The Slow Snail

Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. – John Ortberg


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I saw it there…Early this morning when I rushed to dump another bag of trash into the bins by the curb. Awaiting trash pick up and I wanted to make sure I had all the trash out before the rain came down again. The shower that came down at the wee hours of the morning was brief. Followed by just a single blinding lightning and the thunder that was long and roaring as if a giant hollered to wake up everyone sleeping. Indeed, the deafening roar  shook our house, woke up my son and startled me.

Inch by inch it tried to make its way perhaps, looking for a drier ground. I was talking about a snail. Its upper tentacles erected so high as its vision tried to see the way up ahead, a longer path he took in the cold, wet, cemented driveway.

I closed the garage door and finished making breakfast for my son and I. After an hour or so, placing his backpack straps on his shoulders, my son opened the garage door and there I was, headed again toward the big bins with another bag of trash.

I saw the snail able to make it to the mid part of our driveway, about 10 steps for me and it took more than an hour for it to reach that destination. But it kept going. Never stopping despite the hardship its slow body tried to gain for another few inches.

“What patience!” I thought to myself as I started marveling at its courageous mission to reach another destination despite the wet, cold ground and a lot of hours it would take him for what would be equivalent to only a few steps into my human capabilities.

I wondered….how long and laborious it took the snail to reach Noah’s ark…But that shouldn’t matter what hardships it had gone through. What mattered as I stared again at the slow, slimy body was that the snail reached the ark and was saved. It was not because of its patience….It was because of God’s patience…Who waited for it to reach Noah’s Ark.

And if God loves the snail, how much more with us, men, He created after His image? And no matter how difficult a man’s trek is in this place, God is still patiently waiting for everyone to be saved…The question is… “Is the pair of a man’s eyes able to see?”

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
   slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15 (NIV)


“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.” – Romans 15:5 (NIV)


“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.” – Revelation 14:12 (NIV)


“But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” – 2 Peter 3:8 (NLT)

Euroclydon

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"13And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. 14But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. 15And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive." - Acts 27:13-15 (KJV)

My battle against powerful people from work had been going on for almost 14 months. As they desired to strip me off of my regular position and made me a contract nurse despite working there for 11 years, their actions were sudden, unannounced and was sort of a slap to my face, so to speak.

For each day of those months that had gone by, it is God alone Who helped me endure. I trusted and always believed in Him because of my past history of hurting my neck from the hospital after working there for almost 10 years, and Him placing me in the Correctional setting when the examining doctor had already advised me to quit Nursing.

I must say that God taught me much about the unseen war that goes on in every believer's soul as I started working in a different environment aside from the hospital. The prison is a place of darkness, lots of tortured souls, and filled with tormenting spirits. But here in this secluded place, God never fails to show me how strong His arsenal of weapons truly are!

The verse above was my morning devotion nugget. God reminds me that our life's journey is not always smooth-sailing. Like Euroclydon, violent winds may come abruptly and unexpectedly. Most of the time, there are no warnings. The men in the ship with Paul got scared and thought they would die. They even got rid of some of their cargoes to make the load of the ship lighter.

"18 The next day the storm was blowing against us so hard that the men threw some things out of the ship. 19 A day later they threw out the ship’s equipment. 20 For many days we could not see the sun or the stars. The storm was very bad. We lost all hope of staying alive—we thought we would die." - Acts 27:18-20 (ERV)

How very true in our lives that suffering exposes to us what truly matters in our lives. The riches and things of this world are coveted and thought to be powerful blessings, but if misused and desired first than God may turn out to be burdens in our lives instead.

Paul had a mission for God as he sailed through the storm. He knew the purpose why he needed to go to Rome despite the winds of Euroclydon bearing down upon the ship he was in. But God fulfilled His promise of saving Paul from the shipwreck and the men with him.

Paul arrived in Rome not as a free man but as a prisoner, his enemies perceived that way. But what they never realized, Paul was only the prisoner of the Lord. Of God Who wanted him to bring the gospel to those who were lost and were imprisoned by their sins. It was something their human chains could not hold. It was something their prison could not lock up!

What "Euroclydon" are you now facing? There is no mission too little or too big for God Who desires to call on those who willingly want to suffer for His cause. And when we set sail, He never abandons us for He truly is our sole Source of protection no matter how many "Euroclydons" come bearing down upon the ships of our lives. He is faithful. And how He loves us!

"Wait for the LORD’S help. Be strong and brave, and wait for the LORD’S help." - Psalms 27:14 (ERV)


"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." - Philippians 1:6 (ESV)


"The LORD will fulfill [his purpose] for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever--do not abandon the works of your hands." - Psalm 138:8 (NIV)

I know many of us are sailing through rough seas. May this song that the Lord gave me in 2003 encourage you and remind you that with Jesus, we will safely reach the Shore.


