Great God

Also known as: My first SFC ICON experience

So they say.

It was during a sort-of impromptu meet-up with my Europe friends that it all happened. We were talking about possible missions for 2012 when we started talking about the upcoming SFC International Conference (ICON). It was about two weeks to the conference but I have long accepted that I wouldn’t be going. For one thing, I couldn’t take a leave from work. Another, I already had an event lined up for that week.

So we were talking about mission trips, right? Then they told me, “You have to be at the ICON if you want to go on a mission.”

“For real?” I asked, worried.

“Yes! You can’t go to a mission trip if you don’t go there!”

Truth be told, I didn’t really believe it. However, they were all very insistent (and I mean everyone at the table, even the ones who were still in YFC). Even if I can’t file a leave they said I can fly in on Saturday. Whatever argument I give, they have something to say back.

And I really, really wanted to go to a mission trip. Especially if it’s in Europe for this year. So if I want that, I have to go to the ICON, right?

So I finally said yes. Within a few hours, I got to register at the last minute (thanks to my two chapter heads present at the meet-up) and in less than 48 hours, I had my flight booked. At first, I didn’t even know if I would be able to afford it, especially since this was sort of an impulse trip. But like what my friend Dodge said, if the impulse was Spirit led, God will take care of it.

And take care of it He did. If you must know, I found cheap airfare and I actually spent a lot less than what I expected in the entire trip.

But let’s not get ahead.

So there. Before that week ended, it was sure: I will be attending my first SFC International Conference this year.

* * *

(more…)

It’s real.

Also known as: Just because you don’t feel it, it doesn’t mean it’s not real.

Last Saturday, I attended my first worship concert again since 2008. It felt like it’s been ages since I last attended one, which is probably true. It’s been ages since I was in praise and worship mode, and to be honest, I kind of forgot how it felt already. Sure, I still listen to the same Christian bands and songs, but to be in worship with other people feels like a foreign concept already. It’s been so long since I was out of community where worship was second nature, and when I left, I left all the energy of praise and worship with other people behind.

The last time I attended a small worship group was before we set off for our Europe mission trip, and as expected, I started tearing up and getting goosebumps soon after the first song was sung. I didn’t get to do that again until last Saturday night, and this was a full-on praise and worship concert that reminded me of the last one I attended three years ago.

It was an amazing experience, being with people all over the world, singing songs and praises to God. I missed that, and I was really, really happy that I got the chance to attend the event. I have to admit, though, that I felt a little…I don’t know how to call it really, rusty? Like I’m not sure what I’m doing, and I’m not entirely connected 100%. I remember those days when it was almost like a switch — I can go from not feeling like it to being on fire with a snap of a finger. Or a clap. Last night it felt a bit like pulling something from somewhere that I’m not even sure existed anymore.

But that doesn’t make the experience any less amazing. It just got me thinking a little bit more about my faith, and how even in these moments of silence, in the long dry season of being sort of on my own on my faith walk, I never thought it was possible for me to just lose it. To question God’s existence. It just never occurred to me, and maybe it’s because I’ve always been aware of it even if I wasn’t on any of my highs.

Perhaps that’s what being in the valley meant. And I thank God for being with me even then.

So, Saturday night was an amazing night, but I was still groping for that switch. I wasn’t sure if I completely felt it like how the other 7000+ people in the place felt it. I do know that while I was struggling to feel it, I heard a still small voice tell me: Even if you don’t feel it that way, it doesn’t make it less real. It doesn’t make Me less real.

And you know what? That is absolutely true.

There are things that you need to really feel and see for it to be real, I know that. Most of the things are like that, really. But faith is another thing, and I don’t think it can be called faith if you can always feel it or see it.

It doesn’t make it less real if you can’t feel it.

Maybe that’s what has made me hold on for so long. Maybe that’s what’s kept me believing all this time.

It’s real all right. Regardless of how I feel.

I will give thanks to the Lord forever.

And I won’t have it any other way.