This is going to be long, because it’s a testimony of something really, really special that happened to us about a month ago. I’ve only shared it with a few close friends, but if I really am serious about moving on and opening up more of my thoughts here, then I think it’s time I came out with this story. Bear with me.
June 24, 2012 started out as a quiet Sunday. God got me up in time to view the Joseph Prince webcast, and I was able to do about 30minutes of yoga exercises. As always, we planned to take it easy on this usual Sunday, avoiding the morning rush of people who go to church early – for me, personally, church service is the culmination of my weekend. I like taking my time to get to it.
But at 1pm, our twin daughters walked up to me as I sat at the computer, and asked: “Mommy, aren’t we going to church?” I almost said, “We go to the 7pm service, don’t we?” But it’s been a long time since our 11-year old daughters were this excited about church, so I decided to “obey” their urging. We got to Market!Market! at 5pm. More than adequate time to have early dinner before the 7pm service of New Life the Fort.
We walked in after the singing had begun, as usual, because we try to avoid being too close to the speakers – the sound system speakers, not the people speakers. Since we started visiting New Life the Fort in February this year, I’ve always applauded their ushering system in my heart. But it did mean that we had to make our own adjustments to avoid the soundwave overload, hence the “late” entrance.
What strikes me most about the New Life leadership is the sensitivity to how the Spirit is moving during the service. It’s okay to spend a bit more time singing, or to suddenly start healing prayer, or even to not finish the planned sermon, as they sense His leading in ministering to His church.
Take last Sunday, June 24, 2012. At the end of how Pastor Mylene Evangelista showed us that the Lord has Positioned (us) for Generosity, she asked who was willing to give P50. I was among those who raised a hand. Jesus and I have a fun history with giving for decades now, and I wanted to show Him I’m ready for more.
So He leads Pastor Mylene to me.
“Do you have P50 that you’re willing to give?”
Scramble to get wallet. No P50, only 100-peso bill.
“I have P100. Will that be ok?”
Irl joins in: “Then it can be for both of us.”
She called us to stand in front, where she gently questioned us about being willing to give the little amount that we had. Part of me actually wanted to grab her hand and put the bill in, but I was also sensing that God was setting us up, Irl and me, for something. A lifetime struggle began to surface in my mind, and I felt the Spirit saying He was going to deal with it once and for all that day.
Finally, she let me give her the bill. “This is for your future. Do you believe that your future can be 10 seconds from now?”
Then she reaches into her pocket and hands us back a P500 bill. I smiled: Jesus did His “tithe” thing on me again (our private tithe thing: no matter how much I put in the offering, Jesus brings so much blessing in my life that when I compute it, it ends up that I gave “only” 10%!).
But He wasn’t finished.
One by one, people started coming down the aisles, handing us bill after bill after bill after bill…and finally, FINALLY, God’s voice – not Jesus, not the Spirit, but God the Father – broke through to my heart:
“I am your father.”
And the 40-year old dam broke.
They say that our initial impressions of God are shaped by our fathers. My father is not a bad man, but I will not call him a godly one, either. Not by a long shot.
I was 4 years old when I began to realize that I could manipulate my father. I was 6 when I decided I wasn’t going to let him “spoil” me anymore – all my relatives called me a “spoiled” papa’s girl at that time, and I was starting not to like it. But I stayed respectful of him, and we still had a relatively good relationship.
But growing up changes people, specially when it includes a changing of “religious affiliation.” I was born again when I was 16, and my family – parents and brother – were VERY angry. We were never a close family, but this made everything “worse.” Still, we were all civil to each other. My parents didn’t throw me out of the house or anything like that. They actually “guarded” me even better. . .
I think I was in my early 20s, when my father ventured into the rental business, that we had a conversation that sealed my heart against him: “Kaya nga ako nagkaanak na babae, para may mag-aalaga sa’kin pagtanda ko.” (I wanted to have a daughter so I will have someone to take care of me when I get old.)
The last brick of the dam fell in place.
It hurt to be thought of that way. I had no intention at all of abandoning my parents in their old age, but to have been bluntly informed that my father had that kind of design on my life left my heart cold.
