Focus on the Prize

When you were a child, have you ever received something from your parents, godparents, older siblings or relatives because you’ve done something good? Maybe you excelled in the class, or maybe you’ve just done a simple household chore without them asking you to do so.

How did it feel? The mere accomplishing the task is rewarding in itself, right? What more when you receive something unexpected. I’m pretty sure you’d jumped for joy!

Now that you’ve already grown up, for sure you have experienced failures, obstacles and difficulties. Those experiences that saddened you and destroyed your day. You want to achieve something, but it seems so far and the path towards achieving it is like a dwindling road that you want to give up and never try again.

Maybe it’s about your finances. You are burdened and it seems hopeless to get out of that financial crisis. Maybe it’s about your business or career, that for months and years nothing good has been happening and things are even getting worse! Or maybe it’s about your relationships. You are trying to fix such it but it seems to come to an end.

You see, it’s easy to rejoice and jump for joy when everything is falling into place. It’s easy to worship God and thank Him for the good things that are happening to you.

But my question is this…can you still rejoice amidst the chaos inside and around you? The Bible says it clearly… “we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”. (Romans 5:2-4)

We’re already on the second half of the year. As you continue to paint a colorful and beautiful year, I want you to gain a new perspective in life: That you can still jump for joy in times of trials; that you can still rejoice amidst the pain; that you can still be hopeful in spite of difficulties.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7)

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
(2 Timothy 4:7)

Don’t focus on the negative stuffs, rather, focus on the prize – the fruits that sufferings may bring in to your life: Perseverance, Character, Hope, and a lot more!

And at the end of the day, just like St. Paul, you can also say to yourself: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Cheer up! God is with you.

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By: Aben Garlan
Photo Credit: Aben Garlan

I Love You Even If…

A story is told about a soldier who was finally coming home after having fought in Vietnam. He called his parents from San Francisco. “Mom and Dad, I’m coming home, but I’ve a favor to ask. I have a friend I’d like to bring home with me.”

“Sure”, they replied, “we’d love to meet him.”

“There’s something you should know” the son continued, “he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mine and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere to go, and I want him to come live with us.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live.”

“No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us.”

“Son,” said the father, “you don’t know what you’re asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can’t let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He’ll find a way to live on his own.

At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him. A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide.

The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn’t know, their son had only one arm and one leg.

Friends, how much do you love your family members? Your spouse? Your friends? What if you found out something about your loved one that is hard to accept? Maybe an illness? Or he had done something shameful? Or had committed terrible sins? Your image of who he was has already gone. Will you still accept him? Can you still embrace that person? Can you still stay “I still love you, even if…”

As we enter the love month, may we all learn how to get rid of idolatry in our relationships, and replace it with unconditional love. Instead of saying “I love you because…” let us say “I love you even if…”

Have grace-filled relationships this year and beyond!

Bro. Aben Garlan
– Written for the Feast Cagayan De Oro Bulletin, August 2013
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Fort Pilar, Zamboanga City Philippines

Fort Pilar, Zamboanga City Philippines