Mini-talk given by Lally dela Cruz , BCBP Quezon City, during the Ladies Breakout Forum, 30th NAC, Davao, Apr 24, 2010, in response to Linda Tuason’s talk on “Preparing a Place for His Presence in Our Hearts, Our Homes and in Our Service”.

Redecorate. Refurbish. Renovate. These are three things that are close to a woman’s heart – things that most women enjoy doing. These are also the three things that crossed my mind during Linda’s sharing. Very womanly… I believe we need to consider these three as necessary in preparing a place for God in our lives.

Linda articulated three main points in her sharing: firstly, preparing a place for God’s presence in our hearts; secondly, preparing a place for His presence in our homes; and, lastly preparing a place for His presence in our service. I would like to comment briefly on each of these points.

Preparing a place for God’s presence in our hearts can be a formidable task because we are so attached to this world that sometimes we don’t even know where to begin. It is often an uphill struggle to prevent our hearts from being eaten up by the diseases of our humanity – anxiety, worry, dishonesty, unforgiveness, gossip, envy, crab mentality, negativism and the like. Perhaps you have noticed that when there’s unpeacefulness in our hearts, God seems distant.

Linda encourages meditative and centering prayer, in addition to other spiritual exercises, to help us become very intimate with God. I completely agree. It is only through prayer that we can renew our hearts. Prayer is needed to restore the vibrancy and vitality of our hearts, to begin having a heartwarming and intimate relationship with our God. We need to focus on a heart change that becomes strong and robust through the power of prayer and the reading of scriptures, a heart change that leads us to completely surrender and put ourselves in His Presence, and a heart change that results in a better understanding, acceptance, and humility between and among us. As we do this and prepare a place for His Presence in our hearts, the Lord, the Master Designer, will gradually but effectively, renovate and redecorate our hearts to create a beautiful refuge, a place where love dwells and peace reigns.

“Unless the Lord builds a house, those who build it will labor in vain.” Our homes are a metaphor and a reflection of what is in our hearts. We should construct our homes with living stones that are strategically placed to bring God glory, to revere Him, to provide Him a holy tabernacle. Who, what are living stones? We are! Sisters, as we learn to dwell in His Presence, we become the living stones that create a model home where Christ’s love is felt and seen, a home where hearts draw others nearer to God, a home where family prays together … and stays together through thick and thin.

I suggest that we sisters come up with a list of designer tips to help us discover the joy of God’s indwelling presence in our homes. There is one tip that I know from experience works one hundred percent of the time: where Christ dwells, love is.

How do we prepare a place for His presence in our service? Consider these scenarios: a leader who does not submit to authority, a leader who cannot seem to pass on a service to others because he/she thinks that he/she alone can do it, a leader who seems to compete with others in doing his/her service, or a sister who takes over the service from her husband. Is God present here?

Oftentimes we think of serving God as a performance, as having to accomplish things through our own efforts and actions. I believe that being called into service is an act of surrendering our will to God. We are not here to compete, to order others around, or to use our service to compensate for our own weaknesses or create little personal empires where we reign supreme. I want to emphasize that we are not here to compete but to complement and support our community leaders, most especially when they are our husbands.

Regardless of whatever our role and service may be, we are called upon to grow into the role of a humble servant whose will is surrendered to the will of God. Though at the start, we may gripe, snipe and decry the unfairness of it all, in the end, when we accept the presence of God in our lives and our service, our acceptance becomes a demonstration of our strength. And it is from our strength and constancy as women, as BCBP women, that we, together with our husbands and using couple prayer power, can prepare a worthy place for God’s presence in our service as well as in everything we do.

Renovate our attitudes and our hearts to provide a place for His presence in our hearts. Refurbish and redecorate our hearts and our lives to become worthy vessels, worthy temples for God. We enjoy renovating, refurbishing and redecorating our homes. Sisters, let us also enjoy renovating, refurbishing and redecorating our hearts, our attitudes, our relationships, our lives and our service in community to provide many places worthy of His holy Presence.

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