As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. Matthew 4:18
Such is Andrew’s life. He was one of the first disciples, even earlier than James and John. Yet, I was thinking, was he by-passed in handling more important stuff because he was the brother of the Rock? When they introduce him before people, “Andrew- the brother of Peter.” His identity was always with his brother. When they saw him, they saw Peter. When he stands, they see the Rock standing. He has to give up his place as his brother takes the highest place. He has to go below for Peter occupies the uppermost position.
You want to know how Andrew might feel. Ask my brother Emil.
I was serving as the main man of a community of college students and single young professionals at one time. For me to fulfill a service commitment, Emil may have to stay at home to cover for me. He has to step up in my place for house chores when I give a talk in a prayer meeting. He has to shun the limelight as I stand up before people. He has to bear with the tag- “the brother of Edwin”.
I’m not saying Emil was not a leadership material or is not gifted or is not faithful. He is actually. Yet, in following the protocols of ascendance, somewhat and somehow he has to be by-passed because he is my brother. In spite all this, he followed faithfully.
And looking back, I am what I am now because of most what I’ve experienced in those years of ministry because Emil stayed at home. Because Emil descended. Because Emil who supposedly took step ups decided to step down.
You might have an Andrew or an Emil in your life. Thank them. Bless them. Love them. You were first because they were last. You were at the top since they were at the bottom. You stand up, they sat down. You are Peter because he is Andrew.
…he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. Mark 3:5
His hand was withered. If he would compare the other hand with this one, he would find this withered hand has shrunken. This hand has wasted. It has dried up. It has thinned. It has no life. It has no power to lift. It has no grip to hold. It just hangs on his shoulders. Good thing this withered hand sticks to his shoulders. Good thing this man sticks to the synagogue. Good thing Jesus saw him and his withered hand. Jesus told him, “Stretch out your hand.” He gave his hand completely to Jesus. He stretched out his complete trust to Him. He stretched out his faith in God. He stretched it out and his hand was restored. His hand is now equal with the other. It has life. It can lift. It has grip. Man stretched it out completely, God restored it completely.
Do you think your life is withered? You may have been following God for the past years and you seem to be burnt out. Or you may be a new disciple going through a deserted place. You compare your life to your friends’ or relatives’ and find your life is too shrunken. Maybe you think your life is wasted. It is dried up. Yours is life that has no life. Yours is life that has no power to lift and inspire others. It has no grip to hold on to. You just hang on day by day. Here’s the good thing – you still have life. Good thing, you still have God. Stick to God. Stick to your prayer time. Stick praying with your family. Stick to going to church. Stick going to that worship service. Stick going to that prayer meeting. That is where Jesus is. At the right time, hear Jesus saying, “Stretch your life.” Give your life completely to Him. Stretch out completely your trust in him. Stretch out your faith in God. Stretch it out and your life will be restored. Your life will have life. You can lift and inspire others. You can grip on God. Man stretched it out completely, God restored it completely.
He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” Luke 21:3-4
We were settled as a family. Before coming to the United States in 2007, we have had a comfortable life in the Philippines. We have our own home. I have a stable job which was giving me a promising career. My family is well-off despite economic issues surrounding the country. As a family we had no problems with physical health and enjoyed fruitful relationships with our relatives, catholic community and friendship circles. When I got a job offer to work in the US, we felt this was God’s direction. Uprooting us from our comfortable life and a stable livelihood required more discernment however we decided to respond.
As we settled in our new home after living for two years in the United States, I thanked and praise God for enabling us. As the days went by, our family is living comfortable. There may be some new challenges in maintaining the house and paying for it yet my wife and daughters find haven in this place. My job is stable and the company I work for is reacting to the recession positively. My daughters are well adjusted with their schooling in our place. We have found new relationships with brothers and sisters who came from the same singles professionals group we used to be with in the Philippines.
And then I reflected on this story of the widow who gave her whole livelihood in God’s treasury. Her two cents may be too insignificant and may not be needed considering the amount that might be in the offertory but Jesus notices she gave her all and she gave it whole.
And the scenario gave me the usual chill. It’s about giving your all and whole to God. It may be insignificant and may not be needed as it seems but Jesus notices. We were settled in the Philippines. We were looking forward to stay put, but God said “Pack up!” and we responded by giving our all and whole. Now we are settled in the US, we are looking forward to stay put, if and when God says “Pack up!” and I pray may God give us the grace to respond and give our all and whole.