, give me your heart,

And let your eyes observe my ways.”

-Proverbs 23:26 (English Standard Version)

A week ago, it was probably almost midnight. I had tons of energy because I decided to take an afternoon nap, so I decided to clean my room a bit to tire me out. I started with a paper bag on my desk that was full of scratch papers, some old documents that I had been reading, and some old receipts and bus tickets that I either forgot to throw away or to keep as “memorabilia” (yes, I am a bit of a sentimentalist when it comes to the little things). Then as I was throwing and keeping some files, I came across an old crumpled memo that I wrote maybe a few months or a year ago.

“When will you learn to surrender?” was written in all caps.

Those words resonated in an instant. I just turned 22 a week ago and it dawned upon me that most of my days in 2018 were battles – and most of these battles I fought all on my own. Despite someone who goes to church every Sunday, I realized that I was holding on to my own plans and my own decisions; to lean on my own understanding because I had that thought in my head that if I wanted things done right, then I better do it all myself. And so I did.

Throughout, whilst preparing for my application an ASEAN-based program, I had nearly planned my weeks as to what to do, what to rehearse, what to bring, what to remember, and the like. It was all me. It would sound normal to an average guy for someone to do tasks and decisions all alone, but ever since I graduated college, I learned to completely rely and surrender everything to God. All my decisions, plans, and thoughts are with Him. He is in control and I am not. But after getting stressed out by certain events in life within the past year, I unknowingly took hold of the steering wheel where the car is my life and let God just sit at the back, not knowing that I am slowly running towards deeper, harder paths.

But God is just. He is just to help me see my faults through the effects of my decision-making and planning. I procrastinated in writing my policy paper, which was one of the requirements in the program; I was overconfident in the qualifying exam that I didn’t review that much, which led me to getting an unpleasing, but passing, score; I didn’t rehearse well with my song choice, which led me to forget some of the lyrics during the actual performance, and I was anxious and miserable throughout. I badly wanted to get accepted that I realized how miserable I was with all the things that I was doing. Poor decisions caused me to be anxious and overthink.

God is also compassionate. Because I saw as to how messy my life was without His guidance, I saw how wretched my heart was. I asked God that if I would prioritize other things over Him, then may He not let me get into the program. Lo and behold, I was rejected. It was the happiest thing that I experienced. Yes, the happiest. Why, you may ask? It’s because I didn’t want to go on with this marvelous program alone. I know that the phrase: “I will get things right with God, if chosen” will not be the ultimate answer to continue on with my quality time with Jesus. I genuinely praise God for letting me fail because this wouldn’t have been a testimony as to how God helped me succeed but it would’ve been a testimony as to how I only needed to believe in myself and not rely on anyone else to get what I wanted. This was not what I had wanted at all. What I had wanted was to please God through the program. My initial goal ever since I learned of this program was for God to use me in sharing His Word to people who I may meet, if chosen.

'When Will You Learn To Surrender' Note

I found this little piece of gem while cleaning a portion of my room. Who knew that this little note would help me remember God’s mercy and love in my life? © Jedd Francis De Luna

 

I found Proverbs 23:26 a year and a half ago when I was facing a dilemma in major life decisions. God revealed to me what I needed to do through that verse and he is slowly letting me understand how vile my heart was, how lost I was, and what it truly meant to surrender everything to Him.

I can honestly say that I am still quite unstable with my walk with God. I have been idle and dry in my bible reading and daily devotions, but through different people (e.g. my small group, my ministry), I am learning to see how wonderful it is to get to know and experience God every single day. I have also been teaching myself to slowly pause and stop posting unnecessary stuff (e.g. opinions on current Philippine political issues, ridiculing those in power for their political decisions, and the like) on social media to decrease the negativity that I may or may not have been bringing through opinions and posts.

Indeed, I am a work in progress, as always, but one thing is certain: He is, has always been, and will always be with me throughout the journey. May I learn the art of total surrender and may He fully take over the driver’s seat of my life.

Please continue to pray for spiritual revival and strength as I continue to lean on Jesus!

