My vocation has become clearer as the years go by: to study the unchanging God without something else to do, some pragmatic reason or result. This is what I feel most called to do: simply enjoy the study of God – not write about it, not view it in relation to its political residue or imagine that my opinions will have some visible social effect. The joy of inquiry into God is a sufficient end in itself, not only as a means to some practical consequence.Thomas C. Oden, The Rebirth of Orthodoxy, p. 95
Sometime ago I listened to a podcast interview of Rod Dreher (author of The Benedict Option) where he mentioned the phrase, “The Value of a Small life”. He was referring to his sister who lived practically all her life in a small town as a school teacher.
The phrase resonated with me. I prefer small over big. I read Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful a long time ago, and I remember reading something about giantism being a disease. I’m inclined to agree. One can be too big for one’s own good – like the bullfrog who puffed and puffed until it exploded!
In relation to life and work in general, this means I shouldn’t take on more responsibilities than I can handle. Instead, I should concentrate on the few things I can do very well and which yield the greatest benefit.
It also means curbing one’s ambition to be the biggest, best, and brightest in everything and everywhere. To do one’s work with faithfulness and excellence in the place where God has called you should be enough, even if it is just a small place.
At any rate, small is not only beautiful, it’s also relative. Even a big fish is considered small in a big pond occupied by much bigger fish. But in a small pond, a fish considered small elsewhere turns out be big!
When asked why he chose to practice in his hometown in the province rather than in the nation’s capital, a lawyer friend of mine replied, “I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond.” Good point!
Just one thing:
in Jiro’s life.
Reminds me of the Sun.
The Sun at the center,
No stars, no moon, no planets
are visible to the eye.
They are hidden from sight
by the one supreme light.
Whether this is a life worth living,
I am not sure.
Hyper-focused on one thing
to the exclusion of all else –
Is that not an idolatrous waste
of energy and time?
To look at the sun
straight in the eye,
never averting one’s gaze,
is to be blinded by light.
(Photo by Luigi Pozzoli on Unsplash)
Reflections on Psalm 46:
The earth is our temporal foundation of stability. If it gives way, our lives are undone. But we are not afraid because God is our everlasting foundation. He provides unshakeable and eternal stability. He is our refuge in whom we can hide and are protected. He is our strength by whom we are enabled to bear the worst that life can throw at us. He is our help, immediately and always present; therefore, I can confidently face a multitude of troubles.
When trouble strikes I should remain calm and look up to Almighty God who reigns over all. He cares for me and will arise in my behalf.
Help me, to be still, O God, in times of trouble, knowing that you are in control and that you care for me.
God’s mercies fall like heavy rain
from morning clouds above;
the earth awakes alive and sane,
responding to His love.
I wake to wonders all around,
a world that smiles at me.
But though these miracles abound,
deep sadness covers me.
I long for love and joy and peace,
but find these difficult to grasp,
save maybe in a father’s wish:
an infant’s hand to clasp.
Pride is the sermon for today,
a serious malfunction of the soul.
The preacher presented the consequences
and pointed the way to be made whole.
To be proud and to be arrogant
is to follow in the devil’s steps;
‘Tis the humble and the penitent
whom the Holy Spirit helps.
I surrender, Lord, this vicious heart
for you to cleanse and cure.
Tho’ powerless from you apart,
in you the victory’s sure.
(11 August 2019; Robinson’s Bacolod)
At first he said, “I will not go;
The vineyard I won’t tend.
There are better things that I could do.
A hand I will not lend.”
He wrote a lot of poetry
and played the piano too;
and his career was doing well-
this was what he loved to do.
But his father loved the vineyard;
he could not fathom why.
He cared for every inch of it;
for it he’d gladly die.
And the son felt guilt stirring
in some deep neglected place.
He sensed his father’s sadness
when he looked into his face.
He raised his eyes and saw the need
and thought the matter through:
“The vineyard that he loves so much,
could I not love it too?”
“I’ll go to work today,” he said,
“in the vineyard by the lake.
In spite of my misgivings,
I’ll do it for his sake!”
(Photo by Kym Ellis on Unsplash)
Some give up:
lava on the street,
no walking from now on.
If grace is true,
where is the power?
Why still a slave to sin?
But grace flickers
amidst the ocean
like a magic candle.
Soon it will burn
(Basis of devotional given to the Men’s Group of Ikthus East, Bacolod City; August 17, 2019)
1 John 3:1-3 ESV
 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Continue reading “Children of God”
I haven’t smiled the whole day,
not when uncertainty looms large again
about what I’m called to do.
I’ll always be divided. Sad.
What a waste of life!
It’s wicked to be focused
on what is not your birthright.
(Photo by Mario Gogh on Unsplash)
My God has gracious plans for me
spanning all eternity,
without beginning, without end:
forever servant, son, and friend,
I am in his omniscient sight.
Reborn with destiny too bright,
I cast my sinful past aside,
and in his holy word abide.
And at the core of everything
is Christ my shepherd, Lord, and King:
The pattern of my future self,
Abridger of the yawning gulf
dividing holy God from man
(but by his death he has made one),
Fulfiller of the ‘ternal plan,
All glory to the glorious Son!