May 30, 2013

When Hope Calls

This writing is specially dedicated to Aiirene who requested me to write something about hope again :) Hi Aiirene! I was wondering what should I write about hope. So I start to type and here it goes ;) 

I went to Christian school since Junior High until Senior High. The name of the school is "Faith, Hope, and Love". In Indonesians, we call it "Iman, Pengharapan, dan Kasih" or known well with its acronym "IPeKa." It was a good Christian school where I met some Godly friends who led me to Jesus and grew in my faith. But up until the graduation, I didn't know what faith, hope, and love really mean. Let's imagine that you are standing on stage of Miss Indonesia 2013 and the jury asks you, "According to you, what is the difference between faith, hope, and love?" Ding.. dong.. We may start to think.. "Hmm.. I never think of that question before.." These three are known well as three pillars of Christianity but we can be a Christian for so long not knowing what exactly they are. That's what happened to me. I can search for the theological definitions easily. But unless those definitions touch my heart and change my life, it will be only merely beautiful ordered words. One day, I went into a Christian store and saw a simple wall decoration with this writing on it:

"Faith makes a closed door to be opened.
Hope makes an unseen opened door can be seen.
Love makes an opened door stays opened."

That writing really went into my heart!! Finally, it made sense to me. I noted it and keep remembering it until now. The Bible says, "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13) Although Paul described love as the greatest, I believe these three complements one another. Faith in Jesus Christ is the beginning which leads us to trust Him in every areas of our lives. Faith helps us to believe the impossible is possible in God's hands. 

Faith gives birth to hope. A hope that has no basic of faith in Jesus is a wishful thinking. For a hope to be anchored so strongly it must be rooted in faith in Jesus again. Jesus came to the world to give us a hope of reconciliation to Father from sins. He is our hope. "And hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." (Romans 5:5) God's love is the reason why we have such an endless hope. And God's love is what makes us too to love others. God did not just merely come to introduce faith, hope, and love; but he wants us to share this good news to others. Because faith, hope, and love refers to one in common.. the very person of Jesus Christ. These three becomes one in Jesus Christ.

I hope that this doesn't confuse you. I've just revealed what faith, hope, and love has been applied in my personal life. They are all talking about Jesus Christ.

So.. let's back to hope again ;) How can we maintain such an endless hope in our life? Hope of deliverance instead how impossible our circumstances are, hope when we are in despair, hope when will our dreams come true, and many more. Well, hope is the anchor for our ships of life. It keeps our life safe and sound as the storm in life comes. Not alike many other people who is easily swept away when the storm comes, our anchor of hope keeps our lives steady and peaceful no matter what. Do you remember when Jesus fell asleep when the storm came on the lake of Galilee?

(Matthew 8:24-26)
"Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown! He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, 
and it was completely calm."

I have a picture of the lake of Galilee. You can see how perfectly peaceful the water. When I went there, it's hard to imagine such a furious storm had ever come on it.

This story shows us that when Jesus is in your boat (ship) of life, you can rest in full assurance that your life is under His control. You can remain in peace and not easily respond to the storm based on your fear, anxiety, and worry. God is more than able to make any kind of storm in your life calm.

Of course, in order to defeat our natural emotion is not as easy as flipping our hands. It takes a daily decision to surrender your remote control of life to God. It's an honest acknowledgement that we don't see the light of hope in this situation, but we believe that God will show it to us in His time. And we hold fast to our faith and that's how we can keep seeing the opened door ahead. It's okay to say, "It's hard, Lord!" but don't forget to keep proclaiming, "But You can make it possible."

The very reason why I have such a peaceful life is because I have surrendered my life to Jesus. My dreams, my financial condition, my family, my love story, my activities, my everything. I know deep inside my heart that my God is a very good God and whatever He gives will be the best for me. 

Billy once illustrated the unopened door as the elevator door which is closed for a momentary. We may see it now as a closed door, a dead-end, a hopeless state. But it's actually just a matter of time, God will open the elevator door and deliver us to our destination.

When you are placed in difficult circumstance with difficult people, it is a season for you to grow in your faith, hope, love, and character. We are most likely pray for a change outside rather than a change inside of us. We pray for deliverance instead of growth. That's not what God intend to do when He is training His children to be mature. He is so into maturity process rather than momentary happy life. Trust and surrender to God in molding you into a beautiful vessel in this season. We always came up with a better character when we respond right during hard times. Let's admit it, we cannot grow with no problems in life. And any organism who doesn't grow anymore is basically dead! When we stop growing, we start dying! Hey, God does not want you to die! He wants you to grow into the fullness of Jesus Christ, to become more like Him each day. Knowing this purpose will set you at the right perspective and help you in nurturing the hope in your heart.

I want to close this writing with a quote that is very dear to my heart. "People with hope can dance without music." I believe that is the happiest person ever alive! We don't need the circumstance or people we are upset with to change first before we can enjoy our life. Hope always begins far before the reality match with it. That's why it is being described as "seeing the unseen opened door". Your level of hope will keep you strong and steady no matter hard life can be. And Jesus is always be our hope. When everything seems gone wild outside of your control, always RUN to Him. He is your Prince of Peace. 

