In 2004 my term as member of the Board of Trustees of the BCBP ended. After serving the BCBP for 14 years as a member and as a leader, I had reached ‘burn-out’ and just wanted to have more time with my grandchildren, more time in the practice of my profession as a doctor and in my little business, more time to spend with my wife Hedy, and more time to do things that I’ve always wanted to do. In my prayer time, I told the Lord, “Give me a break. I need breathing space.”

Those 14 years had been filled with trying to keep the BCBP Mindano ship afloat, of settling conflicts in relationships between brothers and sisters, of being in the crossroads of making decisions and recommendations and feeling sad and lonely when these were not accepted with grace. But in fairness, these 14 years also had had many beautiful moments; they were a wonderful romance with God, and with BCBP brothers and sisters. The BCBP had proven to be a heaven-sent community for us.

I asked myself, “How far am I willing to go for God?” My answer at that time was, “Not very far, Lord, not very far.” So after those 14 years, Hedy and I detached ourselves from the BCBP, disregarding our promises in the BCBP Commitment Card that we had signed when we became members. We attended only when we wanted to, rather than as a commitment to the Lord. We, like the prophet Jonah, disobeyed God and disregarded BCBP leadership’s call back to service. I justified and rationalized that it was time for new leaders but that was not the real reason. There was rancor and unwillingness in my heart and the Lord did not approve of it.

In 2006 Hedy suddenly woke up at 3am, jolting me out of my sleep. She was seized with fear, was seeing everything double, and her eyes were crossed. I panicked. As a doctor, I immediately thought of possible diagnosis, maybe a stroke or a slow-growing tumor. After consulting a local specialist, we came to Manila, to the UERMMMC, our Alma Mater, for further evaluation and management.

We stormed heaven with our prayers, asking BCBP brothers and sisters for their prayers, too. Some sisters even teased Hedy that since she was seeing double, she could charge her patients double. ‘Twas not a good joke but Hedy took it in stride – and that’s the beauty in community, we can still laugh even in misery! I was jolted out of my senses and knelt before the Lord asking His forgiveness for trying to run away from him. “Lord,” I said, “You gave Jonah a second chance. Give me a second chance, too.”

Hedy’s MRI was normal. Her double vision, diplopia, was explained to us as a ‘vascular spasm’, not in the brain but in the peripheral arteries supplying her right eye. In three months time she regained total and complete recovery of her vision.

Soon after that, the good Lord did give me a second chance. I did not attend the National Anniversary of the BCBP in Bohol in 2008, but was given a second term as a member of the Board of Trustees.

How far am I willing to go for God? I do not know how far the Lord wants me to go in serving Him. What I do know is that I will not hesitate to obey God’s command for I have learned that when we choose to obey God, especially through our BCBP Commitment Cards, we must give our all – at all cost – no matter what!

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Babes Acena February 13, 2011 - 6:52 pm

thanks for your sharing. i think the Holy Spirit guided me to read this to tell me that we can always have our second chances for our God is a generous and forgiving God. It is only in service that we are able to show our love for Him.

francis montelibano February 8, 2011 - 4:39 am

This is an inspiring story and perhaps a wake up call too. God bless you Bro Joe.


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