‘Woe is me, my mother, for you have borne me
to be a man of strife and of dissension for all the land.
I neither lend nor borrow,
yet all of them curse me.
‘When your words came, I devoured them:
your word was my delight
and the joy of my heart;
for I was called by your name,
the Lord, God of Hosts.
I never took pleasure in sitting in scoffers’ company;
with your hand on me I held myself aloof,
since you had filled me with indignation.
Why is my suffering continual,
my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?
Do you mean to be for me a deceptive stream
with inconstant waters?’
To which the Lord replied,
‘If you come back,
I will take you back into my service;
and if you utter noble, not despicable, thoughts,
you shall be as my own mouth.
They will come back to you,
but you must not go back to them.
I will make you
a bronze wall fortified against this people.
They will fight against you
but they will not overcome you,
because I am with you
to save you and to deliver you
– it is the Lord who speaks.
I mean to deliver you from the hands of the wicked
and redeem you from the clutches of the violent.’
Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.’
For I am with you, to deliver and rescue you…
I recently attended a retreat entitled ‘Get Out Of The Boat’ and it was a 3D2N getaway in a rustic retreat centre in Johor Bahru. I shared my experience with a one or two other people and today, I would like to share it with all of you.
From the time we arrived at the retreat centre, I knew the Lord would be speaking to me and true enough, the first night was a revelation. I struggled to sleep the entire night as I had an asthma attack and did not have an inhaler with me. It has been at least 18 months since my last attack yet instead of panicking, I told myself, “He wants me to spend time with Him in the chapel.” I had been tossing and turning in bed since 10pm and I knew it was affecting my roommate. So at 2pm, I went to the small chapel within our block and settled down in the soft chair, hoping to get some respite from being horizontal and counting the hours to when I could venture out to a pharmacy to buy an inhaler.
I ended up being woken up at 5.30am and very soon, it was time for breakfast. Of course, the other retreatants (there were 11 of us in total) were concerned and one of them offered a decongestant, which I stubbornly refused. However, something prompted me to reach out and take the pill, which provided me some relief. By 11am, when the others were preparing to go for mass, I decided to go head back to my room to take a nap so that I could drive out during lunch to the nearby pharmacy. By 1pm on the second day, I had my inhaler in hand and the rest of the retreat was a breeze.
So what, you may ask, did the Lord reveal to me? Between the first night and the time I got hold of the inhaler, I could sense His presence right by my side. There is no way I could have remained so calm during the few hours I was struggling to breathe. And even before dinner on the first day, when our spiritual director drew a small boat asked us to take stock of our family, parish, ministry, neighbourhood, health, recreation, work and vocation, God had already revealed to me the many boats I find myself in and the many characters I am called to be in each life situation. I wasn’t being asked to get out of one boat.
Because at work, I am on a speedboat and at times, am called to be Christ, to be Peter, to be the rough waters, to be the boat itself. In ministry, I am on an 80-ft yacht and am one of the disciples on the boat. In my family, we are on a small sampan, floating on a calm sea and I am called to be Peter and to take the lead. My health has gone through a very calm patch and I have recently been able to wean myself off certain medication. So I am in a dinghy on calm seas, wondering what lies ahead.
Brothers and sisters, we all, at some pointing our lives, have to take courage and step out of our boat(s) in order to experience the awesome, saving touch of the Almighty Father. Again, it is something that is beyond human comprehension. I know that my Lord is always there for me, whatever the circumstances (rough seas or calm waters). Are you aware of God’s presence in your life today? When is the last time you called out to him in faith, “Master, save me!”
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: O God, you who are always there for us. We ask that you never leave us to drown in our daily battles but empower us with your loving touch and show us your almighty hand in everything we do.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for never abandoning us in our struggles. Thank you for always being there when we call out to you.