"Peace I live with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not  be afraid." -John 14:27

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." -Philippians 1:6

Have a hopeful life! :D

Leticia Seviraneta

May 20, 2013

True Love

When I ask people what is true love, they will reply with various kinds of answers. Some people may not believe in it, some people believe but they still have not experienced it. Some has lowered their standard regarding of their love story because the ideal so-called 'true love' is too good to be true. Some wait for the mr/mrs right because they believe that will be the moment they will experience true love. So they hop in one relationship to another to seek the one meant to be for them. I'm not an expert of love. But this writing, I'm going to share my definition of true love.

True love has one source, God. God IS love (1 John 4:8). In Him, we can find what is true love and what is true love in actions. I find it is impossible to try to define true love apart from this truth. God has shown us what love is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In Rome 5:8, Paul described it so beautifully: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." True love sacrifices even to the point of death for someone who may not deserve it. We don't deserve that kind of love from our God, but He gave it to us. He has shown us what it truly means to love someone. Love is giving ... your very own for the sake of your beloved. It's always comes from within and not because of what others have done for you. Otherwise, it will be a business transaction, no longer a 'love'.

Yes, true love nowadays is rare. Maybe because many people refuse to believe on its existence. Even if they do believe, they believe it for the wrong reasons and motive. True love is not when you find the right one for you. It's unrealistic to depend entirely on someone who can make your life happy. If we see it closer, it's a bit of selfish, isn't it? If we strive for this definition of true love, we will always fail. We will end up in jumping from one relationship to another, leaving more scars in our hearts. True love is also not when everything is perfect. No one is perfect. Therefore there will be flaws in your partner, obstacles in your relationships. Parents' approval, emotional baggage, difference in characters, habits, and preferences may be obstacles that you have to face together. True love isn't free from these problems, but it always find a way out and endure the hard seasons of life together. I know it sounds so idealistic. But it really takes two people who are committed to each other through the good and bad to make love lasts. Only a love that has persevered and conquered many obstacles in life can be called true love.

The whole point in loving someone is sacrifice. Will you sacrifice your preference in watching movies that you like and watch his/her preference? Will you sacrifice your time to be with him/her? Will you sacrifice your money to satisfy him/her? Will you sacrifice your ego to apologize to reconcile with him/her? You can see that the standard of true love is so high that we find it is very difficult to achieve the perfect score. Yes, it's difficult. Therefore we really need to connect with the Source of love itself and draw love supply from Him. Only people who has satisfying relationship with God can satisfy his/her partner of life. Only people who feel loved all the time by God can love their partner all the time. If you feel that your relationship with God is not right or you 'feel' distant [I emphasize the word 'feel' because it is always us who feel that God is distant, but actually He is always with us], then it is wiser to build your relationship with God first before you start with someone. How can you do that? Spend time with Him. Pray and spend time to read His words and let it works in your heart. Too many people settle  in their relationship with God. They think they have it enough. Keep Him involved in everydays of your life and let Him fill you with His abundant love. 

I find that the partner who is ready in a committed relationship is the one who doesn't need a partner anymore. Why? Because God is their partner. They find Him sufficient. An earthly partner will be an addition to their wholeness in God. Don't let human being fill your loneliness in life. Go to God. True love is given to those who are mature enough to sacrifice and love the God's gift of partner. You don't expect partner who has so and so qualities while you don't have it either. Grow yourself first. Make it a purpose that you will give the very best version of you once you meet him/her. Make them feel blessed when they have a partner who love the Lord with all of their hearts, minds, and souls. Make them proud when they have a partner with mature characters, responsible, committed, honest, discipline, and strive for growth in life. 

True love is a gift from God. It happens when you REST in Him and not frantically seek potential partner of life. Some argue that we need to pray and work to find him/her. Some argue that we need only to pray and wait. So which one is right? I believe it is both in the right proportion. We don't expect that we can only pray and really do nothing in our home and hope God will send him/her right at our door. But we also are not frantically seek him/her as if it really depends on our own effort. Do you get what I mean? It is a beautiful balance between praying, developing pure friendships with opposite sex, and waiting. I highlight "pure friendships" because most of people do not intend for friendship. They intend for dating. It's really a different stage. The very sign whether you are developing pure friendships or dating him/her is asking yourself, "Will you still be friend with him/her when they have boyfriend/girlfriend?" I find that most people who intend for dating draws their presence from their  opposite sex 'friend' when they commit relationship with other. There is also none of physical contact that can send different signals when it is in pure friendship stage. Don't rush in to "dating stage". Take time to really know him/her. Don't let the flings or the 'feeling' of love blind you from defining the truth. 

I believe that as a woman, my part is to wait and not to seek. My part is to develop Godly woman qualities that will be a gift to my future partner. My part is to preserve dignity and not tossing my feelings and bodies easily to men who may not committed for long term relationship. There is no space for trial and error for me. I wait for 21 years and not get into relationship until God shows me the right time has comes. I don't wait idly but productively doing things for His Kingdom. And in spite of many ugly realities around, I preserve my faith that my God, the Source of love, is the best Author of love story. He really writes a beautiful love story for those who give the pen for Him. Surrender your love story in full of faith. Don't expect less because the world around you give you bad examples. Expect more in God. When it comes to your love story, aim high. Get ready to make a lot sacrifices but also get ready to reap the beautiful fruits of it in the end. Choose a partner who has been tested through difficult times. Someone ... who is worthy of you. Someone who fights for you. And wait patiently for God's timing to make His wonderful plans unfold. I can ensure you, it will be worth the wait.

Leticia Seviraneta