An Eruption from the Past

This is an article I wrote five years ago that I would like to share here. Hope you get inspired (and convicted) upon reading it!

Fourteen years ago, I happened to read a story from an academic magazine. I was a first grader by then and I remember being fascinated and moved by a true story entitled, “The Dog of Pompeii”. I can’t recall the exact events except that it was about a dog and a poor, blind young boy who lived in Pompeii, Italy. That dog was very intelligent and loyal to its master that every morning that the boy woke up, food was already served in front of him. The climax of the story was when Mount Vesuvius, an active volcano at that time in 79 A.D. erupted, killing both of the protagonists in the story.

These details came up to me again (after 14 years, yes) when I accidentally saw one of the yahoo news entitled “Incredible photos show inside of world’s ‘most dangerous’ volcano” in Congo. I looked into it and later saw a video suggestion on the site. I was then led to YouTube and suddenly saw that familiar place again- Pompeii.

Different pictures stirred up my memory as I stumbled upon the gallery of photos that show the ancient bodies of victims of Mt. Vesuvius’ catastrophic eruption in 79 A.D. They are now preserved using plaster of Paris that the archaeologists used to fill up the air holes that occupied the dead bodies under the 25 feet mounds of earth and rock after the eruption. These plastered forms of bodies are now displayed and serve as memorabilia of history.
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cast of a man as he was trying to support himself on his elbows

As I continued checking into the photos and after some time contemplating, I came upon an excellent documentary film by the BBC in YouTube entitled, “Pompeii: The Last Day”, that shows the details of one of the dramatic, tragic, and disastrous wrath of nature ever recorded in history.

One thing that made me hooked on that six-part film: All of the people at that time had no any idea that an apocalyptic eruption was about to occur (In fact people of Pompeii had not seen anything like it before then). They did not even know that a volcano exists. On a lighter note, some even enjoyed watching the formation of clouds of super-heated rocks and gas, as if they were having a sightseeing experience.

And so they continued living their normal lives. As I was watching, I discovered the unusual practices of the ancient Romans. Of course, the master-slave manifesto dominated Rome. The slaves were coerced to wash their master’s clothes in fulleries using urine, since the acidity removed the stains. Women slaves were also forced to sleep with their masters. Authorities and Roman gladiators abused their positions. Money and gold were very much important to them. Anyone can conclude that they lived the lives of immorality and corruption. They all ignored what was happening until…

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Mount Vesuvius spewing out super-heated gas that darkened the sky over Pompeii
Hours passed and the conflict unfolded. It was daytime and plethora of pebbles rained down the city and the thick, dense clouds of gas covered the sky which created darkness. The day became night. Earthquake shook the whole city and even larger rocks fell from the raging volcano.
 
“The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Matthew 24:29

Those who ran into the coast were chased by the searing heat and instantaneous death came to pass. As the narrator describes it, “The people on the beach did not just burn, they turned to charcoal.”

Some of the people stayed and prayed to their god, Jupiter, and offered foods and sacrifices in the midst of the disaster. But as they prayed to their gods, foundations of their houses toppled down.

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3

They even committed suicide by drinking poisons because for them, “it is quick and painless”. To the ancient Romans, committing suicide was acceptable and necessary when the situation became so critical.

Thousands of people died in those tragic days of August 24 and 25, 79 A.D. The remains of a dog was even found during the discovery of the buried city of Pompeii and excavation of bodies in the 1600s- perhaps the same dog that is in the story that I read when I was six years old.

So what’s my purpose of sharing this to you? Simple- that this same event in the past is possible to happen anytime in our generation. It may or may not be caused by a volcanic eruption, though. But who knows?

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

This entails us that we should be wakeful and mindful enough to interpret the signs of the times. Open your eyes. I believe that I happened to watch those documentaries in order for God to reveal something to us. This is not a threat, nor a made-up story, and not a baloney. This is the TRUTH that is contained in the Bible.

Like the people of Pompeii thousands of years ago, they had no any idea that an ordinary day would actually be an apocalyptic day. They even ignored it and were complacent. They continued living their Godless lives… until everyone was wiped out over the face of the earth.

“The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3

“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:37-39

Just observe everything that is happening in the world right now. Endless incidence of crimes, wars, sexual immoralities, corruption of minds, wayward lives; everything has its foundation on sin. No wonder that disasters strike us- typhoons, earthquakes, killer tsunami and nuclear disaster, the chaotic situation stirring up in the Middle East, and the destructive wars in the different parts of the world. Let me remind you: God is never the author of disasters. We are the ones who open the gates for the devil to sow destruction and killings. God is merciful. All we need is to humble down ourselves and ask for His forgiveness for our sins. No, you cannot escape; you cannot hide yourself from the Truth. Everyone is a sinner and the only way to be saved is to believe in Him, surrender to Him for no one can ever save himself except through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s not be like the ancient Pompeiians, who were ignorant of the saving power of Jesus. It is only through Him that we may be spared from the works of the devil.