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THE LOVE OF READING: The 36th MIBF

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I was supposed to be in Nasugbu, Batangas from September 16-18, 2015 for a retreat with other seniors who are taking AB Journalism in UST. I was halfway done packing for the retreat when I decided, with my parents, to rest at home. Since Monday, I have been getting dizzy, I’ve been sneezing everywhere, and have been blowing my nose off. I also had fever the night before. So, while my blockmates were off to spend time with each other, I was in bed to spend time with…well, my bed. I needed to rest.

As I rested, I was thinking of things that I wanted to do but can’t because I’ll be going to the retreat. Then, I remembered that some of my friends and I were supposed to go to the 36th Manila International Book Fair on the 16th; so, I decided to rest up so that by Friday, if I’m feeling much better, I’ll go to MIBF and buy a few books to read and add to my collection.

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I assessed my budget and researched what books I can buy from the exhibitors. I made a list of what to buy and where to go to just see if there are some cheap books that I can purchase. But I was still hesitant to go. I still had a lot of unread books and adding more would just make my room chaotic. By Thursday, I was already feeling better so I decided to push through with going to the MIBF this year. I had planned what I will do, where I will go, and what books & how many books I will buy…at least I think I did. After scanning Facebook posts of different exhibitors, I finally finalized my plan for the next day and slept.

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I rode the local bus at 10am, ate two bags of peanuts (my stomach grumbled after 15 minutes inside the bus because I forgot to eat), and arrived at the SMX Convention Center at 11:45am. I was supposed to attend a small fun calligraphy workshop in the fair but I woke up very late so instead of arriving at the venue at 10am, I left the house at that time. So, instead of going to the calligraphy event, I decided to just eat lunch at Bonchon, the same place where I ate after going to MIBF last year.

This might mean that it may be an annual tradition to eat here. HAHAHA!

This might mean that it may be an annual tradition to eat here. HAHAHA!

After going to MIBF for around four years already, I decided to start from the very left of the fair. There, I found the Christian Strengthening Ministry (CSM) booth.

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The CSM booth is very interactive, they have games, raffles, and have very interactive hosts. I even got a free pin while I was paying for the books that I got! I remember going here last year to get a signed copy of Miriam Quiambao’s “He’ll Catch You When You Fall,” to give to one of my block mates. I decided to get two more copies: one for a block mate and the other for a good friend. I also bought Rommel Guevara’s “#UsapangWorshipMinistry,” which was a fun book to read!

After that, I stopped by the VIVA PSICOM publishing because I saw a book that looked very interesting for me: “Notary Not Included” by Atty. Erwin Zagala.

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He had a book signing by 5pm but I didn’t want to spend around three or more outrageous hours in the middle of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) where the traffic is so bad during that time that vehicles move around one feet a minute (Yeah, I’m exaggerating but that’s how it feels, man. You do not want an armpit in front of your face…or do you?) So, I’ll get it signed when I have the chance in the future.

After roaming around Fullybooked and National Book Store, I went ahead to the Christian Literature Crusade (CLC) to supposedly buy 2-3 books.

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But since I was very conscious with my budget (I think I really wasn’t), I decided to find David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons’ “Unchristian” (which was only a hundred bucks!!!!!). As I was looking at other books, I saw Roy B. Zuck’s “The Speaker’s Quote Book,” which was filled with quotes and illustrations that I can use for future references, either if God gives me the wisdom to speak to a crowd, or as I write entries in my blog.

I went to Instituto-Cervantes Manila and got a free diagnostic exam to check if I was still knowledgeable with my basic Spanish, then went next door to Goethe-Institut Philippinen to find information about their German courses and their library. I also got a free baller and bookmarks, plus I got a fan for playing their game: find the two non-German brands. Unfortunately, I chose Adidas instead of IKEA for the Swedish brand, but I got Nestle, a Swiss brand, correct. So, I don’t know what prize I could’ve won if I got both correctly. (*cries*) But still, I love that booth. (#Freeloader HAHAHA!)