The Light of Life

You're the Light that I see in the middle of the storm
Guiding my way so I can reach Home
No matter how strong the winds, Your Lights still I see
And to see Your Light gives me hope and the will to move on


Jesus....Jesus...


So the Light is shining on and keeps guiding me
Darkness won't prevail 'coz Your ray still beams through
Amidst the storm, my fear is gone, there's strength in me
You're always there for all the lost, out in the sea


Jesus...Jesus...


You're the Light that I see in the middle of the storm
Guiding our ways, so we can reach Home...
Jesus...Jesus...

Unnatural Aging Process

Flopping her weary body as I told her to lay down on the exam table, she sighed heavily, still complaining of unrelieved chest pain. Her tiny pupils tried to look through mine, struggling to make sense why she was in deep physical distress. As I started applying the EKG leads on specific parts of her chest and extremities, I noticed some red bumps on her arms and legs and as I expected, I uncovered more needle tracks scattered all around her body. Her disheveled blonde hair, wrinkled face and energy that seemed to be waning as every hour passed by told me she was a substance abuser, long before she related her history with me.

“I use 5 bags of heroin a day,” she cautiously answered to my queries. Then, decided she could not hide anything from me as her chest pain progressed and she got worried knowing she also had some cardiac problem.

“Yes…I also drink a lot everyday,” she volunteered.

Keep the pill under your tongue,” I commanded as I opened a fresh tiny bottle of Nitroglycerin after taking her abnormal EKG. Strapping her arm with the blood pressure cuff, I started monitoring her blood pressure as the medication could cause a drop. She continued to breathe heavily, restless and having difficulty lying on the exam table still. She tried to avoid the nasal cannula I tried to apply at first to sustain her oxygen intake.

Relax!”

“How long more, Ma’am? I’m still in pain,” she asked.

We’re just waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Here…Take the second pill…”

After waiting for 5 minutes that felt like eternity, I asked if she got relieved of her chest pain from the 2nd pill of Nitro.

“A little bit better,” she softly spoke as if trying to gather her remaining energy as she went through withdrawal symptoms at the same time.

Drugs…Alcohol…Prevalent and widely abused nowadays to numb someone’s pain. For what could be fun for others who just wanted to experiment sometimes, ended up using quite a lot more to help them cope with the pain that comes from abusing it. Lives are destroyed. Faces…Aged unnaturally. A lot of times, they feel that there is no more hope for them. But that’s not true… The truth is:

“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2 Cor.3:17 (NLT)

When God sends His Spirit, transformation takes place. Darkness turns into light. Chaos and confusion turns to order. Death becomes life…





“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”
- Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

Beauty recommends none to God. It’s not a proof of wisdom and goodness. It is having a reverential fear of God which shows the true beauty of a soul. A person who reflects good virtuous qualities ages beautifully because that person delights in pleasing no one but God. A person who desires to always be trusted, respected, useful, and honored in his or her ways.

Against Medical Advice

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." - James 4:14 (NIV)

I saw the Charge Nurse very upset while another nurse was seeing the male inmate who just came back from the hospital. I just walked into the Clinic and from the window, I could see them all, together with the Deputy near them. I thought the inmate was being disrespectful but no wonder...when I saw his face as he slightly turned around, it was the man the other nurse sent to ER in an ambulance because he was having severe chest pain. We readied our AED machine as he seemed to have faded in and out and as verified by the EKG monitor resting on top of the guerney when the paramedics came in.

"Wooo...." the lady paramedic exclaimed.

"His EKG keeps on changing..."

We knew we could lose him at any moment at that time. But surely, the nurse and I were both relieved to see the paramedics so he could be immediately transported to ER.

"What were you thinking?" the Charge Nurse asked.

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"I wanted to see my 5-year old son tomorrow when he comes to visit me Ma'am," he confidently replied, very much aware that he was risking his own life.

"If you make it overnight..." one nurse added.

When this inmate having chest pain got to ER, he immediately signed an AMA form  (against medical advice) despite the doctors needing to evaluate his failing heart. That was what upset everyone because they knew (even me) that he could die at any given time.

I was agreeing with the Charge Nurse that it was wrong for him to refuse the treatment when we heard the reason, but as I finished my shift when the clock hit midnight, tired and excited to be home to see my family sleeping by then, I thought about this inmate as I struggled to see through the windshield being fogged up by the low temperature and an earlier shower that doused the dry earth. And like the rain that washed all the dirt in my windshield, a tear I wiped gave me a clear view minutes later: I realized the Charge Nurse, the other nurses and I were all wrong about being upset with the inmate's decision. He was the wise one of risking his own life to not miss his 5 year old son's visit the following day because in his solitude behind the thick prison walls, he must have learned what mattered the most in his life. In everyone's life....

Love from family and friends...

Things that are not seen...Things that have incorruptible inheritance...

