Sun on My Smog

It was one of those days. Bright on the outside, but smoggy on the inside. Not that there's real smog floating around. Just me carried around by clouds, flitting or floating around without a single clue of what gives.

It must be the "vacation" I'm in. I mean, since living and working abroad, being back in the Philippines constitutes being on a vacation. It has all that a vacation has, except, I'm doing without a visit to the beach and I still wake up when my 'rooster' (my early-riser baby) starts crowing. Having this break from the usual schedule of kids, chores and work has sort of given me a time-off from my stressed lifestyle and allowed me to relax. Maybe I've relaxed too much that I've let myself go.

There's an empty feeling inside me, like I'm sick. When I get this feeling inside, I get restless and panting for something. Years ago, I wouldn't have known it and couldn't pinpoint of what I need. But for the past ten years of trying to get closer to God, I have come to recognize spiritual sickness as it is. The dull ache in my chest, the longing, the lethargy in my body are warning signals that I am getting spiritually depleted. And there's no getting well until I stop what I am doing and thinking, and get my whole being back into the right track of my journey into God's heart.

I picked up my Bible. I knew the baby would be fine for a few minutes as I feed on God's Word. Somehow, the baby hasn't given me much time to sit, reflect on God's words and write down my thoughts to get God's personal message for me. But I know there really is no excuse for ignoring God.

Baring His heart out so His people so they will know His desire to be with them, God said, "Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number" (Jeremiah 2:32).

During the time I was trying to ignore God, I went years resisting His invitation to spend time with Him. And at the time I was trying to know Him, I could spend weeks ignoring His invitation. But I soon realized that without Him, I am just like a floating debris in a fast-flowing river, tossed around without direction, powerless and hopeless in the strong current of worldly pressure to conform and my own hapless desires.

Feed me so I can feed Your lambs

It was almost noonday. I was harried, with pressure building inside me. Soon, very soon, I would erupt.

And I did. Two innocent faces looked at me, scared and witless as they witnessed the adult in their lives coming undone right before their eyes. The baby screamed. (Little Ella back then was a very sensitive baby and was a real screamer.)

I had the good sense to excuse myself and the baby. We escaped the crime scene with my dignity barely in place. I couldn't bear to see for another minute the hurt expressions on my children's faces. Nor could I wait to allow another scream from the baby to explode my eardrums.

I was homeschooling the older kids and the baby just refused to take her usual morning nap. She was cranky all throughout the lesson, and the bigger ones seem to think it a good idea to resist my every effort to teach them. At the back of my mind was the picture of the dining table still laden with dirty dishes and all sorts of food crumbs (just because I wasn't successful in putting the baby to sleep). Adding to that was the thought that all the pre-prepared food had been eaten and that means I still have to make lunch. And I had no idea what it would be.

Overwhelmed. Yes, I was. I was trying to do everything in my minuscule power. No wonder, supermom felt like a sore loser at that moment!

I fed the baby while I hummed, not really sure whether I was calming her or myself. As soon as the baby was asleep, I put her in her crib, and I was on my knees and face before God. I poured out all that was in my heart. I asked God for forgiveness, for help as tears freely flowed down my cheeks. I sense Him prompting me to open His Word. I grabbed my Bible like a drowning man clasping a rope thrown at him. My very life was dependent on its very pages. And as I hungrily read God's words, I found what I needed. Why, oh why, did I wait for my soul to starve? If only I have read these strength-giving words this morning... If only I have taken the time to feed my soul before I fed my kids... 

The Bible has daily given me strength to get through my daily battles. But there are days when I sort of let it happen that I let myself go without it. Then disaster strikes. My own making.

Just as I can't go on in a day without sustenance of food, I can't last through a day without Heaven's daily bread to feed my soul. Without it, I am powerless to overcome my human peculiarities and weaknesses. Without it, I cannot and won't be able to feed the lambs God has placed in my care.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide in me... you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). The only way I can produce fruits to bless and feed others is when my life is connected to God's. Without Him, I am barren.

De-clutter my mind, clean my heart

Then there are those moments when my mind is busy. It shifts from the recent episode of Kalyeserye (Will today be the day that the AlDub couple will meet again? Whew!) to some money problems (Where will I get my next money to pay fees?). Blip, blip. The warning signals are on. My heart is heavy. Something is wrong. Blip, blip. My legs feel restless. Or numb. How can I tell?

It's like I need something. So I go to the fridge. I see something dark and sweet. I gobble it up before the warning signals go blip again. It doesn't ease up. I have come to recognize this feeling. Maybe another sweet, dark thing? And another? Maybe a nap will do? But try as I might, my heart and mind just won't get quiet. Maybe something new? Some new shoes or clothes or bag? Thank God, most times I don't have the money, so I often end up buying diapers. I get cranky. I blame the baby for waking up too early and giving me no respite at all from following her around while she explores stairs with her arms and legs and other things with her mouth.

Like a man at my wit's end, I cry to God, Lord, what's up? I have become spiritually sensitive after years of recognizing this feeling. Yet, I still tried to fill, drown out, eat away the empty feeling. It's an emptiness that has resulted from bingeing on the world, it's problems and pleasures, and has left no space for God's presence. It's not like I am intentionally doing it, but it just sort of happen. I let it happen. Why haven't I learned that nothing, really nothing, can fill up that vacuum that God has given to us when He created us? That space is reserved for Him alone.

And so, when I continue to ignore Him, though my mind, heart and life is busy with all sorts of things, I am just doing life on an empty tank, going nowhere, doing nothing. Meaningless.

Jesus invites everyone (who has ears, let him hear), "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20). He takes pleasure in spending time with us. He delights to do life with us. It pleases Him to work His strength in our weaknesses and fill every moment of our lives with joy in His presence.

Blip. All warning signals are off.

You may also like to read...

Beyond the Storm: Joy in the Morning
Keeping a Heart of Gratitude in the Midst of Hostility
Trusting God with Life's Adventures


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