By: Bo Sanchez
One day, there was a small barrio of farmers who were praying for rain to come. Every Sunday at church, they’d gather and pray for rain. But one Sunday, the priest announced, “How can God give you rain if you don’t have faith?”
The farmers asked, “How do you know we have no faith?” The priest said, “Every Sunday, you pray for rain. But how many of you are bringing an umbrella?” No one in that church brought an umbrella. The priest continued, “No one among you is prepared to receive the blessings you’re praying for.”
Next Sunday, people began to bring an umbrella. And soon, the rain came.
Friend, are you prepared for your blessings? Noah built the Ark before the rain came, not during or after. You need to build your Ark today.
Do you really expect the answer to your prayer?
I’ve been praying for 1000 Feasts (our weekly gathering) spread all over the world. In God’s own time, I expect it to happen. But even today, we’re preparing for that blessing. We’re bringing our umbrella. We’re building our ark. How? We’re raising up 1000 Feast Builders through our School of Leadership.
Today, what’s your umbrella? Identify your umbrella and bring it with you. Right now, there are some of you who are ready to give up on the dream God has placed in your heart. Don’t give up. Because God isn’t giving up on you. Oh yes, you may have to give up on your particular version on God’s dream for your life.
I remember Bishop Soc Villegas was telling me that he wanted to be a monk—alone in his hut, tending to a little garden. That was how he wanted to serve God. But God wanted Him to serve as a very busy priest and Bishop.
I love telling the story of how I was fixated on a 500 square meter property for our Community Center. It was a foreclosed property that the bank was selling. I wanted it so much, I’d visit it many times—and when no one was looking—raise my hand towards it and “claim” it to be ours. (If I saw someone walking on the street, I’d pretend I was just checking the fence.) I was tenacious. I told the tiny Light of Jesus community then to fast. I even scheduled a 3-night vigil to pray for the place. We also went into massive fundraising. We went Christmas Caroling in August. But one day, we received the news: Someone else bought the property from the bank. We were devastated. I remember our prayer meeting the week we found out. It was as if I was attending a funeral. Some people were even crying.
But ten years later, God answered our prayer. We finally acquired a property. This taught us that God’s timing isn’t our timing. But it wasn’t 500 square meters. It wasn’t 1000, or 2000, or 5000, or even 10,000 square meters. God gave us 50,000 square meters. (On that land, we built Anawim, our ministry for the abandoned elderly.)
This taught me that God’s measurements aren’t my measurement. I was asking for 500 square meters, and God must have been laughing at me, saying, “You won’t be able to do what I want you to do. Just wait.”
When it comes to your dreams, don’t be attached to your timing. Don’t be attached to your own estimations. And don’t be attached to your version. Trust in God. Open yourself to God’s version. Expect God to answer your prayer.
At the Cross, hear God say these words to you, “I will never give up on you.”
He’ll Finish What He Started In You
I love this Bible verse: And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
This passage says two very important things…
1. You’re A Work of God.
You’re God’s idea. You’re God’s design. You’re God’s work of art. You’re God’s masterpiece.
For the longest time, I didn’t believe in that. For decades, I was ashamed of myself. I was addicted. I was in bondage. I kept falling into sin. Because I was so weak, so sinful, so dirty. I felt that every time God looked at me, He would look away in disgust. Because of that, I became even more sinful.
One day, someone sent me a cassette tape. (For the very young reading this piece, a cassette tape is the predecessor of the CD.) The note read, “Bo, I just came from China. Listen to these Chinese worship songs. You’ll be surprised.” I put it in the cassette recorder and pressed the play button. The Chinese song was vaguely familiar. And then it hit me—I wrote the song! It was just translated in Chinese. I felt so proud. Because that was my song!
And then I felt God speak to my heart. I felt God say, “You’re my song. I feel the same way when I look at you. I’m so happy and proud of you!” God shattered my shame by telling me, “You’re my child. You’re my idea. You’re my design. I made you. I don’t make mistakes. And I’m so proud to have a child like you.”
2. You’re A Work In Progress
You’ve got imperfections. You’ve got weaknesses. You’ve got blemishes. You’ve got scars. But that’s okay. Because you’re not yet a finished product. Because God is still working on you.
I love my little house today. But when I was building it many years ago, I didn’t like it at all. Because it was messy. It was dirty. There was scaffolding, and hallow blocks, and cement bags, and sawdust. But I didn’t give up building the house, because I knew it was a work in progress.
Don’t give up on yourself or on the dreams that God has for you, because you too are a work in progress.
Do you remember the story of Aladdin? Aladdin discovered the magical Genie. How? By rubbing the lamp. But why did he rub the lamp in the first place? Because it was dirty. You are that lamp. And you’re dirty. But because you’re dirty, God will rub you, shine you, work on you until magic happens. And until magic happens, God will keep rubbing you, working on you, healing you, tinkering with you, operating on you—until you become like Him.
Say out loud, “God isn’t finished with me yet.”
Right now, you may feel as though nothing is happening in your life. That none of your dreams are coming true. But don’t give up, because God doesn’t give up on you.