Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Ready," but Not Really READY...

One of my friends, Sylvia, has recently picked up on a healthy (and impressive) hobby of participating in 5k walk/runs around the Washington Area and about a month ago, good 'ol Groupon had a great deal for a Caribbean themed 5k in Rock Creek Park scheduled Sunday, July 10...I bought the tickets and instantly started to get excited, but yet nervous. What was I thinking? Who am I kidding? I've never run/walked a 5k in my life! So after 5 minutes of worrying I started thinking what many women (and men) battle with everyday, "what am I going to wear to this race?" LOL...Sounds shallow, but I had heard about and seen many dri-fit Nike commercials that entice you with two words, "sweat proof." So, immediately, with the 5k in mind, I went out and bought some gear "to be ready": Nike shirt, Nike leggings (is that what they are called?), and even Adidas sweat-proof performance socks (yes, I broke the Nike stride)... My husband had bought me some new Nike training shoes for my birthday so I was all covered (or so I thought).

I was ready until illness struck me the same weekend as the 5k. All I could think is, "Noooo, not now!" But that's not all... Remember the groupon I had bought? Well, it just so happens that I thought just by purchasing the deal I was "all set" in running the race (as in registration-wise). Come to find out as I was printing the coupons on Saturday night (July 9, 2011), a night before the race, I read the fine print and it said: "Must register for 5k before June 30, 2011." Even more of a "Nooooo!" My husband immediately contacted the organizers of the 5k to see if they can make an exception...We were thinking "wow, we got this awesome deal, and we sat around thinking we are ready for the race and the deadline came and went and we were not even registered!!" We failed miserably at reading the fine print...We just thought with just buying our ticket, it was sufficient. Boy, were we wrong. To make a long story, semi-short, the organizers wrote back and said they would accept us even though we missed the deadline. We went to sleep thinking, "Okay, wow thank God for exceptions." Fast forward a little, the race was set to begin at 7:45 am, Sunday (July 10) morning... Guess what? We did not wake up until 8:00 am because the alarm did not go off! "What??!" :-/

Needless to say, my husband or I did not run the race we were so "prepared" for. And all Sunday, I couldn't help thinking about "Wow, I wonder how it was? Would I have felt refreshed and re-energized?"

Then it hit me. The Caribbean themed race (5k) can be like our lives as we are running the race toward Heaven... Sometimes we are too caught up with wanting to have all of the right "garments" to win the race that we forget to read the fine print. Do you get my drift? Hope so.

We still have a little time to change our "garments" and read the "fine print" now before it's too late, but there will come a day where some of us will see the finish line from far and will say to the organizer "What is this? Why did you end the race now? I was almost there!! I have the newest and best garments...I paid my dues! I deserve to be counted as completing the race!" On that very day, there will also be some of us who will pass the finish line...beat up, exhausted, tired, lifeless, and perhaps not with the best garments on, but the organizer of the race will say, "Well done, good and faithful, well done!" Matthew 25:23. Now, which runner do we want to be? Think about it.

God bless you + yours.



Sunday, July 3, 2011

Are We Only in (or Out of) Church Because of Friends? PART I.

*Disclaimer: This only my opinion (such as everything else on my blog).*

About 2 years ago, my husband- Hector, ran into an acquaintance from another sister church while in Georgetown...we will call this person "Billy" out of respect and privacy issues. They were both happy to run into each other and soon got to chatting. Hector asked Billy how his church was doing and that is when Billy dropped the bomb...he was no longer in church. When Hector prodded him to see why he wasn't in the faith any longer, Billy's answer was clear... he wasn't in the church because all his friends had stabbed him in the back and no longer had any real friends at church. Hector continued to talk to him and said a few impacting lines that I will never forget-- "Billy, I understand about your friends letting you down, but it should not have anything to do with your relationship with God. You can try another church in the area, but please do not leave the church in entirety. If you leave the church because of lack of friends, it might mean your motives were wrong..." Billy agreed wholeheartedly with what my husband said and to make a long story short Hector agreed to keep him in prayer and encouraged him to try another church because the MOST important thing is your friendship with Christ...

Unfortunately, this is a story we hear all too often, right? I am sure all of us know at least 1 person who has left the church because of his/her lack of friends. But why is this? Even though, like my husband said, our motive is wrong if we leave the entire faith because we do not have friends, human interaction has something to do with our worship experience. After all, one of the reasons why we do not stay home Sabbath after Sabbath and go to church is to come together as people of faith to worship the ultimate creator! Friends are an integral part of our spiritual walk with God, but when we solely depend on those friendships and those relationships fail, what then happens to our walk with Christ? It reminds me of this one old Christian song by Stacie Orrico that says, "Don't look at me (your friend) if you're looking for perfection...I will only let you down. I'll do my best to point you in the right direction, but don't look at me, LOOK at GOD."

I'm going to be honest with you all and those of you know know me know I'm a private person, but I think it's worth sharing this because I know others may be going through something similar. When I knew it was time to leave my childhood church (about 1.5 years ago) because of various reasons that maybe I will disclose one of these days, one of the hardest thing to do was leave because of my close friends. Hector and I were church shopping with one thing in mind...we wanted to attend a church that was open minded, was open to new ways to evangelize, youthful, and wasn't so stuck in Central American ways (no offense to my own people...which we love). I would cry because I did not want to leave my group of friends and the thought of going to a new church would scare me because who would we talk to after the service was done? When we found our current (and awesome) church, Restoration Praise Center (RPC), we were thrilled! But there was always that part of me that would want to draw me back to my childhood church because of my friends. I then had an "aha" moment thanks to God and one of my good friends, Carol. She told me, "Nissy, what is more important...your friendships or your spiritual walk/life with God?" Sounds harsh, but it got me thinking and that's when I was finally more than okay to let go of my childhood church. While my friends at my childhood church mean the world to us, Hector and I knew that we could always still hang out with them outside of church...So, we could essentially get the best of both worlds: Attend a new, amazing, Holy Spirit filled church and still maintain our other friendships alive after church hours.

What I'm saying is friendships are an integral part of our worship experience and spiritual walk, but they should not be our main motive. Do you see what I'm saying? This leads me to say, let us all (yes, including me) try to befriend those at church who look lonely so we can enhance (not full dependence) their walk with Christ because we just never know...

Part II will be coming soon. Please share your opinions + comments below. Thanks + God bless!