“How Did We Approach God with Our Faith?”
“How Did We Approach God with Our Faith?”
Dr. Mae Brigitt Bernadel L. Villordon
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
UCLEM Midweek Service
September 22, 2021
We are once again celebrating the University Christian Life Emphasis Month (UCLEM). And this semester we shall be reflecting and contemplating on the theme “#C.O.V.I.D.: Embodying Courage, Obedience, Voice, Integrity, and Discipleship. My message tonight is inspired from the story of Naaman in II Kings 5:1-19 and from the theme.
Given all the different circumstances that each of us have experienced over the last 18 months since COVID 19 broke out and among other issues in the society, and as well as our own personal struggles, how did we approach God with our faith? Did we approach God with courage, obedience, and integrity? Have we become the voice of God to preserve and protect the environment? Have we followed and trust Jesus in our struggles and triumphs? Have we helped others who needs our love and support?
With all of these, how did we respond to these changes? When crisis hits us, or when all plans seems to fail, when our dreams becomes a nightmare, or when we lose someone we love, this kind of change that we are experiencing is painful, scary, and unsettling. And in the toughest, darkest time, we ask, where can we find God? But, I think, the better question then is, where are we?
These are some of the questions that we probably should asked ourselves. How are we going to tread through this uncertainty? When Jesus called the disciples, he just said, “come and follow me” without details on where they are going and what’s going to happen next. As we navigate this path of uncertainty, one thing is certain, Jesus is the way. Our via, veritas, vita! We have to walk closely with Jesus. Dare to care. Offer to help. Meet a need. Listen. Encourage. Be that voice. Smile. Love.
So, what are the modern-day lessons that we can learn from II Kings 5: 1-19? First, let’s know about Naaman. Naaman was a commander of Syria and well regarded as a military man, but he had leprosy. In this story, it reminded us to show compassion even to those who aren’t necessarily compassionate towards us. I know that’s not going to be easy. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we expect. Sometimes, God rarely meets our expectations. And too often we expect God to do what we think is best.
At this time of uncertainty, have you ever just wanted to escape? To just drop everything and run away from work, responsibilities, and the bustles and burdens that overwhelmed us? Here are some stories in the Bible of running away from God. The prophet Jonah run away from God’s direct command. When threatened by Jezebel, the prophet Elijah run away from God’s ministry, Peter denied ever knowing Jesus, and thus, ran away from his relationship with him. We have to remember that there will always be consequences when we try to escape. What happened in the story, Elijah grow tired and in despair. Peter and the rest of the disciples hid away in fear. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish! But their stories didn’t end there. God pursued Jonah and protected him inside the great fish and commanded the fish to vomit him into dry ground. God pursued Elijah, gave him food and drink to strengthen him, journeyed with him and spoke to him, in a still small whisper. Jesus pursued Peter showed him the very same miracle that made him a disciple, dined with him, and reinstated him, and asked him to take care of God’s sheep.
The simple truth of the matter is that, wherever we go, whatever we do, however hard we try to run and escape, God will pursue. God will beckon, God will call. And God will invite. Isn’t that wonderful to think that, no matter what, God will always find us? The book of Psalm reminds us that God will always find us. Psalm 139: 7-10 “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make by bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there, your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” No matter what burden we bear, allow God to carry it! Let’s give our load to God knowing that no matter how we have the tendency to run, God is always faithful. Even if we often go astray, He never gets tired of calling us back to His love.
So, how do we see this new normal? Are we still inspired to face tomorrow or are we still bound by the cynical chains of our past experiences? Yes, we can be chained down by our past experiences, but may we reflect upon the lessons and use them as fuel to propel us to new heights. Let’s not be weighed down, but instead, continue to run and move forward. Remember, that we don’t have to endure this God-given journey alone. May we be reminded that God is not calling us to be stale or stagnant. He has already made us new, and he continues to renew us day by day. As “each day is a new beginning, the chance to do with what should be done and not to be seen as simply another day to put in time.”
Let love be our message in this disconcerting time when many of us are distressed and so many things are unclear. 1 Peter 4:10, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Let us spread God’s love and hope by allowing ourselves to be used as a vessel to touch people’s lives and for them to experience his loving kindness.
And the good news is, nothing is stagnant, time continues to flow, life moves forward, and we are already halfway through this strange year. And as we slowly accept this new normal, may we be reminded that we are called to an adventure of movement. We are called to go and obey. Not simply to sit still and listen. Not simply to watch and observe by the sides. But to join and participate in the action. We are made for movement. “Life is movement. Once you stop moving, you’re dead. Choose life.” We must never let go of our purpose to do good, wherever we are placed. We must not let go of our trust in the sovereignty of our faithful God who is in the midst of all these circumstances. Let me end by this verse from Hebrews 10:23, let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm for our God can be trusted to keep his promise. AMEN.
* Reference was adapted from Turning Point Church.