Things that go against that of this world's...

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:21 (NIV)

The Inmate Worker



 He was dressed up in blue. An inmate worker. I always saw him cleaning around the different parts in the Infirmary. His job assignment. Occasionally, I would say “Hello” as staff was prevented from making any friendly type of conversation among the inmates. For security purposes. Which was right among the corrections’ policies.  A few who fell for their charming ways of conversing ended up liking the inmates and tried to help them escaped. But most of the time, the staff who did that ended up being caught. Unfortunately, they ended up becoming imprisoned like the persons they got attracted to.

It was a bad shift. Unscheduled sick calls kept bombarding us. One after another, we, nurses took turn seeing them all. Some went to the hospital for further treatment. It didn’t include the busy phone lines and the charts with the doctor’s orders were barely touched by any of us. I felt the gnawing pang of hunger when I looked at the clock showing a few minutes past 6 in the evening. I remembered, I had not even taken a break. Eyeing the plastic bag that stored my dinner I brought from home, I asked for permission from the Charge Nurse if I could take my break.

I usually never went to our dining hall where any staff could order anything to be made. It was just easier for me and much more relaxing to eat in the back part of the Clinic, away from any inmates’ prying eyes and that of the staff’s. I warmed up my food and realized there was no fork but just plastic knives and spoons. That would still work. If one was too hungry like me that night, you had to provide. 

I saw him again. Right behind me when I started digging into a couple slices of pizza. The aroma spilled into the area as I sat down and took the newly-warmed up pies from our microwave oven. He was cleaning the floor, mopping the other end, just a few steps from where I was. It was too quiet. For both of us. I was trying to enjoy my dinner yet cautious as he was there. It was too quiet that he could hear just the sounds of the knives cutting and aided with a spoon to put the pizza into my mouth. As I could hear just the swaying motions of the mop he was using. 

I couldn’t concentrate on my dinner. The presence of another shadow whom I couldn’t trust was just lurking behind me. Silence made it worse. To know that there was another human being made by God to interact was not supposed to be talked to.

With a slightly racing heartbeat, I cracked the deafening silence between us and softly, I uttered, “How are you doing, Sir?”

He looked up from intently looking on those floor tiles. I could tell he got a little excited that he was noticed. He paused from mopping and replied, “Oh, I’m fine, Ma’am…”

“I’m so hungry right now so don’t mind me if I keep on eating. It’s a bad night for us.”

“Oh, it’s okay. I know. I saw you’re eating pizza and I was thinking it looked so good.”

I could have taken his latest reply as spooky. It gave hints that he was watching me and knew even what I was eating. But I decided to ignore it and continue to not let ‘silence’ saturate that spot where we both were.

“You guys don’t get pizza?”

“Used to. Not anymore. More rice now, Ma’am.”

“That must be a bummer, huh (me trying to talk in a lingo he was used to)? But economy is hard right now. It must be about the budget thing.”

“Guess so…”

“Sorry I can’t offer you any. If ever you get out, that’s the first thing you do…”

“That’s okay, Ma’am…Do what?”

“Order pizza…”

His mouth showed a wide smile as he nodded his head up and down. The Infirmary Deputy suddenly emerged his head from one of the exam rooms nearby and interrupted our stolen conversation. He looked at me and made sure I was okay. I smiled back at him and with his talking eyes, he was grateful in a way that I was there in the back as the inmate cleaned the area. He knew some stuff like plastic knives and spoons could be stolen and be improvised as “shanks”. He sensed I was comfortable and left me to enjoy the smaller piece of pizza laid out in front of me.  Except…It had gotten cold. A small price I had to pay for hearing the unspoken woes from an inmate’s heart. Hungry for interaction. Prevented by policies of the prisons for a reason. Policies or laws that would make him and the other inmates avoid the same evil deeds that got them imprisoned in the first place. The deafening silence in that dark place could be an opportunity for him to re-evaluate those deeds…

Laws are given to our rebellious spirits to help us love God with all of our hearts and minds. But men turned them into rules that most of the time, they are misapplied and confusing. Jesus did not come to go against such laws but against the abuses it was subjected to. Moses emphasized God’s law and justice but Jesus came and highlighted God’s mercy, love, faithfulness, and forgiveness. Instead of the writings on those stone tablets, true disciples of Jesus show His writings on the stony tablets of their hearts, changed through the ways they live their lives.

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
- Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” – Matthew 5:17 (NIV)

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” – John 1:17 (NIV)
All posts/composed songs copyright by RCUBEs.



Encouragers

The Attacker (5/15/09)

The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies. Ephesians 6:12 [37 kb]


Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.


Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.


All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.


When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.


The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.


When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himseld and ended up injuring his attacker severely.


[Source: Life Application Bible]:


We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.


“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14


Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].


Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.


Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.


Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].

Friends