I’m in a reflective mood now as I sit here literally watching thick Baguio City fog – no, clouds – float before me blocking any view beyond 10 meters. I know for a fact that there is a nice valley dotted with a few houses moving up to a lush green mountain reaching up to one of the highest peaks of the city. But now, it’s just white wall.
I just got up from a much deserved rest after giving a talk last night to a roomful of couples, imparting to them about God’s design for marriage: that a truly successful marriage only works when one is in a love triangle – no not like My Husband’s Lover – it’s a three way between husband, wife and God. The closer you are to God, the closer you are with your spouse.
One Bible verse that I’ve been imparting in this talk through some years struck me unusually hard this time around. It’s in the letter of Paul to the Romans, chapter five, verse eight: “But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
It is so awesome that a love so deep, unconditional and sacrificial was given to us, no matter how flawed we are – how heavy a sinner we had been.
I guess its significance not only in the marriage setting but in the way we live our life in general is what cause this deeper reflection on this passage, especially since, as I was driving up to Baguio, I received a text message from my sister that my Tita Nora had passed away.
Nora Villanueva Daza, the culinary icon of the Philippines, was not just a household celebrity for us. First she was related to us by affinity. Her sister, Isabelita, was married to my mother’s brother. Tita Nora is also godmother to one of my other sisters, Michaela, food editor and columnist who worked closely with her ninang in recent decades. The culinary life which Tita Nora generously shared to the world through her books was intertwined with our lives personally and intimately.
In these recent years I would chance upon her in Christ Commission Fellowship (CCF), and though we never got around to sharing our Christian life with each other I found joy in the thought that she had accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior. And more now that she has passed on, for I know for sure – it is guaranteed – that her acceptance of God’s free gift, His grace, brings her straight to His side.
Just as Paul declared, this time writing to the Church in Ephesus (Ephesians Chapter 2, verse 8): “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
God truly has a design and purpose for our lives and it is up to us whether to accept or reject it – and it starts from there. No magic potions, no elaborate rituals and definitely no self aggrandizing good works as payment for His grace and salvation. It’s a free gift, no payment needed. But if you truly accept the Lord’s grace then all those good works should flow from that naturally, just as unconditionally as His love for us.
Recently we encountered another public statement of God’s purpose. Benhur Luy, pork scam whistleblower, opined in his most recent Senate Blue Ribbon Committee testimony that he felt God had put him there, in the midst of those five or so years of corrupt wheeling and dealing for his cousin Janet Napoles, for a purpose – to eventually be the instrument to expose and put a stop to it all.
While I must admit that the journalist in me is still skeptical of such a convenient pronouncement in the this forum and circumstance, I will give it the benefit of the doubt. After all, you can’t hide from God. And I take comfort that, ultimately His will reigns and those who do use His name and purpose for their ends will have their due.
In Paul’s letter to the Hebrews (Chapter 10, verse 26-27), the apostle stresses: “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving knowledge of the Truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgement and fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”
Good morning and God bless us all.