You Make Me Brave

When God gave His One Word for me this year:  "BELIEVE", I thought I already knew why. Last year, what I felt like the longest waiting season of my life, pushed me to the borderline of doubt. Throughout the "How long, O Lord?" questions, God deliberately taught me what it truly means to choose to believe Him and His promises instead of doubt. I was convinced that this year will be a continuation of my Faith Vs. Doubt journey with Him... well, somehow it is... but I didn't expect that He will expose another issue in my heart which He will also heal through the word Believe -- FEAR. Yes, this season God is teaching me to choose Faith instead of Fear.

I've mentioned in my previous post that the last few months, I've experienced the toughest spiritual battle I've ever faced in my five years of walking with the Lord. Mike and I noticed that our marital conflicts seemed to grow worse when I started a "Lies Women Believe" Bible Study with my Discipleship Group last February, and when we committed to organize an Encounter 1 Retreat this coming October. Serving God comes with opposition, I proved this to be true during this season of my walk with Him -- The battle is real. Satan won't just sit around watching as he sees more and more souls being set free from his lure by the Power of The Gospel of Jesus. The Bible says,
"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." - Ephesians 6:12 
My emotions were out of control and I've experienced spiraling down to a dark and dip pit of negative thoughts. I felt like being tossed and turned by the waves, and I can't seem to find my way back to the surface. In one of Mike and I's worst fights, I did something which I never thought that I was still capable of doing -- I overturn the chair where I was eating, and my lunch was spilled all over the floor.  This was the first time that I reacted to him this way. I was shocked, and I felt ashamed and scared of myself. That was it... I told God, "Lord, ayoko na... I quit..." I was afraid to move forward. I was afraid of what worse can happen. I told Him, "Lord, I Love You... but I'm afraid... I can't serve you anymore." As I was crying in the corner of my room, I picked up my Bible and God led me to this verse:
"...Strengthen those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you..." - Isaiah 35:3-4

I found myself worshiping God on my knees as this song was playing on my ipod:
♪ ♫ ♪ "I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind... The God of Angel Armies is always by my side... The One who reigns forever, He is a friend of mine... The God of Angel Armies, is always by my side..." ♪ ♫  [Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin]

Over the next days and weeks, God continued to speak words of courage to me during my morning devotions and quiet time. The same words stood out to me when I listened to worship songs and Sunday messages as well.
"Don't be afraid", He said. "Take Courage! I am Here!" - Mark 6:50-51
"Don't be afraid! Don't be discouraged!" - Deut. 1:21
"Do not be terrified; Do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God who is going before you will fight for you..." - Deut. 1:30
"For I hold you by your right hand - I the Lord your God. And I say to you, "Don't be afraid, I am here to help you." - Isaiah 42:13
"Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today! Do not loose heart or panic or tremble before them. For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies and He will give you victory." - Deut. 20:3-4

This is the message that God personally impressed upon my heart throughout those days that He's been speaking words of courage to me:

"My daughter Misce, I'm about to bring you to your Promised Land, but you have to keep moving forward and not let fear paralyze you. Choose to BELIEVE that I love you and let my perfect love cast out your fears. Choose to BELIEVE who I am and what I can do. Choose to BELIEVE that I go before you, I am the One fighting the battles for you, and I will be the One who will win victories for you. Unless your FAITH is firm, I cannot make you stand firm. (Isaiah 7:9) ... I want you to be Courageously Obedient to me, and you will see what will happen next."

Courageously Obedient -- I suddenly remembered all the courageously obedient people in my life. A courageously obedient college friend of Mike who shared Jesus to him during one of the most difficult season of his life. Mike, courageously and obediently shared Jesus to me. Kuya Alvin and Ate Ayenn courageously and obediently discipled us and guided us towards having a deeper relationship with Jesus. The #SheReadsTruth team, courageously and obediently writing daily devotions and Bible studies which helped me establish my morning quiet time with God. All of them, and all other women who wrote books (Ann Voskamp, Jennie Allen, Katie Davis etc..), blogs, and even those who shared their journal pages in instagram helped me to grow in my relationship with God. There is nothing special about these people, they were all just courageously obedient to what God tells them to do.

