Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Testimony to a Real J.O.Y. Experience

December 21 was the last day of work for us, public teachers, for 2017, it is also the last day of our Gender and Equality (GAD) Seminar. But I already asked permission to our dear Principal to be absent on that day because I have already decided to attend the J.O.Y. Retreat sponsored and organized by our church, Blessed Hope Community Church International. The said retreat was held at Saddle Ridge Camp in Dahilayan Bukidnon. 

A week before, I was quite hesitant to join because of so many concerns, both personal and work, not to mention the financial areas since there is a registration payment of Php 1,000.00 per head and, I guess, half the amount for children. Then my youngest daughter was not feeling well. She was suffering from cough and cold that time. Indeed, there are so many obstacles that prompted me not to join anymore to avoid the stress. However, during Sunday that time, our LifeGroup Coach, Ate Grace Fancubit, encouraged us to join and she reassured me that our registration fee will be shouldered by my hubby's allowance. Wow, an answered prayer BUT then I was a bit worried about my baby since the weather of the venue was really noted for being cold especially during night time. It was also on the news that a typhoon was about to hit on the 22nd (Friday). Nevertheless, my whole family went along with other participants. We leave CDO before lunchtime.

Judging from previous similar engagements that I've been through before, I thought this whole retreat would be just "the same". So, before the first session had started, I and my husband agreed that he would be the one to attend to my three kids while I will be in the session hall. This was his second time actually so he already knew the whole thing. Indeed, the weather was very cold but it never stopped us. it also rained during the night. Before the proper session began, we were asked by the facilitator during the opening program that we should "empty" ourselves and should allow God to fill us with His presence. We should be focused from the start till the end. I really didn't get the message at first but as soon as the first session began, I was really completely overwhelmed with all my experiences until the last session. There was an outpouring of emotions, of realizations and of repentance. There are a lot of things that are so "new" to me. For ten years in the church, this was the first time that I fully understood myself and my God's plan for me. All my why's and how's in life were being answered. I can feel God's presence and I can read His message that He is trying to let me understand. All my doubts about my Christian life was somehow being enlightened. Indeed, I will never forget that complete experience I have- it is a "real encounter" with Him. 

I realized we can only understand ourselves if we were able to uncover our roots- the root of all our pains, bitterness, and all those negative traits that we possess. If we have all that being acknowledged, then it is easier for us to find the true value of God's sacrifices for all of us: when He died on the cross. All the things that Jesus did for us should not just go in vain. Its meaning was deeper than I could imagine. For 36 years, it is only this time that I fully understood the greatness of God's love for us. Never will I use my human frailties as an excuse for committing a sin. NEVER AGAIN

J.O.Y. (Jesus, Others, and You). Indeed, it was a JOYful experience. It was the first time also that I can feel God's Holy Spirit within me. That light feeling, that overflowing happiness, the outpouring of emotion as an expression of being grateful for everything that He has done for us. All those experiences were so worth the time and my decision to join the retreat. Indeed, no matter what situations or predicaments we are in, when it is God's will, it will really happen. God sees a receptive heart within me. Let me have this prayer:

Dear Father God

Thank you Lord for allowing me to enJOY your presence throughout the whole session in spite of the devastation brought by Typhoon Vinta upon our city and I believed that You will never forsake those who were affected. We might not be able to fathom everything that had happened in this world but I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. It is my prayer Lord that You will give the victims hope and faith and more reasons to trust in You and in Your promises for them, for each one of us. We commit to You Oh, God the restoration of what were being damaged through your abundance and grace. These we asked in the mighty name of Jesus. AMEN

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