It took some amount of losing and dying to self for me to understand what it means to be peaceful in the midst of insecurity.
The loss of my passport and visa card became a gateway to a whole new journey with God. For the past two days He has been undeniably present. I felt His nearness and reality. Not only was He comforting me, He was also guiding me. The whole experience took my faith to a higher level. The whole experience taught me several significant lessons.
Being Still, Listening to God
First, I learned to sit still, pray and listen to God. I used to pray frantically. My prayers were like placing orders at a fastfood counter. I asked for a combo meal of the usual petitions—provisions for needs, good health, traveling mercies. But I never went beyond the menu board of needs to check what was the dish of the day. As a result, I have failed to listen to God many times, thereby, missing His blessings and guidance. No wonder I come away from praying still anxious and heavily laden. The loss of my travel documents forced me to literally sit, pray and listen to God. As I cried in desperation, I emptied my heart to God, freeing it from fears and worries. God replied through the Bible in Ruth chapter three. God’s Word gave me the courage to ask specifically what my heart desired (my passport’s retrieval) and to claim the answer. God, through the Holy Spirit, also spoke in my heart. Very clearly the Spirit impressed on me that the whole ordeal was not about me. It was happening so that God would be glorified in the end. I left my prayer room with a lighter heart, a better countenance and a stronger faith.
The Bigger Scene
Second, the loss of my passport was a small part of a bigger battle scene. My husband, Mang, was away on a ministry trip in a place where there is tremendous need for the Gospel of Jesus. I’ve always known that whenever he goes to these places unexplainable trials come my way. During the ten-day period that he was away, I hurdled one challenge after another at home, in church and at work. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. By the time I discovered the loss of my passport, I’ve lost my hoard of strength. I broke down and cried. I surrendered. But just like one of my favorite hymns says:
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater
To added affliction He addeth His mercy
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.
As I prayed, God gave me Ruth 3:18: Wait my daughter, for he won’t rest until the matter is settled today. In another translation the verse reads: Just be patient and don’t worry about what will happen. He won’t rest until everything is settled today! These words gave me immeasurable hope. It showed me a God who is actively at work as I patiently wait! I realized that God was working on my behalf. It gave me the confidence that I shall yet retrieve my passport and God will not tarry in keeping His promise. I simply had to yield because the battle was not mine but His.
After reading and re-reading Ruth 3:18, it dawned on me that something was indeed happening in the spiritual realm that was beyond me. It was a battle that had to be won in the realms that are beyond my human comprehension. That is why God needed to make me understand that I had to let go and He had to take over. The Spirit’s silent witness in my heart assured me that it had to do with the ministry that my husband was engaged in and that as his wife, I was a partaker in all that it entailed. Furthermore, we were preparing for a monumental spiritual event for the Dousel clan in
Practicing God’s Presence
Practicing God’s presence was the third lesson I learned through this ordeal. While waiting for my turn at the police station to file a report of my lost passport, I had time to read the last chapter of the book I was reading. It was a book on prayer. The whole chapter was devoted on what it meant to live in God’s presence. It explained the reality and practicality of practicing the presence of God. I had encountered this phrase six years ago as a young wife and a new mother. My mentor introduced to me the need to practice the presence of God but left me enough space to figure it out for myself.
Practicing the presence of God was a concept originally conceived by Brother Lawrence, a cook in a seventeenth-century monastery in
It is this discipline that I once again re-learned as I sat in front of the police officer. And it was perhaps due to my courageous attempt to practice the presence of God that gave me favor in the eyes of the authorities that sped up the process.
God’s presence was also evident in the person of my friend, Cherry, who volunteered to drive for me the whole day. She kept me company and gave me courage to face what the rest of the day can still throw at me.
I felt the reality of God’s presence when later in the afternoon He brought my husband safely home. Mang’s arrival was like a healing balm that soothed my aches and pains. His nearness was like a tangible expression of God’s presence.
If Only I Ask
Another thing I learned is that many people are more than willing to intercede for me if I only ask them. Thanks to a social networking site, I was able to place a prayer request, sending so many friends all over the world on their knees on my behalf. My husband’s officemates, my family and friends near and far were united in prayer and in extending help in the retrieval of my passport (friends in media placed announcements on the radio). It amazed me to see how God answers in a mighty way when His people unite in prayer.
The Miracle: The Lost Passport Found
This event taught me so many things but I would like to end this sharing with the word miracle. I realized that I still believe in miracles. I started this day with reading Mark 10:27: There are some things that people cannot do, but God can do anything. Another version reads: With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. The loss of my passport and the promises from God’s word brought me back to the days of my childhood when I was awed by God’s miracles in the Bible. I felt as though I became like a child again with faith that can move mountains. I was like a little girl once again, looking up to heaven in eagerness to see God’s next miracle.
Cherry and I picked up Mang who just flew in from his international ministry trip. We decided to proceed to the Indian Embassy instead of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The staff at the Embassy informed us that I had to go through the whole process of visa application which meant two weeks processing time and paying Php17,000. Clearly, the trip to
The silence in the car was almost eerie. It seemed no one dared to talk lest I break down. But I couldn’t contain my overwhelming emotions, “God, You know exactly where my passport is! Please, give it back to me. Please tell the person who found it to return it to me over the weekend. Please, God. Please.”
My desperate prayer enabled me to put a smile on my face. “I hope that if it did fall on the taxi floor…I hope that the taxi driver will just look under his seat and find it there and return it to me.”
“What’s this?” Mang said as he handed to me a black passport holder from the backseat.
“What’s that? That’s yours! You’re just pulling a prank!” I was still faithless.
Mang opened the passport holder and lo and behold, there they were, my passport and visa card! It was indeed mine! I burst into tears. “Thank You, Lord!”
“How did you find it? Where?” Cherry asked. As soon as I talked about finding it under the driver’s seat, Mang bent over to find the edge of my passport holder sticking out from deep under the driver’s seat. We were baffled. Cherry looked for it in her car twice, checking under the seats and found nothing the day we found out I lost it. The thing was, we were together a few days back when I last saw my travel documents. It was possible that I dropped it in her car. But I was puzzled because I was certain that I last saw my passport holder in my bag while we were having dinner in the mall the day I lost it. I didn’t ride with Cherry after dinner. How it came to be under the driver’s seat, is still a mystery to me. All I knew was that God once again did the impossible!
God proved Himself faithful, loving and powerful. Most of all, He once again showed me the reality of His presence. It is true, He was glorified in the end.
* Hybels, Bill. (1998). Too Busy Not to Pray.