Tsunami is a Sign

    I wrote this because I was distrubed by a passed-on text that goes “At 4:30 PM sumabog yung isang power plant sa Fukumi (Japan). Kapag umulan daw mamaya at bukas, wala daw lalabas, siguraduhin ninyong nakakapote o nakapayong kayo, dahil kapag naulanan kayo, delikado daw. May tendency na masunog balat ninyo, makalbo o magka-cancer.” (At four thirty pm today, the power plant at Fukumi, Japan exploded. If it rains later on or tomorrow, nobody should leave his or her house without a raincoat or an umbrella. Otherwise, It would be dangerous….There is a tendency that your skin will burn [if rained on], you will be bald, or you will have cancer.)

Last night, I adjusted the premium on my life insurance, setting it half-lower from the original price I bought it. My insurance agent told me that in case my check up yields negative medical findings, I would have difficulty claiming my medical benefits. Up to this time, I still don’t understand this. My life insurance has a rider which allows for a lump sum amount in case I would be diagnosed with a dreaded disease. And if I get hospitalized, I have hospitalization benefits as well, as long as I provide PHILAMLIFE with the certifications that I was indeed hospitalized. I took all these provisions for granted when I bought the insurance. All I was interested in at the time I bought it was the dividend I was supposedly going to earn, that is, double the amount I would be paying in twenty years.

In my middle age, in preparation for retirement in my 60th year, I race against time to get the lowest premiums on mutual fund investments and insurance. I just recently finished paying for my eternal plan. Two years ago, I decided to invest in a mutual fund. Meanwhile, this would be my third year of paying my annual life insurance premium.

Yet who knows if this world is going to reach the twentieth year – that is – the year 2031. By 2031, according to my insurance plan, I would get back all the premiums I paid, without interest. I would be covered with the same amount as long as I live, from the time I bought it and long after the twentieth year. But would I still be alive at that time? Just in case I would still be alive, I would be 68 years old.

Eight years after I would have gotten my senior citizen card, how many more tsunamis, earthquakes and wars (war is ongoing today in the Arab countries of Libya and Yemen) would have singularly and/or collectively devastated this earth? Add to this men and women’s propensity for destruction of human lives, governments and institutions, intentionally or unintentionally. What would the Philippine landscape be like at the time? How many more areas in all continents would have been erased from the map? And where would all the remaining Christians be in twenty years?

It seems silly to pay a yearly insurance premium unless I console myself that somehow, my premium covers me only for this day, not even for this year. I am much aware that God’s gift to us is a total of 24 hours each day, no more, no less. In fact, I shouldn’t put too much hope on gaining anything from any of my investments. Really, given the trend of fall outs and double crossing among big-time investors in first world countries these days, who wouldn’t be scared?

The best way to live this life, according to the book of Ecclesiastes, is to live it at the moment, spend the money wisely, and save for the rainy day, (maybe not in any insurance firm but in the bank, where one can access his or her money immediately). Furthermore, how can a very small, insignificant amount benefit the living after I die, in the same capacity this same amount will benefit them now? When I’m sixty eight, say, 500,000 could have the equivalent value of 50000 or 5,000, given the fluctuations in money value brought by war, rumors of war, natural disasters and calamities. The beneficiaries would probably have just enough to pay for my casket! Add to this that in my health card – a subsidy of Meralco through my brother’s employment – the medical benefits are more comprehensive than what a life insurance medical rider can give me. So why buy insurance?

While I take care that I stay healthy and sound, I should be able to see beyond present realities. The world is going down, the earth is moaning, twenty years is too long a time to save for retirement, yet too short a time for this world to recover from ages and ages of devastation by the men and women who populate it. How best to spend the equivalent of an annual insurance premium, or how best to save it are not going to give me the ultimate security. If the money stays in the bank, it will still accumulate to its target amount in 20 years, and with interest unlike if saved via an insurance policy. If I got sick on the seventh year of saving, I would have money at my disposal, and I don’t need to pester anyone to claim any insurance benefit for my sake. But even the biggest banks go bankrupt. But really, this is not the point.

The only sure security is the truth that I belong to God. Whatever happens, I know He will be there for me. No insurance or bank money will shield me from the catastrophes that will surely come to every man and woman in every corner of the world. No medical card will suffice for the maiming of human parts and lives via a nuclear holocaust. No hospitalization benefit will prop anyone from poverty resulting from loss of home, business and property.