I want to be like them! I want to be used by God to set other people free! I want to witness miracles of God's transforming power in the lives of people. Undeserving as I am, I want to experience the privilege of being a part of God's great Kingdom work! And maybe that is why God is teaching me to be brave. He knows that my fears will hinder me from entering my Promised Land -- the place where He wants me to be. He wants me to be brave! In this season of my life, The God of Angel Armies -- He is Making Me Brave!

Here's a heart song that God gave me for this season. :)

Sweeter Than Before (Couple's Dinner 2015)

It's been almost a year since I wrote a blog post entitled Marriage is Hard. Next month, Mike and I are celebrating our 5th Civil Wedding Anniversary, well guess what... our marriage seems to get even harder. Over the last few months, we've experienced the worst fights and the toughest spiritual battles that we've ever faced as a married couple. We've experienced feeling on the edge, tempted to just be indifferent towards each other... tempted to give up serving God because of the spiritual attacks that comes with it. Over and over again, as we are down on our knees, tired, and surrendered, God's glorious grace never fails to renew our strength, to give us courage, and to rekindle our love towards one another. Over and over again, He reveals to us our selfish hearts, what we are still capable of saying and doing against each other. He makes us realize that apart from Him, we are nothing. He is continuously teaching us to love the way that He loves us -- forgiving, unconditional, sacrificial. 

Last night, Mike and I attended our annual Dgroup Couple's Dinner entitled: Sweeter Than Before. It was nice to hear testimonies of couples who are married for 20 plus, 30 plus, 50 plus years and how they've also gone through the same struggles that Mike and I are currently going through but managed to not only stay together, but to really enjoy God's
gift of marriage.

One of the moments that truly touched my heart was when Mike sang a part of the song that he dedicated to me back when we were still dating, "Only One" by Lionel Richie. That song always brings me back to those "kilig" seasons when we were still getting to know each other.

♪ ♬ ♪ You, turn me inside out and you showed me,
what life was about, only you... the only one that stole my heart away.
I want to do all I can just to show you, make you understand only you...
the only one that stole my heart away... ♪ ♬ ♪

Two days before, Mike and I experienced the worst fight that we've ever had (so far!)... I knew I'll never sing the song, "Kahit Maputi Na Ang Buhok Ko" the same way again! But the part where I got really emotional was when we were asked to renew our vows (we didn't expect this!). I must admit, when we got married in 2010, we were super madly, head over heels in love that we've rushed on everything because we couldn't bear to be away from each other even for a single second. There was a big difference as we read our vows last night compared to when we first read it during our wedding. Last night, we tearfully read our vows understanding what it truly meant. When I vowed to unconditionally love, submit, and respect Mike, these are no longer fancy words, I know what I have to give up in order to fulfill this promise, and I know that this is something I can never do apart from the grace of God. Love, is no longer just a magical feeling... we've come to understand that it is a decision, a commitment that we've made to The Third Strand of our marriage -- God.

We know that we still have a long, long, long, long.... way to go. Mike and I's journey in marriage is just beginning, and I'm thankful that God gave us a spiritual family that prays for us, and guides and helps us through it all.

Our Spiritual Parents -- Kuya Alvin & Ate Ayenn

I want to share our take away from Pastor Leo's message last night:

How To Keep Your Marriage Always Sweeter Than Before:

P ut God in the center of your marriage.
A ssume your God given roles.
            Husband: Lead, Love, Provide (Eph. 5:25 ; 1 Cor. 11:3)
            Wife: Submit & Respect (Col. 3:18 ; Eph. 5:33)
I nvest in your love relationship.
R emain as best friends.

Video clips of our moments from last night's event.