The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for the living.
– Psalm 19:7-8
“How do we know that what we are following is really, actually, and truly the will of God?” I asked in the last Bible reflection session I had last year, when Fr. Don was still around and yet to take his vacation.
“Discernment,” was the simple, short, and quick reply of Fr. Don, who gave me a nod and had a face on that read ‘You’ll get it.’
I waited for more from him, more to add to his short answer. At the time, it seemed like such a general, textbook answer, and I was disappointed and felt a little abandoned. I was eager and my spirit was so willing. My intentions were good — I want to surrender everyday to the will of God, but at that moment, I felt a little like I was left in the dark to fiddle with my own thoughts. In my head (and I could imagine it was clear in my facial expressions) I was thinking, ‘That’s it?! I mean, I know what discernment means, but that’s it?!’ … I didn’t get it.
What I didn’t know at the time was that it was just the perfect response. Only time will reveal to me as I travel on own personal spiritual journey, what God’s will for my life is. Step by step, as I begin to put into practice the meaning and essence of spiritual discernment — reading and living God’s daily word, seeking Him, setting aside time for Him, communicating with Him everyday through prayer, meditating on His Name, deepening my relationship with Him, looking out for His signs, acknowledging and experiencing His Presence, and listening to Him in silence — that I will know His way and the path that He has laid before me. Our calling and purpose in life is something we all try to discover, but it is only when we start to live in the present and begin to experience our lives, do we actually come closer to His answers.
He is always guiding us to the path that He has cleared before us. He calls us:
1Follow Me one step at a time. That is all I require of you. In fact, that is the only way to move through this space/time world. You see huge mountains looming, and you start wondering how you’re going to scale those heights. Meanwhile, because you’re not looking where you’re going, you stumble on the easy path where I am leading you now. As I help you get back on your feet, you tell Me how worried you are about the cliffs ahead.
I first got into photography seven years ago, when DSLRs weren’t such a worldwide trend yet. Film and SLRs were what I started with, and it was for me at the time, in the eyes of a puny little wide-eyed junior, the best innovations in the world! I loved the rawness of everything. The trial and error, the artistry that goes into finding light in an experience and capturing it on film, the heartache of a fleeting moment, the excitement of a good capture, the anxiety of the wait, and the calm and quiet that comes when developing a roll of film in the dark …
‘You don’t take a photograph, you make it.’ – Ansel Adams
… I was in love with photography. But it was a confusing relationship that didn’t last as long as I had dreamed it to be. During those first couple years, I had been told that I had an eye for photography many times by my university professors, by photographer friends who have now made it in the real world, my colleagues, other creatives … and well, you get the gist. I’ve been praised a lot. It got into my head. Soon, I took photos for the praise, to uplift my own name, and not because I loved what I was doing.
Then, trials came. My love for photography faded with the fashion trend of the DSLRs. My passion was a mockery. Now, everyone is praised as a photographer if he had a DSLR. Posers and fakes, I used to always think. I was very bitter. I lost interest, and no longer invested much time, money, or effort to the skill. And then three years later, my SLR was destroyed in the Ondoy flood in the Philippines. In the years to follow, I would take a hand-me-down camera from my father, and only borrow cameras if I wanted to shoot. Confusions and road blocks hit my career as a creative, and I became even more confused whether I was on the right path.
Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken away from them. Matthew 25:29
I knew I had many gifts and talents, but I felt like the servant who had failed her Master and lost what she was given. But the Lord our God is good. He calls us again and again:
1You don’t know what will happen today, much less tomorrow. Our path may take an abrupt turn, leading you away from those mountains. There may be an easier way up the mountains than is visible from this distance. If I do lead you up the cliffs, I will equip you thoroughly for that strenuous climb. I will even give My angles charge over you, to preserve you in all your ways.
And He did. In my trials I found community, which allowed me to grow further and deeper in faith. In my confusion and failures I found a career again, which allowed me to explore any and every area of my talents, discover new potential and revisit lost ones. 2Your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention. … and through the road blocks in my career, I found alternate paths to finding my calling. As I go deeper and deeper into God, I go deeper and deeper into myself. My trust towards myself and my trust towards Him is being strengthened. I can recognize His voice when he whispers, and I am sometimes able to see some of His signs in a clearer light.
3Signs are an extremely personal language that we develop throughout our lives, by trial and error, until we begin to understand that God is guiding us.
The current signs have been telling me to revisit my love for photography. I was looking through old photos this morning, trying to relive the moments when I was taking these photos (please forgive the resolution of some photos, I had to rummage through old websites in order to find them… you could really tell, they’re old, even by the style) …
Numerous opportunities at work have cleared this path, requests from friends have ignited a spark of excitement and rekindled my passion, and just seeing work from friends and photographers that have made it has once again inspired my creativity. I have a better reason to pursue this path again, and it is a step towards fulfilling my calling. This is my creative response. He is always guiding me. He calls me.
1Keep your mind on the present journey, enjoying My Presence. Walk by faith, not by sight, trusting Me to open up the way before you.
He has, and the way before me is wide open.
1 February 1 Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
2 Conan O’Brien’s Commencement speech at Dartmouth 2011
3 Aleph by Paulo Coelho