Ronda Sunset - watercolor by Jamie Treadwell
Celebrating Life's Blessings
by Beth Melchor
Anniversaries, for me, have always been important occasions worth celebrating. In 1985, I marked ten years of God’s faithfulness to me since I had seriously committed my life to him. I made a conscious decision to dedicate the entire year to thank God for his steadfast love. While serving on a retreat at the end of that year, the retreat master invited us to look back on the year and list five blessings. I was amazed to realize that the blessings I had listed for the year were all major, close to miraculous even.
As I reflected on these blessings, it occurred to me that far more than my desire to celebrate the year, God wanted to celebrate it with me. I marveled at the abundant love of God. He seemed to say, “You have not seen anything yet.”
I couldn’t imagine how anyone could be more blessed, but the years have indeed shown that “No eye has seen and no ear has heard, and no mind has ever conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Beth on far right at a retreat for single women in the Philippines
The twenty-fifth anniversary of my commitment to Christ was easy to celebrate. It was the year of the Great Jubilee 2000. I saved money to join a retreat in the Holy Land for women consecrated to living single for the Lord as I am. Little did we know that when this retreat was planned three years prior, it would coincide with Pope John Paul II’s long-awaited visit to the Holy Land. I could not have asked for more. In addition, the airline I took to Israel was routed through Rome so, at no extra cost, I was able to return to the place of my initial conversion in 1975. I always believed that my conversion was the result of the grace of the Holy Year in 1975. I was eager to return to Rome and walk again through the Jubilee Door to say “Thank You” for the grace of conversion.
One was in the area of my professional life. After fifteen years of working full-time in community as a CYA staffer and missionary in China, I never imagined I could pursue a career that would amount to anything special at age 39. But in 1997, the word “Put out into the deep” (Luke 5:4) – spoken at Ligaya’s annual conference for all its members – led me to service beyond the borders of community. I accepted a position as dean of an exclusive Catholic girl’s college in the Makati district of Metro Manila, something I would not have even considered if not for God’s direct leading. After two terms I begged off to spend more time with my bed-ridden father. It turned out to be my father’s final year on earth. That year brought a closure to a chapter in my life.
in the deep
The net indeed has been full! That year alone the net brought in among others: a victory in Harvard where our university represented the Philippines for the first time in a Global Business Plan competition and bested Harvard, MIT, Wharton and other Ivy League schools; another global victory in Vienna beating 223 entries from more than 100 countries; a UNESCO Asia Pacific Cultural Heritage Award for cultural heritage preservation in our campus; an award at the Moonrise Festival for our documentary film on the endangered Tamaraw; two of our students among the finalists in the “Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines”; a graduate of the university being appointed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; another graduate winning the first gold medal for the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games, soon followed by other alumni with a total haul of five gold, four silver and four bronze medals; championships in the UAAP and University Games, capped by the coveted UAAP basketball championship. Our university president captured our sentiments stating: “My experience of God this year has been Far Eastern University.”
My life and service in Ligaya ng Paginoon [Joy of the Lord] Community was equally blessed! There are new workings of the Spirit among the women living single for the Lord in The Sword of the Spirit. The first regional conference for women leaders in the Asian Region of The Sword of the Spirit was also held last November. It was a powerful experience of God's call to the communities in Asia. The 83 delegates coming from twelve Christian communities were from such diverse cultures, but experienced strong bonds of sisterhood and a unity that can only be born of the Spirit. Also as a special treat from the Lord for my 50th birthday, I was able to attend a 25-day leadership training for evangelism on the island of Maui. It was the closest thing to heaven I have experienced so far being with 53 women leaders from the developing countries across the world – all in love with God and eager to spread the Gospel. I feel like I am more on fire for the Lord now than I have ever been, and it's all been grace.
The image that captures the abundant blessings of all these years is that of a full rainbow towering over the majestic Niagara Falls. As I took the wonderful sight in, God seemed to say: "Such is the abundance and power of my love in your life." After so many blessings, what more can one say?
At the annual retreat for women who serve on the women’s leadership team in Ligaya, I reflected on how God fills my cup to overflowing; how God’s love is like a bottomless cup. I can drink from the abundance of God and find there is still more love to be poured into my heart. The ability to enjoy God’s blessings is more a function of my capacity to receive these than of any limitation on God’s ability to bless us.
God indeed is a loving and faithful God. Surrendering my life to him has been a constant celebration of his goodness. The greatest blessing I have received is God himself – the Giver of the gifts.
[Dr. Beth Melchor is a senior
woman leader of the Ligaya ng Paginoon
Community in Manila, Philippines, and Vice President for Academic Affairs
at the Far Eastern University in Manila. This article was originally published
in True North Magazine. Used with permission.]
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