I was walking towards OMF Literature while checking if my budget would be enough if I would buy an OMF Inspiration box, a box filled with books and other surprises for a reasonable price (I’ll let you research how much it cost), or just new selections. I saw a picture of a woman opening her Inspiration box in their Facebook page so I was intrigued and interested. I really had planned to buy around seven books in OMF but I was still checking if I would really be able to read them all; I haven’t even finished reading a few new books at home (#BookloverProblems; #FirstWorldProblems) so I was still calculating numbers in my head as I slowly walk into their booth.

As I entered OMF Literature, I saw the books that I wanted to buy on display. At the left side, facing the booth, there was a storytelling event ongoing. I immediately got Joy Tan-chi Mendoza’s “When A Good God Allows Rape,” and Harold J. Sala’s “Why Wait? But Why Not Wait?” I was looking at different books over and over. I even checked the “up to 80%” pile (which had awesome books, by the way) and got a copy of Joshua Harris’ “Stop Dating The Church.” After looking at more books and as I keep calculating numbers in my head, I decided to buy Darlene Sala’s “More Precious Than Diamonds,” for a block mate.

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I was thinking if I should buy the Inspiration box or not, so I just decided to pay for these four books. When I got to the cashier, I made the decision to buy an Inspiration box after all. I got the one at the counter. One of them even told me, “Sir, sabihan niyo po kami kung anong laman, ah?” (Sir, please tell us what’s inside, okay?) I nodded cheerfully. Also, I bought enough books to get me a free Kaibigan privilege card at OMF Lit and got a free notebook!

I was very tired already so I did not stay and wait for the 4pm book signing of Harold Sala and his wife, Darlene. I decided to leave the fair, get take-out at Jollibee, and went straight home at around 2:30pm. After arriving home, I got my scissors and opened the Inspiration box that I bought.

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As I opened the box, a CD popped out. It was an album with the name: “Disciple: Horseshoes & Handgrenades.” Then, as I continued to open the box entirely, I was surprised to find eight books inside (that’s a lot for me if I were to buy books, but since the books were on sale…) where one of the books inside was a children’s book: “Sandosenang Sapatos (A Dozen Pairs of Shoes)” by Luis P. Gatmaitan, M.D., and even a softbound copy of the Holy Bible in New King James Version (NKJV)! The OMF Inspiration box also had “Making Marriage Work” by Dr. Harold J. Sala, “Fourth Dawn” by Bodie and Brock Thoene, “Faith in the Corridors of Power” by Evelyn Miranda-Feliciano, “Fresh Air” by Chris Hodges, Ronald Molmisa’s “Lovestruck: Sexy Edition,” and “The One Year Signature Series: Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar and Dr. Ike Reighard” in it! (So blessed, I can’t contain it! – yeah, I’m bursting out into song lyrics.)

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I shared what I bought not to brag, but for everyone to know that buying books can be a great investment, especially if you wait for book fairs and book sales! If you see a great new book, you can either choose to buy it immediately or you can wait for events like these. As a book lover, IT IS VERY TEMPTING TO BUY AT LEAST ONE BOOK IN A BOOKSTORE. You might even doubt if I can read all of these, well this is the fun part: I only have to read around a dozen more books out of all the books (It’s around 18 if I’m not mistaken) that I bought. I’ll also be making a book review about Joy Mendoza’s book by the end of October. (So, stay tuned for that!)

Most of you might have also observed that I mostly bought Christian books. This is because I want to indulge myself in different authors and see their responses and views on certain topics on Christianity. And yes, I love learning more things about my faith. I actually want to learn more about defending the faith as well. That’s why, I’m so thrilled that I got a printed Bible (I like YouVersion, but print is still different from digital) so that I can easily highlight and read it without “scrolling” or checking the “settings to get the right font.” (Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that!)

So, will I go back to MIBF next year? It depends if my work/studies/time lets me. But if I were to choose, I’d go back there, not just for the freebies (yes, I said just. I love the freebies), nor the book signings, but because of the love for books and the love for reading…but seriously, who would reject a freebie?