And then it became clearer, this struggle to accept God as Father. Yes, I called Him “Dad” or “Father”, but always with the lingering doubt: “So what do You intend to use me for?” It was a constant struggle to not accuse God of being the kind of father that I see my earthly father to be. I asked to be able to know the difference, to be able to see Him for Himself, and not through the filter of my father’s words.
Fastforward to 2007.
My mother had been dead for 3 years now, and a lawyer friend who found out that we had not yet settled her estate taxes offered to help me, saying there was a government amnesty. In preparing the documents needed, I discovered my father’s mismanagement and tax evasions: he had not paid real property taxes on our properties since 1994. When I asked him about it, he said he didn’t have the money at that time to be able to deal with it.
Then he buys a car.
I was livid. Since my mother died in 2004, my brother and I had done our best to take care of his needs, not asking for any share in the family business. When we had first asked him to settle the estate so we could liquidate assets, he accused us of trying to get our hands on his property. We were shocked and hurt, and when the lawyer heard the story, she asked me: “Are you and your brother willing to wait? I know you want to honor your father. Yes, it’s going to balloon into a big amount, but are you willing to trust that God will be able to meet that when it’s time to pay it?” I asked my brother, who was recovering from a stroke, and we said yes.
News began to float around the subdivision that my father was getting married – or had already remarried, without informing us. I asked him about it, and he admitted that he had plans, but that so far there had been no wedding. I asked him again about settling Nanay’s estate, and this time he agreed.
Within the day, I had gotten in touch with a lawyer (different one), who gave me instructions. I had all but one document ready. He warned me that this would be “messy” after finding out that it was 8 years overdue. I was also led to an accountant who would help us compute the liabilities. When we met 2 weeks later (after I got over a kidney infection), he was shaking his head at the possible amount. I told him that in 2007, the first lawyer and I had computed the BIR valuation of the properties to be at P15M. But taxes are based on the fair market value, which is significantly higher than the BIR valuation. Then there are the penalties. The CPA said he needed the tax declaration of the last property (the one document I didn’t have, because it was in another town). When I went to the provincial capitol to try to get a copy, there was none. Which meant, they explained, that he had never paid the taxes on it since he bought it.
Debt, debt, debt everywhere, and since 2007, I had been struggling against the fear that we would be inheriting my father’s debts – and we have found more than just the taxes. In May 2012, Jesus began to heal my heart of the fear, as the Spirit led me back to meditating on His Word and praying through Him, while fighting against sicknesses that were cropping up week after week for a month. In spite of my sudden attack of UTI last June 17, we attended the 7pm service at the request of our daughters. The Lord showed me how to deal with the infection, and He healed it.
On June 24, 2012, as I watched the blur of faces coming down to hand us what God was leading them to give, He finally claimed His rightful place in my life: HE is my Father, my Daddy! And He’s got everything covered. EVERY THING. Just as in the past, He has blessed other people through our giving, so He can also meet our needs through other people’s giving, even if we don’t ask. Just as long as we are still willing to be in that cycle of giving and blessing.
Whenever I would get scared of being short on cash, I run to the bank to send money I had been holding back “just in case” which is for a missionary friend we promised to support financially (*toink*). But Irl had to resign from work in March of this year, or risk permanently losing his voice. With no regular income for the past 6 months, we have not been able to send support. The Spirit has already confirmed that part of the money from Sunday’s floodtide of blessing is also for that friend, and we’re grateful we can give again.
I have no idea how big the final amount is going to be. But my Daddy’s rich, and He is NOT in debt, and no way is He afraid of this coming amount that must be paid (honor the king, pay taxes, and honor your parents are among His values for His children). He made sure I understood that last June 24, 2012. And today, as I sat at home, concerned that I still have not been able to get that final document I need to submit to the CPA, He spoke to me:
“Sit still, my daughter, for The Man will not rest until He has settled the matter this day.”
Update: I have been able to get that final document and given the CPA the data he needs. I will be contacting him this week to follow up on the results, and then bring that back to the lawyer. I would greatly appreciate your prayers for us. Thank you, and God bless you all GREATLY!!!!