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36

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Sorrow and Beauty

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Downcast is the forlorn soul
Ne’er a curve in her lips seen
In her eyes is gleam they stole
The lore is gone with the sheen

Why hast thou forgotten
The splendid beauty of yore
Brightness the shadow has taken
Sting of melancholy she bore

Hidden in elegant tresses
Is frame painted with scarlet
Ever forbidden from curses
And the stench He never let

Nevertheless beyond her sight
Is hope, flickering with spark
Fear of the unknown despite
Is frolic like a dancing lark

“Your loveliness is like lilies
Created with ornate beauty
You are apart from all follies;
You are loved,” said by Majesty

Behind her veil is bright ruby
Unearthed by One who was
Sorrow in her shall never be
But more than gold love will last

As ebony as the skies seem
The sun of morrow shall stand
And the set of pearls must beam
Kissed by a rose, sweet and bland

From then she should prance!
A Being sings to her ears
Her youth, like flowers that dance
She weeps, but He hears!

The Lamppost

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Yes, it’s a lamppost by the road. It seems nonsensical, dull. The gloomy horizon and the teardrops from the sky put the image in a pensive mood. The car I’m in was moving when I caught sight of these street lights in that rainy afternoon of February a year ago. With my headset snuggling in my ears and spectacles hanging before my eyes, I looked through the windowpane and saw the drizzle becoming heavier. I took a shot of the post and captured it well enough to be recognized despite the moving vehicle. The picture appears simple and empty… yet never devoid of words to tell.

This lamppost is lit when evening comes. It gives enlightenment to a dark path; it shines out so that everyone passing by may see the road they are taking. It makes it possible for drivers and commuters to perceive every intersection, highway interchanges, sign posts, turn, curb, or if there is a walkway or a pedestrian lane, to notice the people walking or crossing the street, and to see the other vehicles moving along. It lets them discern which way to go. It serves as an illumination. Or for a simple passerby, it prevents him from tripping over something that can possibly hurt him.

Without this lamppost, accidents and crashes can happen. Darkness is a deadly path to take. A dark road is never a safe course to trek. Traveling through the darkness means getting lost and deliberately pushing yourself to potential fatality. No one wants to get lost; everyone of us wants to see even a flicker of light twinkling in the middle of a dark place.

We all need a lamp that lets us see our way as we journey through our dark lives.

We all need light. Without it, we cannot live. Who can live in darkness? Can you see in the dark? When the clouds become thick and begin to hide the sun and heavy rain pours down, where is your shelter? When the night falls, what is your lamp that lets you see through?

Who is your source of light? You know the answer to the question. Why not let it light up?

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – Jesus in John 8:12

A Test of Trust

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I love the way King Hezekiah of Judah trusted in the Lord. King Hezekiah was a son of Ahaz; he was 25 years old when he became king. There was a time during the fourteenth year of his reign when Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked Judah and captured it. Sennacherib then summoned his chief officer and his field commander with a large army and sent them with these words to king Hezekiah who was at the time in Jerusalem:

On what are you basing this confidence of yours? You say you have the counsel and the might for war—but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me? – 2 Kings 18:19

But if you say to me, “We are depending on the Lord our God”—isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar in Jerusalem”? – 2 Kings 18:22

Upon reading that part, there came a sudden reckoning of moments that I have kept on experiencing since the time I became a Christian. For many times, many of us have met those questions from people who doubt this faith in God. They have even told us that we’re either crazy or out of our minds. Should I say they provoke, ridicule, humiliate and scoff upon knowing that we trust and depend on Someone who is actually invisible.

But lo and behold, what is our vindication?

He (Hezekiah) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. – 2 Kings 18:3

Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. – 2 Kings 18:5

He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. – 2 Kings 18:6

And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. – 2 Kings 18:7

Hallelujah! Despite those derision, criticisms and mockeries, we will never stop believing and trusting God in our lives! Neither hindrance nor any condemnation can ever prevent us from pursuing our destiny! And rest assured that God is always with us, and He will always bring us from victory to victory.

But the battle is ongoing. In this world, Christians always undergo such testings so that their faith will come out pure and strong. There are also deceptions along the way but take heart, we are always guided by the wisdom of the Lord. The enemy is so adept at deceiving and sowing lies:

Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this place without word from the Lord? The Lord himself told me to march against (you) and destroy (you). – 2 Kings 18:25

The enemy would even make us believe that he is rather from and with the Lord against us! That’s a tactic that he does when he wants to burden us with condemnation and guilt. He would also confuse us and convince us that God is not worthy to be trusted:

Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand. Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us…’ – 2 Kings 18:29,30

Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand? – 2 Kings 18:32,33,35

As we can see, the king of Assyria tried to fool them not just once, but twice! Our enemy the devil is so persevering at misleading us. And as a king of lies as he is, he would also lure us to his own greatness and wealth and would persuade us that he is actually the source of life!

Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern, until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death! – 2 Kings 18:31-32

Truth is, the enemy will do anything to deceive us! Hence, we are called to

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

King Hezekiah was a wise king, after all. What did he instruct the people to do as a reply to those messages sent by King Sennacherib to them?

But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.” – 2 Kings 18:36

What should we do in response to those people or circumstances that bombard us with the filth of distrusting and doubting God, provoking us to despise Him?

