November 08, 2006

Not in control and loving it

Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” (Phil 2:14-16, RSV)

When I am suffering, this exhortation never fails to uplift me.

Paul speaks of being in prison so many times that we tend to become desensitized to just how difficult it must have been for him to preach the Gospel in his day. Yet, he did so, unfailingly, consistently and proudly.

Many times, I grumble and question—okay, almost every time—especially when things are not to my liking even if I know it is part of what God has in store for me. Loss of control is never easy and this has always been my cross.

I am, by nature, a control freak and loss of control—the uncertainty, the “not knowing” and the inability to shape what comes next—has always been cause for me to grumble and question and, often, protest. Many times, it has involved only me and God but there have been times as well when my being a control freak has affected—and hurt—others.

Recently, I was given a wake-up call to this. It was not a subtle hint nor a gentle nudge, it was practically a bludgeon—I was confronted with the many times my insistence on control affected and hurt others I love. And I was, literally, brought to my knees—not knowing what to do, what to say—and not in control. But, ironically, that was when I felt the most free.

So though I suffer many times, I try now not to grumble or question—too much. Try is the most important word in that sentence. Often though, the words of complaint and protest slip through my lips but I am quick to repent and to pray that God be in control once again.

Lord, I pray for the grace to shine as a light in the world that is in darkness; to be a voice that speaks Your truth in a world that is filled with noise and confusion; to be your face in a world that knows You not or no longer. Grant me additionally the grace to be all these without grumbling or questioning but to be simply filled with the hope that I labor not in vain but in the victory that you have already won. Amen.


Sam said...

Very nice - I can relate to this. Thanks for sharing and please keep on posting.

Anonymous said...


I'd like to share with you this article I just read, entitled :The Optimism of Uncertainty" by Howard Zinn. Sir, I truly believe in what you are doing. Thank you for being such an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sir. After graduation in 2005, when I made the decision to eschew the normal law-firm route, I wrote a letter to you -- just to tell you how much of an influence youve been and to thank you for the "navigational tools" youve provided me with to help me decide the way I did. Discarded the letter because, well, just because. A year after, I wish I just went ahead and sent it to you Please accept my belated thank you.

Stumbled upon your blog today, reading about not running in vain or laboring in vain, and something about it just moved me to tears. I dont know... Im just in a pretty funky juncture in my life right now. Parang, you graduate from law school, pass the bar all wide-eyed and idealistic, eager to "do some good" and realize that even among the do-gooders, there are so many shades of gray. Kala ko, it's all about following your heart, but following your heart pala doesnt make the waters any less murky or the thicket any less... thick. I dont get it. I dont get the politics. I dont get Left politics. And I dont want to get it. But I dont want all this work to be in vain either.

You made it sound so simple in second year criminal procedure. How did you manage to keep things simple and stay the course?

Ted said...

@anonymous. I wish you had left your name because then I could write to you directly. I have a lot of students and have had a lot of students and I have no idea who you are. I do feel for you as you go through this funk right now. Many times, our profession demands many things of us but the one thing that I have always refused to surrender--or struggled hard to surrender--is my sense of still being in awe of things. When I lose that ability to be in awe, then that is the time that cynicism and skepticism has become my life and that life, as I understand it, is over. I hope you do not lose that sense of being able to stand in awe of many things, of being able to stand surprised, to desire to be surprised--even as you go through the funk. God bless you, whoever you are; and if you want to let me know who you are, do drop me a line at tedte(underscore)esq(at)yahoo(dot)com.