In the light of these, I am convinced that God’s expectations of me as a Christian – a Christ follower – are twofold. One, watch and be ready for the last days, and two, be alert and discern the signs of the times. These expectations are coupled with the responsibility of staying in the gap to pray for mercy and/or justice where these are warranted. People today suffer from utter confusion, loss and insecurity. Christians have much opportunity to share the security of Hope found only in THE ONE who will not fail, THE ONE who is constant, THE ONE whose blessings are never late to meet every need, THE ONE whose love gives indescribable peace and joy.

In Jesus, THE ONE, we are secure, not from suffering of any kind – although He promises that the chosen ones will be lifted to heaven together with those who died in Christ and they will not experience Armageddon. But our security IN HIM is against the constant onslaught of distress, bitterness and cynicism. These kills the spirit even before any boulder or radiation could hit the physical body, now, and in the future (just in case one gets left behind, and suffers more earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear explosions).

    As i post this, another text comes saying, ‘3rd nuclear plant explodes. 4th reactor is on fire. Japanese government confirmed fresh radiation leaks.


Will God Adjust?

The movie The Adjustment Bureau is about a “Chairman’s” setting up of a plan for an individual for a good cause. So in this movie, the “Chairman” has written a foolproof plan for David Norris to win three senatorial elections and become the president of the USA. Unfortunately, David’s exercise of his strong free will messes up the plan of the Chairman. However, the Chairman uses all his power to keep David on the path. (Note that even the choice of a name for the main character echoes some parallel from the biblical tale of David and Goliath.)

Meanwhile, the plan includes David falling in love, and his love interest was supposed to just affect one important political speech that would turn around the people’s votes in favor of David. Unfortunately, David could not fall out of love, and never stopped thinking about the woman Elise. So he exerted all his might, even earning the sympathy of one of chairman’s hat-boys, to insist on his free will and thwart the PLAN. When he kissed Elise, the kiss of true and risked-all love, the Chairman decided to rewrite the plan. And so Elise and David could live happily ever after, hopefully, in line with the Chairman’s rewritten PLAN.

There has been a long-time debate between predestination and free will among theologians. These two theological truths seem to contradict each other. It is interesting to note that in the history of the world, before and after it was created, it is God who has always adjusted HIS PLAN. In the garden of Eden God created man to have dominion over all other creation. Man and woman were created in His image, full of understanding (read-unconfused).

Did God give man free will? Or did He say “Do not eat from the fruit of knowing good or evil” because if they did eat it, the consequence is that they would have free will, and then they would find it more difficult to accomplish anything according to plan? That is, instead of them, walking along God’s path and enjoying the full blessings in His garden, hearing Him, and walking the garden unafraid, they would be filled with conflicting thoughts and emotions that could yield evil, that could give birth to guilt, that could make them hide from God? Or they would be making choices that would diminish their potential as God has equipped them? But this is saying we could take free-will as either a gift or a curse.

The choices we make every day of our lives are so much that sometimes, we are incapacitated by them. Walking the “intended’ path is not anymore a factor, because we’ve lost our sense of direction since the fall. Today we deal with a thousand crossroads. Even choosing what to eat in a fast-food restaurant using the menu before us takes plenty of time. We have long rationalized that this is really what makes life exciting. Maybe this is also what makes free will a gift. So we have intentionally or unintentionally foiled God’s PLAN for our lives. Instead, we insist on being “us”; we pretend to know the way; we fight for how we wanted to live our lives; we take pride in the chances we take.

God’s promise to those who will follow HIM is eternal life. In an eternal life, there won’t be any need for “adjustments.” Once we decide to follow God while in this knot of God’s eternal time, God helps us to understand that all can’t be governed by free-will, but His word explicitly says that we are to live “by faith”. The risks we will take will be risks to please God, and not anymore risks that will please ourselves.

Yet following God requires more than an adjustment bureau. As in The Adjustment Bureau, we enter one door, and we end up disoriented. But if that is what it takes for us to fulfill “OUR OWN” plans, we don’t take a minute to say yes to our desires, wear His hat, and make ourselves “happy.” We prefer to be surprised and disoriented, given our impulses, rather than ensconced in a safe clear-cut destination.

Happily, God is not the chairman of an adjustment bureau. Happily He lets us suffer the consequences of our choices. Happily, all he wants is for us to have REAL and LASTING happiness. That void within us can only be filled with God HIMSELF. When we realize that we’ve been running away too long, He is never too far away to hold us when we ran back to him.