Just pray in silence, solitude and isolation. Do not reply to those mockers, but instead RESPOND to God’s instructions to you!

King Hezekiah might have called it a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace to the Lord whom the king of Assyria has sent to ridicule the living God (2 Kings 19:3,4), but the Lord never failed to comfort and assure His faithful people:

Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword. – 2 Kings 19:6,7

He instead prayed to God. His trust and faith in the Lord never faltered!

And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.” – 2 Kings 19:15-16

All I could say is, “What a faith!” After all, that is what God requires of us- faith. Against all the odds, it is what we should have to overcome and outwit those shrewd deceptions that the king of lies besiege us. God hears a faithful prayer, He sees a faithful heart. He knows a hopeful spirit and a mind that is confident in His wisdom. Like that of King Hezekiah, God is longing for a heart that fully trusts in Him. And when He finds it inside of us, He would answer us in a way He responded to the faithful king of Judah:

I have heard your prayer. 2 Kings 19:20

 

Just Not Her World

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It revolves…

And time is flying

The light comes up, trying

Noise of cathartic busyness, rapping

 

So they start walking…

While those eyes travel

And that brain unravel

They all hurry, with their tittle-tattle

 

They all chase…

Fickle with their suits

Hopping with their boots

Hey, that Marc Jacobs she shoots

 

They lure…

Minis and bikinis they carry

A luscious parody

Of some regimented body

 

Intoxication sets in…

Sinking in a pool of wine

Oh, whine!

Barely moving, already crawling at nine

 

And the wheels screech…

Passing through each way

Their faces give a nay

Some sheesh and a silent fray

 

No one speaks…

They are busy

Pursuits are contemporary

No good, all arbitrary

 

But she sees…

With four eyes, no intricacy

Their slow motion and meager policy

Some pro, some noob, but many are classy

 

She stops…

Turns around, she doesn’t conform-

Not her norm

A new pattern she will form

 

And it evolves…

To her ears, no mongering

Her mode, never flattering

To her worth, no way compromising!

The Plan I Never Knew

“And for the second place, contestant number 11!”
(Gasp)

I couldn’t believe my ears. I glanced at the ribbon on my uniform that says “11“. As I walked toward the stage, my ears grew hot and I felt that they blushed while my head was constantly telling me, “Yes, you won.”

Years passed and that winning moment was succeeded by another, and then another one, until I reached my senior year in high school. Each time I would hear the announcing of successful competitors, my heart would pound as if a hammer was nailing something into it: “I told you, you could do it.”

After all those years, however, I did not become a writer. It seems to me that those events gave me only a hint on what I should be doing. Rather, I became an agent of Science that looks at the different smallest forms of life on earth under some intelligent binoculars called the microscope. I take care of organisms called bacteria and make them propagate in certain media, and yes, they are the nasty ones that have plagued the higher forms of living beings ever since time began. I have also learned the mechanism that dictates how we should uniquely look like- the power of the DNA. And why, they are all awesome and magnifique! They have always left me fascinated to a great extent and made me realize that indeed, creation is inexplicably beautiful and amazing.

To me, fate is subtle and cunning. One might think of the ends but the means are in fact a way of getting us directed to a different path. The odds sometimes get in the scene and before we know it, we are in another era of self-searching. Sadly, sometimes we couldn’t beat those odds and we are thrown in a maze of confusion and they get us walking around in circles for so long a time. We rant about our complacency and vincible ignorance in the past and now regret it. And here goes the essential question, “How do we head towards our destiny?”

It is a question that I myself have pondered on for years. I never knew or at least expected that I would be who I have become. Too often I wonder about the purpose as to why I have this disposition. But as much as I ask, through the years, I have been finding the reason I need in order for me to believe that I am where I perfectly ought to be. That reason is substantiated by an ultimate reason itself: God.

Everything happens for a reason. It also goes to say that everything happens for God. For He is the reason Himself. It is His greatest plan that we are where we are. Though I did not become a writer, I am a writer by heart. Though I did not earn it by name or title, God has intertwined it with my walk of life. And though it is not my profession, I do it wholeheartedly and sincerely in and out of season.

It is important for me to express even every inkling that I have in mind. At first I thought if this was normal for me lest I look so divergent and too idealistic. But then I realized that when God has deposited something in your heart, it just can’t be suppressed or hidden; it has to be spoken out. What makes it different and precious is the passion that fuels this freedom of expression. For when you love what you do, it is not a duty per se anymore, but becomes a willful response to the innate calling instructed to you even before you realized it.

I do believe that we have different callings from God. Using it for His glory is the main purpose of this calling. It is true that whatever He started in us He will bring into completion. He is, after all, a God who doesn’t change His mind and His plan. Everything that happened in the past is a prerequisite of our present and an introduction of our future. So I equally believe that the story is not finished yet. It is in fact a start of another chapter, just as it has always been. There are changes, transformations, realizations along the way and I hold on to the fact that even though changes are constant in this world, His plan for me is never altered nor does it deviate. That is when I learned how to reach the destiny I have been looking for: Life goes on according to His will.